Slopers, those rounded and sloping holds lacking any features, present an interesting dilemma for climbers of all skill levels, whether you’re just getting started with rock climbing or already have several years of experience under your climbing harness. Yes, slopers climbing is challenging, but it’s very much doable. Below are the steps involved in climbing slopers, as well as some techniques and tips to make the process a little easier.
3 Steps for Slopers Climbing
Being one of the more difficult types of climbing holds to get a good grip onto, you’ll want to make sure that you grab it properly or else you may end up slipping. That said, here’s how you should approach a sloper.
1. Analyze the Hold
Before you even start climbing, you’ll want to take a good look at the sloper and its shape. Think about where you should best place your hand, what direction your hand will be pulling against it, and where the rest of your body will be when you right before and during the contact. Take a look at the surrounding climbing holds as well and analyze the best move you can make in order to get to them from the sloper. Once you’re satisfied, you can start your ascent.
2. Align Your Center of Gravity
Your body’s position and center of gravity are considered the primary and most crucial factors when it comes to climbing slopers. Because slopers have no grip or edges to resist outward pulls, the best position would be right underneath them. This, and keeping your body as close to the wall as possible, will give you the best downward pull.
Once underneath the sloper, imagine where your hand or hands will be. Then, draw a line starting from the direction of the pull down to your torso and to your lower extremities to align your center of gravity. Remember to keep your arms, shoulders, back, core, legs, and feet as tight as possible when you make contact with the sloper. Also, keep your torso close to the wall when you move off to another hold.
3. Position Your Hands
When climbing slopers, your hands will be held in an open position. Whether the fingers are close together or spread apart will depend on the nature of the sloper.
When climbing flatter slopers, it is best to keep the fingers close together and pressed downwards. On the other hand, rounded slopers are best tackled with fingers spread apart with the palm and fingertips pressing down and squeezing the hold.
Slopers are generally large holds and there are a number of ways to hold them. In any case, you’ll want your fingers and palms to make as much contact as possible with the hold. Also, try angling your wrists left and right to find a more positive hold. Climbing chalks can also help dry your hands and help you get a better hold of the sloper.
Rock Angle Considerations in Slopers Climbing
The angle of the rock will also should also be considered when slopers climbing. Below are some tips on how to approach slopers based on rock angle.
On slabs, move your feet up until your body is even with or over the sloper, at which point you can now press down and use the sloper as you would in climbing mantles. You’ll want to keep your body in place as you move your feet up while using the sloper for balance.
Vertical and Slight Overhangs
For verticals and slight overhangs, you’ll want to keep your body under the sloper and close to the wall. Keep your core tight, arms straight, and hips low. Keeping your core tight is very important because once your core sags you will lose opposition and you’ll be relying purely on your finger strength to complete the maneuver.
When tackling steep overhangs, you should initiate full engagement though your core, arms, and legs. Bend your arms to engage your shoulders and back, and cup your hands and press with your fingertips.
Tips for Climbing Slopers
In addition to proper technique and approach, here are some more tips to help make climbing a sloper more manageable.
Look Closely at the Sloper
Once you have the sloper right in front of your, take a close look at it and see where you can best put your hand for a more effective grip. Although slopers are renowned for being featureless, they are not always so because they often have ripples, dips and dimples. You can also try feeling the top for a small incut or crease which is not always evident from below.
The best way to get good at climbing a sloper is through practice. Whenever you have the chance, practice climbing slopers of every size and shape. Focus on developing core strength as well.
Confidence is essential when tackling a sloper. Avoid having second thoughts, because as many experienced climbers will tell you, the moment you fail to commit and start hesitating, half the battle would’ve already been lost.
So don’t second guess yourself and your abilities and just go for it. If you’ve been practicing, then there’s no reason why shouldn’t be able to do it. Besides, you have your trusty belay partner at the other end of the climbing rope or a bouldering crash pad underneath, so don’t think about anything else and just focus on that sloper.
Q: What is a Sloper in climbing?
A sloper is a type of climbing hold characterized by a rounded and smooth surface. It is one of the most challenging hold to grip since they have no edges and other features to clamp your fingers onto. That said, they do have small holes and dimples which adds texture and somehow helps with friction.
Q: How do you make a Sloper?
To make a sloper, follow the steps below:
- Take resin (polyester or epoxy) and mix according to the manufacturer’s instructions in a container.
- Add dry sand and mix.
- Pour the mixture into a mold to form the sloper hold. Make sure you leave a small recess or a flat spot for the washer and bolt.
- Once the mixture cures, it can be taken out of the mold and attached to the climbing wall.
Globo Surf Overview
Slopers climbing is more about style and technique and not brute force. It should be noted though that there’s no one specific approach that’s best for climbing slopers. However, proper technique and regular practice you should be able to gain enough competence and confidence to tackle slopers of any size or shape.