Crack Climbing? How to go into it according to Jacopo Larcher

The 28-years-old Italian climber Jacopo Larcher is not only one of the strongest and most versatile athletes on the international climbing scene. After discovering his vertical "monsters" in the latest Strange Heroes episode, we want to go a little bit closer to this eclectic curly-hair climber, letting him explain how he gets into the Crack Climbing for the first time

In Europe crack climbing is not very popular. There are just a few areas where you can practice it, but I had never had the chance, or the desire, to try it until I first got in contact with this aspect of climbing almost by chance during a trip to the Reunion island

We were opening a new multi-pitch route on a basaltic wall and several pitches were cracks. My partners had already a lot of experience in this kind of climbing, but for me it was something completely new. I had a really hard time even on the easy pitches, as I didn’t know how to jam; I remember how much I struggled on a 6a crack pitch…luckily, I lay-backed the whole way up, otherwise I would have fallen off for sure!  I felt like a beginner again, even if I’d already being climbing for more than 15 years at that time; that feeling of being “unable” to do something that was supposed to be very simple annoyed me, but at the same time gave me the motivation to learn this “new” aspect of climbing.

When I went back home, I immediately started to look for a place where I could learn how to crack climb, and it didn’t take me too long to realize that Indian Creek was exactly what I was looking for.
It wasn’t too hard to convince Babsi to join the trip, so we immediately booked our flights and started for this new adventure.
When we arrived in Utah we were amazed by the beauty of the desert, by its colors and by its “never ending” sandstone. We drove straight to Indian Creek and we stopped at the first crag. There were cracks everywhere and we immediately realized why everybody suggested us to go there.
Knowing that we would probably have a hard time, we decided to start with one of the easiest of the sector: a 5.9. We were coming from 3 weeks of sport climbing in RRG, where we climbed several 5.14s, so it shouldn’t have been a hard task… but it was! 
We both had to fight hard to do it and we immediately realized that the next 3 weeks would be hard.

I’ve to admit that at the begging crack climbing is not fun: it’s painful, hard and slow. It takes some time to get used to it and start to enjoy it. At the beginning it felt so hard, that we could just climb 2/3 routes per day, but we made some progress every day and we slowly started to climb more and more.
The sandstone in Indian Creek is really smooth; there aren’t any footholds, so you really have to jam your feet inside the crack. It’s perfect for learning, but it also makes everything harder!
We spent our days trying to climb as much as possible, not caring about the grade (anyways we sucked ), but just trying to learn this (for us) new aspect of climbing.  

I immediately fell in love with the desert and its lifestyle. The life becomes very simple there and everything is just determinate by the daylight. There is no phone reception, no water, no electricity; you are on your own and you connect more with the other people and the place. The daily routine is just about eating, climbing, eating and sleeping. You are isolated, far away from the noise of the cities and the stress of the modern life. You are more connected to the nature.
Every day we started to enjoy crack climbing more, even if most of the cracks still felt super hard; we were complaining always less about the swollen feet/hands and making good progress.
At the end of our trip we were so addicted, that we left Indian Creek already planning our next trip to the desert.

Cracks, especially splitters, are really pure lines and it’s really cool to climb them on trad gear, leaving them as you found them, without bolts. That makes crack climbing even more special.
Since then we’ve made several trips to the desert and to Yosemite, and crack climbing has became an important aspect of our climbing.