Crack (climbing)

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Crack climbing

Cracks are crevices in the rock . They can be used when climbing for movement and for protection . Cracks can run horizontally, vertically or diagonally. The transition from a crack to a chimney is fluid, mostly gaps up to a width of about 0.4 meters are called cracks, all wider ones are called chimneys.

Cracks for locomotion

Cracks are used in climbing to move, often they require special crack climbing techniques. A distinction is made between cracks according to their width and the resulting climbing technique to be used . The name of the crack describes the part of the body that can maximally get stuck in the crack. The transitions are fluid.

  • Cracked finger
  • Hand tear
  • Shoulder tear
  • Body tear - this is where the transition to the chimney begins .

Cracks to hedge

Sketch of a friend in a crack

In many routes that are not secured by drilling or adhesive hooks , cracks are the only way to create reliable intermediate securing devices. For this purpose, clamping wedges , clamping devices and knotted loops are used. The possibility of using mobile securing devices and the holding force of such intermediate securing devices are limited by the width, shape and surface properties of the cracks.


In the early days of climbing, cracks - like chimneys - played an important role in the development of new walls, since with the technology and equipment of the time, reasonable progress was only possible here. Accordingly, many early free climbing routes follow crack systems (e.g. the Pumprisse by Reinhard Karl and Helmut Kiene , first alpine climbing route in the VII level of difficulty ).

In some climbing areas - such as the Northern Franconian Jura - cracks nowadays hardly play a role, at least in the upper levels of difficulty, while in other areas a large number of routes move in or on cracks. This is particularly the case in sandstone areas such as Saxon Switzerland or granite areas such as the Yosemite Valley .


  • Michael Hoffmann : Sport climbing - technology, tactics, safety , Panico Alpinverlag, Köngen 2004, ISBN 3-926807-88-1 ; P. 136 ff.
  • Jürgen Schmied, Frank Schweinheim: Sport climbing for beginners and advanced , Bruckmann, Munich 2003, ISBN 3-7654-3682-8 ; P. 138 ff.