Goto Chockstone Home

  Tech Tips

      Sponsored By

Chockstone Photography
Australian Landscape Photography by Michael Boniwell
Australian Landscape Prints

Chockstone Forum - General Discussion

General Climbing Discussion

Poll Option Votes Graph
Yes I use chalk 126
No I don't use chalk 28

 Page 2 of 12. Messages 1 to 20 | 21 to 40 | 41 to 60 | 61 to 80 | 81 to 100 | 101 to 120 | 121 to 140 | 141 to 160 | 161 to 180 | 181 to 200 | 201 to 220 | 221 to 227
To Chalk or not to Chalk

6:02:46 AM
I need all the help I can get!

8:10:53 AM
Unfortunately, I sweat buckets from my hands and so I use chalk to stem the flow. I try to use as little as posssible.

P.S I think the rock discolouration in WM's photo's is more due to traffic rather than chalk.
8:55:29 AM
We can rule out climbing traffic because on Eternity much of those yellow areas are out of reach of the crack and/or totally blank and unclimbable so would get zero traffic, ditto on Pathos, why would the blank vertical bits be equally as scuffed/worn as the holds.

The cause also can't be plain water because the discolouration originates only at chalked holds and not at seepage points - in fact below seepage points is where the MOST lichen/moss grows! Eg check out Blanketty Blank's buckets (left of Pathos), and the top down view of the discoloured buckets next to the unaffected crack on Fantasm (nice sandbag by the way BA! :). Both the Fantasm and Pathos faces are evenly exposed to rain and seepage, so seepage can't be used to explain the very clearly defined patches of de-lichened rock. Also check out I'm a Little Dinosaur next time you're there for the neat little patches of raw rock beneath every hold - but nowhere else.

Chalk killing the lichen is the only explanation that fits IMO.

Yes I have chalked up nearly all of those holds personally, but I'm just saying don't kid yourself that chalk doesn't have a long term effect on vertical/slabby routes!

9:02:27 AM
Interesting photos Will, I wonder why the chalk residue discolours the rock like that. My guess would be that the chalk particles washed down the route when it rains are toxic to surface lichen?

Edit, I see youve already come to this conclusion in the post above.........

9:25:55 AM
And I always thought the bare patches were due to feet scuffing the rock! Interesting argument Will. From a boring chemist's perspective the climbing chalk we use is made up of about 4 parts magnesium carbonate and 1 part magnesium hydroxide (probably all know that). Although sparingly soluble in water, chalk will increase the pH of rainwater. That is it will make it more alkaline or caustic. The change would not be very large but as with most things in nature it doesn't take much to upset the balance.

Maybe nature will get the last say and when climbing actually becomes a job 500 years from now then the cliffs of the world will be vegetated by SUPER LICHEN. Completely chemical and feet resistant and harder than rock. Then we may be able to climb the vegetation like in the latest issue of 'Climbing'!

9:28:28 AM
On the chalk on non-overhanging ground issue, I would think that any discouloration of the rock due to lichen loss is so minimal (when compared to the obvious unsightliness of chalked buckets on overhanging rock) as to be reletively insignificant.

I doubt any non-climber walking under a cliff (or even the majority of climbers) would see the clean lichen free streaks as shown in the photos as anything other than a natural phenomenon.

Still its a good point, and one I hadnt thought of. Everything we do as climbers seems to do something to stuff up our environment.

Maybe I'll take up lawn bowls. Although I am worried about the use of Henselitte polish on the bowls ;-)

9:50:07 AM
i am new to the site, but have been climbing for many years. i used to use chalk frequently, but since the start of the year and brendan stemps article in rock have not touched the 'addictive substance'. since stopping i have not fallen off anything that i would fall off anyway. i have been leading grade 19's and had no issues without it. I agree with brendan when he says that it is a mental thing, because other people i climb with have stopped more recently, and although having sworn they would never be able to climb without it, have had no issuse stopping.

Three main issues i have with chalk
1- the damage to the rock. it doesn't matter if you are on slabby climbs, it will NOT come off in the rain. the northern jawbones are slabby, and on a gentle angle, exposed to the weather, yet on some of the biggest buckets around there are chalk stains. not really noticable, but still there. (when you 'quit' you become much more attuned to chalk on the cliff and used by others.)

