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General Climbing Discussion

Chalk buildup cleanups
Access T CliffCare
12:32:24 PM
On the CliffCare website -

Posted on April 30, 2019

There have been some recent conversations on social media in light of climber impacts and how the community could manage them as we move forward. Many of them make sense and have been used successfully in other parts of the world. We just need to take on board a few aspects not previously considered. And for the time being, hold off those brushes on buildup.

Chalk buildup and itís removal is a hot topic on many social media forums. Advice I have received suggests that people do not undertake it at this present time. I have explained a little further below. There will be a time and place for this but letís do it the right way.

Chalk use and its impact and the conversation around removal has been something that people feel is a very immediate action they could take. Stewardship has always been an integral focus of CliffCare and throughout the years have worked with land managers in this respect. Following a conversation on a social media group about a chalk cleanup, and wanting to further encourage stewardship in the community, I contacted the Rock Art Specialist in the Grampians a while ago to discuss the best way to go about this.

The Climbers method is scrubbing. Chalk buildup requires scrubbing. A lot of it. With water and maybe some kind of cleaning solution. The issue here is that what lies beneath the chalk could be sensitive be it cultural or environmental and the removal of the chalk buildup could cause damage. In a park like the Grampians which contains a lot of Cultural Heritage we need to take extra care. Conservation work that has taken place on these kind of impacts previously is a specialised process to ensure that further damage doesnít occur in the removal.

There also isnít enough known about the chemical impacts of chalk on either cultural heritage or environmental values. As we move into a space and a process of education and understanding, we need to take this on board. The conversation I had was a positive one. Those cleanups will need to be done but we do need to do it the right way and with the right skills. Letís be involved in this in an informed way.

Stay tuned in this space. If anyone would like to be a head research guru in this area, drop me a line

In the meantime, minimize your use of it and gently brush any residue so it doesnít lead to buildup.
Dr Nick
1:02:29 PM
As a note, I've had good results in using a 1L garden sprayer filled with water to help remove build up (combined with brushing). The pressure style makes it easier, but even the old trigger pack style would probably work. Just make sure no one will be climbing the route/problem until it's had a chance to dry.
Access T CliffCare
3:40:19 PM
On 30-Apr-2019 One Day Hero wrote:
>Aaaarrrrrgh! This doesn't need to be so hard.
>Tracey, I would respectfully suggest that Steve, Mark, Adam, or Simon
>would be better qualified to deal with this one.
>Both of you mean well, but are completely out of touch on this one. No
>spray bottles should be used, no scrubbing with fuching chemicals. Just
>brush off the bulk of the chalk, then maybe use a damp sponge to get a
>bit more. NO water should run down the rock! You don't try to make things
>100% clean, getting it 90% will do wonders (and is very quick and easy,
>as long as the desk jockeys don't complicate everything).
>Magnesium Carbonate is a nonreactive insoluble inorganic solid. There
>is nothing which "dissolves chalk" that you want anywhere near cliffs or
>ropes. From an environmental point of view, chalk is white dirt. Just brush
>it off and the wind will blow it away, or it will blend in with the brown
>dirt on the ground and have zero impact on the environment.

Thanks ODH. I agree, it doesn't have to be this hard, but...

And respectfully, it always seems to be assumed by some that I haven't done my homework or spoken to anyone else or that I am randomly throwing out a topic.

The comments about scrubbing are taken from conversations with many in the climbing community, endless articles online and suggestions from well versed climbers. I'm quite sure there are other methods. But people aren't speaking or writing about them. So I'm using those as an example until -
If anyone would like to be a head research guru in this area, drop me a line
It was also used as an opening example to write a small piece following requests to not do chalk buildup cleanups at the moment.

So as the conduit between the climbing community and land managers, the conversations I engage in, often because of concerns, inform mostly everything I put out to the community. Food for thought or more.

The order of how this topic and endless amounts of others I bring up come to be -

1.Previous conversations with land managers around concerns of built up chalk and its impacts on cultural heritage and rock and then the removal of it. Because, enough isn't known(there isn't a lot of research on this) on it's effect, the preference is not to do by groups who may not be aware of values below.

2.Well meaning conversations online by members in the climbing community about wanting to get out there and clean up the built up chalk.

3. Having been part of previous conversations about concerns, I approach the Rock Art Specialist asking 'people are keen to be engaged and clean up chalk buildup. I know this needs to be done carefully, do you have suggestions of methods and I would like to organize. Let's encourage stewardship.

4. Response is positive but....we need to do this the right way, considering there could be cultural or environmental values. Lets hold off on this and work out the way forward so there isn't any damage. But yes, good idea.

5. Climbing community more recently gearing up to start going out cleaning up chalk buildup.

6. Put out a small article to the climbing community, encouraging the idea and the willingness but not the action at the moment. But stay tuned and we'll get there.


Duang Daunk
6:50:32 PM
On 30-Apr-2019 One Day Hero wrote:
>From an environmental point of view, chalk is white dirt. Just brush
>it off and the wind will blow it away, or it will blend in with the brown
>dirt on the ground and have zero impact on the environment.

You sure bro?
Back in 2005 WM thought otherwise-

Just one post on a long Interesting thread.
He also made a post with photos showing the damage but the link to them seems to be broken.

8:46:12 AM
FWIW I agree Tracey. Chalk cleanup techniques must be developed in consultation with other stakeholders.

There are 5 messages in this topic.


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