Crimp Grips Climbing Technique: When and How to Use

Are you a climbing enthusiast willing to hone your skills?

Before you take on the challenge of climbing strenuous routes or problems,you must improve your climbing grips and hand position. With proper gripping techniques, you can tackle and maneuver every hold you’ll encounter on the crags. Not only that, but it will also help you prevent slippage and injuries.

Whenever you’re attempting to climb a strenuous bo ulder or crag, one of the best ways to hold on to the small handholds is by crimp grip. Most professionals consider full crimp grip as the best grips and hand position in rock climbing.

On the thin edges, this aggressive hand position can secure the hold and prevent you from falling. While performing a crimp grip, the entire tension builds on your finger joints and tendons. Therefore, if not done right, this technique will most likely result in severe injury.

But, how to use the crimp grips climbing technique, and when should you use it?

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the topic of the crimp grips technique. We’ll also look at a step-by-step guide on how to use this technique and when to use it.

So, let’s get started!

Crimp Grip

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While climbing the rock, you will come across different types of handholds. It is quite obvious that the only way to maneuver these holds is by using different gripping techniques.

For any professional climber, gripping is easily the most important technique to have in rock climbing. For different types of handholds, you need to use different grips and hand positions to stick to it.

There are two different ways to use your hands to stick on the edges — open hand grip and crimp grip.

Crimping is a grip technique where a climber grabs the small edges with their fingertips flat on the surface while the fingers arch above their tips. Here, the climbers hold the edges with the fingers bent at the knuckles. To enhance the pulling strength, the climbers must fold their thumb over the index finger for support.

Usually, crimping grips comes handy while climbing over in-cut edges and small flakes. Although the hand position feels comfortable while performing this technique, the risk of damaging the finger tendons is too high. If you crimp too hard, crimping can be harsh on the fingers.

Since the tendons and finger joints take the entire pressure while doing crimp grips, it can cause finger injuries if not done right. Therefore, you need to stay cautious while performing this technique.

How to Do Crimp Grip

Before you learn how to nail crimp grip, it is crucial to understand that this is one of the most difficult techniques in rock climbing. If not executed properly, this technique can severely injure the finger joints, tendons, and muscles.

  • To execute a proper crimp grip, first, place the pads of your fingertips on the hold.
  • Once you place the fingertips on the edge of the hold, curl all the fingers to flex the second joint.
  • To secure your grip, fold the thumb over the fingernail of your index finger and lock the crimp.

Make sure you always lock the thumb to secure the grip. The thumb lock enhances the pulling strength and makes the grip more powerful.

When Should You Use Crimp Grip

Although crimp grip is considered one of the most powerful techniques in rock climbing, it is not supposed to be used all the time. You should use this technique only when it is necessary.

A crimp grip should be used to stick on small holds. Even though you can use it on any other holds, it is best to use them on fingertip holds. The handholds should have a slight in-cut that lets your fingertips dig into the hold. Such holds are common on granite and limestone cliffs.

If you use the crimp grip more than necessary, you might develop chronic finger injuries in the long run. If not careful, such injuries can even end your climbing career. Therefore, we recommend you limit the use of crimp grip to those situations where no other techniques work.

Injuries and Prevention

Crimp grip puts a lot of stress on your finger joints and tendons. Therefore, it’s best to rely on this climbing technique only when required. Using this technique continuously might risk your fingers to develop chronic injuries in the long run.

In the worst case, you may end up with severe finger injuries that can end your climbing career. Therefore, use the full crimp grip only when it is necessary. By doing so, you can avoid long-term injuries to the finger joints, tendons, and muscles.

If you twist your fingers while attempting the crimp grip, we recommend you to take rest until your fingers fully recover. Taking a few days off may not sound much fun, but it can avoid long-term injuries.

Moreover, we also recommend you to avoid crimping at the climbing gyms. Usually, the holds in the gyms are made smallers to make the route more challenging. Using crimp grips on these handholds may injure your fingers.

Half Crimp Grip

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Half crimp grip is another gripping technique that comes handy while sticking to small handholds. It is essentially the same as full crimping, except you do not have to lock the index finger with your thumb once you hold the edge.

Compared to the full crimp grip, the half crimp grip is less stressful and more comfortable on your finger joints. However, the grip while rocking half crimp is not as strong. It is because this technique does not require a thumb lock for a secured grip. Similar to the full crimp, the half crimp is also best to use on the narrow edges.

When to Use Half Crimp Grip

Like a full crimp grip, the half crimp grip is not supposed to be used on the climbing sessions regularly. It is best to use this grip technique on narrow, smaller fingertip handholds. Since this technique is less stressful on fingers compared to full crimp, most professionals recommend using half crimp grip whenever possible.

Unlike a full crimp grip, you can use this gripping technique regularly. However, it is advisable not to overdo it, or it might injure your fingers in the long run.

Injuries and Prevention

As the half crimp grip is more comfortable and less strenuous on your hand, it does not have as much risk of injury as the full crimp grip. Therefore, using this technique instead of the full grip whenever possible, will help you avoid severe injuries.

Since full crimping is extremely harsh on the finger joints and tendons, locking the half crimp grip will be much more relaxing. It also does not result in long-term injuries unless you overdo it. Half crimp can help to build your hands and forearm strength. It also enhances control and contact that allows you to hang onto the sloping holds.

While it is best to practice this technique regularly, it is advisable not to overdo it. Training for the half crimp grip frequently might result in finger injuries.

