BB's guide to Boulderspeak - part 4 |


Different hold types


The biggest, friendliest type of hold - this is as easy to grip as a "jug handle" and normally found on the easy circuits or on the underside of roof climbs.


Pockets can fit whole hands, or any number of fingers down to the infamous "mono" - a pocket which fits just one finger. Once you're confident pulling on pockets you're just a step away from being able to do this climb.

Edge / crimp

Smaller "edges" sometimes don't look like climbing holds at all to the uninitiated - but once you've built up a bit of finger strength, you'll be amazed what you are able to pull up on. Edges have some kind of "positive" feature, meaning a ridge or surface that is at least 90 degrees to the direction of pull. Edges can be climbed either with an open hand, or by "crimping" - where the fingers are bent at severe angles over the small edge. Edges are often just called "crimps". Great care should be taken when crimping as this kind of grip exerts strong force on your tendons and can quickly lead to injury. Improving your open hand strength and avoiding unnecessary crimping is a good way to avoid injuries.


A sloper is a hold without any kind of "positive" edge to it, which slopes down in the direction of pull. With good open hand strength you can get a surprising amount of grip out of sloping holds, though it will never feel quite as secure as a jug - you'll just get better at learning when you are, and aren't, about to slip off. Judging the best direction in which to pull on a sloper and adjusting your body position to allow yourself to pull in this direction can make all the difference. There's some good looking slopers on this boulder in Sweden (which also goes to show that sometimes, you just need to come back another day - persistence is everything!).


Sometimes, there really aren't any holds to use and you just have to make the most of the surfaces around you. Using your hands but particularly your feet on the rock face without being on a specific hold is known as "smearing". It's all about the friction between you and the surface and you can get a surprising amount of grip using this kind of move. Top tip: try to press into the rock when smearing, rather than down along the rock - you'll be much more likely to keep the friction you need this way.

End of part 4: Awesome!

Now you know your crimps from your slopers, lastly let's check out part 5 - other types of climbing.

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