Climbing On Slopers

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Techniques for Climbing On Slopers

Most of us climbers hate slopers and nothing holds more trepidation as when we are climbing on slopers. These rounded, sloping and relatively featureless holds present an interesting conundrum for many climbers. Unlike other hold types, we can’t just pull harder on them so we find it hard to trust them as there’s little to pull on in the first place. So if not finger strength what’s the answer?
Oscar Preston climbing on slopers at a climbing wall
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There are three main areas of technique to consider when climbing on slopers.

Centre of Gravity (Body Position)

The best use of slopers is dependent on the position of your centre of gravity, so, therefore, your body position. Slopers have no grip to resist outward pulls so work best when the body is directly below the hold and as close into the wall as possible to produce downward pulls. This is easy to try, find a sloper get your body high in relation to the hold and see what happens? Now with the same sloper get your body down low and below the sloper and see what happens? High body outward forces don’t work, low body downward forces do work!

Using Your Hands

Open fingers on a large rounded sloper.

Most climbers, beginner or advanced find it difficult to hold slopers. Because of the nature of slopers, the hand is held in an open position and therefore the arm muscles stay the same length as they contract. The usual preference for most climbers is for crimps and edges where the arm muscles shorten and contract. However, this does little when transferred over to slopers and slopers, therefore, need training specifically. When using flatter slopers it is best to keep the fingers together and bent downwards. Rounded slopers are best held with open spread fingers with the palm and fingertips pressing down and squeezing the whole hold. And although slopers are renowned for being featureless they are often not so. For little textures of ripples, dips and dimples can often be found and offer that crux sending extra sloper grip.

Angle Of Dangle

Of course, the angle of the rock will influence how you use slopers. On slabs, the trust must be put in the feet while using the sloper mainly for balance. Then moving your feet up until your body is over the sloper, then you may push down and use the hold to mantel as in when leaving the swimming pool edge.

For vertical faces, the body needs to be kept under the sloper and close into the wall with a firm core to join the hands and feet. This opposition of forces keeps the hands from having to take the whole strength of the move.

Very steep overhangs need full engagement through the core, shoulders, arms and legs and the holding force to be made through the fingertips. Steep ground often involves the feet coming away as you move and therefore a dynamic approach should be used with trained contact strength to hit and hold the slopers.

Sloper Extras

The first key to climbing on slopers is confidence as failure begins with hesitation. So go for it and don’t hesitate, go with confidence and you will succeed! The second key is training, you may not want to climb on slopers, but you must. At every chance you get, on every size and shape of sloper, every type of sloper movement, get on them. Focus on how you hold the slopers and on great body tension between the hands and feet. Of course, climbing on overhangs is supreme training as it is the best way to build superb body tension, and add extra core gym workouts.

One last thing. Slopers are very difficult during the heat when the hot and humid conditions mean that your hands just cannot get any friction. By all means, train but don’t waste your time thrashing your project in unfavourable conditions wait until cool temperatures when your hands will be dry and friction is maximised!

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