Tip 3: Taping Up For Climbing

By Calvin Landrus

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A hand that needed to be taped!
Crack climbers of better talent and strength than myself scorn the idea of taping up their hands. If I try to climb a crack without tape on my hands, I feel naked. Well, not really, but because I’m an average climber, I will open gashes on the back of my hands. These wounds rip through most of the layers of skin and take several weeks to heal. In the meantime, they will swell, seep and ooze. Once the damage is done, they may prevent you from crack climbing and at the very least make it painful to even think about putting your hands in a crack.

Now, you have probably heard us “old-timers” complain about how the mentorship process in climbing has broken down. Many climbers find themselves learning to climb in the gym, and then taking that skill outside. Sport climbing skills learned in the gym are easily applied in modern, bolt equipped areas. But what happens when a climber wants to move into traditional, a.k.a. TRAD, climbing (placing gear, often climbing cracks)? It is often a dangerous game of trial and error or it remains a mystery. Although this article can’t completely solve that problem, it will instruct you in the small area of taping your hands for crack climbing.

A current way proposed by many sites and articles is creating a glove out of tape with loops around your fingers. Some of those are referenced at the end. This CLIMBING/LIVING TIP will be about taping your hands with it applied to your skin …very old school.

C L I M B I N G - T I P

The first step is selecting your tape. You will find that not all athletic-tape is of the quality you need. Some of it is not sticky or strong enough. I have found over the years that Johnson & Johnson™ makes the best tape. I will be demonstrating with 1.5-inch tape, but some have found 2-inch tape to work as well.

The second step is hand preparation. On extended road trips, I have shaved the back of my hands. It makes the tape removal far less painful. Also, before taping, a cleaning/sticking agent can be applied. Although there may be other products, my favorite is tincture of benzoin (can be bought at your local medical supply store). It has an alcohol base that cleans your skin and it dries to a tacky bonding layer. Nurses have used this to create a place on the skin where dressings can best adhere.

Now, here’s the actual taping procedure. Instead of typing a ton of words, I have taken a few pictures. Click here to visit the visual presentation.

Here are some additional hints for the perfect tape job:

    1. The first “loose” piece across your hand is optional and I usually don’t put it on unless I’m crack climbing all day long.
    2. Getting your tape job just right will take a few tries. Most often it’s too tight, but it can be too loose.
    3. When taping, keep your fingers spread apart. This will allow for a firm pull, yet not over tightening.
    4. Cloth tape stretches, so don’t declare it too tight right away.
    5. Remember that taping only protects your hand. Learning and refining good crack climbing technique will get you up the rock.

L I V I N G - T I P

Perhaps you have seen the movie, "Guarding Tess." It was all about the secret service guarding and protecting the wife of a former president. She spent most of her time trying to evade the ones whose job it was to guarantee her safety. Although these special agents were trained in the art of protecting people under all circumstances, their presence is often resented.

God desires to protect you from your enemies. Although we have enemies outside of us, most often we are our own worst enemies. In the Bible our self-destruction is described this way:

    “It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cut-throat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community; I could go on." (Contemporary Version of the Bible, Galatians 5:19-21)
However, because we resent having someone watch over us, we reject God’s protection. My friend, please don’t do that. God wants the best for you and has the ability to make it happen. Let these words found in the Bible encourage you to run to God!
    “With my God I can scale a wall. As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him. For who is God besides the LORD? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.” (New International Version of the Bible, Psalms 18:29-32)
What happens when we live God's way, when we don’t resent His protection? Like the tape on our hands in a crack, wonderful living will happen!
    “He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way fruit appears in an orchard - things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely." (Contemporary Version of the Bible, Galatians 5:22-26)

Living with God as your “tape” will protect you from the wounds that rip at your heart and mind. The damage will not be done that keeps you from abundant living.

Continue the discussion at the Where Climbers Gather Forums.


  • TAPE GLOVES - PICTURES at www.rockclimbing.com will give you an alternative method.

  • Date Posted - 12.19.13

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