How did chalk become politcally correct?

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ydpl8s

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
Topic Author's Original Post - Mar 4, 2013 - 09:12am PT
I know I'm going to get flamed on this one, but BITD, in my day, 70's (I can hear the washed up, old fart comments already) chalk was considered as ugly as pin scars. When we eshewed pins for nuts it was partly to protect the rock but also because the pin scars were considered ugly!. I see so many people bitching about chipping and over bolting (I agree that they suck!), why not a furor over the abundance of chalk. If your hands sweat, that's not the rocks fault. We used to at least use the local dirt or a mixture of dirt with the chalk to minimize the climb by numbers look.

OK, flame on!

chalk
chalk
Credit: ydpl8s
guyman

Social climber
Moorpark, CA.
Mar 4, 2013 - 09:14am PT
Your going to compare chalk to chipping???????????????


LOL...
kennyt

climber
Woodfords,California
Mar 4, 2013 - 09:15am PT
How else are supposed to know where to grab?
ruppell

climber
Mar 4, 2013 - 09:18am PT
Chalk sucks. I'd love to see it outlawed. But people are addicted to it so it will stay around. Remember prohibition. lol

This should be a great discussion. Can't wait to hear from Stannard and Gill about it. I'm still curious who was the first climber to use it as well. Had to be one of the gymnasts.
ydpl8s

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 4, 2013 - 09:19am PT
I agree, not as bad as chipping, but how about the on going opinion that bolts and hangars should be camoed, yeah chalk can be washed off, but does anybody do that?

Edit: Yeah, I'm kind of waiting for the ball to drop from JoGill and Mr. Ament, both of whom I greatly respect.
Dr.Sprock

Boulder climber
I'm James Brown, Bi-atch!
Mar 4, 2013 - 09:26am PT
how did being gay become politically correct?
karodrinker

Trad climber
San Jose, CA
Mar 4, 2013 - 09:31am PT
when did whining like a bitch about stupid sh#t like chalk become politically correct?
ydpl8s

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 4, 2013 - 09:38am PT
Hey Karo, I respect that it's probably here to stay, but if climbing areas can get shut down because of unsightly shiny hangars, how does chalk not offend just as much. I don't personally find it much different from leaving trash on the trail.

Does anyone remember when some yahoos painted dayglo orange dots up the standard route on North Maroon?
GDavis

Social climber
SOL CAL
Mar 4, 2013 - 09:39am PT


rottingjohnny

Sport climber
mammoth lakes ca
Mar 4, 2013 - 09:42am PT
using chalk is gay...
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Mar 4, 2013 - 09:48am PT
A Santa. Monica regionalism against chalk perhaps?

It was used and accepted at Devils lake when I started climbing in the 60's, okay at Indian rock in Berkeley in '71 when I got there too. Strong in the valley when I started going there,
Well established in Vedauwoo by the early 70's. there have always been pockets where it wasn't accepted though.

"Most rock looks better with chalk". -Dick Cilley mid seventies
ydpl8s

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 4, 2013 - 09:54am PT
I'm just recently in Santa Monica, my original opinions were formed in Gunnison and Boulder in the early 70's. (although more was used in Boulder than in Gunnison).
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
the crowd MUST BE MOCKED...Mocked I tell you.
Mar 4, 2013 - 09:55am PT
I would assume that it became widely acceptable as a result of geographical/meteorological conditions. The more humid, the higher the probability of starting to use chalk, and or to continue using chalk once tried.

I saw the strong climbers using it in 80ish, plus it was in the mags, and because of that I learned the use of it was ok. I suspect as a process of legitimation, that's how it continued and propagated.

Tami

Social climber
Canada
Mar 4, 2013 - 09:58am PT
Chalk arrived in Squamish with R. Atkinson around 1978 IIRC. There was some whining but most folks loved the way it helped with sweaty palms inna way dirt just didn't :-) .


Rain washes most of it away so little complainin' really.

