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Turn up the Volume

The Lowdown on Volume Climbing

Ricardo Benedetti, Education Coordinator at Hive PoCo


Volumes have been an increasingly popular resource and feature in climbing gyms over recent years. They are very unique features and provide a great amount of flexibility for our routesetting crews. So what are volumes, and how should you approach them?

What are volumes?

Volumes are mostly either wooden or fibreglass structures built to be used on a rock climbing wall. They can usually be taken down and reset into endless different variations with the accompaniment of standard climbing holds, or sometimes, completely void of them, replicating some outdoor features.

Tips for climbing volumes

Move slowly

Speed is usually not your friend on holds that don’t have an obvious part to grip.

Get underneath them

As with slopers, volumes are often best when you’re hanging low on them. Keep your arms straight and your body heavy and let gravity help you stick to them.

Use the surface area

Don’t be afraid to use the flat sides of a volume and take advantage of the big surface area! If you’re standing on a volume side, this means smearing with as much of your foot as you can. If you’re using your hands on the volume, remember you can use your palms too!

Look for edges

Depending on the orientation and shape of the volume, edges can make good “holds.” For example, if an edge creates a kind of A-frame roof peak, you can wrap your hand over it (palm on one side, fingers on the other), creating what is sometimes called a “meat-hook” grip. A Vulcan grip (two fingers on either side) can be useful where an edge meets the lip of a volume, or you might pinch it (thumb on one side, fingers on the other). You might also open-hand or crimp a straight edge.

Look for bulges or scoops

With more bulbous-shaped volumes, the surface area you need may appear as a bulge or a scoop. Looking for chalk can give you a hint of where on the volume it will feel good to grab (but it could also just be from a number of people’s collective wishful thinking, so remember to feel it out for yourself when you’re projecting).

Be deliberate

Be deliberate and precise with your hand and foot placements. This is generally a good practice, but it’s especially useful for volumes. Sloppy or rushed climbing on volumes can result in some pretty gnarly skin abrasions (chins, shins, knees or elbows)!


Get sendy and share your volume (or other) climbs with us on Instagram! 💪