Open Hand Grip

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The open hand grip is another climbing grip technique where the climbers stick to the holds with stretched fingers. In this technique, the joints are bent inwards in a natural position.

Open hand grip lets the climbers stick on the rock using two basic mechanisms — friction and hooks. Depending on the handholds, climbers can either use one or even both the mechanisms to stay on the wall.

While attempting an open hand grip, climbers can achieve friction by placing a large part of their hand on the holds. Likewise, the climbers can achieve hooks by bending their hands in an upside-down “J” position while grabbing the handholds. While friction is mostly used on slopers, the hooks are primarily used to get the hold of jugs.

Since your hand curves on natural position, open hand grips are more comfortable and less stressful on your joints. Unlike the full crimp grip, this technique does not have the risk of finger injuries.

When to Use Open Hand Grip

Open hand grip requires more surface area to get a hold on the walls. Therefore, slopers are the best handholds for using this climbing grip technique.

It is also reasonably comfortable and puts less strain on the joints because they bend naturally on the open hand grip. While this climbing grip does not seem like the strongest finger grips, it still does a decent job while grabbing slopers. You can only use the open hand grip on regular edges to get an exceptional grip.

Injuries and Prevention

While this technique isn’t as injury prone as full crimp, you should not be reckless while attempting it. Unlike other techniques, if you failed to get a proper grip on an open hand, you might have to bear a long-term injury. If neglected, this injury might bring down your climbing career.

So, it is advisable to use this technique only when it is necessary. Before attempting this grip technique straight on a challenging crag, make sure to practice this technique well.

Do not try the open hand grip unless you’re confident about it. And always remember, if you have to go through any injury, be it a minor or major one, do not be reckless. Make sure to take enough rest before heading back to the gym or the rock.

Closed Grip

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The closed grip is the kind of grip technique in rock climbing that is seldom used. Unlike other techniques, the closed grip is not used in climbing sessions regularly. In this climbing technique, the hands of the climbers are naturally bent inwards.

This technique demands an upward push on the fingertips to bend the knuckles in the opposite direction. This climbing technique requires you to hang on the handholds using the bone of your fingertips instead of the skin.

Although this grip technique is seldom used while climbing, it is an absolute must for some holds. On small handholds that do not have a larger surface area to nail an open hand grip, a closed grip is the only choice they have.

However, like any other grip technique, make sure you do not overdo the closed grip. It is clearly a difficult technique to master and tends to put a lot of stress on finger joints and tendons. Therefore, it is better to use it only when it is strictly required.

When to Use Closed Grip

Closed grips are not a conventional climbing grip technique. They are often used on small handholds that do not have a larger surface area to nail the open hand grips. You can also use them on regular edges and slopes.

However, they are not as comfortable as an open hand grip. This technique puts a lot of tension on joints and tendons. If not done correctly, it can injure your hands and keep you away from the rocks for a long time. Therefore, only use the closed grip when it is absolutely required.

Injuries and Prevention

Compared to the open hand grip, the closed grip is a much harder technique to nail. It also has a much larger risk factor compared to the open grip.

While performing the closed grip, your finger joints and tendons have to go through a lot of stress. Therefore, if you fail to nail the proper closed grip or over-train this technique, you might severely injure your fingers.

It is best to limit the use of this climbing technique and only use it when necessary to avoid such unfortunate circumstances. Moreover, before you make your moves on the crags, make sure you practice the closed grip properly.

Which Climbing Grip Should I Use?

To be honest, there is no good or bad gripping technique in rock climbing. While practicing, it is always better to learn as many moves and techniques as you can.

But if you’re wondering whether you should use closed grip or open hand grip, the answer is — it depends! Seriously, there is no single better choice when it comes to climbing grip techniques. It entirely depends on the type of route you’re climbing and the kind of hold that you come across. Some hold demands closed grip while others require an open hand grip.

In general, you’ll need to use open hand grips in jugs, and closed grips on the crimps. As you train more and more moves, you’ll be able to tackle different types of handholds. And, with more practice, you’ll be able to know which technique you should do as you approach different types of holds.

Therefore, which climbing grip should you use entirely depends on the situation you’re in.

While you face other holds like slopers or edges, you need to put your calculative consideration before you make your move. Most beginners will straightforwardly use a closed grip in most situations. It is because the grips tend to be much more solid and secure. However, this is not a good practice to start with.

When you’re just beginning, we recommend you train both open hands as well as a closed grip. If you over-train the closed grip or overuse it during the climb, this technique will most likely cause a severe injury in the long run.

So, wherever you’re training, try using both techniques to balance your skills and understand the need in the circumstances.

Instead of asking which grip technique you should use regularly, you should analyze the routes and the movements you will have to tackle to perform it. If the route demands hanging from the hold, open hand grips will be more suitable.

Similarly, if you’re pulling up on the holds, using the closed techniques will be much more suitable. Make sure to build the finger strength and control to make the maneuvering easy for you.


So, there you go! That’s all for the crimp grips climbing technique and the step-by-step guide to master this grip technique. If you’re an aspiring climber looking to take your climbing game to the next level, it is crucial to learn as many techniques as you possibly can.

Crimp grip climbing technique is by far one of the best grip techniques in rock climbing. Although it is a tough technique to master, it is highly effective during the climb. However, if you’re willing to nail this technique, you should always be aware of the fact that it has a high potential for injuries. If you do not perform it properly, you might have to face a severe finger injury.