I was at a climbing clinic earlier today and the instructor was going through basic climbing language so that everyone at the clinic would be on the same page as she provided direction.
The instructor brought up “slopers” and though most of us knew what she was talking about, it was clear that not everyone was sure what slopers were.
Slopers are large rounded “holds” (if you can call it a hold), that slopes away from the wall without an edge that clearly indicates where to hold. These holds are usually more difficult to use and are only seen in more challenging or advanced climbs.
Frequently, slopers are one of the most difficult parts of the climbing route/problem to complete and some climbers avoid routes with slopers all together. Many times when slopers are on a climb, they aren’t just in one place, they are throughout the entire route/problem.
Slopers climbing holds are almost like a different type of climbing because it requires to use your muscles and brain differently than most climbing holds. Some people love slopers, but the majority of climbers don’t so here are a few reasons you should love and a few reasons to hate sloper climbing.
3 Ways to Use Large Sloper Rock Climbing Holds
- Identify where your weight should be while you are on the hold, then you will be able to use it. For example, most slopers require your weight to be directly under the sloper, so if you are to the side or away from the wall of the sloper, find a way to get directly under it.
- Make sure that your hands are dry and well chalked up when using large sloper climbing holds. Unlike other kinds of holds, the entire surface of your hand is what creates the friction to hold your hand in place and a well-chalked hand will make it so that you can stay on the hold longer.
- Engage your fingers, palm, entire arm, shoulder, back and core muscles while using an extra-large climbing hold such as a sloper. If you try to use your hand or wrist muscles without your arm, back and core muscles, you may get straining injuries in addition to the added difficulty.
3 Reasons Why You Should Love Slopers Climbing
- Slopers can be fun to use because they create a different challenge for climbing compared to other types of climbing holds such as crimps or jugs because your hand is completely open. For example, unless there is chalk all over the hold where you are supposed to put your hand, it isn’t always clear what the best way is to grip it and you have to figure it out. It makes sloper holds an additional puzzle inside the puzzle of the route/problem. It is more challenging mentally as well as physically, which can be fun for some climbers.
- They can sometimes be great for getting higher on a climb quickly by pressing down from above the climbing hold and lifting yourself above the sloper hold.
- Slopers usually make a decent foothold once you get on top of it because it usually has such a large surface. A nice big foothold can make it easier for you to rest for a longer period of time, depending on the angle and location of the sloper.
3 Reasons Why you should hate slopers climbing
- All climbing holds require a certain amount of muscle, but slopers seem to use a lot more muscle energy than the rest. For example, you have to use your entire hand, arm, back and core to use most sloper holds.
- Another reason climbers frequently hate slopers is because of the same reason I suggested that you should love slopers – slopers don’t usually have a clear way to use the hold because there isn’t an edge that you put your fingers on so it takes additional brain energy (and likely a couple of falls) to figure out.
- One of the reasons that make slopers particularly difficult that you can’t always tell if I can trust the grip you have on a sloper until you try it.If you have to depend on it and are wrong about the grip, you will fall. Falling is a basic part of climbing, but that doesn’t mean we have to like it!
Slopers are a part of more advanced climbing routes/problems and some climbers love them because it gives them a different type of challenge that is refreshing compared to the other types of climbing holds.
However, some climbers dislike the amount of muscle energy and difficulty that slopers provide so they may avoid slopers climbing altogether.
If you want to use large climbing holds or sloper climbing holds, it is a good idea to pay attention to where your weight is, where your grip is and then trust yourself.
If you fall, that is ok, it is part of climbing, but at least you are building the skills you need to be a better climber and maybe you will get really good at extra-large climbing holds and slopers climbing holds, which would put you a step ahead of other climbers.