Chalk has long been a part of almost every climber’s or boulderer’s equipment. John Gill, an American gymnast and climber, is credited with introducing chalk into rock climbing. He is also considered one of the most influential figures in early bouldering history. We all know that magnesium carbonate was used in ring and bar exercises at the time to help the gymnasts keep their hands dry and improve their grip on various apparatuses.
Gill saw climbing as an extension to gymnastics and took the idea and ran with it. Or, better yet, climbed with it. He started to climb with his gymnastic chalk. What was the result? It was a remarkable improvement in his grip on slick climb holds. His idea was a success, and Gill became a great climber. Chalk became as important for climbers as it was for gymnasts many years ago. Chalk is now so common in the climbing industry that it’s hard to find a boulderer or climber who doesn’t use it.
WHAT IS CHLK?
Chalk is an excellent way to combat sweaty hands. Apply some to your hands, and the fun begins!
The technical term for what climbers call chalk is magnesium carbonate. MgCO3 is another name for it. To allow gymnasts to slip more on their apparatuses, talcum is added to the magnesium carbonate. Climbers would prefer not to slip, so the chalk must be pure. The natural substance magnesite can be used in climbing. It can also be used to make food, medicines, building materials, and many other uses. There are many different formulas available, each with its fan base. Each chalk is unique and has its personality. One climber will love each chalk while another may hate it. One climber might love Black Diamondchalk while another may prefer Metolius chalk.
Although there is some debate about which chalk is best, there is no disputing its effectiveness or application. You’ll be able to climb with dry hands by rubbing magnesium carbonate onto your fingers and hands. The powder absorbs the sweat from your fingers and improves your grip on holds to prevent slippage.
LOOSE CHALK, BLOCK CHALK, A CHALK BALL OR LIQUID CHALK?
We’ll briefly outline the various types of chalk, as many beginner climbers are overwhelmed by the sheer amount of chalk on the market.
- Loose chalk
- Loose chalk is available in bags and other containers in many textures, including fine and coarse. You can use it by filling your chalk bag for only 25%. Otherwise, you wouldn’t find enough space to hold your hands inside the bag. It is always better to refill the container than to fill it up to the top.
- The chalk ball
- Chalk balls are very popular and simple to use. They are mesh balls with pores containing chalk that keep them from getting everywhere. There are many sizes available. Before you buy, make sure to verify the chalk content and the size. The ball should fit comfortably in your hand. A larger chalk ball is better for you if you have large hands. For smaller hands, a smaller ball will work. Simple right? You can chalk it up by kneading the ball as you would bread. Your hands will then be chalked.
- Block chalk
- Chalk can also be purchased in blocks or hunks, which climbers can crush into smaller pieces.
- Liquid chalk
- Liquid chalk is a mixture of alcohol and magnesium carbonate. You can apply liquid chalk by rubbing a few drops on your palms and fingers.