Magnesium carbonate (MgCO3) has long been used by gymnasts to improve their grip on bars, rings or vaulting horses. Climbers, too, use chalk for keeping hands dry and holds secure when climbing indoors and out.
A variety of chalk, bags and accessories are available to climbers. What you select will depend on your climbing style and the environment.
This article provides you with quick shopping assistance.
Most chalk is white, but some varieties are available in colors to match the rock, leaving less of a visual impact. Some other types of so-called "chalk" are actually drying agents without color. They leave no trace on the rock.
Bags worn around the waist typically come in 2 shapes. Cylindrical bags usually hold more chalk and are good for longer climbs; tapered styles are suited for shorter sport routes. Some bags are flat on one side so they hang flush to the climber's body.
Expert Tip: An alternative to a chalk-bag belt is a length of tubular 9/16” tubular webbing tied at the waist with a water knot. This “belt” offers the bonus of a harness backup and a spare runner. The webbing must be threaded through the harnesses tie-in loop and should have an adequate tail at both ends. Heidi Pesterfield, author of Traditional Lead Climbing.
Shop REI's selection of chalk and chalk bags.
Article contributor: Heidi Pesterfield, climber and author of Traditional Lead Climbing by Wilderness Press.
By Julie Eiselt
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Last updated: 02/18/2014
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