Taping for Success

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The Salathe Headwall on El Capitan, the North Six Shorter in Indian Creek, and Dog Leg in Joshua Tree are all beautiful routes. These obvious cracks are some of the most enticing lines in climbing.  

Crack climbing is beautiful but it also hurts. Anyone who has stuffed their hand into a parallel splitter has probably gobied their hand a few times. The small abrasions on the back of your hands or fingers stem from the sharpness of the rock and systematic wear from jamming.

Kuehl ThrashedHands

One of the best ways to keep your hands from total destruction  is to make a good pair of tape gloves. Though the old school folks declare tape gloves as “adhesive etriers”, modern climbers enjoy not tearing their hands apart every time they stick them in a crack.

Every size of crack will gobie your hand in a different place.  Fist cracks cause gobies on the thumb area.  Thin hand cracks damage the akin under the index finger.  Hand cracks work the middle of your hand.  A good pair of tape gloves cover the entire hand.  To make a solid tape glove dry and clean your hands.  Some climbers apply an adhesive spray to make the tape stick a bit better.


Tear off a number of strips in the correct length.  Lay them out on a clean and accessible place to transfer them onto your hand. Remember that you want the tape tight but not restricting.  Also keep the tape as low profile as possible.  Every time you add a bit of tape to your hand, it increases the size of what you’re jamming.  


Use good athletic tape.  Metolious makes an excellent climbing tape.  Some climbers prefer Mueller tape.  The European tape tends to be a bit stickier. Experiment a little to find which tape works for you as skin types vary slightly as does the stickiness of the tape.


To begin making tape gloves, wrap a strip around each finger and then a couple of strips around the wrist so that they overlap.Press the tape on the skin well so that it adheres completely.


Make sure the tape is flat on each hand.  Bunched tape can get caught and roll off your hand, making the enitre glove peel off.  Smooth flat tape will endure better.


Carefully cut them off at the wrist and peel the tape off slowly. A well made pair of tape gloves can last a few days of thrashing.  The wrist just needs to be taped back on.


 Now that you’ve got some solid tape gloves, head out to your nearest Touchstone gym and get on those cracks. Yosemite season is here and Creeksgiving in Utah is just around the corner!