2- it wastes energy. how many times have you got on a climb that is medium to your level and hung around chalking up, wasting energy reserves. when you stop using chalk you get less pumped out (in general).

3- it is unnecessary. people who use chalk often do it even before getting on the climb, not knowing if the moves are big, small, hard or easy, as soon as they tie in they reach for the chalk. secondly, people don't stop in the middle of a crux move to chalk up that's stupid, they do it after. so if you can do a sequence of hard moves and not fall off, why do you feel the need to chalk up -after- that section when it gets easier?

i have used chalk before so i can't let rip as much as i would like (less moral high ground i guess ; ) but it would be good if you take the challenge to leave your chalk bag at home next day trip and see if you get up any easier or less so.

one last thing: because i see it as a mental thing, if you try not to focus on the sweaty palms, or the lack of chalk, it will be easier. now that i've got that off my chest i'll just go dream about the next trip to araps... mmmn...tannin...

9:58:02 AM
I honestly think different people sweat in different amounts. Just sitting here and typing in an air-con office my fingers are slighlty damp. I need to chalk up a lot on a hot day or I just slime off holds. This happens quite reguarly. On harder routes i work out a chalk plan so i can get them caked before the hard moves and try and climb as fast as possible before i need more. I moved to Victoria (from Queensland) as i coudln't stand the massive amounts of sweat that would pour into my eyes when climbing in 30'C+ weather.

11:07:23 AM
Neil is absolutely right and we all know it. Some people sweat just sitting still. Other people, namely the fairer sex, just "glow" (as I believe the euphemism is). But there are always exceptions I suppose and so what works (no chalk for some) may not work for others.

One thing I did do a little while ago was make my own "liquid chalk". This has been discussed heaps before (as chalk has for like 30 years or whatever) but I think that it is pertinent here. I made up a slurry of ordinary powdered chalk in isopropanol (higher boiling than say ethanol). A small amount goes a long way and it dries the hands a lot more than chalk alone. It can only realistically be applied at the bottom of a climb so is pretty useless/unpractical for multipitch but may offer some reprieve for sports climbers or gym goers. One application can last a whole route with a lot less coming off mid climb!

Seriously give it a go. Isopropanol can be bought from a pharmacist I think (I work in a chemistry lab so it isnt hard at all to get) and you need a surprisingly small amount of liquid for a large amount of chalk. A little quirt from a bottle of the stuff and spread evenly on your hands leads to a good coverage of not too much chalk once dry.

Alternatively you can buy a commercial product for heaps more than the cost of making it yourself.

11:13:11 AM
my friend climbed in 40 degree heat without chalk, so why do u need it? a block every two weeks is shocking. u don't need chalk on rock the texture of the rock keeps u on. hav you eva actually slipped off a hold? i tell u it's a very rare event, the feeling is just psychological and chalk doesn't do anything except pump u out while u grapple for that "boost". indoor is different the hold are greasy and slippery but outdoors ther isn't really a good excuse to use it

11:13:18 AM
there is a whole topic about liquid chalk that was around about 2 weeks ago. i have been testing its benifits recently - and can confirm it works well on short routes!

11:18:36 AM
Yep i slip off holds every week or so. It usually shreds my tips doing so! I can feel the liquid building up under my tips - i struggle to keep on - my fingers start creeping - i re-adjust despertaly - suddenly I am airbourne - usually cursing... people who climb with me know this well!

11:35:57 AM
ok well i suppose it has something to do with the routes u attempt, but for the most of us it's fairly rare to slip off. not all of us climb routes like u do neil!! ther always exceptions to the rule. i just think that for most routes chalk isn't required just a bit more confidence that u won't slip off!

11:46:26 AM
Grampians slopers are the problem!

