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Crack Climbing Question for the Ladies

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Postby ksolem » Sun Sep 13, 2009 11:30 pm

Watch a good climber doing a sequence of tricky jams.

As she sets each jam, her hand will be relaxed so she can feel the features and find the sweet spot. Then on comes the power, but just enough to do the job.

Trying to get a good jam with a tensed up hand, and then having to over-crank on it because it is not set as well as it could be is a recipe for trouble.

Often you will see a crack climber smartly shake out her hand between jams. This can bring a little rest and circulation, but importantly it relaxes the hand to prepare for the next jam.
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Postby CClaude » Mon Sep 14, 2009 3:36 pm

Ok, I'm not of the feminine gender either (though I crack climb with quite a few good female crack climbers.

Any body type can be an "issue" if you let it, legs that are too long, too short, personally I have a pinky finger that is distrorted when I landed on my arms after a drunk driver hit me. Learn to deal with what your body is.

I agree with Guyzo, crack climbing has a steep initial learning curve. I don't know your GF tolerance to frustation but I learned for me to hone in my crack skills was to get onto a crack way over my head and work through it (and it was frustrating but it did highlight my mistakes).

Learn jamming thumbs up and down. They will both come into play at times. Learn to di finger cracks thumbs up and down. Sometimes when its a flared finger jam, you can jam better thumbs up. Learn to be efficient with the dreaded ringlocks.

Now I can see how being endowed as a female would be a problem on chickenwing offwidths but thats a different story.
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Postby rhyang » Mon Sep 14, 2009 4:31 pm

I'm not female either, but .. oh, what the hell, all the other guys are doing it :lol:

It took me about two months of practice twice a week to be able to do a simple hand crack in the gym. Maybe I'm just slow ..

I've also noticed that during recovery periods (after breaking something) my crack climbing technique tends to suffer and takes a while to re-develop. Maybe it's because certain muscles get atrophied.

I think Nat said the lats (latissimus dorsi) were fairly important .. if that's the case, perhaps doing lat pull-downs would help ?

My female gym partners have varying degrees of disgust with crack climbing, but I always see other women in the gym cruising cracks that would spit me off in the first 10 feet ..

Wide cracks and finger cracks are still a work in progress for me. My offwidth technique has been the slowest to return, maybe partially because I have been lacking the stamina for the initial period of thrashing .. hoping to work on that more this winter.
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Postby Guyzo » Mon Sep 14, 2009 5:21 pm

Buckaroo wrote:Another big question about crack climbing is whether to use tape or try to develop calluses.



I never use tape, ever. I find it hides the feel of the jams...... 8)

Calluses..... a quick look at the back of my hand ..... no calluses, just a bunch of scars, with dead nerve endings.

I always laugh when I watch people "taping up" to go climb....... Big production, to make those gloves with the extra thick part on the back of the hand..... just to go climb a 5.8 face climb. :lol: :lol:

But I really hate picking up all that tape that ends up littering the base of the Weeping Wall. :x

If you tape, please pick up your trash, please.

GK :wink:
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Postby CClaude » Mon Sep 14, 2009 6:57 pm

Guyzo wrote:
Buckaroo wrote:Another big question about crack climbing is whether to use tape or try to develop calluses.



I never use tape, ever. I find it hides the feel of the jams...... 8)

Calluses..... a quick look at the back of my hand ..... no calluses, just a bunch of scars, with dead nerve endings.

I always laugh when I watch people "taping up" to go climb....... Big production, to make those gloves with the extra thick part on the back of the hand..... just to go climb a 5.8 face climb. :lol: :lol:

But I really hate picking up all that tape that ends up littering the base of the Weeping Wall. :x

If you tape, please pick up your trash, please.

GK :wink:


Personally I tape, since I'm a wimp..... actually, I just don't want to develop scar tissue on my hands since for a lot of test pieces, today and things I'd like to do in 10 yrs, its between tight fingers and tight hands (and things that are bigger I can deal with), and I just want to get my freak'n fingers/hands into the crack

And I'm also a power climber, nothing delicate about the way I climb.
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Postby fatdad » Mon Sep 14, 2009 7:06 pm

I never use tape either. Unless you're climbing something really bad size at a really grainy area like Veedavoo (sp?), good technique will preserve your hands much better than poor technique and tape, which IMO is what most of the people out there are using the tape for.

