Ever feel puzzled by how to best utilize your feet on crack climbs? Splitters can feel desperate if you don’t have solid footwork. Whether you’re heading out to send your granite nemesis, or to the cracks of Indian Creek, these techniques will have you better prepared for tight fingers to loose hands. The basics. The basic foot jam that all other jamming is based on is best learned in a hand crack, as this size allows for solid feet. Use a shoe that allows your toes to lay flat. To start, slot your foot (big toe up, pinky toe down) into the crack up to the arch of your foot, keeping your knee out to the side. Next, torque your knee inwards (towards the crack), twisting the shoe and locking it into place. Bend at your waist to raise your legs instead of bending your arms. This might feel insecure, but once you step up, your weight will shift back onto your feet. With both feet locked in, push up with your legs, maintaining pressure on your feet, and bring your hips in close to the wall at the end of each movement, in order to transfer weight off your arms and onto your feet. Your ankles should feel like they’re holding most of your weight, and your hands are simply holding you in place while you step up. This is the nuts and bolts, but the technique becomes more refined on the smaller sizes. Also, keep an eye out for any edges on the face next to the crack, or pods in the crack where you can get better purchase. Ratchets and ringlocks. A low-profile shoe wedges nicely into these cracks, but to get even more traction, use the frog position. To do the frog, keep your feet high and close together, with your knees out to the sides. Then, twist your knees in as you push up with your legs, and repeat. By placing your smallest toes in the crack, with your heel pointing down and your toes up, wedge the rand of your shoe hard into the crack. Your ankles should feel strained to maintain pressure, and your little toes should hurt since you’re really stuffing them hard into the crack.
Rattly fingers, fingers, and tips. On these smaller sizes make sure to keep your feet high, and don’t stretch out too far with your hands because you’re more likely to loose control of your feet. A tighter shoe on the really small cracks will provide better control on edges next to these nasties. Torque your feet as in the basic method, but focus on smearing the rand on the pinky toe side into the crack. Look for the smallest irregularities in the crack, paste your toes on invisible smears, and work the edges no matter how desperate. Experiment by using one foot in the crack while the other smears on the face, especially in a dihedral where you have more surface area to work with, and where it might be more taxing to climb with both feet in the crack. Push hard with your feet like you mean it, and keep plugging away. Now that you’ve read about it, you need to practice. Toproping is a great way to dial in each technique. To develop these techniques, conserve arm strength and focus on your footwork. Crack climbing is hell on your ankles and painful on your feet, so focus on speed and continuous movement; stalling in an uncomfortable position is the worst. After you’ve made some headway with these techniques, you’ll be flying up these harder sizes, grinning ear to ear.