Written by Alex Mougenot
Both a Pro & a Con
I’ve had these gloves for the past year, and have been thoroughly running them through the rounds in every crack I’ve come across! They’ve been my companion through thick and thin, through mud, blood, sweat and tears, and have ventured with me around Australia across a range of rock types on crack boulders and multipitch first ascents, and everything in between. They’ve also recently been my training buddy in my weekly roof crack dungeon sessions! I’ll talk you through how the OCÚN Crack Gloves have served me throughout this epic year.
Frog Buttress, Queensland - Smooth Rhyolite
The author on the send of Wild One Direct. Photo by Adam Palmer.
The first rock my gloves had the pleasure of jamming in was up the striking Rhyolite cracks of Frog Buttress - the Queensland crack-climbing Mecca. It’s a crack-addicts paradise. The cracks there are mostly smooth-sided and slick, which are great for preserving your skin though makes the jamming harder, especially when you’re prone to getting sweaty hands which is commonplace in steamy Qld. As you can imagine, chalking up the backs of your hand whilst hanging one-handed and pumping out in the middle of a slippery crack is quite hard, so you know what doesn’t sweat? Rubber. This is where the crack gloves shine - no sweaty backs of your hands causing slippery jams! This is also a huge help when stacking jams in off-width cracks - where you rely on the contact between both of your hands to hold you in the crack. 2 sweaty hands = slippery hand/fist-stacking. 2 non-sweaty crack gloves = pure bliss.
The trade-off, however, is that with gloves on, tight hand cracks are harder to get into as your hand is effectively made wider, although this also makes wide hand-cracks slightly easier.
Another down-side I’ve found is that when transitioning onto faceholds, the finger-loops can cut off circulation when nailing down on smaller crimps. I’ve also found that with more use, the gloves have loosened up a bit and this has become less of an issue.
David Cook belaying high up on Ozymandias on Mt Buffalo's Gorge North Wall. Photo by Alex Mougenot.
The granite of Mt. Buffalo in Victoria hosts the biggest granite crystals you’ve ever seen. The major crack climbs my good friend David Cook and I did there were the famous 210m crack mega-classic “Where Angels Fear to Tread”, after which we climbed “Caligula”, a 50m mega corner crack above Angels. The rock there at Buffalo is so rough that without gloves I’m not certain that I would have had any hands left. (As a side-note and history-lesson, the old-school Queensland climbing legend and potential part-hobbit Fred From is rumoured to have free-soloed Angels bare-handed and barefoot!)
On such a large climb, and when on a trip where you want to climb everyday and skin is more of a limiting factor than time, then it’s important to preserve your skin. This means skin balms, taping, and gloves. Jamming on scabbed up hands, even after wearing gloves on top of them, is not fun. In these cases, I find it much more effective to prevent your skin tearing up by wearing crack gloves so that me and Dave could continue to climb as much as possible over the rest of the trip!
Pinnacle Ambassador Ryan Siacci on the first pitch during the FA of "Captain C-Bomb and the Mulletteers" at Tasmania's Cape Pillar. Photo by Alex Mougenot.
After Mt. Buffalo, my trip brought me to Tassie and Cape Pillar - one of the raddest sea cliffs in the country. Ryan Siacci and I set out to put a new route up a section of Cape Pillar called “The Chasm”, a shallow chasm rising 300m out of the water, staring straight out to sea where the next land mass over is Antarctica. Being a sea-cliff, the salty air settles on and inside the cracks and renders everything that little bit … scungy … sort of as if the rock is sweating onto you instead of the other way around. On top of that, the corrosive environment has resulted in the insides of the cracks degrading in loose flakes and shards. The OCÚN Crack Gloves were heaven-sent here for provided better contact on the salty, sweaty rock, and the irregular flakey insides of the crack were made a lot more comfortable by the glove and its padded inside.
Crack Dungeon / Crack Lab. Tarragindi, Brisbane - Smooth timber
More recently, my mate Kyle Addy and I have made a set of timber roof cracks at home. The crack gloves are integral to every crack session I have, allowing me to get that much more out of my session before the backs of my hands wear out. One downside is that under jams with high loads (ie: roof cracks), then your hands do slip inside the gloves, and Ive found that the synthetic padding of the inside of the glove can cut up the backs of my hands after a hard session. Protop: To circumvent this I’ve been adding a layer of tape to my hands under my gloves.