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Climbing Chalk: Getting a Better Grip
Whether it’s a hot day or whether your palms have their own sprinkler system, wet hands make climbing trickier. Here, Groupon shares a few good ways to keep things from getting slippery.
Working out is a sweaty business, and the palms of your hands aren’t spared. But having slippery fingers can be dangerous when you’re hanging from the side of a rockface or climbing at the higher elevations of your gym’s walls. In the 1950s, John Gill improved climbing-safety forever by drawing on his background as a gymnast and introducing chalk to rock climbing. Magnesium carbonate—the same stuff that keeps gymnasts gripping the balance beam and bars—worked like a charm then, and today has evolved into an essential part of most climbers’ gear and Hopscotch parties.
Climbing chalk now comes in four forms: blocks, powder, balls, and liquid. The first three generally are stored in a chalk bag that hangs from a climber’s harness and makes it easy to dip hands in whenever you want to add another layer or draw a ghost on a boulder. Some brands even add an extra drying agent to give it a boost.
Although many climbers won’t attempt an ascent without chalk, some indoor-climbing gyms don’t allow the use of traditional chalk because of the way it clouds the air. That’s where liquid chalk comes in, an alcohol-based spray or gel that dries into a chalky, white layer without becoming airborne. And manufacturers haven’t stopped innovating there. Other products now on the market include chalks that are tinted so as to leave no trace on rocks or even blended with aromatherapeutic scents meant to increase focus.