What? Every hold has a name?!?!

What? Every hold has a name?!?!

Well, maybe not every hold, but yes there is a lot of terminology around the type of holds on climbing walls and how they are held. This is most important when discussing with other climbers, being able to understand which of the 10 holds on a route they are talking about. However recognising some of the most common hold types will also help to know what kind of grip you want to try to use with them. The different grips and hand positions shown in this article are only as examples and to give an idea of perspective.


These you can get a really good hold of (described as a positive hold by climbers) that all but your thumb can fit in. These are really obvious, shaped almost like a cupboard handle or large pocket and they are the easiest holds you will see on the wall.




A flake is a flattish hold that has an open edge allowing the hand to grip round the hold. It is like a flat jug.


Crimps are really small, shallow holds that can only be held by the finger tips. There are different positions for your hand to be in such as half crimp, full crimp and open crimp (we’ll cover techniques in another blog so the picture here of using the hold is to give an idea of scale). A rail would be a long crimp that the hand can be placed at various points along it (visualise a picture rail or top of a door frame).


The name really gives the game away here – it is a hold that you ‘pinch’ (but with the whole hand not just a finger pinch). This could be a different hold tilted sideways or any hold that requires you to use your thumb on the bottom (thumb latch).


These are generally larger holds with no obvious point to grip or grab with the fingers. They are held using purely the friction of your hands and the force pushing into the hold. The sloper is an incredibly direction dependant hold – often you have to sink below it so you are pulling downwards.


A pocket is often for three or less fingers as they are quite small. Some pockets are huge and can be used by the whole hand in any direction and this type is known as a hueco.


A thread is a loop shaped hold, very much like a handle, that can be used like a really big jug.


An arête is the outside edge of the wall and can often offer quite a good alternative hold. When competing they are sometimes excluded and this is indicated by a line of tape on the wall.


Volumes offer a 3D imitation of a more natural rock formation than a flat wall. Holds are often attached to them and they form part of the wall, but the volumes can be also used as giant wooden holds. So, just like the arête you can use them as a hold on any route. Be careful because  if there is something that looks like a volume but instead has the same texture as a hold, then it is considered a  hold and is only allowed to be used on the correct route.

We hope you found this article useful and if you have ideas for other blogs we can write, let us know using the contact form. Many thanks to Boulder Shack for allowing us to take the photographs for this article.

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