Ordinarily, when I cruise the floor of the Outdoor Retailer show for new wares and technologies in outdoor sports, I completely skip over the climbing section. That's because I'm not a rock/mountain climber, don't really know what gear is new and innovative and what is market standards and am better off spending my time elsewhere. Plus, the rock climbing section is a pretty large section all the way at the far end of the show, so it's tactically much easier to not even venture into its depths.
This year was no exception for me, but luckily, writers that are more interested in climbing spend time scouring the climbing section and reporting back. And when there's something really awesome, I can piggy-back on their story and report about it here.
The one something really awesome that came out of the climbing section this year are IceHoldz. Composed from a proprietary composite plastic shell with a glacier blue backing, the IceHoldz are grips designed to simulate the feel and response of real ice. Ice climbers can use these on a dedicated indoor ice climbing wall, or on a mixed indoor rock-and-ice wall to practice climbing indoors. The IceHoldz are designed to mimic the hardness and penetration of actual ice when hit with an ice axe.
Apparently, there actually already are indoor ice climbing gyms, so the IceHoldz don't offer a new sport. However, according to the company, most gyms use styrofoam walls that fail to properly simulate the experience of actual ice, while IceHoldz make indoor climbing more true to form. Also, IceHoldz can easily be integrated into a pre-existing rock climbing wall for mixed climbing.
IceHoldz come in a variety of shapes and sizes, including ceiling-mounted icicles. They've actually been around for a few years, and are already featured in gyms around the country. You can find IceHoldz at select retailers in likely locations like Bozeman, MT; Boulder, CO and Portland, OR or on the online store.
With prices ranging from $17 for single grips to more than $900 for a full set-up, and with an estimated life span at 12 to 18 months, IceHoldz aren't exactly the cheapest thing to buy. But what about ice climbing has ever been cheap?