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New and Experienced Climbers over 50


Lori Milas · · Rocklin, CA · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 170

Thinking about the miserable crack climb yesterday and wondering if different shoes could have helped. Like seriously padded ones.

It made a world of difference to find better shoes for slab. Are there crack shoes? (All sorts of images arise here.   

With all the coaching I got, it was still just painful to wedge a foot into that crack and bear down step upon step, even putting my weight where it belonged. Like bone on rock.

Señor Arroz · · LA, CA · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 10

Climbing Double Cross and getting an intro to real crack climbing is a very worthy alternative to your Plan A.

The is, in fact, such a thing as crack shoes. Typically, if you're going to toe and foot jam you want a flat-lasted shoe with a bit of room in the toes so you aren't crushing your big toe when you twist that sucker into the crack.

But the truth is that crack climbing just hurts like hell and is frustrating until, one day, it starts to feel easy and natural.

Lori Milas wrote: I wanted to give a heartfelt thank you to everyone who pitched in with support on The Flake (and especially you, Russ...I hope you took my last post in the teasing way it was meant).
After all that though the Flake did not happen today.  Nelson thought we could ‘warm up’ on Old Woman route called Double Cross. It did me in. Maybe it was the 5 am wake up after finishing on Hemingway after dark last night...or maybe I’m just a beginner who doesn’t belong on a crack like this.  It was an amazing route to look at, but brutal to climb. Nelson coaching from the ground, me trying to wedge in hands and feet.  After I made it to the top the first time I needed a long break and so received a meticulous lesson on the ground on hand jamming and proper foot placement.  I climbed it a second time and that was it. Finished for this trip. Brought mustard and other relief...but it will be a week before I want to lift my arms again. I posted pictures on my profile page so as not to hog this thread continually.
I so want to hear about other climbs and other experiences of yours if you feel like it... really appreciate Jeff posting from wherever he is.  And again, thank you. You all have been wonderful.


John Barritt · · OKC · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 1,080

I've always had a tendency to not foot jam as much as possible. Hands in splitters as needed but use anything available outside the crack and feet on edges or face holds most of the time.

I find this makes crack climbing more relaxed and provides more opportunities for rests.

At least for me..... ;)

Lori Milas · · Rocklin, CA · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 170

Thank you Senor and John! I always appreciate your sharing.  I really let that difficult climb bug me...I wasn’t expecting to do that climb but I had it in my head that crack climbing was easy.  There was a lot of foot/hand coordination...and I think I still work too hard to find a solid handhold instead of just using my hands for balance.

Does it really get easier? I try to remind myself that I’m doing so much more than even a few months ago.

If it’s of any interest I just discovered that my friend had taken a video of Nelson as he climbed Double Cross for me, to demo where I f’d up. (He would not say that).  It’s all learning, right? Hopefully I can start learning by watching others. (Sorry I thought this was the video. It’s me. )

Lovena Harwood · · MA · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 380
Lori Milas wrote: Thinking about the miserable crack climb yesterday and wondering if different shoes could have helped. Like seriously padded ones.

It made a world of difference to find better shoes for slab. Are there crack shoes? (All sorts of images arise here.   

With all the coaching I got, it was still just painful to wedge a foot into that crack and bear down step upon step, even putting my weight where it belonged. Like bone on rock.

Hi Lori!  *waving*

I learned to climb crack last November while on vacation in Joshua Tree and didn't have crack climbing shoes. Just a tad bit painful, but I made it through okay. *L*  Got back home and continued my crack climbing lessons (indoor) and bought me some Butora Altura Green (green for wide, red for narrow). I did try on the La Sportiva TC Pros but it didn't feel right on my feet. The Altura's fit me like a glove right outta box. Yeah, I found it to be so painful jamming, especially foot jam. But it's actually better now...there is just pressure and no pain when I foot jam. 

Señor Arroz · · LA, CA · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 10

Crack climbing is totally different than climbing on typical holds. It's more like placing protection on a trad route in terms of technique and thought process. You can often find a hold inside a crack and fake it, but true crack jamming takes a lot of developed skill and practice. 

rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 526

Some pain is unavoidable, but much of it can be alleviated or eliminated by minor readjustments of the depth of the foot jam,  Moving your foot in a little or out a little changes the pressure points and sometimes that's all it takes.  Once you've done that a bunch of times, you'l naturally put your foot in the right position to minimize discomfort.

