Home > Profiles

Always Test Holds on Chossy Rock Climbs

Yamnuska is know for its loose rock

There are many types of stone that climbers find themselves heading up and every one of them has the potential to break apart.

While solid granite crags are less likely to shed blocks, alpine granite often has loose stone laying around or flaking off.

One of the worst types of rock for looseness is limestone, especially in the Canadian Rockies where freeze/thaw cycles break the soft stone apart.

If you’re new to outdoor climbing, you might find yourself on a pitch of stone that is graded below your redpoint grade, which means the technical climbing is easy.

However, you should never blindly go for any hold and weight it without first testing it.

Even on some of Canada’s most popular climbs, holds can break off and once-solid features can give in to gravity.

Test the Hold

To test a rock climbing hold, simply have your weight distributed onto other holds that you’ve deemed safe and give it a few taps with your knuckle and palm.

If it sounds hollow, moves or seems sketchy then make a decision about how to move passed it. If there’s chalk on it, then it might be OK, but it could’ve loosened over the winter.

If there are other options to move up then find them to avoid the loose holds.

Every route, pitch and move is different and knowing what holds to use takes practice and experience.

Before you head up high on potentially chossy stone, know that testing every hold is a quick way to potentially avoid injury.

Watch as climbers trundle big blocks from a climb in California.