Wear Tape Gloves. Alpine or backcountry crack climbing usually has long stretches of fairly casual hand jamming. And more often than not, these cracks have sections of sharp, grainy, flakey, or wet rock. The backs of our hands are thin-skinned and soft, with delicate narrow bones running down from each finger — not an ideal surface for smashing against rock and hanging body weight from. Sure you can meticulously and gingerly finesse each hand jam like a carefully set nut placement. But why bother? Taping the backs of your hands makes crack climbing faster, more protected, and insulates the hands from cold and wet rock. These benefits of taping up are obvious and should have you sold on using tape gloves. The only exception to them would be on a sustained thin-hands crack, where you’ll be wishing your hands were narrower. We’ve tasked CAMP athlete Blake Herrington, the human multi-tool, to create a list of other things tape is good for on big rock routes and in the alpine. Most of these can be done by keeping the gloves themselves intact and usable if you lightly wrap your wrists with a few extra inches of tape when you apply your gloves.
- Tear a piece of tape off your wrist to patch a hole in your jacket or pants.
- Cover a split tip, bleeding cut, or combine tape wraps with a stick or nut tool to splint an injured limb.
- Ready to rappel? Mark the middle of your rope with a single wrap of tape — it won’t jam in a rappel device if there’s one wrap done smoothly.
- If you’re forced to cut your rope, or you simply notice that the ends are beginning to fuzz and fray, wrap the ends tightly in a couple layers of tape.
- If your follower is jugging, pad a sharp edge next to the belay perch by taking off a tape glove, clipping it to a sling, and pinning it between the rope and the rock.
- Athletic tape is flammable. If you find yourself benighted, or simply need help getting a campfire going in damp conditions, light ‘em up!
- In lieu of real toilet paper or snow, you can manage to wipe back there in emergencies with old tape pieces. Just remember to bury, burn, or pack it out.
- After completing the climb in daylight, many times we make descents or rappels in the dark. Reuse some tape from your gloves and secure your headlamp to your helmet by threading tape through the vent holes in your helmet frame. This will reinforce the security of the plastic headlamp clips and prevent a tree branch or wayward rope pull from tearing your headlamp off.
- If you’re rapping over a sharp edge or narrow pinch point, cover the spot in some of your leftover tape glove as you descend.
- If sudden bad weather or non-sendage compels you to rap down from a point which you plan to return to, stash any full-ish water bottles at a belay ledge or on an anchor near your high point or beneath the crux pitch. But wrap the lids in a few layers of tape. It SHOULD then be obvious to other parties that this was cached for future use and not just forgotten.
Rather than endure slow, painful, and insecure hand cracks, a faster, more comfortable, warmer, and more secure option is to cover the back of your hands in climbing tape with basic tape gloves. Just don’t forget about the other uses for all this tape, especially once you’re done moving upward.