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Everybody were impressed by those “glass” holds in Bern. Athelets, routesetters, climber from all over the word were wonder: what is it? We found the answer in the Obsessed film by Flathold. But even after we have watched it some questions left. So we made this interview with Pierre Broyer, the routesetter from France, to get the answers.

Photo: Mathieu Achermann / Flathold

Pierre, we made our previous interview 2 year ago. It means that when we were making it you have already had the idea of that handless movement in your mind. Please tell me about that movement. Where did you try to set it for the first time?

The original idea happen on a setting session with jacky straight after the first lockdown in France . We move with jacky in Germany to set boulders , and we needed to set in a nice roof, I try this thing for the first time and it was not really a success… Back home , we train with a friend in the spray wall before meiringen and I push the idea further , trying to understand how it’s work . The first competition campus happen in semis in Meiringen, but it was a bit too hard and still I needed to improve to really understand how to make it mandatory!

How did you decide that you need special hold to make that idea works?

On a setting session with Manu, at the end of a training camp we still needed to set a couple of campus, we were out of energy and our skin was pretty bad after all this testing.

On the storage we figure out one dual hold and we start playing with to set one campus. It was quite good to set this type of mouvement but we get only one. Then I realized that maybe with an entire set it’s can be an answer to forced the mouvement without breaking beta and a good tool for setters.

Photo: Mathieu Achermann / Flathold

Did you expect that Manu answered to you: “Ok, we can make hold specially for your boulder, Pierre”. For me, a climber and a routesetter from time to time this story sounds like a dream, not like a real thing )

Manu is a really nice guy and always motivated to trying new things , we both already experimented to set with dual holds and they just received this new machine at the factory so ….. the timing was perfect to try to make it happen ;) Not sure he will do it every week (lol) but I feel so proud to work with them on this project.

Was it hard to set the boulder with this “glass” holds in Bern? Please tell me a little bit about work process and the routesetting team in Bern.

The process was intense! Cause of the schedule, we needed to set one round every day and stripped it every evening. So we didn’t have to much time to play and the pressure was quite high , especially with this Olympic qualification. We were 8 setters , with different qualities and every day according to the plan we set one boulder per group of two setters and we tweak it all together!

On the final day we were in charge of this coordination with Rémy. We spend 4 hours trying another movement and struggling with it to finally going to the version that happen . And again a lot of time to make it work and avoiding the cutting beta. The time between semi’s and final we climbed again on it and tweaked it again to find the good balance , honestly I was lost before the comp start.

Photo: Mathieu Achermann / Flathold

What was the final version of that boulder? The hard one or the easier one? Did it work as you expect in the competition?

Finally just before the final, we decided to make it easier , I still get the memories of Moscow final in my mind , and we were agreed for more entertainment on this one. And it was still not so easy at the end looking at the results.

Nicolai Uznik sent that boulder 2nd go. Was it a big surprise for you?

Definitely, and he send it so easily and fast. I was shocked and scared of a too easy version but finally he was just strong and the level was good.

Mejdi Schalck used water to wet his hands for that PET holds. What can you say about it? Was it the key to climb that smooth holds? The other climbers used chalk and seems like it didn’t help them on the lower part of that boulder?

At least we spend a lot of time trying different option and for all of us , the tricks to get the best friction was different. For Remi and I just a bit of chalk was perfect. Also the athletes get one of the holds in iso so they get the opportunity to try different things before the final. Depend on your skin texture , water can be good if really bad… personally I have a soft skin so it wasn’t really helpful.

Photo: Mathieu Achermann / Flathold

You are in a good shape in the Flathold video. Can you tell something about your training program as a climber?

It’s kind of chaotic, is not so easy to train as regularly as a professional climber but I am trying to dedicate a period just for training in fall. Then I prepared myself before events and in between I am trying to keep a good level between some works. I am mostly doing some spray wall and some finger exercises.

Do you think that the holds with no texture is the future of climbing? Are you gonna use them to create new movements again? What a bout the other non-traditional stuff like rotating holds or something like this? Is the technical progress the inevitable part of sport climbing?

At some point, I have the feeling that new type of holds can help us to create something different. But after a period of exploring we will probably go back again and mixed it with traditional climbing. We should keep competition not too far from the origin of our sport and trying to help the athletes to show them best and not turn competitions into a random game or circus! Thanks for the interview and have fun in setting! Big up to Moscow 2022 team, Anna, Nick, Pasha and Tim. A huge page of campus story was written there ;)

Text: Yury Birilov

Photo: Mathieu Achermann / Flathold


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