/ Why don't UK walls have crack machines?

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DannyC - on 06 Oct 2017
As it says on the tin really...

- Crack machines, including fancy adjustable ones, appear to be fairly cheap to make
- Improving your jamming is one of the simplest, quickest ways to improve your trad grade
- UK people go loopy for gritstone, which is known to require the odd jam
- The few examples of static indoor crack climbs, especially wooden ones, that I've seen appear to be popular. Even when they're not particularly good
- Crack climbing is fun(ny?), and works muscles that get missed in the normal twist-and-pull routine of indoor climbing.

I could go on. So, am I missing something... why don't UK walls have crack machines? Are there issues with insurance? Demand? Cost? Or maybe there are loads of crack machines out there, and I'm just going to the wrong walls...

Danny.
Jon Greengrass on 06 Oct 2017
In reply to DannyC:

I think we don't see many cracks at UK climbing walls because jamming is perceived as painful. Hopefully the publicity generated by the Wideboyz will help change this.

I don't think it can be an insurance/health and safety issue because the compensation culture capital of the world( USA ) has plenty of walls with loads of crack climbs.
planetmarshall on 06 Oct 2017
In reply to DannyC:

There are a couple at the Depot Manchester on the autobelays, but they aren't adjustable and I don't think they see much use (although that's just my impression). I'd certainly use one of they put it on an overhanging wall.
DannyC - on 06 Oct 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:

Yeah, an adjustable roof crack on a lead wall would be quality!
davidbeynon on 06 Oct 2017
In reply to DannyC:

There's a jamming crack at Redpoint in Bristol, but it's not adjustable.

Postmanpat on 06 Oct 2017
In reply to DannyC:
I thought this was going to be a drugs thread.....
Post edited at 12:25
davidbeynon on 06 Oct 2017
In reply to Postmanpat:

Robot drug dealers?
balmybaldwin - on 06 Oct 2017
In reply to DannyC:

Craggy had a route set with some jamming on the textured wall years ago.... it got manky pretty quick with people losing skin in it
DannyC - on 06 Oct 2017
In reply to balmybaldwin:

Ha, grim. Another benefit of wood - it's wipe-clean properties!

Something like this but on a big scale would be class: https://i.pinimg.com/736x/80/c8/85/80c885c103f261ae8a69cedc60c911ad--climbing-wall-rock-climbing.jpg

There could even be 'routes' set, with circles chalked on to force hand and feet transfers between widths.

DannyC - on 06 Oct 2017
In reply to Jon Greengrass:

Yeah, Wild Country's small upside down crack machine seems to be big hit at their talks. Something like that only longer and with a range of cracks would such a useful addition to a bouldering wall.

D.
kathrync - on 06 Oct 2017
In reply to DannyC:

Alien in Edinburgh has a finger crack and a fist crack. Neither are adjustable. You don't see people on them often, but I think in part that's because regulars to the wall are more interested in doing new routes than repeating feature routes that have been there for years. Also, in my case, the fist crack is a lot wider than my tiny fists making the route disproportionately hard compared to friends whose hands don't just pull through without even touching the sides, so I got frustrated and gave up on that one pretty quickly. Possibly adjustable cracks would help with both those issues. Having said that, there doesn't seem to be so much of a culture of crack-climbing here as there in the US, at least not outside of the Peak District, so I don't know how much use these things would get once the novelty has worn off.
Fakey Rocks - on 06 Oct 2017
In reply to DannyC:

Good way to get new people interested in climbing maybe, entice them in with it, but then ween them slowly onto climbing, " here dude, try some of this too whilst you're here"... it could work, u could help a lot of people get off the bad stuff + get into something great.

The climbing wall could become vulnerable to break ins though, and the machine itself, you'd have to build the machine like an ATM cash machine. Put heavy duty bollards outside the venue too to stop ram raids. Someone would probably still try tunnel under + get in that way too. Or just hide inside one night + try walk off with it all. You might need heavily armed guards on duty 24-7.
Defo issues with insurance + cost, not sure about demand issues, probably gonna do quite well once the scheme's up + running. Could be frus trating if it breaks down, or doesn't drop the goods in the drawer, just leaves it hanging on the edge of the spiral dispenser thingy.

I didn't know Redpoint had one, i best keep away from now.
DannyC - on 06 Oct 2017
In reply to kathrync:

Yeah, I live in Edinburgh and really like the hand, fist crack and (too for me hard!) finger crack at A`1. I wonder if an adjustable and wooden machine would be more interesting to folk to return to? It'd also force you to only use the crack.

