If you’re brand new to climbing, and you’re interested in giving it a go for your first time, you might be wondering whether getting some chalk is something you really need to do, or whether you can just make do without it for a while.
While it might seem like chalk is something that more serious climbers would use to get an extra edge in their grip, the truth is that you absolutely need to use chalk if you want to get a good experience out of climbing.
Climbing without chalk is hard. It’s hard on your muscles, and hard on your hands.
Even the most beginner-friendly of routes can quickly wear you out if you have to use extra force to grip onto each and every hold you come across.
This is especially true if you’re not used to climbing. You might even regularly work out in the gym and expect that you’ll be able to cope just fine.
But trust me, you’re going to be absolutely destroyed after your first time climbing. Climbing uses all the little muscles, ligaments, and tendons that you never knew you even had.
It’s for this very reason why climbing is the best full-body workout you can get. If you’re looking to push yourself to the peak of physical fitness, climbing can really offer that for you.
If you want an all-out, no-fuss workout and don’t like the idea of holding a rope for someone else while they climb, I’d highly recommend you try bouldering instead of lead climbing. With bouldering, there are no ropes, no harnesses, and no need to descend slowly once you’ve reached the top of your route.
That’s what the bouldering mats are for. They absorb your impact when you’ve reached the top of your climb or the limit of your strength.
Indoor bouldering centers have bouldering mats that cover every inch of the floor, but they don’t provide chalk for free, and chalk is something you need.
What Are the Benefits of Using Chalk?
So, I’ve already covered why not using chalk is tough on your muscles, but now let’s look at why it’s tough on your hands.
This is really counter-intuitive. The way that you’d expect it to work, is that the extra grip which chalk provides would make your skin more likely to blister, not less.
The reason why not using chalk would be tough on your hands is that the lack of grip makes your skin move more when you grab onto a hold, meaning that each and every move you make on a climb pinches your skin more and more.
As you’d imagine, pinching and pulling your skin over and over again is a surefire way to get blisters, and blisters are the bane of every climber.
Another reason why not using chalk would be bad for your hands, is that holds can tend to be really rough – especially if they’re new or freshly set. I’m talking sandpaper rough.
The chalk acts as a protective layer for your hands which softens the coarse texture of the holds when you grab them.
If you try to climb without the use of chalk, you’re going to be in for a rough time.
Some climbers however hate the feeling of holding or using pure chalk which can leave them at a disadvantage. The alternative is to use liquid chalk instead which chemically creates chalk on your hands without having to go anywhere near a chalkbag.