Finger jams make it possible to climb some of the narrowest cracks, where you may only be able to insert one or more fingers, or perhaps just the finger tips. Finger jams are commonly done with the thumbs down. Slip fingers into the crack and twist the hand to lock the fingers in place (fig. 9-16a). You get added strength by stacking fingers and also by pressing the thumb against the index finger in a ring jam (fig. 9-16b).
In slightly wider cracks, you can try a thumb lock. Place the up-pointing thumb in the crack, the
pad against one side of the crack and the knuckle against the other. Slide the tip of the index finger tightly down over the first joint of the thumb to create the lock (fig. 9-16c).
Here are two other variations on the finger jam, done with the thumbs up (fig. 9-16d,e). You can put the little finger in a crack and stack the other fingers on top (finger tips down, nails up) for a "pinkie jam." In slightly larger cracks, you may be able to wedge the heel of the hand and the smaller fingers into a crack that isn't quite wide enough for a full hand jam. The weight here is borne by the heel of the hand.
For another variation, you can use counterpres-sure of thumb pushing against one side of the crack, fingers pushing against the other (fig. 9-16f).
With a wider crack, you'll gain the luxury of inserting your entire hand, cupping it as needed to provide adequate expansion against the walls of the crack (fig. 9-17a). To increase pressure against the walls, you'll sometimes tuck your thumb across the palm, especially in wider cracks (fig. 9-17b).
You can often improve the hold by bending your wrist so the hand points into the crack rather than straight up and down.
The hand jam is done either thumbs up or thumbs down. Thumbs up often is easiest and most comfortable for a vertical crack, and it works especially well when the hand is relatively low. The thumbs-up configuration is most secure when the body leans to the same side as the hand that is jammed.
The thumbs-down technique may allow a more secure reach to a jam high above your head, because the hand can be twisted for better adhesion, and you can lean in any direction off this jam (fig. 9-17c). Climbers use a combination of thumbs up and thumbs down, especially in diagonal cracks where it's often useful to jam the upper hand thumb down and the lower hand thumb up (fig. 9-17d).
With both finger and hand jams, keep alert to the effect of your elbow and body position on the security of the hold. As you move up, you may have to rotate your shoulder or trunk to keep sufficient torque and downward pressure to maintain the jam. Direction of force should be pulling
Fig. 9-17. Hand jams: a, thumb-up jam; b, with thumb tucked across palm; c, thumb-down jam; d, combining thumb-down and thumb-up jams in a diagonal crack.
down, and not out of the crack.
In dealing with hand jams, you'll run across variants at both ends of the size scale: thinner cracks that won't admit the entire hand but are larger than finger cracks, and wider cracks that aren't quite large enough for a fist jam but require extra hand-twisting to create enough expansion for a secure jam. The size of your hand is a major factor in determining the appropriate technique and the degree of difficulty for any particular crack.
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