There is a notorious kind of crack called offwidths. Several friends of mine stated, that they were pretty devastated at first when they were not able to do 5.8 offwidths in the valley. Later they learnd, that this was quite common. There has even been an epic film called "Wide Boyz" about two british climbers taking on the hardest american offwidths. My questions are:

What exactly is an offwidth crack?

What makes offwidth hard to climb? Or less subjective: What technique is required ascend an offwidth?

1 Answer 1


Off width cracks are cracks that are too big to finger jam or fist jam, but too small for you to fit inside and chimney climb, so you have to come up with really awkward and very physically excerting moves to get up them, like climbing upside down (literally).

Basically they are cracks that are just the right width to not be fun, and take a lot of physical exertion to climb. Off width climbing is a lot of grunting, struggling, and trying to wedge your various body parts any where you can. You come out at the top dirty, sweating, scraped up all over and absolutely exhausted.

A common technique to get through off widths is to essentially use your arms and legs the way you would use your fingers in finger cracks, shove as much as you can inside the crack and then bend them to get them jammed. Other than that, the answer to how you climb offwidths is, "However you can."

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  • I guess the "however you can" is the only real answer. At least I always hear it from everyone climbing offwidths :)
    – imsodin
    Aug 15, 2015 at 3:57
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    Could you elaborate on climbing upside down?
    – WW.
    Aug 16, 2015 at 11:23
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    @WW. Have you looked at the pictures in the answer? Two of them seem pretty elaborate to me ;) Aug 16, 2015 at 20:52
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    @WW As in sticking your feet up over your head and hoping there's somewhere you can get your feet jammed because there's nothing to grab onto and nowhere you can stick your hands. You then wonder to yourself what you're going to do next as you reach between your legs groping for anything you can get friction on and pulling like trying to pull on a pair of very heavy pants while blood rushes up to your head...
    – ShemSeger
    Aug 17, 2015 at 18:10
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    Thank you for your post. I have translated this into Farsi it is here: bizimdagchi.blogfa.com/post/98/…
    – salman
    Jan 23, 2018 at 5:06

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