• Will Sweat Harm My Harness?
  • Should You Use Rope or Webbing to Connect to an Anchor?
  • Choosing Between C4s and Friends
  • Can You Lead On a Static Rope?
  • Can I Use Climbing Bolts For Anchors in a Gym?
  • Are Falls Held or Breaking Strength More Important In a Rope?
  • Does Poop Harm a Climbing Rope?
  • Are Homemade Draws Reliable?
  • Shopping for Economy Carabiners
  • When You Fly, Can You Carry On Climbing Gear?
  • Can I Trust Fixed Draws?
  • Which Helmet WIll Fit My Big Head?
  • Choosing Ice Screw Length
  • Are Adjustable Leg Loops Useful?
  • Should I clip ice screws with Screamers?
  • How do I Make a Bomber Anchor?
  • Can I Modify my Crampon Without Compromising the Integrity?
  • Hot Versus Cold Forging
  • Caring For Your FIngertips
  • Are Sewn Slings Stronger Than Knotted Ones?
  • When to Replace Climbing Webbing
  • Using Grip Dip To Color Code Gear
  • The Benefits of Cotton
  • How to Pull a Rappel Rope
  • How to Properly Orient a Carabiner Gate
  • Are My Fuzzy Quickdraws Safe?
  • How to Stretch Climbing Shoes
  • Are 1/2-inch bolts really better than 3/8-inch?
  • Should I Resole My Rock Shoes?
  • Hand Drill Advice
  • Lonely Climber Looking for Woman
  • Is My Invented Knot Safe?
  • Difference Between Double and Twin Ropes
  • Dealing With an Argumentative Partner
  • Will Antifreeze Ruin Rope?
  • Why Is a Rack Called a Rack?
  • Rock Shoes For a Big Guy
  • Do They Kill Geese To Get Down?
  • How to Wash a Rope
  • Do Cam Teeth Do Anything?
  • Can I Fix Delaminated Rock Shoes?
  • Can I Mix a Static With a Dynamic Rope for Rappelling?
  • Should You Lower Or Rap Through Anchors?
  • Should You Clip the Belay As Your First Lead Pro?
  • How Should The Middle Man Tie In?
  • How Do I Get a Good Climbing Man?
  • Do Falls Weaken Bolts?
  • Should I Rope Solo?
  • Should I Angle Ice Screws Down?
  • How Should Old Climbers Train?
  • Can I Make a Belay Loop?
  • Reusiing Ice Screw Holes
  • Overcoming Fear of Falling
  • Choosing a Stove Fuel
  • Will My Hiking Boots Work With Crampons?
  • Do Heavy People Shock Load the Rope?
  • Can Offset Cams Subsitute for Regular Cams?
  • Can I Resling My Cams Myself?
  • Are Older Alien Cams Safe?
  • Antifreeze
  • The Truth About Climbing Supplements
  • Can I Make My Leashed Tools, Leashless?
  • Rope Stretch Facts
  • How To Cut a Rope Without a Knife
  • Secrets of the Toprope
  • How to Sharpen Crampons
  • Should I Become a Climbing Guide?
  • Preventing Climbing Rope Wear
  • How to Remove an Old Bolt
  • How to Customize Ice Tool Picks
  • Double Rope Facts
  • Do It Yourself Fruit Boots
  • Climbing Rope Sheath Slippage
  • Rockfall Safety
  • Do Screamers Work?
  • Defining the Cheater Stick and Stick Clip
  • Climbing Skin Care
  • Selecting a Gym Rope
  • Quick Links for Climbing
  • Are Russian Cams Good?
  • When To Retire Climbing Gear and Ropes
  • Should I Get a Link Cam?
  • How to Get a Climbing Mate
  • Will Dog Urine Harm My Rope?
  • Using Steel Carabiners for Fixed Quickdraws
  • Petzl Tibloc and Climbing Rope Sheath Damage
  • Overcoming Anger
  • Fixing a Spinning Bolt
  •  
    Video Spotlight
    Armenia Rock Climbing
    Armenia Rock Climbing

    Climbing Skin Care

    29-Jan-2010
    By Gear Guy

    You have poured out your wisdom on so many topics, but I have yet to read a complete, authoritative piece on how to care for the most vital piece of climbing gear: our skins. I have seen the pros sanding their tips on videos, read ads on who uses what hand cream and so on. But, how do you really keep your mitts in prime condition and avoid flappers, shedding, de-lamination and so on?

    Nice suck up. Note that you are the first question in this issue's installment. Your skin weighs seven to nine pounds and if you were to flay it and make it into a blanket, it would cover approximately 20 square feet. These statistics make your skin your body's largest organ - taking care of it is as critical as eating right and being mindful of your ongoing health.

    I can't write a comprehensive piece on skin care. Sorry. People go to schools for that, and for years. But I can and will generalize; using what knowledge I have gleaned from 35 years of grinding my hands into hamburger.

    First, you must build up a tough skin base, which comes from simply climbing. Knowing when your skin feels thin and weepy, or that you are developing a crack or flapper is important too - stop climbing when you feel the onset of a problem. Best to nip it in the bud before it becomes chronic. A deep crack in a pad or joint crease, for instance, can pester you for an entire season.

    I find that keeping my hands clean and hydrated is the real key. Dirt and chalk are not your friends. Wash up after every climbing outing. Then, apply a treatment to keep your skin soft and supple. This seems counter intuitive, but soft skin is less prone to problems than dry, rough skin, which peels and cracks. I've used lots of products, from motor oil to lip gloss to mixtures concocted just for your hands. They all work, to some degree, but I've had the best luck with All Good Goop from Elemental Herbs. Normally, I don't endorse a product without a big exchange of cash in my direction, but Good Goop is good gop. It's organic, made from five herbs, olive oil, beeswax, vitamin E and lavender oil. It's not too greasy, absorbs well and I haven't had a single skin crack or problem since I began slathering it on about a year ago. Use it and be happy.

    Flappers are trickier. These can strike like a lightning bolt from the clear blue. You crimp a sharp hold, then zingo, you're bleeding like a stuck pig. Once this happens, wash the flap of meat, apply an antibiotic goo and tape the thing down. Keeping the flapper moist, but not too wet, seems to help it heal, as skin repairs itself from the bottom up. A Band-Aid, rather than climbing tape, is the better bandage, and is specifically designed for such things. Letting a flapper dry out is bad, as it will then just dry up and not heal. Option 2 is to get out the nail clippers and snip the flapper off. I perform that little bit of self-surgery if the flapper isn't too deep and I have a tooled leather belt to bite on. I also keep little skin cracks trimmed back flush to the good skin, which helps keep them from going deeper. The sandpaper trick is good for shaving down overly thick calluses, which can split so deeply they split can practically require stitches. Next!

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