By Noah Rezentes
Climbing holds have come a long way since the first holds shaped in clay hit the US market in the early 1980s. Polyester, polyurethane, wood, fiberglass and even aluminum holds now adorn the walls of climbing gyms around the globe. Digital 3D boulder problem scanning and 3-D hold printing are now in our vocabulary, and more experiments in the industry are underway.
Bulgaria-based Composite-X, one of the world’s largest climbing hold manufacturers, unveiled at the Halls & Walls 2019 trade show a new development in its climbing hold fleet called Skuish. Skuish holds are uniquely made with an outer rubber layer over a hardened core. The purpose of the design is simple: rather than your hand adapting to the rough surface of a hold, the surface of the hold deforms ever-so-slightly to your hand, providing a less abrasive texture and thus saving your skin.
“All projects start with experimenting in the lab and then proof of concept, but the idea was not randomly found…Rather, this was targeted,” says Daniel French, Founder & Executive Director of Composite-X, who has nearly 20 years of experience in climbing hold manufacturing. Skuish is the most recent addition to his list of developments at the company which includes the durable polyurethane called Dannomond as well as an upcoming sand-filled urethane called Dannolast.
Since the two parts of Skuish holds are bonded tightly together during production, the holds can be bolted or screwed to a climbing wall as usual, and the soft backside of the holds reportedly decreases the likelihood of unwanted spinning.
Skuish holds are currently in a pre-release stage and not yet available for distribution, while the material undergoes additional testing. Stay tuned to the Composite-X Facebook page for updates.
“Our hope is to allow Skuish to go as far as it technically can — as is the case with all the projects we do at Composite-X,” concludes French.
Noah Rezentes is a self-proclaimed fanatic when it comes to holds and volumes. He discovered the climbing community in late 2015 and now lives and works in Sacramento, California, as a gym manager, youth coach and overall climbing nerd. He also runs a small climbing hold news operation called Gripgeek.