You gotta have shoes fitted with toes flat and it helps to wear socks inside them.

There is some bad news.  As you get older, you lose some of the padding that used to lie between skin and bone, and jamming just plain hurts more than when you were young.  You don't have the prior experience to compare to, but are still experiencing the effect.

Lori Milas · · Rocklin, CA · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 170
Señor Arroz wrote: Crack climbing is totally different than climbing on typical holds. It's more like placing protection on a trad route in terms of technique and thought process. You can often find a hold inside a crack and fake it, but true crack jamming takes a lot of developed skill and practice. 

So it sounds like next time I am invited by a chirpy Nelson to go on this awesome and fun new climb, I can tell him "Stop reading The Rock Warrior's Way.  I already know it's gonna be awful".   I have to admit, I do love his absolute positivism... and in fact, that of the climbing community in general.  I have to continually remind myself to shape up my own attitude, be grateful, bring a positive and true heart to these climbs.  
That crack climb hurt, but I'm guessing with some practice, it will get better.  Thank you, again! 

Lori Milas · · Rocklin, CA · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 170
rgold wrote: Some pain is unavoidable, but much of it can be alleviated or eliminated by minor readjustments of the depth of the foot jam,  Moving your foot in a little or out a little changes the pressure points and sometimes that's all it takes.  Once you've done that a bunch of times, you'l naturally put your foot in the right position to minimize discomfort.

You gotta have shoes fitted with toes flat and it helps to wear socks inside them.

There is some bad news.  As you get older, you loose some of the padding that used to lie between skin and bone, and jamming just plain hurts more than when you were young.  You don't have the prior experience to comare to, but are still experiencing the effect.

Are you saying have my own toes flat when fitting a shoe... or get the flat bottomed shoes (not turned down, or up).  Either way, I think I see a problem.  My shoes are very tight, my toes scrunched up and almost curled... which helped a lot with the hard slabs.  But it was just painful in that crack.  Wow... could that be part of the problem?
Is this why climbers carry around several pairs of shoes?  
(Funny... I have girlfriends who have lots of shoes.  I have the bare minimum and no longer any heels.  But climbing shoes... I could accumulate those!)  

Señor Arroz · · LA, CA · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 10
Lori Milas wrote:

Are you saying have my own toes flat when fitting a shoe... or get the flat bottomed shoes (not turned down, or up).  Either way, I think I see a problem.  My shoes are very tight, my toes scrunched up and almost curled... which helped a lot with the hard slabs.  But it was just painful in that crack.  Wow... could that be part of the problem?
Is this why climbers carry around several pairs of shoes?  
(Funny... I have girlfriends who have lots of shoes.  I have the bare minimum and no longer any heels.  But climbing shoes... I could accumulate those!)  

You're asking Rgold, I guess, but yes, crack jamming shoes should't have scrunched toes.  Flat shoes with room for your toes to not be smashed up. Of course, if a climb has a crack but a lot of precise edging or face holds you might want to consider that, too. I suspect you could almost always find a face hold on Double Cross if you were looking. 

Lovena Harwood · · MA · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 380
Lori Milas wrote: Thinking about the miserable crack climb yesterday and wondering if different shoes could have helped. Like seriously padded ones.

It made a world of difference to find better shoes for slab. Are there crack shoes? (All sorts of images arise here.   

With all the coaching I got, it was still just painful to wedge a foot into that crack and bear down step upon step, even putting my weight where it belonged. Like bone on rock.
These work for me, especially in wide cracks, which I’m learning at the moment. That rubber over the flat, toe area, high ankle with padding, and other features as well. These make my enjoy crack climbing so much more. It’s not for everyone but these work for me!

Lori Milas · · Rocklin, CA · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 170
Lovey Harwood wrote: These work for me, especially in wide cracks, which I’m learning at the moment. That rubber over the flat, toe area, high ankle with padding, and other features as well. These make my enjoy crack climbing so much more. It’s not for everyone but these work for me!

Lovey, are these the Altura's you spoke of?  They look great! 

Buck Rio · · MN · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 0
rgold wrote: Some pain is unavoidable, but much of it can be alleviated or eliminated by minor readjustments of the depth of the foot jam,  Moving your foot in a little or out a little changes the pressure points and sometimes that's all it takes.  Once you've done that a bunch of times, you'l naturally put your foot in the right position to minimize discomfort.

