How To Design a Climbing Hold

In simplest terms, creating a shape for a climbing hold is designing a three-dimensional object that provides a challenge for climbers.   The basic steps for hold creation:

  1. Understand Climbing Holds: Start by deciding what type of hold you want to create. There are various types, including jugs (large, easy holds), crimps (small edges), slopers (smooth, often rounded holds), pinches (holds that require pinching), and more. Consider the intended difficulty level and purpose of the hold.  Are you desiging a set of holds?  Themed?  Similar in size?  Various sizes?  Five holds?  Twenty-five holds?

  2. Sketch Your Design: You could begin by sketching your hold design on paper or even in CAD software. Consider the size, shape, texture, and features/theme that you want to incorporate. It should be both functional and aesthetically pleasing.   Keep a budget in mind too, the larger a hold/set is, the more material required for the master, the more silicone required to make the mold and finally how much casting material required to produce copies.

  3. Select Materials: Choose the material for your "master".  A master is the hold that you will make a mold of to produce many copies of.  The material you choose will dictate the final texture of the hold.  Will you use foam, clay, real rock, a mixture of materials?

  4. Tools: You are a sculptor now.  You have your raw material, now you just have to remove all the material that does not look like the shape you have decided to make.  Easy.  The tools needed will depend on your chosen material.  Knife, sandpaper, dremmel, hot knife, rolling pin, paper clip, pencil, drill, pliers....the list is endless.  Use whatever it takes to create your final shape.

  5. Texture and Grip: Holds must have an appropriate texture to provide grip.  The texture should be designed to provide friction for climbers.  Or should it?  Some textures are designed to be hard to hold, or have dual textures, or even zero texture.



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