BETA BOARD from Escape Climbing - Introduction

Escape Climbing was founded in 2006 by Ryan Angelo, a climbing enthusiast who needed holds for the woodie he'd built in his barn - so he decided to make his own. Since then, the company has been enjoying considerable success and sells not only holds but also wall supplies, all sorts of climbing accessories, T-shirts, and most importantly, hangboards [1]!

Early this year, Ryan very kindly asked me to try out what I think is one of Escape Climbing's most iconic products - the BETA BOARD. Detroit Rock Climbing Company originally developed the BETA BOARD design (DRCC) somewhere around 2011, at least that's when the majority of reviews and discussions around the board date back to [2][3][4]. Back then, it was named the V5.12 Hangboard, a clever way of saying that it's suitable for both boulderers and sport climbers around the V5 and 5.12 levels, which is around 6C/+ and 7a+/c in Font and French scales.

In 2017 Escape Climbing purchased the design and changed its name to BETA BOARD. Over the years, this characteristic fingerboard with a futuristic look resembling a sci-fi work of art has acquired legendary status. So let's dive in and see if the BETA BOARD lives up to its reputation!

Video 1: BETA BOARD from Escape Climbing – test video [5].

BETA BOARD - Individual hold description

Although the BETA BOARD looks minimalistic at first glance, it offers a good variety of training holds. The hangboard is divided into four training zones: pinch, incut, flat, and sloper, moving from the outside towards the inside, as shown in Figure 1. The difficulty increases from top to bottom across three levels in each zone, making the board easy to navigate. Let's now take a closer look at each specific hold.

BETA BOARD Hold Layout

Figure 1: BETA BOARD hold layout.

Hold 1: Thin Pinch

I practically don't use this position. Mainly because your hand rests against the wider bottom part of the pinch grip when you hold it. In addition, you can let go with your thumbs, and you'll likely still be able to hang on by compressing the board with your shoulders.

Hold 2: Wide Pinch

When it comes to pinch training, this is my favorite position. What's important is that it doesn't allow you to let go with your thumbs by compressing the holds with your hands from the sides. That ensures that your pinch grip is always fully engaged. You can experiment and grab the holds only partly or leave some fingers out to make it harder.

Hold 3: 38 mm (1-1/2") Mini-Jug

Great for doing pull-ups, warming up, and for some beginner endurance training drills or BFR.

Hold 4: 29 mm (1-1/8") Incut Jug

That's an unusual and versatile hold. On the one hand, you could use it as a shallower jug, but I find it helpful in developing 2-finger strength because of its varying depth.

Hold 5: 12 mm (1/2") Incut Edge

I think that all the holds in Row 3 will pose quite a challenge on a V5 climber, and the Incut Edge is the easiest one. Although it's 12 mm deep, the way it's incut and textured slightly reduces its active surface. I don't think I would dare to use it for heavy MaxHangs, but it's excellent for Density Hangs, any kind of Repeaters, or BFR protocols at reduced body weight. It also works well with Emil Abrahamsson's protocol. Just remember to chalk up before you hang because it does get a bit slippery.

Hold 6: 38 mm (1-1/2") Flat Edge

It's an easy flat edge that you can use for all kinds of endurance drills and pull-ups.

Hold 7: 29 mm (1-1/8") Flat Edge

That's one of my favorite and most versatile holds. For a V5 climber, it'll work well with pretty much any protocol, including Density Hangs, MaxHangs, Bechtel's Ladders, and Repeaters. Advanced climbers may use it as a rest hold when doing endurance drills. You can grab it using half-crimp, full-crimp, and open-hand positions.

Hold 8: 12 mm (1/2") Flat Edge

This one is pretty tough! But if you're into improving your open hand positions, I think this hold could be pretty helpful. Just as Hold 5, it can get pretty slick if your fingers are sweaty.

Hold 9: 50 mm (2") Sloper Edge

This easy sloper is best used for assisted one-arm hangs. When you hold it with both hands, your thumbs get too close together, which is awkward and carries the risk of a shoulder injury.

Hold 10: 31 mm (1-1/4") Sloper Edge

Medium difficulty sloper best used for assisted one-arm hangs for the same reasons as explained for Hold 9.

Hold: 11 mm (1/2") Sloper Edge

This hold is excellent for training open hand finger strength. However, I think it can be pretty tricky even for V5 boulderers unless they specialize in fingery climbing. As with the two other slopers, the hands come close together, but there's a bit more room in this case. And because you're unlikely to use heavy loads, the risk of shoulder injury is also more negligible.

Training two finger pocket finger strength on the BETA BOARDS

Figure 2: Training two finger pocket strength on the BETA BOARD Hold 7.

Reversed orientation

Since the BETA BOARD has a gritty texture both at the upper and bottom surface of the holds, one might get the impression that you could get an entirely different board if you put it upside down. But, unfortunately, that's not truly the case. If you reverse the board, the pinches become practically unusable. In addition, since the bottom rows are now the widest, the top row is inaccessible. Of course, you might use the middle row if you absolutely want to, and the bottom row is fine, but it doesn't differ much from the original setting,