Life on the Mini Moonboard
We recently spoke to Michael Adams (MA) and Samuel Lee (SL) to see what life’s like with a Mini MoonBoard. Here’s what they had to say:
How long have you been using the Mini MoonBoard?
MA: As soon as I saw Ben develop the first Mini MoonBoard in his cellar I was very interested. I initially had a few reservations such as the size of the board and if it would actually be useful however, I was so bored of my current facilities, I knew I needed something new. So I decided to take the risk and ordered my holds a few days after they became available. I remember my first session I repeated Bens first problems from his Instagram videos. Then a few days later the app was up and the fun began. I feel like I was there from the very start, which is kind of nice and great to see how it’s all developed. I can honestly say I have never once regretted making that initial purchase and it has given me so much fun over the last year. So much so, in Feb of this year I upgraded my board with the LED lights, which is just amazing and something I wish I’d had from the start.
What makes the Mini MoonBoard such a great training tool?
MA: Like with most MoonBoards, being able to filter and search different problems and try climbs set by others is definitely a big benefit. It helps stop you from going stale and only setting to your strengths. It also helps you structure your session for the intensity that you need, whilst always having fresh challenges. The great thing about the Mini is it does this in a space that will fit easily into a standard garage, cellar, spare room or even shed. What I really like about this board in particular is the one thing I was unsure about – the size. It’s really approachable and the style of problems set on it are unique. There is a great range of holds from slopers, pinches and small crimps. All this means you can tailor your sessions to what you need to work on.
By far the best thing I’ve experienced about the Mini is the amazing community of users that I have met along my journey. They really make the board better. It’s great to see their progress, try their climbs and share ideas about different moves; because you are climbing on the same board and holds you can really appreciate and relate to what’s being achieved. The comments, chats and videos really do keep me motivated to train harder and push myself. Without this engagement I really think I would have struggled to keep motivated as we went through various lockdowns over the last year, let alone come out of it all feeling stronger, fitter and more confident.
SL: For me, one of the best things about the Mini is the strong community. I find that it can be easy to get lost in the large communities for the more established sets, and many users just end up quietly ticking benchmarks but because the Mini community is still growing, the level of interaction is pretty high---which ultimately results in high quality problems.
It's always great to get comments on your sets or see that someone has set a variation, as well as swap beta videos and tips on Instagram. This engagement also motivates me to work a wide range of problems set by the community, especially those outside of my style.
How do you find it compares to other training boards you have used?
MA: The Mini MoonBoard is very different to other indoor training boards like the full size MoonBoards. These tend to have big moves usually to good holds, especially at the finish. The Mini is very different, the style is very snatchy and locky and often there is a tricky match to finish. The moves often require a lot of body tension and require you to work hard to keep your feet on. There are some bigger jump moves set, but not like on the full boards, these are often one move wonders to bad holds that you have to land perfectly. This has been great fun to work on in my own climbing and I feel complements and trains a different skill-set to the current setting trends in indoor walls. I also feel it helps more with certain types of moves found on outdoor boulder problems and particular rock types. Even when the walls were fully open I found myself still wanting to do sessions on the board and felt it was of great benefit to my climbing.
SL: I find that the Mini demands much more body tension. As you might expect on a smaller board, there's not as much foot cutting or jumping around. In fact, the holds chosen for the top row generally force cruxy and high tension matches, as it's typically not easy to just dyno to the finish. Problems also tend to feature interesting and creative lateral movements, in contrast to the relatively straightforward ladders you sometimes see on other boards.
The high density of the more advanced yellow School and Woods A holds also lends itself well to limit problems. All killer and no filler!
How do you find being a moderator Mike?
