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New and Experienced Climbers over 50


Old lady H · · Boise, ID · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 793

Thank you to our fellow campers for the sympathies in the columnar basalt department. Especially now that the heat converts it to greased glass...

My first trip to City of Rocks last summer, even in August, was a revelation. Who knew that's what that black stuff on shoes was for! Amazing!

Best, Helen

Hey, Lori, did you get your maps???

Lori Milas · · Rocklin, CA · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 175
Old lady H wrote: Thank you to our fellow campers for the sympathies in the columnar basalt department. Especially now that the heat converts it to greased glass...

My first trip to City of Rocks last summer, even in August, was a revelation. Who knew that's what that black stuff on shoes was for! Amazing!

Best, Helen

Hey, Lori, did you get your maps???

Got them!!!  Thank you, Helen!  That was so thoughtful of you. They will help A LOT!  Now to get you down to J Tree so we can do some climbing together.  How are you with cracks?    

Jeffrey Constine · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined May 2009 · Points: 588

What I meant was if you don't

have a lot of time, can do a short session of climbing, by the beach lol. 
John Barritt · · OKC · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 1,080

Next level selfie...... ;)

Dallas R · · Traveling the USA · Joined May 2013 · Points: 181
Lori Milas wrote:   I obviously didn't figure out the hand jam part, because I got up to my shoulder, and still couldn't grab it.  

Arm bar.

Falcon Guides has a "Crack Climbing" book written my Lisa Gnade and Steve Petro.  Does a pretty good job describing some odd holds that work in off width cracks.  

We also got to attend a crack climbing clinic at the Salt Lake Climbers Alliance Climbing Festival last year, really improved our confidence in off width crack climbing.

I could never figure out the best way to tape my hands, while climbing in Squamish a friend recommended we get Ocun Crack Climbing Gloves,  Outdoor Research makes some they sell through REI also. 
Jeffrey Constine · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined May 2009 · Points: 588
Hang in there, the weekend is coming soon.
rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 526
Dallas R wrote:
Falcon Guides has a "Crack Climbing" book written my Lisa Gnade and Steve Petro.  Does a pretty good job describing some odd holds that work in off width cracks.  

Not to diss Gnade and Petro, but the gold standard in crack-climbing manuals is The Crack Climber's Technique Manual---Jamming with Finesse, by Kent Pease, Fixed Pin Publishing LLC (2014).

Although specific to crack climbing, I think this book is the best instructional manual ever written about an aspect of climbing.
Lovena Harwood · · MA · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 380
Lori Milas wrote: I was reading a description of crack climbing and wondered what a doctor would say about this:  

"Look for wide places in the crack where you can jam your foot straight in.  If the crack is thin, turn the inside of your ankle up, stick your toe in sideways, torque HARD, and stand up."   Seems like this should be titled "How to snap an ankle".    

But this is EXACTLY how it felt.  Add the hand jams, and it is a recipe for misery.  (which I intend to do the very next time I find a crack to climb).  I obviously didn't figure out the hand jam part, because I got up to my shoulder, and still couldn't grab it.  

Lori, if I can get more than a hand jam into a crack (like you got your arm in this photo), I'll use it as leverage. Sometimes it means I get bruises and scratches on my arms or my long sleeves get torn up. Also meant to reply to your other post, the yoga poses I like best for opening up my hips and as a warm-up to crack climbing, especially my lesson, are Pigeon and Lizard poses. 

rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 526
Lovena Harwood wrote:

Lori, if I can get more than a hand jam into a crack (like you got your arm in this photo), I'll use it as leverage. 

But what is "leverage?"  Pease devotes ten pages to different arm and body positions relevant to the type of offwidth problem in Lori's picture.  (The crack becomes "offwidth" when it is too wide for fist jams.)

Señor Arroz · · LA, CA · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 10
Lori Milas wrote: I was reading a description of crack climbing and wondered what a doctor would say about this:  

"Look for wide places in the crack where you can jam your foot straight in.  If the crack is thin, turn the inside of your ankle up, stick your toe in sideways, torque HARD, and stand up."   Seems like this should be titled "How to snap an ankle".    

