Ocun’s Crack Gloves, AKA Hand Jammies
So, let’s talk about the infamous hand jammies. Now, I’m coming from a unique place, as far as trad climbers go. I’m not really a crack climber – I’m a face climbing trad-weenie. It’s not that I don’t like trad climbing – being 20 feet above a purple tcu, and deciphering a tricky crux is definitely my cup of tea. But as far as inspiration goes, I find splitters to be impressive to look at, but somewhat boring to climb. Besides, there’s the pain.
All that aside, if you’re going to climb trad you need to master at least some rudimentary crack-climbing skills. So I’ve put in my time. I’ve done splitters in most sizes (some better than others, for sure), and I’ve gone through the gobie cycle enough times to have permanent scarring on the backs of my hands. Contrary as I am, I still wear those scars proudly – as if they gain me admission to a special club or something. I haven’t worn tape gloves in years, and now that I’ve got a little bit of technique, I generally don’t need them. On a certain level, wearing gloves for crack climbing is anathema to crack climbing itself. Gloves are usually either debilitating (in tight hands), or facilitating (in wide hands) to the point that it feels like cheating. Generally, if you rely upon them, you’ll never really learn how to climb without them.
So when I first saw the Ocun Crack Gloves, I have to admit, I was pretty cynical. Here we are, putting climbing shoes on our hands. I remember joking with friends after they sent Eponymous Hand Crack #23, or whatever it was, and chiding “so, you gonna go back and free that now?” The crack gloves are so good, it can feel rather like aid climbing. I objected to them on principal at first – but everything changed when I bootied a pair a couple years ago at the base of Cardinal Pinnacle in the Eastern Sierra. Here’s what I think now.
1. The crack gloves are not only completely appropriate, but indispensable for any big day on rock where your concern is more speed than free-climbing. The Nose in a day (NIAD) is a perfect example. Unless you’re an elite climber, you’re probably not worried about style on your NIAD attempt. Save some skin, and wear the jammies. You’re just going to be pulling on gear half the time anyway. When you get to the Texas Flake or the Pancake flake or the Stove legs, or whatever other hand cracks there are, the jammies will help you move quickly and efficiently. They’re also great in the alpine.
2. Ocun’s jammies are green! Now, I know it’s a hard sell talking about one more thing to buy being ‘green’… but the point is, most of us have probably gone through role after role of tape in our climbing careers – and if we don’t change our habits, we’ll have role after role to come. The jammies are remarkably durable, and in truth, you won’t wear them all the time. I got mine used, and they’ve stayed accessible for over two years now, and show little wear. These won’t need to be replaced as often as climbing shoes, because you won’t wear them every time you climb, and the nature of jamming versus techy edging, smearing, or toeing is way easier on the rubber.
3. Gobies are for gumbies! If you’re worried about childish little pricks like I use to be chiding you about your jammies at the crag, silence them with your abilities. Instead of getting in one solid day at the creek followed by three days to heal your gaping hand wounds, get in three solid days without breaking the skin. On day 4, right before a rest day, take the gloves off, and abrade your skin moderately as you learn proper technique.
4. Warts! I’m not a doctor, but I can say definitively that warts can spread from feet to hands to hands to feet and back again. I’m proud to say I’m wart free today, but I use to have them all over my hands, and they all started RIGHT AFTER I climbed at the creek. If you’re in a posse, protect your hands from the latent viruses hanging out all over Scarface or Way Rambo or whatever 5 star #1 crack you and a small army are all getting psyched up to bleed on.
That wraps it up. Bootying jammies is probably the best bet, but if you’re a little more trigger-happy with the ol plastic, they’re pretty affordable. You can find them here: http://www.campsaver.com/ocun-crack-gloves