Even outside the Peak, I'd estimate that well over half the trad routes I climb involve a jam at some point, especially when resting or putting in gear. It's the only way I can get up anything!

D.
kathrync - on 06 Oct 2017
In reply to DannyC:

> Yeah, I live in Edinburgh and really like the hand, fist crack and (too for me hard!) finger crack at A`1. I wonder if an adjustable and wooden machine would be more interesting to folk to return to? It'd also force you to only use the crack.

I don't think I ever finished the finger-crack either, although I got pretty close a couple of times. I doubt I would even be close now! For the wider crack, I can fist-jam in the bits where most people hand jam. For the rest, it is arm-bars or stacked jams!

I almost never jam on trad - each to their own!

Robert Durran - on 06 Oct 2017
In reply to kathrync:

> Alien in Edinburgh has a finger crack and a fist crack.

That finger crack and the awesome right arĂȘte of the stepped overhanging wall on features are probably the finest two indoor routes I've ever climbed. Both technical and powerful. We always reckoned the finger crack would be solid E5, possibly E6 6b outdoors!
nacnud - on 06 Oct 2017
In reply to DannyC:

There is a real problem setting cracks as you shouldn't set anything that allows impingement. IE if you relax you should fall out of the crack. You really don't want anything where it is possible to fall and not have the jam come out.

Most people don't like climbing on these sort of routes, I know I don't.
DannyC - on 06 Oct 2017
In reply to nacnud:

Yeah, I'd wondered about that and it does make sense. Although a wooden parallel-sided crack machine might help with that, perhaps?

I have to admit I sometimes worry about potential 'impingement' when climbing slab problems above those big phallic jug things. Eek.

D.
Fraser on 06 Oct 2017
In reply to DannyC:

> Yeah, an adjustable roof crack on a lead wall would be quality!

I think some people would complain about a crack being bolted!
1
stp - on 06 Oct 2017
In reply to DannyC:

I suspect part of the reason is that we simply don't have many cracks. Pure jamming cracks in the UK are not that common and the vast majority of our climbing is face climbing. Being able to hand jam and finger jam is definitely a useful skill but I don't think one needs to train that style specifically because most jam cracks here are short and more often constitute a rest on most routes over here.
2
kenr - on 07 Oct 2017

My favorite gym has a (non-adjustable) hand crack, finishing with an overhanging fist crack. It definitely helped me improve my technique (especially my foot jams). But I was one of only three people I ever saw climbing it. And I say "was" because I've only climbed it like once in the last two years, and I'm not sure I've seen anyone else climbing on it it the last year or so.
. . . (I've never seen a crack at an indoor gym in France or Italy, but in Germany the biggest Munich Thalkirchen DAV gym has some several non-adjustable cracks).

"Adjustable" is a good idea, because I say the finish is a fist crack, but I've got big hands. I think for people with small hands, it's barely climbable at all.

Which gets to the other reason why I doubt many new gyms are going to bother with cracks. Because it's rather difficult to make crack sequences which are "fair" for _competitions_ -- a crack sequence will typically be much harder or easier depending on hand size.
While it's easier to make pinch-hold and compression moves "fair" for a wider range of competitors.

Especially with indoor climbing now as an Olympic sport, I'll guess that indoor gym design will be more driven by competition, and less by resemblance to outdoor climbing. And since most indoor gym climbers nowadays are much more interested in Sport climbing than Trad, there's even _less_ interest in preparation for outdoor _crack_ climbing.

One famous French(?) climber said: "When the back of the hand touches the rock, true climbing is over".

I do not agree, and I enjoy finding opportunities for jamming moves outdoors -- but who cares what I think.

Ken
Post edited at 04:55
Hugh Mongous - on 07 Oct 2017
In reply to kathrync:
> Alien in Edinburgh has a finger crack and a fist crack. Neither are adjustable. You don't see people on them often, but I think in part that's because regulars to the wall are more interested in doing new routes than repeating feature routes that have been there for years.

I used to love these cracks when I lived just down the road (over 10 years ago). They were a bit slippy though - and hard. All the times I went there (a hundred times maybe) I only ever saw me on them. Same with the nice features just around the corner. The wall at Newton Aycliffe also had some excellent (non slippy) cracks. Again, almost never saw anyone else on them. People seem to prefer plastic blobs that bare no resemblance to outside holds. No idea why!

