Crazy Shit Climbers Do: Super Glue Their Fingers

Super Glue used by climbers

When I first heard of climbers using Super Glue to fix flappers & skin tears by glueing the skin back on, I thought they were crazy. But after reading a bit more into it, I learned that cyanoacrylate, the active compound in Super Glue, was actually used during the Vietnam War to seal up battle wounds.

Contrary to what your mom used to say, Super Glue actually is safe to use on your fingers and no, you won’t get them stuck together permanently. Since it’s safe & since it works very well, climbers started using Super Glue on their fingers for a couple of different reasons.

A first one is to make sure finger tape stays on longer on big all-day climbs where it’s hard to tape up again. This is especially true for making so-called crack climbing “tape gloves”. The idea is to use a little Super Glue along the edges of the tape to make it stay on longer. Adding a bit of Super Glue to the edges goes a long way towards tape peeling off before your climbing session is over. This use of Super Glue equally applies to taping your fingers for tendon support as for skin protection. The idea simply is that Super Glue makes tape last longer.

A second use is to glue back together your skin after a cut, tear or flapper. Cyanoacrylate actually is available for medical use under the brand name Dermabond & is used pretty much as you would expect. It’s especially effective to seal up clean cuts. Keep in mind that you still want to clean out the wound & disinfect it before sealing it up. This is especially true for flappers, where Super Glue can help you continue your session but tends to delay the healing since inevitably, you’ll get some dirt in there which will get infected.

A last way to use Super Glue is to stop the bleeding after a cut. Sometimes a minor wound can cut your climbing session short not because it is hindering your climbing but because the blood oozing out of the wound makes you slip off the holds. Cyanoacrylate is good at stopping bleeding quickly & that was actually one of the major reasons why it was initially used in war: to quickly stop the bleeding in critical situations where time is of the essence.

Super Glue has legitimate uses in climbing even though at first it sounds like one of those crazy things climbers do myths.

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