Anyone with a reasonable interest in training can't have failed to be aware of the new Beastmaker 2000 fingerboard. Young Dan Varian and Ned Feehally – crazy names, crazy guys - have somehow added a new vibrant frisson to bouldering and training that should bring a smile to the face of the most jaded of climbers. Their website is brimming with exuberance and scarcely intelligible training slang - they give Font grades to deadhangs for heaven's sake. And more to the point they are applying the gains outside with quick repeats of hard boulder problems. Talk about guerilla marketing.
I have never seriously trained on a fingerboard despite the relative weakness of my fingers being pointed out by Neil Gresham 8 years ago when I was one of his early guinea pigs. I know I should do, it but its sooo dull. However, when I first saw the Beastmaker at the Foundry I immediately wanted to touch it and hang on it. Wood is lovely tactile material – far nicer than rock! And the holds on the board are appealingly shaped and well thought out. If anything was going to get me fingerboarding then surely the Beastmaker 2000 would.
After exchanging a few emails with Dan I drove that night to a terrace house in a student area of Sheffield. I vaguely recognised another climber, Harry Pennels, as he furtively got into his car. There wasn't much space to park so I waited while he cack-handedly executed a 6 point manoeuvre to get out and then took his place. As directed in the email I headed down a ginnel and peered through some French doors to attract the attention of a dreadlocked youth. Ned appeared and let me in – he seemed a bit 'tired'. The place was a mess. I went up to his bedroom, passed over the cash, and was out before you can say 1-5-9. I had scored my Beastmaker.
Safely home in my tidy middle-class house decisions needed to be made. I knew where I wanted it but made a fuss of exploring the options and noisily wandering around the house whilst my wife and kids watched TV. It was February 12th - two days before Valentine's Day. I took a deep breath and blurted "Sonia, the only sensible place for it is above the bedroom door". Withering look. "OK – but no chalk". I crossed my fingers "Of course..."
So what's all the fuss about? Dave MacLeod suggests that a single edge is more than adequate for finger training – he uses an S7 rung. However, it is generally recommended that you should train different grip positions and so a fingerboard with varied holds helps you do this as well as breaking some of the monotony. The Beastmaker 2000 also looks nice, beautiful even, especially compared to some of the tie-dye resin monstrosities available.
Last night I had my first session doing 7 sets of 'repeaters'. The boys joined in and showed me how many press-ups they could do. I know the gains will be slow in coming but I also know with this board I will want to keep using it and for me that is half the battle won already, although I doubt I will ever be able to hold the 45 degree sloper.
If you want to cop a feel of the Beastmaker 2000 then both the Works and Foundry have one. If you live outside Sheffield then sort your life out, move here, live the dream and crush. Whoo-hoo - I feel 20 again. (YYFY as they say on UKB)
More information on the Beastmaker is available on the Beastmaker Website
For info on finger board training:
- Beastmaker Training Page
- Dave Macleod's Training Articles
- Moonclimbing Fingerboard Training
- Planetfear Guide_to_Finger_Boarding