Chalk Debate

I haven’t heard of such an area in the U.S. but apparently over in Europe chalk is banned from being used on certain types of rock at certain climbing areas.  Adam Ondra, who has climbed routes as hard as 5.14d at age 14, has apparently been fined by one of his sponsors (the Czech Mountaineering Association) for violating the ban on “magnesium” at certain sandstone Czech crags:

At a meeting on the 3rd of June, the ČHS heard the case. The issue at hand was a complaint sent by Petr Kovarik about Ondra’s infraction of the rules of sandstones climbing.  The penalty placed on Ondra was a reduction of his grant by 10%.
this is not an isolated incident, however. It is a rather small, but highly visible chapter in the on-going dispute regarding the use of magnesium in sandstone areas.  While it is technically forbidden, the use of chalk is widespread in the areas where Ondra used it. There is speculation that Ondra was singled out and prosecuted based on his high profile within the climbing community, as there have been several pictures of him climbing sandstone with magnesium in the public view recently.   

I think this raises an interesting point for those of us that have climbed on sandstone and other softer rock types here in the States.  It is hard not to notice the affect chalk and shoe rubber has on this rock.  Certain problems in Bishop are basically unclimbable due to the combination of rubber and chalk turning certain holds into total crap.  The sandstone at HP40 and the RRG seem to just soak the chalk into the rock.  I’m not really sure there is anything that can be done and I am as addicted to overchalking my hands as anyone else.  It is simply something I have observed and I think it is worth thinking about.

If you were wondering how much a 10% reduction of Adam’s grant amounts to it is apparently about 35 euros.

If you really feel like banging your head against your desk you could join the “debate” on the issue over at 

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Posted In: From The Narc


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2 Responses to Chalk Debate

  1. David January 24, 2013 at 1:33 pm #

    “Certain problems in Bishop are basically unclimbable due to the combination of rubber and chalk turning certain holds into total crap.”

    Which problems were you referring to here? On my first and only trip so far to Bishop I was amazed at how alternately sharp or polished holds could be on a Fly Boy Arete and Iron Man.

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    • Narc January 24, 2013 at 1:36 pm #

      You’re really digging back into my memory here, but I think I had a couple of problems at the Happys in mind when I wrote this and not anything at the Buttermilks (which is, as you note, both very polished and very sharp at the same time).

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