You gotta have shoes fitted with toes flat and it helps to wear socks inside them.

There is some bad news.  As you get older, you lose some of the padding that used to lie between skin and bone, and jamming just plain hurts more than when you were young.  You don't have the prior experience to compare to, but are still experiencing the effect.

Rgold is right, as usual. Jamming your feet into cracks and torqueing your knee is not natural and it hurts. But it is just pain, and believe it or not you will get used to it.  I have found that after practicing crack climbing for a while, you will trust your foot jams more and not place them as deeply, which will alleviate some of the pain. Also, using features on the face is key to get some respite for your feet. Even the most splitter cracks usually have SOME face holds you can milk a rest out of.

PS get some board lasted shoes (or at least a midsole) for hand size and up cracks. Boreal makes some (Aces), and I have used a Teneya shoe called the Masai that worked well. They usually edge really well too. I found this helps out due to having arthritic toes.

Thinner cracks are usually at a higher grade level and by the time you are climbing those, you'll know what shoes to get (the old Moccasym sized so toes are flat).
Lovena Harwood · · MA · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 380
Lori Milas wrote:

Lovey, are these the Altura's you spoke of?  They look great! 

Thanks Lori,

Yes, these are the Altura’s. 
Lori Milas · · Rocklin, CA · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 170

Gosh, what a wealth of information!  
I felt pretty defeated after climbing Double Cross a few times...it just felt too wrong. Painful, awkward. And I was done, no energy left after that.
Even as I was being coached to take tiny steps, each one was OUCH!  And then trying to coordinate with hand jams that just wouldn’t hold. 
I really appreciate knowing this is an acquired skill and that appropriate shoes might help.  It was an amazing sight to look at the tall sheer wall with the beautiful line up the middle and realize “I climbed that!” But maybe some practice over the summer is in order. Love hearing your stories and seeing your pictures...please! PS. OH! And there were plenty of face holds on that climb but for some reason I thought it would be cheating! I guess they call that rigid thinking.   

Lori Milas · · Rocklin, CA · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 170

​Nelson coaching Double Cross.   


Lovena Harwood · · MA · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 380
Lori Milas wrote: Gosh, what a wealth of information!  
I felt pretty defeated after climbing Double Cross a few times...it just felt too wrong. Painful, awkward. And I was done, no energy left after that.
Even as I was being coached to take tiny steps, each one was OUCH!  And then trying to coordinate with hand jams that just wouldn’t hold. 
I really appreciate knowing this is an acquired skill and that appropriate shoes might help.  It was an amazing sight to look at the tall sheer wall with the beautiful line up the middle and realize “I climbed that!” But maybe some practice over the summer is in order. Love hearing your stories and seeing your pictures...please! PS. OH! And there were plenty of face holds on that climb but for some reason I thought it would be cheating! I guess they call that rigid thinking.   

Lori, I felt defeated when I first started learning how to crack climb the vertical stuffs. While at Joshua Tree my guide had me climbing all the low angle cracks. I did a couple that were vertical but the crack sizes were perfect for me to slot 4 fingers for a solid hold and there were good foot holds on the outside of the cracks for me to use. When I got back home, in order to continue my lessons indoors I looked for a gym with crack walls. Starting to learn on the vertical stuff at first it was so tough and so frustrating. But I just kept at it. And once I started placing my jams so it wasn't (as) painful, finding my balance points got easier. Also, beta is not the same for everyone. I have really small hands and what will feel like a good hand jam for some, will be a bit wide of a crack for my small hands.

You're not rigid thinking at all! Sometimes I will purposefully avoid using a really good hold on the outside of the crack if the crack itself is good for a hand/foot jam.

I just on-sighted my first crack over the past memorial day weekend. It was at a 60 degree angle (I not confident to lead the vertical stuffs yet) and when I first saw it and all its features, I had a very strong urge to lead it. My point; I know exactly how you feel about looking up a tall wall and seeing a beautiful line - the stoke is high!

Lovena Harwood · · MA · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 380
Lori Milas wrote: Nelson coaching Double Cross.   




Wow, I really appreciate you posting this video, so helpful as I'm still learning as well. I see that he's wearing crack climbing gloves, do you wear them too? 

Jeffrey Constine · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined May 2009 · Points: 563
Larry Cote 62 years young sending a short 5.12.
Jeffrey Constine · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined May 2009 · Points: 563
\Guy Keesse still going at 60+
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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