Top 5 Climbing Chalk Mistakes Climbers Make

Climber in indoor gym

Climbing chalk may seem like a simple product but in fact there’s a lot of science behind it. Yet most climbers let their use of it be guided by habit & not facts. Here are a couple of mistakes we keep seeing climbers make when it comes to chalking up for the climb.

Mistake 1: Chalking Up The Holds Instead Of The Skin

Chalk belongs on your fingers, not the holds. Too much chalk on the holds actually decreases friction. The little chalk particles act as ball bearings, making you actually more likely to slip off than stay on the hold. So don’t apply chalk to the holds directly. The gym cleaning staff will thank you.

Mistake 2: Not Brushing Your Holds

This one flows from the previous observation. If excess chalk actually decreases friction it makes sense to brush off the chalk buildup on holds. Don’t be the climber that leaves a chalked up mess. Respect the climbers who come after you and brush the holds both before and after the climb.

Mistake 3: Chalking Up While Resting

It makes absolutely no sense to chalk up in-between climbing attempts. Chalk only works short-term and you’re definitely not going to need it while resting. You may also want to tone down your chalk use during warmups. Only use chalk just before you get on the boulder problem.

Mistake 4: Not Cleaning Tick Marks

If you need tick marks to hit the holds just right make sure to clean them up afterwards. Tick marks are ugly and make the experience worse for climbers who like to flash climbs. No matter how hard the grade is for you, someone else may actually like to flash it & tick marks are definitely a form of cheating on flash attempts.

Mistake 5: Not Applying a Base Layer

Even if you’re going to use chalk powder you want to apply a base layer of liquid chalk a couple of times during your bouldering session. Liquid chalk dries your skin far more than regular chalk & the alcohol in it is far better at removing excess grease from your skin. Use liquid chalk as a base layer.

Photo by YNS PLT