Rock season is here! It’s time to make the switch from indoor training - pulling on plastic, wood (like our “Hugs” or “Slots”), counter tops, door frames, stairs… you get the idea - and start pulling hard on some rock.
If you’re a seasoned veteran you know all about the woe’s of rock. But if you’ve only been at it a short time, or, if it’s your first season out, there can be a lot of things to learn. So we’ve put together a few of the more common culprits in finger and skin care to help you make that seasonal transition a little bit easier.
Calluses - Toughen those hands up, and keep them tough.
Climbers hands take a beating! Try as we might to build up calluses on our hands, the pads of our fingers are often the most difficult place to keep tough skin. This is because our skin creates oils specifically to keep the pads of our skin soft. While this helps to keep our fingerprints puffed up so we can grip smooth objects, it’s a pain (literally!) for climbers trying to keep those fingers in granite shape.
Tip # 1: Prevention
Take a fish oil supplement. Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish oil supplements help keep skin strong and durable. (And you can get ones that don’t taste fishy, trust us!)
Remember to care for that tough skin, and don’t let those calluses get too big.
Flappers & Torn Skin.
The Days of Our Climbing Lives: You Have A Flapper. The drama never ceases, and the agony of a flapper is real. If you’re climbing, eventually you too will get the dreaded flapper.
Why do flappers happen?
Flappers occur most commonly for two reasons:
- Our calluses are too big/thick and they get caught on edges or really textured rock and peel off.
- Our skin is too soft and can tear/peel when put under pressure of dynamic moves on textured rock or plastic. This is the more common cause among newer climbers.
Tip # 2: How To Deal When You Get One
Make sure that bad boy is clean! Rock and plastic are both harbingers of all kinds of microscopic unfriendliness that will cause you grief. Disinfect! Then, keep your poor flapper covered for enough time that it can start regenerating a top layer of skin. Once your tender skin is exposed to daily life, give it a break and tape it for a climbing session or two so it can get some strength back. After that, just be aware and don’t over stress that finger, and you’ll forget it was there in no time!
Rope Care - Clean Them!
Planning for some trad or sport this season? Dirty ropes are par for the course, but we do need to address how they can hurt your skin and how to fix that!
Not only is ground in dirt bad for your rope, it’s really tough on your hands! Tiny particles provide even more friction for your belayer's hands to deal with, and depending on what your rope has picked up, can cause some actual injury to your skin.
Tip #3: Clean Those Ropes!
Here are our three favorite ways to take your climbing rope from dirty birdie to fresh as a daisy:
- Get a rope cleaner from your local climbing store. They’re cheap, easy to use, and work wonders.
- Have a bathtub? Throw that bad boy in there and let it soak the dirt out. Research instructions from your rope manufacturer on whether to use a gentle detergent - many recommend not using anything but water, but you should consult your rope manufacturer for specifics. BlueWater Ropes, for example, suggests a mild soap and cool to lukewarm water. Never use a bleach or detergent with a bleach additive to clean your rope.
Bonus Pro Tip - if you have jets, put them on if they have a gentle setting!
- Get a big Rubbermaid tub, fill it up with cool to lukewarm water, and let that dirty rope soak for a few hours!
Make sure you allow plenty of time for your rope to dry after it’s bath. Loosely coil your rope and keep it out of the sun to dry. Then get back out there and enjoy that silky smooth rope on your hands!