Slab climbing is notorious for polarizing climbers. While no severe divides or arguments have risen over a slab climb, some climbers openly admit their love for the style while others vow never to touch them.
But slab climbing can be fun and rewarding despite the frustrations and fear that accompany some of the moves demanded. So, to help you appreciate the art of slab climbing, we’ve compiled a list of tips, tricks, and techniques to help you conquer the slab wall with no fear and lots of fun.
Tips, Tricks, and Techniques for Successful Slab Climbing
- Trust Your Feet!
Trust that they will stay if you put weight through your feet! One of the biggest reasons climbers fall on slab is from foot slips. However, this is easily combated by trusting your feet and consciously putting enough weight into them to create more friction between your foot and the hold.
- Stick Your Butt Out!
Contrary to the popular climbing advice that encourages you to keep your hips close to the wall, it can be advantageous to stick your butt/hips out when slab climbing. On certain moves, pushing your butt away from the wall helps quickly shift your weight over and into your feet.
Remember that this isn’t the case for every move on every slab climb! But if you find yourself struggling, give it a try!
- But also keep your hips close to the wall!
We know tips 2 and 3 are a little contradictory, but if the butt-out method isn’t helping, you’ll likely need to do the opposite. Slab climbing is very technical, low percentage, and often requires good balance. By keeping your hips and body in general, leaning into the wall, you’ll feel more secure shifting your weight into your feet with low percentage (aka not good) hand holds.
- Drop Your Heels!
If you haven’t caught on, slab climbing is taxing on the legs, often even more so than the arms. Like how your forearms get pumped, the longer you are on a slab climb, the more likely your calves will become pumped. When possible, keeping your toes on the footholds, drop your heels lower than your toes to rest your calf muscles and give them a little stretch!
- Befriend the Brushes!
Slab climbs are notorious for having bad, slippery handholds and footholds you’d rather not trust. These low percentage holds lead to climbers chalking up well before they attempt the climb. But that chalk is only helpful in small amounts, with the excess chalk building up and making the holds even slippier. Help yourself, and thoroughly brush those hand and foot holds off before attempting.
- The Bendier the Better
It’s common to find yourself forced into contortionist-like positions on a slab climb. Whether it’s the splits, getting a high foot, or a press move forcing your shoulder to rotate, you’’ thank yourself if you’ve trained your flexibility and mobility off the wall.
- Be Patient
Take your time. Don’t rush slab climbs, as that’s a near-guaranteed way to fall off. As slab climbs aren’t usually pumpy, you can take your time to place your feet securely and figure out the best way to advance up the wall.
Rolling off tip number 7, don’t forget to breathe! Slab climbs might be scary, but they usually aren’t powerful like an overhung boulder where you might hold your breath while pulling a hard move. Instead, live and remain calm while on the wall. You’ve got this!
If you’ve made it through the list of 8 tips and tricks to help you send the slab, you’re well prepared to crush some climbs! As always, practicing is the most proven way to perfect the craft of slab climbing. Let us know if you have any other questions or concerns about conquering the slab wall; we’d love to answer them if you comment below!