But this is EXACTLY how it felt.  Add the hand jams, and it is a recipe for misery.  (which I intend to do the very next time I find a crack to climb).  I obviously didn't figure out the hand jam part, because I got up to my shoulder, and still couldn't grab it.  

At this point in your climbing, Lori, you need to actually find cracks that fit your body size. For a beginner to be attempting off-width seems kind of an exercise in frustration. You want to start with some good, snug hand jams. Have your guide teach you how to properly create the jam by tucking your thumb down and flexing the muscle at the base of your hand. It's actually a really gentle, subtle thing. Wear gloves or tape. Learn hand jams until you are comfortable with it. And I can't say this enough, what is a hand jam to me or your guide might be a FIST jam to you because of differences in hand size. Get your guide or more experienced partner to pick the crack based on your hand size, not theirs.

Lori Milas · · Rocklin, CA · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 175
Señor Arroz wrote:

At this point in your climbing, Lori, you need to actually find cracks that fit your body size. For a beginner to be attempting off-width seems kind of an exercise in frustration. You want to start with some good, snug hand jams. Have your guide teach you how to properly create the jam by tucking your thumb down and flexing the muscle at the base of your hand. It's actually a really gentle, subtle thing. Wear gloves or tape. Learn hand jams until you are comfortable with it. And I can't say this enough, what is a hand jam to me or your guide might be a FIST jam to you because of differences in hand size. Get your guide or more experienced partner to pick the crack based on your hand size, not theirs.



What a wealth of information and support! Rgold, I will get that book...if nothing else I am a good student. And thank you Senor... you remember me griping about this climb at the time.  While you and others were clear that The Flake would have off-width areas, I didn’t know that about Double Cross.  To be such a beginner and not have much to compare with makes climbing frustrating sometimes. On this climb I used Fingers, hands, fists...everything eventually pulled away unless I could find a tiny ridge to grab. (And I did have the splitter gloves).

If I didn’t love the beauty of that line, and cracks in general, this would be easy to walk away from. So maybe the book, better shoes, and practice (and as you say finding the right sized crack to learn on) will help make this flow better in the future. (But no more laybacks yet.)
What I was REALLY doing in this picture was reaching in there to grab a  Chuchawalla   
Suburban Roadside · · Abovetraffic on Hudson · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 1,509

Yes, some of these (big) boys come off as scary! & They are when they need to be., To me, in many respects, the best climbers on the planet, come from the California crucible. The stock of metal that was the youth(s) of the 60s & 70s , some who were suffering with "survivors guilt" having big brothers who were 'drafted', & so flung themselves at the walls with(some times drugged) abandon. This old hard core, fundamental attitude, that they were the 1st school'd in - Ground up, - Onsight !-, Only 1 try to Flash, -  And Flash the shjt they did!, When the Top Rope was finally admitted to, (it had been there) Then the game changed & became open to all who might want to try.
GO - TRY - SMILE - HAVE THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE, TILL THE NEXT TIME

Jeffrey Constine wrote: What I meant was if you don't
 have a lot of time, can do a short session of climbing, by the beach lol. 

GET OVER YOURSELF LORI ! GO - climb with people who offer you the opportunity, You might just embarrass yourself(so what, we all do that) but given your superiority(as human), it will look like you're being humble    

 Jeff can take care of himself, & you to,  Look, he has a kid along with him in that picture. He just wants to make sure you know who has the better hair !

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

Well, offwidth can be frustrating, but I don't see any reason not to start off with some (but maybe that's because I did; almost of my first Yosemite climbs were offwidths).  What matters is having a good idea about technique options so that you at least know what you should be trying, because for the most part none of it is obvious or intuitive.  The picture depicts a size that still appears to have decent foot jams, solving half of the offwidth motion problem fairly easily---she just has to figure out what to do with hands that are too small for hand or fist jams, meaning one of the various arm-bar techniques (and possibly hand-stacking) will have to be brought into play.  Read Pease's book!

