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All About Finger Cracks

Learn How to Crack Climb


Brian Shelton jams a finger crack at Turkey Rock in Colorado.

Jam the fingers in your top hand with the fingers down and the fingers on your bottom hand with the thumb up and start jamming a perfect finger crack.

Photograph © Stewart M. Green Ian Spencer-Green jams The London Wall (5.12a), a finger crack at Millstone Edge in Great Britain.

Look for face holds for your feet when you're jamming finger cracks like The London Wall in England's Peak District.

Photograph © Stewart M. Green BuenaVista_ElephantRock_FearofFear_3.jpg

Ian Green jams "In Fear of Fear," a 5.13 finger crack near Buena Vista, Colorado.

Photograph copyright Stewart M. Green

Finger cracks are exactly that—thin cracks that are as wide as your fingers are thick. Finger cracks range in size from narrow slits that accommodate only your fingertips to wider cracks that require you to stack two fingers together. Finger cracks range in size from ½ inch to 1½ inches wide.

3 Types of Finger Cracks

There are three types of finger cracks—thin, standard, and wide. Thin finger cracks are extremely difficult to jam since they accept only the tips of your fingers to about the bottom of your fingernails. The best, most secure, and easiest finger cracks to climb are wide enough to accept your fingers to your knuckles and are generally a bit wider than your fattest finger. Wide finger cracks are the most difficult, strenuous, and insecure to jam. Wide finger cracks are usually jammed by stacking your fingers against each other and torqueing.

Fingerlocks are Your Best Friends

The best finger cracks offer constrictions where the crack narrows down below a wider section. If you can slot your fingers to the second or third joint in the wide section with the constriction below your fingers, you will have the most secure finger jam which is called a fingerlock. A fingerlock, along with the hand jam, is one of the sweetest climbing jam holds. When you are jamming finger cracks, always look and feel for places where you can find a fingerlock. A good fingerlock is secure and offers a place to rest. A fingerlock is your best friend on a steep crack pitch.

Good Footwork Required for Finger Crack Success

Most finger cracks are strenuous since much of your body weight is transferred onto your fingers and hands. Therefore it is important to use good footwork to take weight off your fingers. Most finger cracks are too thin to accept more than the toe of your rock shoe. Look for good footholds on the rock face on either side of the crack, holds to stem your feet onto, and flared crack sections where you smear the rubber on your shoe’s rand against rock. Thin toed slippers work best for jamming thin cracks rather than shoes with big clunky toes.

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