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st- ART OF THE OUTDOORS Behin maker


Ned’s life seems a perfect set-up: he crafts training products for climbers out of sustainable wood, has plenty of free time to train, and is one of the strongest climbers in the world: as well as adding some of the country’s hardest problems, he’s made rare repeats of coveted test-pieces such as Ron Fawcett’s Careless Torque, bouldered Font 8C, and is a member of the extremely exclusive 8B+ flash club. Sarah Stirling finds out how he and Dan Varian started Beastmaker over a decade ago, why it’s been so successful and what his training tips are.


By 2007, Dan and I had both independently made ourselves a number of fingerboards. We reflected that (at the time) no-one was producing a fingerboard that was well thought-out in terms of hold types and layout, so we decided to make and sell our own.


We were both climbing fairly well when we started Beastmaker, and kept telling everyone that it was because of our fingerboards! That might have helped our success… but I think we generally started up at a good time. Were we responsible for making training more popular? Yes, probably, but I think that, as climbing was suddenly becoming more popular at that time, better training methods would have come along anyway.


When we started Beastmaker, training methods had kind of stagnated in the late 90s and training wasn’t considered cool. The Climbing Works had just opened in Sheffield; it was basically the beginning of the bouldering boom.


Until that point, all the training information out there was fractured and hard to digest. We designed the Beastmaker boards to be comfy to use, with a texture that was kind on the skin, and a decent range of hold types for different exercises. We also tried to lay out the exercises that we thought were useful in a simple way so it was very easy for people to start training on them.


The original Beastmaker 2000 kind of designed itself. We knew the holds it needed, and we wanted it to be compact enough to fit a doorframe. So within those constraints it was fairly fast to design and took very little tweaking.


Our other design, the Beastmaker 1000, took a bit more work. We knew it wanted a set of jugs for pull ups, but they had to be very comfy and fit nicely in the hand. Getting the shape of those right took a bit more work, especially as we were fairly constrained by the machines on which we were producing fingerboards at the time.


SUMMIT#98 | SUMMER 2020 | 19


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