MA: So far it has been okay and I hope I’m doing a good job. I think because I have been able to repeat all the climbs that have been set, it gives me a unique overall knowledge of the board. Although as a moderator I mostly like to let the community sort out most of the grading, I rarely change the grade on a climb or delete it unless it’s obviously very wrong. One of the big drawbacks is getting involved with climbers who are not climbing on a standard board. Either they have a full size kicker or often their board is more like 30 degrees not the specified 40 degrees. This is frustrating as often they are logging downgrades of climbs or flashing climbs. This is more of an issue when it comes to rankings. Fortunately, most of the users are very honest! The main job of a moderator is to set the benchmarks and this is much more enjoyable. I was initially surprised how much of a motivator this is to Mini users. They often use the benchmark rankings as a motivating tool, but more than this, setters love having their creations set as benchmarks. It’s like a little nod of respect. Setting the benchmarks is a lot of work. It needs to be done properly, they should be good examples of the grade and have great movement. It can be very hard to decide on. We currently have 90 benchmarks set on the Mini, which has been a work in progress. As the pool of problems increases so does the amount of climbs to choose from. I always try to be as impartial as I can when setting benchmark’s, I make a point of not looking at the rankings at all in the process. I purely set what I feel are the best climbs for the community and the standard its climbing at. This way the community get the most enjoyment from the climbs. I feel that is quite important and I love seeing the enjoyment the users get from them. It makes all the work worth it!
How accessible is the Mini MB? In terms of grades, style etc
MA: I personally find the Mini very accessible, climbs start at 6a+ and if you use the biggest holds, the climbs are very approachable. I often climb on the board with my 11 year old son and he gets loads out of it. The grading can often seem very harsh relative to the grades outside or on indoor walls. It’s is mostly consistent although there are the inevitable ‘sandbags’. This seems especially true on climbs set with just the yellow Original Moon holds which seem to have a lot of tough 6a+’s. However, climbing on the Woods, things settle down a lot more sensibly. Like I said before I think the Mini has its own style and once people are ‘board strong’ it unlocks and climbers seem to make fast progress. The last thing that springs to mind is the size of the board. The range and style of problems make it perfect to top up after a session outside, when you feel like you still need to do a bit more climbing.
SL: I'd say the Mini is definitely the most difficult (and, dare I say, sandbagged) out of the setups I've climbed on. I'm by no means a mega crusher and clock in around 7B+ to 7C+ outdoors, but I find that sessioning in the 6C to 7A+ range on the Mini generally yields a good workout for me.
That said, the juggier holds in the Wood B and C sets provide good options at lower difficulties. There are definitely users that are having a great time training and setting in the 6A+ to 6B+ range. In fact, one of the most psyched Mini users I know has yet to send his first 6A+. His board is set up with only the School holds, some of which he has temporarily replaced with jugs until he has built up the strength needed to swap back in the corresponding School holds. I think he's still getting a lot out of his board---and I bet that first all-School 6A+ send will be especially rewarding.
At the deep end of the pool, Mike Adams seems like he is having a blast flashing as many problems as he can, while still being able to set hard projects for himself---up to 8A, so far. It's extremely motivating to see his sets and realize how many possibilities there are on the Mini for hard climbing.
Hardest climb done on there?
MA: Ratings wise there are two set 8a’s on the Board, both climbed and set by me. These are Heart Breaker and Crucifixion. Of the two I think Crucifixion is harder. It’s difficult to say if this is the hardest things I have done on the board. A strong Italian climber Nicone (Nicola Minute) has repeated both of these. To be honest I have set the majority of climbs 7c and above on the board and there are a few climbs I’ve set that have yet to be repeated. Bo-Katan 7c+ springs to mind, which in retrospect might be hard for the grade. Personally, I feel I have got into the style of the board loads over the last year and have gotten much better on it. Especially when it comes to flashing problems. I’m always playing about looking for that next hard move. I would love to get one of the really strong climbers down from the School Room, to see what they could do and get a taste for the limit of difficulty on the board. Maybe after lockdown I could convince one to come around for a session on my board….
SL: We're now up to 90 benchmarks and 1000+ problems, many of which will almost certainly be long-term projects for me. So, while I'm hoping that things will be back to normal and I can resume other forms of climbing soon, I'm sure that the Mini will keep me busy for a while. Looking forward to crushing with the Mini crew for many more years to come!
Check out Mike and Samuel’s Instagram for fresh boulders and psyche!
Michael Adams - @dolphs_minimoonboard
Samuel Lee - @the.chalk.board