Camille Didillon is an osteopath by profession and lives in Chamonix. Her longstanding passion for climbing has led her to climb hard routes and visit multiple continents. Camille has been a Blue Ice ambassador for several years now. Her sparkling eyes are always seeking to explore rock in any form, from multi-pitch climbing to bouldering, and of course trad climbing!
Crack climbing, and trad climbing in general, are a unique aspect of rock climbing.
In France, limestone often takes the form of crimps and tufas. And granite cracks in France are often surrounded by a multitude of other holds. You rarely find pure, true cracks that are smooth and regular.
We Frenchies have a thing or two to learn from our Anglo-Saxon and American friends when it comes to crack climbing technique.
Plunging your hands into a crack so that they stay jammed there (and not the opposite!) is unusual for those of us who are used to crimping, and ready to solicit every last muscle fiber in order to bear down on some tiny edge!
Indian Creek in Utah is considered to be the Mecca of crack climbing: jamming is mandatory! The smooth textured sandstone found here features very few holds other than cracks.
But with a generous dose of humility and after learning to accept the bloody scrapes and wounds that go with this kind of climbing, we end up thrusting our delicate mitts into these gaping maws in the rock.
And we don’t just jam our hands, but also our fingers, fists, elbows, torsos, and even our heads! Anything goes! Every crack requires a very specific technique.
These differences in the cracks also require us to hang an entire artillery of metal objects off our harnesses. Crack climbing means bringing plenty of ‘friends’ with you! Warning: activity unsuitable for anti-social individuals! The jangling sounds announce the presence of a gear-laden climber ready to move upwards. Sometimes the gentle sound of jangling hardware is accompanied by shouts of “F**k! Oh sh*t!” when fear causes the climber to externalize and share his or her transitory feeling of well-being.
In short, this activity is a highly specific sport that requires a cheerful disposition, good friends, a well-toned, muscular physique, humility, a high pain threshold, and a carefree attitude! It also provides us with the opportunity to enjoy some amazing landscapes and savor the unique scenery.
Nature provides us with some fantastic playgrounds! And we love that!