I was pants at the wide crack at AR as well.
Post edited at 05:53
Lloydfletch - on 07 Oct 2017
In reply to stp:

Surely this is a good reason to have them indoors. While we don't have that many pure jamming cracks, lots of cool destinations that we'd like to visit do. You could get your jamming game up to scratch before a trip and hit the ground running when you arrive.
stp - on 09 Oct 2017
In reply to Lloydfletch:

I suppose the main destination for crack climbing would be the States. That would rule out the usefulness for most wall users. I think the vast majority of climbers who go abroad tend to climb in Europe. Even those going to the US might not be intending to crack climb. I've spent well over a year there in total and ended up doing very little crack climbing.

I suppose it depends on the wall but a lot of walls have very limited space and others might wonder whether the investment is worthwhile for something only of interest to a small minority.
purplemonkeyelephant - on 14 Oct 2017
In reply to DannyC:

Mile end has a short fist crack. The reach has a gross flarey hand/finger/offwidth thing. The castle has an offset fist to offwidth crack. They're about but not adjustable.
purplemonkeyelephant - on 14 Oct 2017
In reply to purplemonkeyelephant:
Also White Spider have some Wild Country crack volumes, could make some very changeable cracks/chimneys!

https://www.facebook.com/WhiteSpiderClimbing/photos/a.380737425286956.104688.363004990393533/1498935...

also

https://www.facebook.com/WhiteSpiderClimbing/photos/a.380737425286956.104688.363004990393533/1722321...
Post edited at 19:33
DannyC - on 16 Oct 2017
In reply to purplemonkeyelephant:

Those crack volumes look like a wonderful solution. I'd love an Edinburgh wall to get hold of some. Imagine the possibilities on the Ratho lead wall...!
galpinos on 16 Oct 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:

I used the hand crack a bit over the summer but it needs crack gloves/tape and it chews through shoes/laces. The thing about hand jamming though is that it's pretty easy so I used it for stamina. I used to do 3 ups and two downs swimming right, rest, 3 ups and two downs swimming left, rest, 3 ups and two downs straight on, etc.

The finger crack seemed nails though, could barely get off the ground. I did ask for some little foot jibs to be added to allow people to get started/improve but nothing happened.

Never seen anyone else on them.
purplemonkeyelephant - on 06 Nov 2017
In reply to DannyC:

https://www.facebook.com/wideboyzltd/posts/1974812789442460

Wideboyz just released another product!
DannyC - on 06 Nov 2017
In reply to purplemonkeyelephant:
Excellent! I hope it proves popular, comes to an Edinburgh wall and those Wide men send me my royalties ;)

I wonder why the two sides of the crack are joined as one volume? I'd have thought two separate volumes would offer more potential for width variation, but maybe there's a reason I'm missing.

Good stuff.
Post edited at 20:09
Jon Greengrass on 07 Nov 2017
In reply to DannyC:

My guess would be that the 2 side of the volume are fixed to ensure that in use they are perfectly parallel and to prevent them being used with the "crack" smaller at the bottom than at the top, the resulting constriction would create a hand jam that would be too good.
gilesf - on 07 Nov 2017
In reply to DannyC:

I went to Harrogate climbing wall at the weekend and they had a crack there, it's not adjustable and it's on a bottom rope but it looked OK.
remus - on 07 Nov 2017
In reply to DannyC:

> Excellent! I hope it proves popular, comes to an Edinburgh wall and those Wide men send me my royalties ;)

> I wonder why the two sides of the crack are joined as one volume? I'd have thought two separate volumes would offer more potential for width variation, but maybe there's a reason I'm missing.

> Good stuff.

I've had a play on a prototype. I think the main idea is that they're trying to make crack climbing more approachable, it's lined with a special material that means the jams are comfy even without tape. In a similar vein i guess the sides are fixed because it's a neater package. Just screw it on like any other volume and you've got a good hand-sized crack.
Wingnut - on 07 Nov 2017
In reply to DannyC:
>>I'd have thought two separate volumes would offer more potential for width variation,

That's the way I went when I designed something similar for Alpkit's "colab" design competition a few years ago, only mine was a modular arrangement intended to be reset in different shapes. Sort of what you'd get if you turned a normal wall inside-out.

DannyC - on 07 Nov 2017
In reply to Wingnut:

Sounds interesting!

*Hi-jacking my own topic alert* I do think there's a slight (difficult to solve) downside to indoor training, in that pretty much all holds protrude from the wall, rather than being inset. That promotes a very different style of climbing from outdoor routes where a much higher proportion of holds are incut, and therefore need much more care and precision to best use, with hands or feet.

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