Like ksolem said, take your time to find a good jam, set it, crank off of it and repeat the process. Strength helps alot to be able to lock off and finesse your next jam, but having a solid jam to pull from is equally important, if not more so. It's like placing a stopper or a hex. You find a solid placement and you leave it there.
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Postby UberBabs » Mon Sep 14, 2009 7:19 pm

MountaingirlBC wrote:Crack climbing requires way more muscle than most girls have... especially if she's leading. I've run out more than a few cracks just because I knew I wouldn't be able to hold on long enough to get a piece in.


I HAVE to disagree on this. Just got back from a two-day seminar at gymjones and when I told Mark Twight I need to be stronger to improve as a climber he looked at me like I was nuts. I can do 13 good dead hang pullups (the standard there is 25 for any athlete), deadlifted 225 while there (the standard is 2x bodyweight and I'm not quite there yet) and can bench press my bodyweight (finally I meet the standard!). I am not strong in my opinion as I don't train for strength and am a 52-year old bag for crissakes! That said, Twight told me that one of the best female climbers he climbed with could barely do three pullups. In his opinion, strength for climbers is highly overrated. In my experience, crack climbing is technique. Good technique does not require more strength than the average gal . . . poor technique requires more strength than the average gal . . . just my two cents.
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Postby lisae » Mon Sep 14, 2009 7:28 pm

Guyzo wrote:
Buckaroo wrote:Another big question about crack climbing is whether to use tape or try to develop calluses.



I never use tape, ever. I find it hides the feel of the jams...... 8)

Calluses..... a quick look at the back of my hand ..... no calluses, just a bunch of scars, with dead nerve endings.

I always laugh when I watch people "taping up" to go climb....... Big production, to make those gloves with the extra thick part on the back of the hand..... just to go climb a 5.8 face climb. :lol: :lol:

But I really hate picking up all that tape that ends up littering the base of the Weeping Wall. :x

If you tape, please pick up your trash, please.

GK :wink:


I like hand jammies, myself. Easy to put on if I really need them, but most of the time they are on my harness.
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Postby rhyang » Mon Sep 14, 2009 8:17 pm

For gym training I like hand jammies or tape. The cracks we have are kind of rough and who knows what kind of germs live in there, so I prefer to protect my hands from cMRSA or whatever that stuff is.

Hand jammies increase my hand width, and make it almost impossible (for me) to do some cracks with thinner sections, but they are convenient to put on and take off. I usually tape up these days if I want to do the more difficult cracks.

Outside, it depends on how smooth and how sustained the cracks are. In Yosemite Valley I will often go without. In Tuolumne the cracks often have little knobby teeth that will shred the skin on the back of your hands. Similarly in Jtree a lot of cracks have sharp crystals inside.
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Postby CClaude » Mon Sep 14, 2009 8:59 pm

rhyang wrote:For gym training I like hand jammies or tape. The cracks we have are kind of rough and who knows what kind of germs live in there, so I prefer to protect my hands from cMRSA or whatever that stuff is.

Hand jammies increase my hand width, and make it almost impossible (for me) to do some cracks with thinner sections, but they are convenient to put on and take off. I usually tape up these days if I want to do the more difficult cracks.

Outside, it depends on how smooth and how sustained the cracks are. In Yosemite Valley I will often go without. In Tuolumne the cracks often have little knobby teeth that will shred the skin on the back of your hands. Similarly in Jtree a lot of cracks have sharp crystals inside.


I have to agree, my friend Lisa once got all excited saying she just did her first pullup, and she was cracking out 5.12 cracks on a daily basis on lead at the time.

