a woman making a silly face with her hands

How to best use chalk for sport climbing or bouldering

If you've ever wondered how to use chalk for sport climbing or bouldering, this article is for you!
If you have recently approached the world of climbing, you may have noticed that everyone around you wears a small bag attached to their waist that hangs from their back while they climb. You should know that this "mysterious" bag is full of chalk and climbers apply it on their hands to have more friction and greater grip.

But what is it and how does it work?

The technical name is magnesium carbonate and the high-performance one for athletes easily absorbs moisture from the hands, preventing them from becoming slippery from sweat. The goal is clear: having dry hands is essential for climbing safely, both in the mountains and in the gym!

It is important to know that using chalk for climbing does not simply mean covering your hands and leaving. There are several mistakes to avoid, let's see together which ones and how to best use chalk.

First of all, you shouldn't use too much while climbing: applying an excessive amount reduces the friction between your hands and the rock wall, increasing the risk of slipping and falling, which is why you sometimes see climbers blowing on their hands just before clinging to the wall.

It is precisely for this reason that climbers prefer to carry bags of chalk with them when they climb: the possibility of being able to apply it when needed can make the difference.

Lately, especially in indoor places such as gyms, it is becoming mandatory to use liquid chalk . The reason is easy to say: it produces very little dust in the air and has sanitizing properties, thanks to the alcohol contained inside.

A tip: use chalk sparingly to make it last longer and avoid "choking" yourself and others. Climbing surrounded by a thick white cloud of chalk is not pleasant at all! Let us also remember that each climber's body produces humidity in a different way, consequently the quantity of chalk needed for climbing will be different. Most climbers apply it at the beginning of each climbing attempt and then again before a particularly difficult hold.

Now that you have discovered the origin of those mysterious bags that accompany climbers, it is important to know the different types of climbing chalk on the market.

First of all, it is important to understand the difference between good and bad quality chalk. The key to understanding this is how it feels on your hands, how long it lasts and how healthy it is for your skin. It is essential to always listen to your hands: they make the difference and indicate the type of chalk that is best for you.

Always choose a high quality one, which lasts a long time and leaves your skin healthy even after months of repeated use!

Another aspect to take into consideration is the way in which the climbing chalk presents itself.

What does chalk look like?

Block chalk

This is a solid, compressed cube that will naturally break down over time as you use it.

Magnesite sphere

It is a small, soft, porous fabric bag designed to hold fine powdered chalk and slowly release it when crushed.

Loose chalk

It is a mixture of pieces of chalk and fine powder, generally stored in a bag.

Liquid chalk

This is a real evolution! It is a spreadable cream that dries quickly on the hands and leaves only a thin layer, usually stored in a tube. For best results, apply a good layer to clean, dry hands .

Some use it as a base layer and then add a little chalk powder to keep their hands and fingertips dry for the long haul.

Well! Now you can't do without it anymore!

If you have read this far you will have understood how to use chalk for climbing and that it has now become indispensable. You can bet that professional climbers would hardly ever do without it!

Rock climbers carry it with them not only to increase friction between hands and holds, but also to delimit potential holds during the climb.

An eco-friendly tip: it is a good idea to erase the marks after making them: there are now many climbers in natural areas and since bouldering takes place close to the ground or in any case at eye level, removing the chalk marks with a toothbrush reduces the visual and environmental impact is notable!

Climbing is a demanding sport, not only for the strength required, but also for the strategic aspect.
Not all rocks make a good foothold, and climbers often use chalk to mark the best spots
for certain holds on a climb. If you've ever noticed that some rocks appear to be painted white, now you know why!

As written above, remember that even if these signs make it easier to know where to put your hands and feet, you must be careful not to "ruin" the rock and adopt some rules to preserve everyone's environment . Don't start adding them until you understand what the rules are for a particular area. We hope we have been helpful in revealing some tricks on how to use chalk for climbing!


Have a good grip!

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