/ Noob question - is chalk necessary for all?
The vast majority of people on the wall seem to be really religious in using chalk but if anything, I've always felt that most holds are covered in chalk anyway from other people climbing.
Also as a bonus question - what's with the toothbrush obsession? Does cleaning holds really make a significant difference? I'm assuming maybe for harder routes it does but then again I tend to view holds 'as they come' if that makes sense? (i.e. if it's covered in chalk, it's just part of the conditions).
Thanks for any insight - I do feel like the odd one out at times :)
So try it, make your own mind up.
To a big plastic jug: No. To a tiny slopey thing you can just about hold when the conditions are right and you're in tip top shape: Yes, texture and dryness make all the difference in the world.
Fine but I suspect you'll change that view as your climbing progresses and you encounter more only-just-there holds that need to be clean.
> Also as a bonus question - what's with the toothbrush obsession?
Good Dental hygeine is important for sponsers pics!
It's not chalk it's toothpaste for the holds they like to look good in photo's too!
I do feel like the odd one out at times :)
Whereas I just feel odd.
I have a friend who refuses to use chalk and he's up to 6b already (some 6b+) despite only having been climbing about a year. But he says his hands don't sweat - mine very much do.
I did try a few times but didn't feel it made any difference, that's why I am asking - maybe I am missing something but it felt that I could still do exactly what I could do without chalk and what I couldn't do was still out of reach.
I guess I feel I have so many things to improve upon/correct that chalk looks like the least of my problems, yet most people use it quite religiously.
I can see the difference it would make to a tiny shiny hold though - having said this some holds have a 'sandpaper' texture that feels ideal for sticking to naked skin and feels like friction would actually reduce if you applied chalk.
Yes mine don't sweat much admittedly - I can see how it would make a difference if your hands sweat.
On a related note, I remember doing some gymnastic lessons as a kid and I had to actually apply chalk not to improve my grip but mainly to avoid friction burns and allow a bit more movement when holding onto bars etc so it was as if chalk would reduce friction and not increase it.
My impression is that any trace of chalk makes holds slippery.
Much more so than sweat or just we hands.
Ergo all the brushing.
Having said that my impression when I started climbing was exactly the opposite ??
The Boring Squad of i.munro and Bruce Hooker will be along in a minute to agree with you don't you worry.
They'll also roll out the single worst experiment know to man claiming that chalk makes holds worse. Despite every single other person in the entire world knowing this isn't the case.
Bruce will then wibble on about Font for ages and get increasingly nonsensical. He'll defend POF.
i.munro will continue to bang on about his silly paper, and mention using a tea towel.
Nobody else will agree.
No need for the topic now.
End of discussion.
No, its not necessary for all, but that doesnt mean anyone should complain about those who do find it necessary!
I can turn a thin handful of chalk into a nice paste within a 20m indoor route when in moderately cool conditions, so i find it quite necessary in order to maintain friction on slopey holds.
I use it much less outdoors it must be noted, and can usually rely on wiping excess sweat off on my jumper, and the odd comfort dab of chalk.
There's lots of research out there. But try it yourself, use it for a year then don't for a year and see if it really hinders you that much.
Or remain ignorant and use it or don't without ever finding out for yourself.
Personally I'm on a year of not using it and currently climbing better than before. I have dipped once or twice over the year on sweaty humid days grabbing a sloper only to find it didn't help me. But I guess the only really answer is "it depends"
I've always had an overwhelming urge to swap someones chalk for icing sugar, just for the look of sheer confusion on their face as their hand s sweat.
For me, using chalk outside makes a huge difference to how grippy the rock feels. That doesn't make me climb grades harder (except on boulder problems at my limit where it will have a measurable effect of a grade or more), but it does make me feel confident. Chalk makes a similar difference to having good boots instead of crappy old ones with a toe poking out, so only significant when at my limit.
Indoors, I quite often have a virtually empty chalkbag, so I can keep a tiny amount of chalk on my hands, but as you say everything's already caked in chalk so it's probably completely pointless. I do want to get the grease from my skin chalked-over though, and the caked-on stuff on the holds doesn't do this job as it's a solid made of chalk, sweat and grease and doesn't really help. I should probably stop chalking up once the slippy greasy feeling has gone after a few problems.
