In the dynamic world of climbing, 2023 has unfolded as a monumental year marked by thrilling competitions and groundbreaking route setting. From world cups to local events, the climbing community has witnessed an influx of innovative holds and dynamic routes that have left an indelible mark on the sport. As we reflect on this exciting year, we’ve curated a list of five noteworthy trends that have emerged in route setting and climbing holds, offering a glimpse into the evolution and excitement that continues to shape the climbing landscape. Join us as we explore the cutting-edge developments that have defined route setting in 2023.

1. 360 Holds Ghost Line

360 Climbing Holds introduces a distinctive addition to their holds collection with the launch of the Ghost line. This novel series has become a recurrent presence in both boulder and lead world cups throughout 2023. The unique ghost pattern on these holds presents a challenge for climbers, making it challenging to distinguish the dual-texture nature of the holds. This innovative feature opens up new avenues for setters to explore in commercial and competitive route setting.

2. Flathold textureless shapes.

During the Final Round of the Bern World Championships, the climbing community was introduced to an innovative hold from Flathold—textureless. Manuel Hassler, co-owner of Flathold, collaborated with Pierre Broyer, an international route setter, to develop a set of glassy, textureless holds, aiming to bring their vision of a distinctive coordination boulder to life. The question remains whether Flathold will release this textureless set to the public. For further details, check out the video below.

3. Spin around slab move in route setting

A prominent trend observed in route setting this year was the emergence of the spin-around slab move. By incorporating small, challenging-to-match footholds and directional dual-texture holds, setters successfully compelled climbers to turn away from the wall to navigate the slab. This innovative move found application in both the women’s and men’s competitions at the World Cup.

4. Jump to press moves

Another addition unveiled this year, initially posing a challenge for all professional competitors, was the Jump to Iron Cross move. Showcased at the inaugural World Cup of 2023, this highly technical yet powerful maneuver empowered route setters to transform a seemingly mundane corner feature of the bouldering wall into a distinctive problem. Following its introduction, this move became a recurring element in numerous World Cup events throughout the year.

5. Red bull Dual Ascent (Multi-pitch Competition) Featuring 360 Holds

Over the years, we’ve observed new climbing competitions like Rock Rodeo, Psicobloc, and campus competitions. However, in 2023, we were fortunate to witness the second instalment of Red Bull’s inventive and thrilling big wall multi-pitch event, “Red Bull Dual Ascent.” This unique competition showcased professional climbers scaling a dam wall adorned with visually striking holds, including those from 360 Climbing Holds.

In conclusion, the climbing world in 2023 has been marked by dynamic innovations and exciting trends in route setting and climbing holds. From the introduction of novel textures to the rise of unique competition formats, the year has brought forth a wave of creativity that continues to shape the sport. As climbers and setters alike embrace these trends, the landscape of climbing evolves, offering new challenges and opportunities.

Image and video credit:

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