Offwidth cracks

Cracks that are too wide for standard jamming, but too narrow to admit the entire body for chimneying, call for specialized off-width technique. You stand sideways to the crack, and one full side of your body goes into the off-width.

When confronted by an off-width, first decide which side of your body to put inside the crack.

Fig. 9-26. Liebacking combined with face holds
Fig. 9-27. Climbing a dihedral using stemming and jamming

This depends on several things, such as holds in the crack or on the face, and the lean, flare, and offset of the crack.

After you've settled on which side to use, the inside leg goes inside the crack and forms a leg bar, usually with counterpressure between foot and knee or foot and hip. This foot is often placed in a heel-toe jam.

The outside foot also is inside the crack in a heel-toe jam. Try to keep the heel above the toe (for better friction) and turned into the crack (to allow the knee to turn out).

Fig. 9-28. Off-width technique: a, arm bar; b, arm lock.

As for the arms, a primary body-jam technique is the ami bar (fig. 9-28a). With the body sideways to the crack, insert the arm fully into the crack, with the elbow and the back of the upper arm on one side of the crack giving counterpressure to the heel of the hand on the other side. Get the shoulder in as far as possible, and have the arm lock extend diagonally down from the shoulder.

In a variation, the arm lock, fold the arm back at the elbow and press the palm against the opposite side in counterforce to the shoulder (fig. 9-28b).

The outside arm is used to give downpressure to help hold you in the crack, or is brought across the front of the chest and pushed against the opposite side of the crack, elbow out.

You're now wedged securely in the crack. To climb, move the outside leg upward to establish a higher heel-toe jam. When this jam is set, stand up on it. Then re-establish the inside leg bar and arm bar (or arm lock), and reposition the outside arm. This again wedges the body in the crack. You're now ready to move the outside leg upward again to establish a yet higher heel-toe jam. Continue repeating this procedure (fig. 9-29).

You may use your outside foot occasionally on face holds, but watch out for the tendency for these outside footholds to pull you out of the crack.

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