Image

good technique goes much farther then strength, until you get to overhanging 1rst knuckle jams :shock: but then if you are doing them I think your technique would probably be pretty good :roll:
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Postby MountaingirlBC » Mon Sep 14, 2009 9:23 pm

UberBabs wrote:
MountaingirlBC wrote:Crack climbing requires way more muscle than most girls have... especially if she's leading. I've run out more than a few cracks just because I knew I wouldn't be able to hold on long enough to get a piece in.


I HAVE to disagree on this. Just got back from a two-day seminar at gymjones and when I told Mark Twight I need to be stronger to improve as a climber he looked at me like I was nuts. I can do 13 good dead hang pullups (the standard there is 25 for any athlete), deadlifted 225 while there (the standard is 2x bodyweight and I'm not quite there yet) and can bench press my bodyweight (finally I meet the standard!). I am not strong in my opinion as I don't train for strength and am a 52-year old bag for crissakes! That said, Twight told me that one of the best female climbers he climbed with could barely do three pullups. In his opinion, strength for climbers is highly overrated. In my experience, crack climbing is technique. Good technique does not require more strength than the average gal . . . poor technique requires more strength than the average gal . . . just my two cents.


I hear this a lot too... the strength vs. technique thing and I'm sure it's true but I don't see a lot of scrawny weaklings on the tougher crack climbs so while it may be ideal to finesse your way up the route, I think that in reality, most people muscle their way up. It's probably easier to build muscle than good technique. I kinda feel the same way about crack climbing as I do about golf... I understand that I'm never going to get any better if I don't practice and work on my technique but I just don't like it enough to work very hard at it so I'll have to keep relying on what little strength I do have to get me through the tough bits until they come up with helium jugs.
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Postby CClaude » Mon Sep 14, 2009 10:16 pm

MountaingirlBC wrote:
UberBabs wrote:
MountaingirlBC wrote:Crack climbing requires way more muscle than most girls have... especially if she's leading. I've run out more than a few cracks just because I knew I wouldn't be able to hold on long enough to get a piece in.


I HAVE to disagree on this. Just got back from a two-day seminar at gymjones and when I told Mark Twight I need to be stronger to improve as a climber he looked at me like I was nuts. I can do 13 good dead hang pullups (the standard there is 25 for any athlete), deadlifted 225 while there (the standard is 2x bodyweight and I'm not quite there yet) and can bench press my bodyweight (finally I meet the standard!). I am not strong in my opinion as I don't train for strength and am a 52-year old bag for crissakes! That said, Twight told me that one of the best female climbers he climbed with could barely do three pullups. In his opinion, strength for climbers is highly overrated. In my experience, crack climbing is technique. Good technique does not require more strength than the average gal . . . poor technique requires more strength than the average gal . . . just my two cents.


I hear this a lot too... the strength vs. technique thing and I'm sure it's true but I don't see a lot of scrawny weaklings on the tougher crack climbs so while it may be ideal to finesse your way up the route, I think that in reality, most people muscle their way up. It's probably easier to build muscle than good technique. I kinda feel the same way about crack climbing as I do about golf... I understand that I'm never going to get any better if I don't practice and work on my technique but I just don't like it enough to work very hard at it so I'll have to keep relying on what little strength I do have to get me through the tough bits until they come up with helium jugs.


This will be blasphemy, but I don't think that a lot of "tougher" crack climbs (I'll limit my discussion for the standard affair of cracks at Yosemite, Squamish, Indian Creek not including the offwidths of the various venues) , are actually that tough if you have good technique. Personally, not including the offwidths, will often climb 1 grade harder on cracks then I will on sports climbs. The initial learning curve can be steep but if you work one on one with someone who has good crack technique, you'll pick it up fairly quickly.
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Postby Guyzo » Mon Sep 14, 2009 11:07 pm

Crack climbing is 90% technique and about 95% strength. :lol: :wink:

If you can’t do the pulling required your not going to move. 8)

If you can't figure out where and how to put your hands and feet you’re not going to go far ether. 8)

And CClaude, You are so right. A few lessons and most folks get it.

So erykmynn …. send your GF over and we will give some free lessons for free :wink:
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