Friday, April 23, 2021

Crack Climbing Basics: Tape Gloves

A climber makes use of her tape gloves to jam the awesome Mithral
Dihedral on Mt. Russell, High Sierra (A. Stephen)

Today we will learn how to make tape gloves to better facilitate hand jamming.  I've been seeing "hand-jammies" more and more these days, but when I tape, I still use the tried and true athletic tape.  Made properly, tape gloves don't leave too much adhesive residue on your hands, have a lower profile than hand-jammies, and you can reuse the same gloves over and over again.  All you need is a roll of 1" width athletic tape.  Here's how:

In order for the gloves to hold their form, it is important to build in some framework.  Rip your tape into 1/2" wide strips.  You want the strips long enough to reach from your wrist bone, around your finger, and back again. You will need three strips per hand, and will wrap a strip around your pinky finger, first finger, and thumb.  Spread out your fingers as much as you can while doing this process.

Once the foundation of the gloves is set, it is time to put on the outer layer.  I use a panel method to do this so that I can keep my palm free of tape, both for comfort's sake and for ease of removal and reuse.  To do this, use the full width of your tape, and cut strips that are a 1/4" longer on each side than the width of the back of your hand.

Align the strips so that the edge of the first panel is even with your knuckles.  Fold the overlap at each end so that it sticks back on itself and the framework strip.  Then add panels moving down towards your wrist, with a 1/2" of overlap on each, and stop just before your wrist joint.  I usually need about four panels per hand, but this is all dependent on your hand size.  Remember to keep your fingers spread far apart during this process.

Once you've built your foundation and added the panels, the final step is to secure it all to your hand by wrapping a length of tape around your wrist.  Make sure to keep your wrist in a relaxed, prone position.  Start the wrap on the inside of your palm and, keeping the 1/2" overlap on the previous panel, wrap the tape around your wrist twice.  Don't wrap too tight-you don't want to restrict the movement in your wrist too much. End on the inside of your palm once again.

The best feature of these gloves is that you can reuse them.  I used one pair for an entire season before they were shredded!  Once you are finished sending, all you have to do is cut the wrist strap on the inside of your palm, gently unstick the tape from your hand, and wriggle your fingers through the loops of the foundation.  When its time to jam some splitters again, just put them back on and wrap your wrist again.  Try to keep it to a single wrist wrap every time you reuse the gloves to keep the bulk down.

Ok, there you go!  For less than $10, you have your own home-made "hand-jammies."

--Andy Stephen, AAI Instructor and Guide

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