So I am visiting Crimpers Climbing in Virginia the next few days and was invited to bring along some of my holds and spread them out for people to see and touch.
The crew at RockCandy have released another well designed and easy to navigate catalog showcasing their holds line. Great photos of the holds with easy to understand names, sizes and who shaped the holds.
My Tunnel Rat series addition (expansion) got a nice big fat spread in my favorite color of their color offerings (red/orange). Psyched!
I just spent a month on the road doing a slew of shoe demos in my territory in the east so I thought it would be good to post something about the new M5 (5th generation version of the Mugen) on my blog.
I have been using the M5 for about 7 months now both indoors and out. This shoe offers an amazing array of performance, comfort and quality of manufacturing all wrapped into a nifty retail price of $105.00 USD. The overall response I got on my demo tour was the fit was comfortable without sacrificing performance, and the price… many people couldn’t believe the retail to be that low for something that looks and performs at such a high level. Thats part of the Mad Rock philosophy, quality products at a reasonable price.
Last year when I was at Mad Rock HQ the owner of Mad Rock, Young Chu sat down with me going over all the various performance and design aspects of the M5. Being a designer myself it was awesome being able to talk to someone who spoke the same language and shared a similar vision of a design methodology when it comes to the pragmatics and performance of a climbing shoe.
One of the big selling points for me beyond the awesome overall fit due in part to the arch flex technology which is the anchor of the Shark model in the Mad Rock line is the molded heel cup. This heel cup allows for the shape of the heel space to be more natural and anthropometric reducing that “bubble” that occurs in traditional pulled heel rubber pieces assembled by layering a rand with a sole. The molded cup also cuts down on dead space and allows you to have rubber all around for heel hooking at any angle of foot placement.
Another key feature I am a big fan of is the die-cut Velcro straps. If you look at other shoe companies Velcro many of them use a strip cut approach but in many of the Mad Rock shoes Young decided to used a curved cut (die cut) Velcro shape to better accommodate the curve at the top of your foot and reducing pinching points that occur with straight Velcro. Its those small details that really impressive me about Mad Rock by the way. This shoe is not short at all on those types of details.
One of the last things I should mention is the slightly concave nature of the sole in the toe box area. It’s impressive to see a traditional sheet rubber sole (the sole of the M5 is not moulded like the Shark) have a concave shape and perform like it has a super turned down shape. I used the M5 on steep routes in the Red River Gorge and all over steep features bouldering and then I pulled it out at the New River Gorge and it ruled on those technical and footwork intensive routes the vertical nature of the New affords.
So if you like a shoe that performs on a variety of terrain (I’ve used it on granite, sandstone, gritstone and lots of gym plastic) you will find the M5 a great addition to your climbing shoe quiver and it will also leave some hard earned bucks in your pocket for those extra late night trips to the local taco establishment since the price is oh so awesome.
With the harsh Winter upon us in the midwest I decided to spend some time designing something useful and take a break from the world of foam.
I’ve been in over 80 gyms now doing all sorts of recon, one thing I have noticed is the multitude of various ways gyms operate and handle setting tools/hardware access. I have seen so many iterations of carts, wagons, buckets that I thought it might be fun to take the tools and hardware I use and create a more efficient system for when I set.
Below are two carts I came up with. The main cart houses all the drivers/drills, bolts, t-wrenches, bits, tap and power charging station (with built in cord). The second is a route taping cart with a formica top surface for laying tape down and cutting. It also has markers, scissors and goof off to clean duct tape adhesive off the scissors. I wanted carts that would speed up my efficiency and cut down on searching for specific bolt sizes, bit types and having to travel back and forth for fresh batteries. The tape cart is a huge help to bring the taping closer to the walls to save time.
These may not be perfect but for me they are a start to adding more functionality to my setting and also give me the portability I so badly needed.
Its 3am, you have a late night hankering for technical slopers, a jug haul to burn off those three beef burritos you downed with extra jalapeños or you want to hone those tendons into steel cables on an adjustable campus board? Well guess what… most climbing gyms are not open at 3am. In fact there isn’t really anything open at 3am, but Vital is!
