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What are the Different Types of Rock Climbing Grips?

Rock climbing grips are the foundation of the sport, each type presenting unique challenges. From the tiny 'crimps' demanding finger strength to 'jugs' offering a more secure hold, climbers must master 'pinches,' 'slopers,' and 'pockets' to conquer diverse routes. How do these grips change the way you climb, and which techniques can you employ to tackle them? Explore with us to elevate your climb.
Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari

Rock climbing grips are more commonly known as holds, and they come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and materials for use on an indoor or outdoor artificial climbing wall. Rock climbing grips almost always feature a hole in the center of the grip through which a bolt can be placed so the grip can be secured to the climbing wall. The most common types of rock climbing grips include jugs, slopers, pockets, jibs or nubs, and pinches. Each grip differs in size and shape, and they can me made from a variety of materials including wood, resin, fiberglass, or even real rock.

The earliest versions of rock climbing grips were made of actual stone that were drilled out so they could be secured to the wall. These rock climbing grips provided an exceptional gripping surface, but they tended to be heavy and would often smooth over after repeated or excessive use. Wood grips came next, and are still sometimes used on climbing walls today, though they tend to splinter after repeated use. Wood holds are easy to manipulate into a variety of shapes, and they are comfortable on climbers' hands, but they are less oftenused because they are not exceptionally durable over time.

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Resin and fiberglass are commonly used today, and each material has distinct advantages and disadvantages. Durability is a common struggle among all rock climbing grips, and these materials are no exception. They do tend to last longer than other materials, however, and they are easy to mold into distinct shapes. They can chip, and they are susceptible to cracking when mounted to a wall, as over-tightening the bold can lead to excess pressure on the somewhat brittle materials.

The shapes of rock climbing grips vary significantly. The smallest grips are jibs or nubs, which are exceptionally small and usually can't be secured to the wall with bolts because of their size. They are usually secured with screws instead. Slopers are large, globular-shaped grips with no pockets; when a climber grips this hold, the hand is open, so the strength of the hand is responsible for grip. Jugs are large grips that feature pockets, holes, cracks, and other features on which the climber can grip positively. Mini-jugs are essentially the same thing but on a smaller scale. Pockets are smaller than jugs but also feature holes and positive grips. They usually only allow a climber to grasp the hold with one or two fingers, however, so these grips require significant hand strength.

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