I'm an ex-gymnast. I loved chalk. :-D !!!!
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Mar 4, 2013 - 10:01am PT
Gill, of course, initiated the use of chalk. But all he did was carry a block around and dust a bit on his fingertips. The holds on a Gill boulder problem were almost never visible because of chalking.

I'm afraid I had a lot to do with the spread of chalk, because I traveled a lot more than John did at the time, and I was using it on climbs, not just boulders. Climbers in other areas were universally derisive, then tried it out, and the next thing you knew they had some chalk too.

In our defense, we had a chunk or two in the front pocket of our pants and only reached in when the holds were small and crimpy. Where folks now dip compulsively into their chalk bags, we just ritualistically wiped our hands on our pant sides. No climbs were marked in white.

The big and most destructive change came from Yosemite, although I don't know who initiated it. Obviously, some grains of chalk in your pocket wasn't going to work for sweaty hand jams, and so the chalk bag was invented so that climbers could dip in and get full hand coverage. The ritualistic and semi-unconscious wiping of the hands quickly transformed into equally mindless dips into the chalk bag, and very quickly climbs got covered with an ugly connect-the-dots coating of white.

Climbers have claimed for years that this coating is really benign because it washes off. After a number of years of participation in various chalk clean-up projects, I've concluded that this is false. In many cases, the chalk seems to bond with the rock and becomes permanent.

Nowadays, bouldering and sport climbing have ushered in far more communal aspects of the climbing experience. The chalk is a bit like the urine markings of the wolf pack, delineating territory and advertising the passage of others. A fair number of newer climbers may never have climbed on unmarked rock at all, and view the chalk as an integral part of the climbing scene, much as hikers from another era viewed cairns.

Stannard in particular worried about the visual impacts of chalk on land that was, after all, a nature preserve. He was fastidious about rapping down his projects with a brush and spray bottle and cleaning off the chalk as soon as possible. Like a number of forward-looking things Stannard did, this did not catch on.

Another Stannard invention that never really caught on, in spite of the fact that it holds out by far the best hope for reducing the visual impact of chalking, is the chalk sock. The fine dusting delivered by the sock works just as well, perhaps even better, for gripping, and it leaves only a tiny fraction of the residue you get from a hand slathered in dust from a bag. I've climbed out-of-the-way pitches in many areas using a chalk sock and the climb looks virtually untouched afterwards. The downside of the sock would appear to be the need for more frequent reapplication, but in view of the fact that many climbers have their hand in the bag at every move, this hardly seems to be a real issue.
ydpl8s

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 4, 2013 - 10:04am PT
Well Tami, in a semi arid climate rain sure doesn't wash most of it away. I remember going back to Eldo about 7 or 8 yrs after I learned to climb there and being dismayed at the greasy buildup of chalk on most of the go to holds. At least for me, that was where rating creep was a real life experience.

Edit: Leave it to rgold to bring perspective as he always does.
Tami

Social climber
Canada
Mar 4, 2013 - 10:04am PT
I'm afraid I had a lot to do with the spread of chalk


Oh, good job !!!! :-D





But thanks for the history lesson. First person !!!



Yes, I am aware of the buildup in more arid regions. Hard to get LESS arid then the wet, left coast. I was being naughty.........I'll go sit in the car.

Does anybody here remember the Clean Hand Gang from Britain ?
ydpl8s

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 4, 2013 - 10:14am PT
BTW sorry for my typo in the title politcally vs politically (can you fix that?)
patrick compton

Trad climber
van
Mar 4, 2013 - 10:14am PT
Whoa there OP!

Don't confuse ethics. It is very simple:

Chalk always good,

bolts always ok,

chipping always bad.

There is only black and white, no gray area.

What you see in your photo isn't chalk, it is a blessing from the climbing gods from the 70s climbers to modern climbers, so despite what land managers and general public may think, it is always beautiful.
kennyt

climber
Woodfords,California
Mar 4, 2013 - 10:18am PT
I don't like that powdered chalk I like mine chunky.
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