Rock Climbing hand holds
You have to use your hands and arms to support your body's weight. You just can’t reach up and grab big holds every time you move. Many handholds just are not that good or very big so you have to learn specialized hand positions to effectively use those holds.
Different Types of Handholds
If you don’t know how to grip various kinds of handholds with your fingers and hands, you’re not going to have a lot of success as a climber. Every rock face offers a variety of different handholds or grips. There are flat edges, rounded slopers, pockets that fit one finger or your whole hand, vertical flake edges, upside-down holds, and projecting blocks. How you use these handholds is key to your climbing success.
Six Basic Hand and Finger Grips
Here are the six basic finger and hand grips used on handholds:
Crimping is grabbing small edges with the fingers bent at the middle knuckle. The thumb is then wrapped over the top of the index finger for added pulling power. Crimps are the most popular finger grip position for small incut edges and flakes. Crimping is extremely hard on the fingers. Of all of the finger grips, crimping places the most stress on finger joints and tendons, leading to finger injuries.
Open Hand Grips
Open-hand gripping is when the climber uses a handhold with his fingers stretched out and the middle knuckle straight. This is the least stressful grip position since the joints are straight. The open-hand grip is used for grabbing slopers since the open hand grip allows more surface area of the fingers to contact the sloping edge. While the open-hand grip may feel the weakest of the finger grips, with regular training at a gym and outside, it will become your strongest and most used grip style.
The pinch grip is the most common grip, occurring on almost every climb. To do a pinch grab, a hold is held with a half-crimp or open-hand grip; the thumb then pinches the opposing edge. Pinches are often found at indoor climbing gyms, which makes a gym a great place to increase your pinch strength. Pinches are also common on outdoor routes, including ribs of rock, side pulls with a thumb catch, and large brick-type pinches. Make the pinch grip part of your regular training regimen.
The friction grip, also called palming, is similar to the open hand grip since it involves draping your open palm over a handhold and using the friction of your palm skin to hang onto the hold. Although it is not often used, except on slab routes, the friction grip is important to learn since it is used when climbing arêtes, dihedrals, and bouldering. Practice the friction grip outside by grabbing features by wrapping your hand on smooth pieces of rock. Palming is often used when climbing a dihedral or chimney; the climber puts her palm on the opposite wall to push with hands on one wall and feet on the opposite wall. Palming is one of the most important but overlooked finger grips in climbing.
Learn Grips in a Climbing Gym
If you’re new to rock climbing, practice all these grips at an indoor rock gym. Many of the artificial handholds used in a climbing gym are ideal to learn each of the different hand grips. Learn and practice those techniques inside the gym then take those skills outside to a real cliff.