By Mike King
Crank Climbing involves jumping up onto high obtacles by first jumping up and hanging on the crank and pedal and then a second jump up to land the rubber on the obstacle. Crank climbs obviously work best on square edges that are just a little too high to bunny hop directly onto. However, to start you should find an obstacle that is just high enough so that when your crank is on the edge of the obstacle, the tire is off the ground. Any height as long as the tire is off the ground will work, lower is usually easier to start with though.
The first thing you want to be able to do is jump onto an obstacle by landing the crank arm and pedal onto its surface. A picnic table works well as the obstacle because the back on it can be used with your free arm for balance if necessary once you land on it. practice landing the crank on onto the obstacle and try to stall on it as long as possible. It is good practice just to learn to jump onto the obstacle, stall for a second or to and jump back down to the ground as this will help you get very comfortable landing and balancing on the cranks.
You should also trying to angle the front of the unicycle in towards the obstacle because on something like a picnic table once you start to jump up from the cranks to the rubber, the knobs on your tire will help prevent the wheel from spinning forwards when you make the jump. It also helps to prevent the top of the unicycle from tipping outwards if the wheel is tight against the obstacle.
The next thing to practice is jumping up from the crank into the air. You can first practice jumping up off the crank away from the obstacle and simply landing on the ground which will help to improve your balance when resting on the crank arm. When you're comfortable with that, you should be ready to complete the crank climb. The most important thing when you jump up is to try to lean your body in towards the obstacle but you don't want to pull the unicycle inwards until you are at your maximum height. By doing this, you can jump into the air with your body well above the obstacle and then at the last moment you pull the unicycle inwards to land the rubber on the obstacle. Personally, I crank climb on the right side with the right pedal at the back and so I tend to lean a little bit backwards when I jump. I usually land slightly behind where the axle side of the crank was positioned on the obstacle. If you are more comfortable landing with the pedal in front, you should try to jump forward just an inch or to when you jump to the wheel.
Now as far as landing on the obstacle, it is a lot easier to make a few small bunny hops on the top to get your balance before riding along the obstacle. Another trick to learn once you're comfortable doing crank climbs is to do crank drops from on top of an obstacle. What I mean, is to ride along the edge of a drop, and hop off the side just enough to get the tire by but still land on your crank and pedal. If you stall there for a second and then crank jump back up on top it looks really impressive and works well for freaking spectators out if you're riding along a wall.
Since I'm still working on pedal climbs, I won't give any bad advice. Once I'm more comfortable doing them I'll try to get another page up to help with learning to do them.