It's full-on crack season here in the dez which means one thing: gobious copious, a horrid malady that can turn a crack-climber's skin sitch into a trip ending injury.
Getting down and dirty in the dez and dealing with gobies
I wonder sometimes if the "normal" visitors to MoabLandia ever wonder if the uoutdoorsy set they see in the restaurants, cafès and bars is plagued with some sort of weird (is it contagious?!) dermatitis. Or perhaps they think leprosy is rampant in Utah or … … ? I recall the first time as a food-server I delivered a tray of dishes to a table with arms resplendent with the evil gobes and the guests instinctive recoil at my seeping wounds. Who could blame them?! Then there was the time I went into our local food co-op and was taken aside by a well-intended individual who assured me I could get help if I needed it, as she glanced with concerned empathy at my beaten and bruised arms and legs. It was only hours later, and after thanking here profusely and assuring her I was not at all fussed by my "condition", that I realized she thought I had been a victim of domestic abuse.
Though foreign to the aforementioned "normal" population, to those of us who dig the crack, our gobies are more like a shared badge of recognition … "ahhhhh, she's one of US" … and often serve as conversation starters between new-found friends: "DUDE, you climbed Optimator with THOSE?!"
However, the evil gobie can be, literally, a crack-climbers trip ending injury. Or worse. And as the season is ON, I am getting a LOT of queries as to how to deal with them, so I figured I'd compile a list of tactics to share.
1.) Tape. Controversial. Yes, tape is controversial in the over-hyper-ethics-ized realm of cracklandia. Somehow, taping can be perceived as a point of aid, while sticky rubber, SLCDs and ropes are not. I won't get into that, but I will say tape is an EXCELLENT first line of defense and all of those who played ball-sports (at least those with referees) know that allegedly, the best offense is a good defense. Check out Metolius Climbing's tape instructions on their rolls. For Indian Creek, I add an elaborate thumb and first finger protection system as most gobes occur at the thumb joint (and first finger thumb junction.) However, it seems wherever one tapes to, it's never enough as the gobie seems to always form at the tape/skin junction, so then …
2.) Gobe management. You got one. Didn't even feel it coming, Thought you NAILED that Luxury Liner with flawless technique, yet still, you gobed. It happens. And especially if you have had gobies or scrapes and scars in the past. The skin is thin and just can't take it. So how to deal? First off CLEANLINESS. Your feet may stink and your pits may clear a room when you raise your drink to Donini, but your gobes need to be clean. Hot water is an excellent first step. Soap all you want, but hot water kills stuff, which is why the heating of water is attributed as the greatest life saving tactic in our sometimes sordid medical history.
3.) Apply Tea Tree Oil. Yes, I am being specific here. We all have our miracle cures, but this one is vetted and is starting to be widely accepted by western medicine as a viable and effective way to ward off numerous fungal, bacterial and viral skin infections, especially MRSA which NO ONE wants. I have a friend who got MRSA from a gobe and it was NOT pretty and it was EXPENSIVE to cure. Do the research and read the med papers, it's fo-realz-dope-shizz. It also serves to dry the gobe, which you want and unlike things like betadine etc, it allegedly encourages skin growth as opposed to killing off skin. I've got no factual data on that (unlike the MRSA), just anecdotal.
4.) NO BAND-AIDS. That's right, no band aids. Cover with Tegaderm or some other transpire-ative barrier. Supplemental O-s are not only great for Everest, they are necessary for speedy healing. You can verify that as well w the magical google. You may faint at the new cam-esque price tag, but you'll be amazed at how fast you heal. Then expose the wound to open air as much as you can when it can stay clean. DON'T jump in your bag after sitting by the dusty fire with your open gobe and expect it to heal fast. It won't.
5.) after you start to scab up, apply salve of choice. Everyone has a fav--I like ones w calendula. Good ol' Tri-biotics are fine as well. At this point, you can use a good old fashioned band aid to keep the salve in and dirt out.
6.) You HAVE to climb. I would too! So what to do w the gobe? My favorite trick is this. Get some Spenco Second Skin (should be more aptly called SPENDco second skin … ) and cut a gobe-sized orb to place over your wound. Then tape glove your hand/finger (or ankle) and voila! I swear you won't even know you have a gobie! The SSS is the shizzzz for that. (I also use it for blisters from ski boots, running etc, as dogs know, it's not like we'd actually STOP climbing etc to let things heal! YEESH!)
I promise, if you are willing and diligent, you will heal fast and not even need to take more than one rest-day! Check out 5.10 athlete PeeWee's gobies and amazing crack climbing forays here: http://megapeewee.blogspot.com/2010/11/timing-is-everything.html
The ankle gobie as pictured was cured to climbable in less than a week deploying all the above.