review by Tony Lourens
About 24 years ago I broke my ankle in a stupid accident. My leg was placed in an old-style plaster cast up to the knee for about eight weeks, then in a boot for another few weeks, and for many weeks after that it was still extremely tender. The consequence of all this was that I was basically out of climbing for nigh on six months. And it was at a time when I was psyched to push myself to climb harder, so I was left in a rather depressed state.
To keep my spirits up and remain reasonably psyched, I turned to my trusty fingerboard, which we had hanging up in the passage of our apartment. I set myself a programme and weekly goals, as my thinking was, I may not be able to climb, but I still want to keep my arms, fingers and upper body in shape. So when I do get back on the rock, I don’t feel like a sack of spuds.
It took quite a lot of discipline at first, but once I started getting results, I really began enjoying it and looked forward to my sessions and ticking off my goals. In fact, my fingerboard kept me sane!
Indeed, any climber that is even remotely serious about getting stronger will have their trusty finger board installed somewhere in their house, and they will be working through various programmes to strengthen fingers, arms and abductors.
Just recently, Fredy Mohorich, from Mountain Goats, sent me his new hand-crafted fingerboard to test out and to give him some feedback. The first thing my wife, Patsy said when I took it out the packaging was, ‘My God, that is a thing of beauty.’
And she was right! The board is made from four 15 millimetre layers of birch plywood. The layers are cut on a CNC machine (a computer-generated cut to ensure perfect precision), then stacked and secured with screws from the back. The various depths of finger slots are also CNC cut.
The top of the board features two incut jug holds on the outside, two flattish jugs, and two killer sloper holds, which will take some doing to hold onto.
Then there are three rows of finger slots, ranging from deep two-digit slots near the top, to crimpy half-digit slots at the bottom, with all slots wide enough to take all four fingers, so it is left for you to decide when you want to pare down to two finger or mono finger hangs or pull-ups.
The board is beautifully finished, in raw wood (no sealant or varnish), with the Mountain Goats logo engraved in the front. So elegant in fact, you could hang it in your lounge as an art piece.
There are many different exercises, workouts and choreographed sets that one can do on a fingerboard, and it is advisable to read up on the correct use, to avoid injury.
But one thing is for sure, if you start carefully and slowly and take care warming up, etc. and use your fingerboard wisely, you will be amazed at how you can improve your strength.
Made from birch plywood, the board comes with five mounting screws and wall plugs.
Although it may be available shortly from certain outdoor shops, it can currently be ordered from Fredy Mohorich (072 268 1241), firstname.lastname@example.org, or via the Mountain Goats FB page.