Article by Mason Earle / Photo by Jon Vickers
November in Utah. This means a lot of things to different people- school, anticipation for snow, and thanksgiving. For me it has always meant crack climbing season. I have always been inspired by the linear purity of cracks; the passage formed by a perfect split in a wall of stone. In-between the pain and grunting, crack climbing offers fleeting moments of joy: a perfect finger lock, reaching that thank-god hand-jam, when your knee fits perfectly in an offwidth, and so on. Weather you’re heading to Zion, Indian Creek, or even Little Cottonwood Canyon, the crisp fall temps make November the perfect time for a crack fix. Here are five crack climbing tips to try out this fall…
The next time you find yourself underneath a finger crack, trade your sloppy fitting crack shoes out for something that can edge well. Finger cracks are too small to fit your feet into, so instead look for edges and footholds on the face, and pods in the crack. Having shoes that can stand on a small foothold when there is no other option can make all the difference.
Thin hands can be incredibly pumpy. To avoid getting apocalyptically pumped try to alternate between thumbs up, and thumbs down jamming. Thumbs-down thin-hand-jams can be great and secure, especially for placing gear or a leaning crack, but when you move upwards they eventually have to be switched to thumbs-up. For upward progress, try using only thumbs-up hand-jams, making smaller moves, never reaching higher than eye level.
The glory size. (Almost) everybody loves a good hand crack. This is generally the easiest crack size and a good starting point for new crack climbers. There aren’t too many special tricks for hand cracks once you know how to jam, but make sure you have a comfortable pair of real-leather climbing shoes (slipper or lace).
Fist cracks can be really insecure and painful. This is the easiest size to get gobies, so unless you have Kevlar skin, you’ll want to tape your hands. For fist cracks, it’s crucial to put a wrap of tape around the thumb. This, in combination with a tape glove, will help save your skin.
Wide cracks are scary, and they hurt. They can also be intensely gratifying. The next time you find yourself hyperventilating in an offwidth, take a moment to look around you. Are there any handholds? Footholds? A hidden side-pull in the crack? It’s easy to get tunnel vision when crack climbing, especially in offwidths. Even a credit card crimp can serve as a rest from arm barring and stacking. Always be on the lookout for face-holds and features.
Wanna Learn more about how to climb cracks? Check out the Momentum Climbing School’s crack climbing classes and clinics on our website by clicking HERE.