Bouldering 101: Know Your Grips

Maybe you've already planned a few routes in your local rock climbing gym. But knowing what all the grips are called and what they're for can make the climb even better. We went to Brooklyn Boulders, where climber Hyo Kim taught us the different grips and ways to experiment. “Look for the holds that are comfortable to you,” says Kim. “Depending on your level, you’re going to choose a different hold; depending on what you’re trying to train, you’re going to use a different hold.” Now, get to know some of the below key terms so you can get back on the wall.

MoonBoard: This is the rock wall. It’s used to train climbers and help develop finger and core strength.

Jug: This is a larger hold that can fit your whole hand. These are important for beginners. After you feel comfortable maneuvering through the wall on jugs, you may want to start reaching for different grips.

Pinch: This is a rock that’s designed for you to pinch with your hand. Unlike a jug, there is no pocket to grip into, making this hold popular on more challenging routes.

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Sloper: This is a rounded grip designed for you to hang on with your hand. Like a pinch, it’s used on advance routes.

Crimps: These are tiny rocks along the wall that your fingertips can latch onto as you climb.

Mono Finger Pocket: This grip fits only one finger at a time.

When you arrive at the rock wall, Kim suggests two ways to navigate your route. The first is to just get started and decide where you want to go once you’re on the wall. The second is to look at the MoonBoard and plan your route based on what you’d like to work on. “Step back, look at the wall again, see if you can visualize yourself on the wall,” Kim says. For example, if you want to practice big moves, you might pick out the jugs that you’ll reach for in advance and attempt climbing just those.

And don’t be discouraged if you don’t make it. “It doesn’t matter if you fall, that’s what you’re here for,” Kim says. “If you’re doing great — if you’re not falling — that’s bad.”

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