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What is a good progression for learning finger cracks?
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Oct 31, 2015
Specifically looking at the off finger .5 to .75 camalot size. For example, the progression of learning thin hands or fists is to learn perfect hands first. I'm mostly talking about training in the creek or somewhere else where nothing but technique will get you up the route. Right now, it seems pretty improbable to let go for long enough to place a .75 on any terrain that's less than vertical. .5's seem a touch easier, but what in gods name do you do with the feet?

My assumption would be to work thin hands down as tight as possible, maybe getting into the wide range of .75's. After that maybe work perfect fingers, focusing on footwork and precisely placing both hands and feet. I tried an off finger crack on TR this weekend, it was so desperate, even moving from one "lock" to another was so insecure that I found myself lunging and trying to cam my fingers.

Where can I start? Do I need to be sport climbing at or above this grade as well? How much does that actually help?
JeffL
From Salt Lake City
Joined Jun 14, 2012
85 points
Oct 31, 2015
Build a crack machine

Have you checked this out ?
fixedpin.com/products/the-crac...
lozo bozo
Joined Feb 26, 2015
39 points
Oct 31, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Me redpointing Power Series. This route is amazing...
headead wrote:
Build a crack machine Have you checked this out ? fixedpin.com/products/the-crac...


Is this book worth the money for an already-decent crack climber? (I've climbed a lot of 5.10 cracks, just pushing into easy 11s.)
C. Archibald
Joined Apr 15, 2012
781 points
Oct 31, 2015
I have read the book. And it has lots of useful info in it. In my opinion, it doesn't cover finger cracks well. The info on OW is amazing. JeffL
From Salt Lake City
Joined Jun 14, 2012
85 points
Oct 31, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: I'M THE F***ING KING OF INTERNET CLIMBING BRAJ
4 words:


Nutcrrrafffffft!
Burcheydawwwwwwg
Joined Jan 9, 2012
1,271 points
Oct 31, 2015
C. Archibald wrote:
Is this book worth the money for an already-decent crack climber? (I've climbed a lot of 5.10 cracks, just pushing into easy 11s.)


Yes. I had similar thoughts, but was blown away when I opened the book. I learned at least 5 new things in the first 5 minutes of looking through it. For context, I've climbed a decent number of hard-ish splitter cracks, up to 13a. I still have a lot to learn (especially when it comes to OW and off-fingers). Never let ego get in the way of a learning opprotunity.

The book is outstanding, and is PhD in crack climbing level stuff. Whether it is worth the money is up to you. I thumbed through it in REI, because I'm cheap. I may still buy it.
JCM
From Seattle, WA
Joined Jun 9, 2008
65 points
Oct 31, 2015
JeffL wrote:
Do I need to be sport climbing at or above this grade as well? How much does that actually help?


Not neccesarily; there are plenty of crack climbing specialists, especially in Utah, who climb harder on cracks than on sport. But it sure as hell helps; being strong at sport climbing will give you the raw ingredients of forearm strength, lock-off strength, local endurance, and general try-hard that you need to climb hard cracks. It definately helps to have some "power to waste". Still, especially for splitter off-fingers, you need to also have the specialised jamming technique on lockdown- all the power in the world won't get you anywhere if you don't know where to put your fingers.

Generally speaking, you probably have 2 letter grades of wiggle-room between crack and sport climbing (note: sweeping and likely inaccurate generalization). This means that, even if you are a crack specialist, you probably need to have at least 12a sport climbing ability to have much hope and business on a 12c crack. An 11a climber, no matter how much time they practice thumb stacking, probably lacks the general strength and fitness required. Or, looking at it the other way, if you have the strength to climb a 12c crack, you probably should be able to do at least some 12a sport climbs. Same is true (ish) at whatever level you are looking at. OW is a bit of an exception at times.
JCM
From Seattle, WA
Joined Jun 9, 2008
65 points
Oct 31, 2015
JeffL wrote:
the creek ... work thin hands down as tight as possible, maybe getting into the wide range of .75's. After that maybe work perfect fingers, focusing on footwork and precisely placing both hands and feet....Where can I start?


I'm not sure this works. One challenge of the creek is that mastering one size doesn't neccesarily teach you anything about climbing another size. Even if you spend every weekend for the rest of the season cramming reds at Battle of the Bulge, you still won't know a damn thing about how to thumb stack.

Here are a few things that I think might help:

1. Find the correct learning route (and it may not be in the creek). The creek can be brutal for initially learning the basics of a size, since you need to be pretty good at it just to get off the ground. I honestly think it is easier to learn the basics on a more friendly medium (such as a less than vertical granite crack), and then you can go to the creek and get on that size without it being a demoralizing smackdown.

