Types of Rock Climbing Holds

Welcome to the world of Rock Climbing, a place where using 4 adjectives to describe the way a hold feels is common practice. For a climber, the holds are everything and even the slightest difference is distinguishable.

On the top level, there are 6 basic types of Rock Climbing holds

  • Jug – A hold that is easy to grab, similar to a milk jug handle
  • Crimp – A hold that is small and requires a lot of finger strength to hang on. These are often sharp or incut
  • Sloper – A sloper is a predominately rounded hold that requires optimal friction to hold
  • Pinch – As the name suggests, a Pinch is a hold that requires you to oppose your thumb against your fingers to hold
  • Pocket – A pocket is simply a hole in the wall. The hold can be either crimpy, slopey, or jug like
  • Volume – This is a gym phenomenon. A volume is a large feature put on the wall and can have any type of hold on it

These 6 types of Rock Climbing holds can describe 99% of all the holds found in the gym or outdoors. Let go into each type in a bit more depth (pardon the ranting).

Jug

Rock Climbing Hold Jug The all mighty Jug! The hold that everyone dreams of when trying desperately to hang on to some skimpy, sweaty holds.

A Jug can be described in three words:

  • Large
  • Sculpted
  • Glorious

Jugs are a hold that is big enough to hang from with one arm. This is a bit ambiguous because this can differ between a beginner and a V15 climber.

Generally, a Jug is something that could be considered to be a handle, much like the picture to the right. You will often see these types of holds at the gym on Vos and V1s.

Jugs are also seen on a harder route with big moves. This can be a fun feature on a dyno or hard dead-point move.

Crimp

Crimp Grip Rock ClimbingCrimps, the thing that can make even the strongest climber cringe. Crimp holds can come in all different shapes and sizes. This can range from a semi-jug to a quarter pad razor.

Depending on your strength level crimps to some climbers can be jugs to others. Often in a guidebook, you will see a problem with the following definition:

“Sit start on two jug crimps then climb the face of incut slopey crimps to a juggy crimp. Easy Mantel”

Upon arriving at the problem you find nothing but credit card sized crimps anywhere on the wall.

The issue is that super strong climbers are often the ones writing the guidebooks and to them, nothing is a crimp until its V11.

Enough about crimps lets move on to something that is a bit more enjoyable to hold!

Sloper

Rock Climbing SloperSlappin’ Sloper is some of the best climbing out there! Slopers require lots of friction to hold on too. This is often best on coarse Sandstone.

In the gym, Slopers come in all shapes and sizes (and creatures, baby face…).  Any hold that requires you to grip with a primarily open hand can be considered a Sloper.

This is where humidity and temperature really come into play. If you didn’t know it already the lower the humidity and temperature the better the friction.

If you don’t believe us try to climb something in the warm season and then again in the cool season. Some people say that seasons can make up to 3 to 4 grades different in climbing difficulty.

Speaking of friction don’t forget to brush your hold to wipe off any sweat or grime. This will definitely make it harder to hang on, even with the best Slopers.

Pinch

Pinch Grip Climbing

In reality, a pinch can be any of the previously mentions types of holds. The difference with a pinch as opposed to a Jug or Crimp is you engage your thumb on the hold.

To properly grip a Pinch you must literally pinch the hold between your fingers and your thumb to increase the friction between your skin and the rock.

This is a skill that can often go unnoticed in beginner climbers. It is easy to forget to pinch a hold and just crimp on it or something like that.

If you find yourself struggling with pinches just imagine trying squeezing the water out of the rock. Although you probably won’t get any water out of the rock it’s good practice. If somehow you do get some water out of the rock then you’ve probably had one too many…

A good way to train for pinch strength is to use a simple hand exerciser and use a pinch hold on a fingerboard. Working in pinch training to your workout routine can make loads of difference in your climbing.

Pocket

There is something special about going knuckle deep into a bomber pocket and cranking down like there is no tomorrow. Pocket climbing is some of the hardest climbing there is and also the most injury prone.

Pocket climbing should come with a disclaimer. Depending on the size and shape of the pocket, it can put your finger in unusual positions that cause excessive strain and torsion on your joints.

That being said, hitting a mono on a dead-point move it one of the coolest feelings in the world.

Training for pocket climbing is easy with any modern fingerboard. Just simply hang using the different pockets on the board until you gain confidence and strength.

Volume

Climbing VolumeVolumes are a human creation to let us add large features to a relatively blank gym wall. These volumes have become more popular over the last couple of years.

Most competitions will consist of problems and routes comprised almost exclusively of volumes of all shapes and sizes. This is somewhat due to their aesthetically pleasing looks and varying degrees of difficulty.

Volumes can make any climbing wall completely change it looks and feel. With this modern climbing invention, setters are able to set better and more creative routes.

Any way you look at it, volumes are a fun way to climb and make the gap between outdoor climbing and indoor gyms become that much closer.

Conclusion

Now that you have all the knowledge you need about the different types of Rock Climbing holds its time to get and there and climb!

Don’t forget to take your time with some of the more difficult holds while starting out.

Check out this video for some more awesome beta and leave a comment below with your thoughts!

Enjoy!

Owner and Operator of Every Last Rock. He is dedicated to spreading the Stoke about all things climbing. Often found Bouldering around the US and obsessively training.

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