12:01:09 PM
i agree with sabu. very little of the time do you sweat enough for you to fall of things. i'll admit that there are exceptions, but i think it is rare and mainly psychological. in a gym it's another matter, people using holds before you, etc, they get slippery, and thats the nature of it. but outdoors it is simply not needed. i think you may find that if you don't use chalk for two, three days on a trip you will not need it. Even try a few easier climbs (for your level) to get over that psychological thing.
12:12:52 PM
It's great that you feel passionate about climbing sans chalk. But to say it's not needed is a gross generalization based on your limited experience and level of difficulty (as you are both teenagers - I am making an huge assumption that you both have only been climbing a short time and at limited venues)

I will continue to enjoy the benefits of chalk as it does make a difference for me, until something comes along and supersedes magnesium carbonate.

Or we could just all start using Pof rags, hmmm Font and resin...(day dreams of Fontainebleau slopers - hands sweating)

12:19:24 PM
yeah, true. i've only been climbing six years, although i've been to most crags in victoria. at the moment i'm leading 19 comfortably, and with no chalk have had no problems.

however, while i shouldn't say much (i probably will anyway...) because i have used chalk, i think you could look at noddy, who hasn't ever used chalk and still been at the top of the ranks of climbers, and still does solid grades. he is one who can (and does) speak out against the use of it. (see his letter the issue after brendans article in Rock)

Nick Kaz
12:25:15 PM
On 1/04/2005 dalai wrote:
>we could just all start using Pof rags, hmmm Font and resin...(day dreams of Fontainebleau >slopers - hands sweating)

An alternative?

"Tite-Grip is a non-slip antiperspirant hand lotion that dries clear and will not stain clothes."

there is a thread on it here:

12:26:53 PM
I know how much it helps me because when I do run out of chalk my ability plummets. Even routes 3 or 4 grades below my limit suddenly start feeling hard! I have gone whole weekends without any worthwhile chalk and I really suffered.

12:27:05 PM
Thanks for the very revealing pictures posted WM.

It has given me cause to rethink my usage of chalk.

Because I did not consider myself an offender re overhanging routes I thought up until now, that my impact was fairly benign. This assumption backed up in my mind by not seeing significant damage in the areas I tend to frequent; but I see now that any chalk use adds incrementaly to the damage.
(Some less travelled climbs may still manage to keep 'balance' and not be as affected as others that are popular)?

As a side note, it is blatantly obvious around the lookouts at Buffalo that 'galvanic reaction' (for want of a better term) kills off the lichen. Residue from the railings and/or 'people-grease' washing off them kills off / bleaches the granite rock below those points.

Have not been to the Blueys for a long while now, but suspect that the same is happening on sandstone there.

Post edit with a second BTW sidenote.
The other day I forgot to take tape and ended up doing a strenuous jam crack.
I can vouch now that chalk is no substitute for tape!

 Page 2 of 12. Messages 1 to 20 | 21 to 40 | 41 to 60 | 61 to 80 | 81 to 100 | 101 to 120 | 121 to 140 | 141 to 160 | 161 to 180 | 181 to 200 | 201 to 220 | 221 to 227
There are 227 messages in this topic.


Home | Guide | Gallery | Tech Tips | Articles | Reviews | Dictionary | Forum | Links | About | Search
Chockstone Photography | Landscape Photography Australia | Australian Landscape Photography | Landscape Photos Australia

Please read the full disclaimer before using any information contained on these pages.

Australian Panoramic | Australian Coast | Australian Mountains | Australian Countryside | Australian Waterfalls | Australian Lakes | Australian Cities | Australian Macro | Australian Wildlife
Landscape Photo | Landscape Photography | Landscape Photography Australia | Fine Art Photography | Wilderness Photography | Nature Photo | Australian Landscape Photo | Stock Photography Australia | Landscape Photos | Panoramic Photos | Panoramic Photography Australia | Australian Landscape Photography | High Country Mountain Huts | Mothers Day Gifts | Gifts for Mothers Day | Mothers Day Gift Ideas | Ideas for Mothers Day | Wedding Gift Ideas | Christmas Gift Ideas | Fathers Day Gifts | Gifts for Fathers Day | Fathers Day Gift Ideas | Ideas for Fathers Day | Landscape Prints | Landscape Poster | Limited Edition Prints | Panoramic Photo | Buy Posters | Poster Prints