My story with Vital started on a recent California climbing gym recon trip. I was told by a friend and the man behind the construction of the walls at Vital, Louie Anderson that it was a must visit. I had left LA kind of late working my way south. The Murrieta location is sandwiched sort of between LA and San Diego which puts it in a nice niche spot to service climbers in that region or for those who love the 24/7 access model it offers. By the time I got there it was seriously late (around 11:30pm) so I didn’t have high hopes of meeting anyone there to get a chance to see inside. But to my amazement the lights were on and music was jamming so I knocked on the door.
I was greeted by the manager Luis Falero who is by the way a truly awesome guy, dedicated and very humble. He spent a great deal of time with me giving me the full bore tour. Side note: Luis is the owner of Signature Series Holds an upcoming and motivated holds company based in So-Cal.
The Murrieta location opened on July 30, 2011 and has a space of 3,600 sqft with wall space of just over 3000 sqft. It is owned by Nam Phan & Dave Sacher who are the masterminds behind this concept and business model. They currently have three locations at the time of this writing (Murrieta, Carlsbad & Bellingham). Luis told me these guys are not stopping and are continuing to grow the Vital program and brand with more locations slated for the future.
The gym is designed to have a welcoming and inviting layout. Its open format gives climbers a chance to see each other and reinforce that community aspect which some gyms lack because they segregate people apart too much, especially new climbers from the hard core guys, at Vital you are all together and in my view that is what makes it so special and communal.
Vital is packed with amenities, everything from a well stocked espresso machine, free-wifi, a retail selection, video games, widescreen projector TV with a host of climbing videos to raise your psyche up, a lounge space to relax and the best part aside from the 24/7 access… wait for it… the price is AMAZING! Having visited nearly every gym in California from top to bottom I can assure you the price is awesome.
Vital is ran by serious boulderes that make it a point to not only service customers but also educate them about more then just the indoor experience. They help you understand how to translate the “gym to crag” methodology and stewardship that many gyms tend to leave out or offer little exposure to. They believe in the idea of helping shape and guide the new generation of climbers who venture to the outdoors to pursue it correctly so that others can enjoy it in the future.
Luis Falero the awesome manager hanging from a cannonball training hold and the one arm pull up monster on the right is Christian Celestino who is the marketing manager of Vital and a super helpful and friendly staff member.
The routesetting is like many gyms a top priority. The staff at Vital believe that the routes are THE product and they listen to what members want and respond accordingly. Vital has also partnered with Signature Series Holds to help increase the inventory, keeping fresh and new holds flowing in. As a side note the Murrieta location has a really sweet adjustable Campus/Peg board that Louie helped them create during the construction. I have to say in the 80 plus gyms I have been in that thing blew my mind and was in my view one of the first I had ever seen like it. Very clean, no fluff just a great board but with the added function of being able to adjust its pitch.
So if you are a student who crushes the books and wants to sesh a few hours to burn off that new knowledge, perhaps you get up early and want to get a bit of climbing in before your work begins the 24/7 membership program is perfect for you. If you love a solid community of dedicated climbers who try hard and live for this sport then for sure check out Vital and if you roll into the Murrieta location ask for Luis and tell him I said hello. He might even brew you up a cup of espresso and give you the grand tour. Oh yeah and for those of you folks who have Vital in your backyard, you have something truly special going on there… SPECIAL!
Here are some new feet holds for Groperz that just went into production that I shaped in November. The yellow ones are a knob set in the poprocks series that can be great hand-holds for kids walls or slab walls for some technical knob pulling. They are also awesome for feet holds.
The orange ones are based on hieroglyphics and use that motif around the outside of the shape giving it added texture. These holds offer multiple sides so gyms can get more bang for their buck with multiple sides to each foot hold offering more “new” feet sides.
Finally the molding is done and the TUGS I shaped for Kingdom Climbing are ready to rock. We named them “TUGS” which is the combination of the word “Tony & jUGS.”
These mini-jugs and hand jugs are about as ergonomic and anthropometric as I can shape. They are also tapered to reduce resin and have a fun scratch-like texture to give them a surface to smear on if they are used as feet upside down.
Psyched to see how setters and gym owners respond to these.
Yep you heard me right. GROPERZ is coming back into the holds game. I’ve signed with them to shape a huge series of new holds in 2014. The plan is to revamp some old design themes and bringing out some new themes to expand the offerings.
Below are my “Worm Cobbles” which are a new set of five super comfy, somewhat incut but not shapes. They have great thumb grabs using the “Worm” feature that rolls along the outer surface. I started this theme “The Worm” back in 1999 and here it is all grown up and ready to come out of hibernation.