(In reply to Simos)
> My impression is that any trace of chalk makes holds slippery.
> Much more so than sweat or just we hands
Chalk is used to dry out the hands, not to make holds grippier. Excess chalk will make it slippery, but that's why most people wipe or blow off excess chalk after a dip in the bag.
Outdoors I think I've used it once, maybe twice max, and that was probably just a mental boost for a crux move. Indoors I find my hands sweat buckets and the resin holds feel like I'm trying to grab black ice. I guess outdoors all that dirt probably does the job of chalk, and the wind dries your hands faster than indoors.
I have incredibly sweaty hands that end up really greasy even when I chalk up all the time, so I tend to wash my hands a couple of times per indoor session as well. Climbing outdoors in summer just means climbing far below my grade because I can't easily wash them. Looking forward to some cold days on grit!
Hehe, summed it up!
I'm pretty sure they don't want to push for a hold only to slide off with a handful of my sweat.
I have been climbing about 3 1/2 years as has my friend, I have recently had to buy the 4th chalk ball to put into my chalk bag (only use a chalk bag when doing route, boulders I use a boulder bucket). My friend I think this year has already gone thru 3 chalk balls, so as you can tell it all depends on the person.
As for the question about the toothbrush obsession, I have a Lapis brush on my chalk bag and on my boulder bucket have a Lapis brush and a M15 brush. I feel that removing the caked on chalk that everyone else has put there does make a difference, as I can therefore use the grip/texture that the hold manufactors had intented.
I hear you on the toothbrush and I'm sure it does make the route easier especially when you have tiny holds but what difference does it really make in the grand scheme of things, even if they're caked on chalk it would basically only make the real difficulty perhaps more than the intended one when the problem was set but that only matters if you care about grades or comparing yourself against others (e.g. in a competition). :)
> I hear you on the toothbrush and I'm sure it does make the route easier especially when you have tiny holds but what difference does it really make in the grand scheme of things, even if they're caked on chalk it would basically only make the real difficulty perhaps more than the intended one when the problem was set but that only matters if you care about grades or comparing yourself against others (e.g. in a competition). :)
If you're bouldering, then you want to climb the problem, so if you're being stopped by the state of the holds, it makes sense to clean them. No one brushes holds on routes (unless they've been falling off the crux due to smeggy holds) it's too much faff.
True - I guess I never felt I have been stopped by the state of the holds (yet), when I fall I always assume that I need to climb better.
I see the point for sure for much better climbers than me but at my level, I am 110% that there are just so many people that would easily do the problems that I am struggling with without cleaning the holds either that it feels a bit illogical for me to focus even a bit of energy or time cleaning the holds - prefer watching how others do them instead. :-)
I don't know about you but I'd probably find it funny if I saw someone turn up on their first day of climbing with a toothbrush and similarly to start cleaning holds when I am still way off using proper technique feels funny too. Admittedly if I kept on trying a problem until I got my technique 100% and kept on slipping on a tiny hold that was not clean, I'd probably reach for the brush too!
Funny as it sounds, and I don't know yet if it holds for climbing, but in other sports (eg freediving) these things/habits can end up being detrimental as you develop a mental habit/fixation on having perfect conditions and end up not believing you can achieve the goal the moment things are not as expected (say you drop your chalk bag and lose the chalk or the sea is choppy before you dive etc).
One coach in freediving (which is a sport i know better) described this as the 'spoilt freediver' condition where one over the years comes to rely mentally on creating perfect conditions and preparation and that ends up being limiting because in real world situations or even competitions conditions are often far from perfect and definitely not like training. It was definitely starting to happen to me too so I took a stepback and now just 'go' without thinking about it too much or mental preparation.
> There's lots of research out there. But try it yourself, use it for a year then don't for a year and see if it really hinders you that much.
> Or remain ignorant and use it or don't without ever finding out for yourself.
> Personally I'm on a year of not using it and currently climbing better than before. I have dipped once or twice over the year on sweaty humid days grabbing a sloper only to find it didn't help me. But I guess the only really answer is "it depends"
Is a year's trial really necessary. Forgetting my chalk bag sometimes is enough for me!
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