The creek is just tricky for (initial) learning in some ways, especially for that size. There aren't many off-fingers cracks there that aren't 5.12 or harder. In no other circumstance would you think it was a good idea to try to learn an entirely new climbing technique by flailing on 5.12- why do that here?

Are there any suitablely entry level .5-0.75 splitters in LCC to get some mileage on before subjecting yourself to that size at the creek?

2. Get proper instruction at that size, either in person from someone who has mastered that size, or from that sweet book mentioned above. On fingers and hands, the technique is intuitive enough that you can just flail away until you eventually figure it out on your own. For thumbstacks, the technique is incredibly non-obvious, and you really need to be told exactly how to do it. Figuring it out on your own would be quite hard.

3. Shoes. At the Creek, shoes aren't critical at #1 and up, since pretty much anything will fit in, and most any reasonably comfortable shoe will do. On 0.5 cracks, shoes get much more critical- those TC Pros that felt great in the hand cracks are way too thick to fit in. Mocs or similar are essential.
JCM
From Seattle, WA
Joined Jun 9, 2008
65 points
Oct 31, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Me redpointing Power Series. This route is amazing...
JCM wrote:
Yes. I had similar thoughts, but was blown away when I opened the book. I learned at least 5 new things in the first 5 minutes of looking through it. For context, I've climbed a decent number of hard-ish splitter cracks, up to 13a. I still have a lot to learn (especially when it comes to OW and off-fingers). Never let ego get in the way of a learning opprotunity. The book is outstanding, and is PhD in crack climbing level stuff. Whether it is worth the money is up to you. I thumbed through it in REI, because I'm cheap. I may still buy it.


Sweet. Thanks for the review. I'll probably pick it up.
C. Archibald
Joined Apr 15, 2012
781 points
Oct 31, 2015
What you're talking about aren't so much finger cracks as off fingers.

Anyway, you need to learn to get your feet way up and dig in with the outside rand of your shoe. It's a rare foot technique that doesn't involve the big toe. It's remarkably effective in IC, not too many other places. Make sure your toes are flat, loose shoes are better than tight.

For routes, probably no revelation since you've probably been getting bouted on these same ones but...

Slice and Dice
Power Line
Angry Inch
Hydraulic Pump
Sacred Cow
Coyne Crack
Johnny Cat
Bad Cat
Supercrack of the Desert
Optimator

Stuff like that. Have fun.
highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion
From Colorado
Joined Oct 29, 2012
43 points
Oct 31, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Esthesia free solo  Photo by AJ
JCM wrote:
Yes. I had similar thoughts, but was blown away when I opened the book. I learned at least 5 new things in the first 5 minutes of looking through it. For context, I've climbed a decent number of hard-ish splitter cracks, up to 13a. I still have a lot to learn (especially when it comes to OW and off-fingers). Never let ego get in the way of a learning opprotunity. The book is outstanding, and is PhD in crack climbing level stuff. Whether it is worth the money is up to you. I thumbed through it in REI, because I'm cheap. I may still buy it.


I'm pretty much in the same boat as JCM in terms of crack experience. I'll echo that the book is excellent particularly in the off sizes. I read it cover to cover twice on a flight to Asia. Nothing in the book will instantly make you a better crack climber, but it gives you lots of things to think about and incorporate into your practice. It provides ideas to try when you're stuck as well as things that will help you refine and polish your technique. Most importantly you need to pick out some finger cracks and go climb them.
Jon Clark
From Philadelphia, PA
Joined Apr 15, 2009
489 points
Nov 1, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: After a very very damp and cold evening climbing o...
My experience is extremely limited in finger sized cracks but the one time i did do it was at a gym on a 6C (5.11b), it really hurt and got me ridiculously pumped it was 12 meters of pain maybe it was because the route wasn't a regular crack or because it was slightly overhanging either way, prepare for pain. that guy named seb
Joined Oct 24, 2015
182 points
Nov 1, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Hanging out on Tucupit occidentalis
Make sure you get on the Overlook at Res Wall. It goes through the sizes from hands down to fingers / off-fingers. It offers decent feet through the .5 bit. If you don't send, then lap it.

Zion a good place to learn the off-fingers size since there are often feet ouside the crack. The first pitch of Plan B, headwall splitter on Shunes and a single pitch with two anchors at Cerbeus Gendarme (forget the name) come to mind.
Brandon Gottung
From Moab, UT
Joined Dec 23, 2010
1,508 points


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