One of the pitfalls in this situation is getting instruction from someone whose body parts are differently-sized.  A certain amount of what they say and do is not going to make any sense, and depending on size there could be a full grade difference in the difficulty of the climb for two people.

Old lady H · · Boise, ID · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 793

Lori, I second, third, everything about cracks, above. Get the book rgold mentioned, it's great! Also, be encouraged by the fact that you will fit in different cracks than other climbers. I figure that's the only way I'll ever skunk my climbing buddies who are stronger than I, by finding just the right crack that fits me perfectly and spits them out, lol!

Anyway, the point is, when hands get rattly, feet might get good. That photo? It looks like a toe downward position might fit. You're knees go out, and the sole of your foot is against the inside wall of the crack. Mess around. A bunch. You'll find what works for you, and sometimes it isn't "by the book"! If you're on top rope, that's a good time to play with this stuff, with the belayer keeping you tight enough to not tip over. Let them know you want to explore feet, or hands, and to hold you there a bit. If you know you aren't going to snap your ankle, it's much easier to try out different approaches.

All these hand, fist, finger, sizes are how cams are referenced too, by the way, so you'll want an idea of what that means.

Chuckwallas are aid, sorry to say....

And do try really hard to get out with Jeff! 

Best, Helen

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

What a wealth of information and support! Rgold, I will get that book...if nothing else I am a good student. And thank you Senor... you remember me griping about this climb at the time.  While you and others were clear that The Flake would have off-width areas, I didn’t know that about Double Cross.  To be such a beginner and not have much to compare with makes climbing frustrating sometimes. On this climb I used Fingers, hands, fists...everything eventually pulled away unless I could find a tiny ridge to grab. (And I did have the splitter gloves).

If I didn’t love the beauty of that line, and cracks in general, this would be easy to walk away from. So maybe the book, better shoes, and practice (and as you say finding the right sized crack to learn on) will help make this flow better in the future. (But no more laybacks yet.)
What I was REALLY doing in this picture was reaching in there to grab a  Chuchawalla   

From the MP entry about Double Cross, "Those who have not yet developed basic jamming technique will find this route quite difficult..."

Señor Arroz · · LA, CA · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 10
rgold wrote: Well, offwidth can be frustrating, but I don't see any reason not to start off with some (but maybe that's because I did; almost of my first Yosemite climbs were offwidths).  What matters is having a good idea about technique options so that you at least know what you should be trying, because for the most part none of it is obvious or intuitive.  The picture depicts a size that still appears to have decent foot jams, solving half of the offwidth motion problem fairly easily---she just has to figure out what to do with hands that are too small for hand or fist jams, meaning one of the various arm-bar techniques (and possibly hand-stacking) will have to be brought into play.  Read Pease's book!

One of the pitfalls in this situation is getting instruction from someone whose body parts are differently-sized.  A certain amount of what they say and do is not going to make any sense, and depending on size there could be a full grade difference in the difficulty of the climb for two people.

You're probably right, Rich. I actually learned off-width and chimney technique before I learned proper hand jams. But if I had it to do over again I'd learn hand jams and fists first.

Dallas R · · Traveling the USA · Joined May 2013 · Points: 181
rgold wrote:

Not to diss Gnade and Petro, but the gold standard in crack-climbing manuals is The Crack Climber's Technique Manual---

A better book is a better book, I mentioned the Falcon book because it was easily available to me and when you have no knowledge on a subject, like me, even a little bit of education is an improvement.


But like everything in climbing, you have to use your own common sense to determine what is best for you.
Jeffrey Constine · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined May 2009 · Points: 588

No book about climbing in the world will make you a better climber, gotta go CLIMBING to be a better climber. A book can give you insight that's about it. Climbing with people that can get you up stuff you only dream about will do you more good than any book. Following a good trad climber seeing the placements of gear removing the gear while cleaning, seeing anchors in real life situations does way more for your skills any day.

Abandoned User · · Unknown Hometown · Joined unknown · Points: 5,185

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