Ticked Off

The Access Fund:

Despite the obvious benefit of chalk for climbing—its drying effect on sweaty hands—climbers can often get carried away with it. Over the years, chalk gets caked onto holds, forming layers, which affects the texture of the rock and the friction of that very poor sloper. Too many ticks can also cause confusion on a route, botch on-sight attempts, and ruin the self-discovery and problem-solving aspect of climbing.

If there is one trend I noticed during my time in Colorado it’s that you would think boulderers were going blind with the amount of tick marks being used these days.  It was not uncommon to walk up to a boulder and see multiple tick marks, often garishly long, per hand and foot, with the person who actually put them there long since gone from the problem.  Usually the harder the boulder, the worse this problem got.

Judicious and discrete use of tick marks for key holds that are cleaned off after every session is one thing, using tick marks like tape in the gym is something completely different.

Posted In: Access, Asides

Subscribe

Subscribe to the RSS feed to receive updates, and follow us on Twitter & Facebook

23 Responses to Ticked Off

  1. Ryan February 26, 2015 at 8:43 am #

    It should be shared again: https://vimeo.com/48602839

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  2. mowz February 26, 2015 at 1:21 pm #

    This brings to mind that LT11 movie The Abyss.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    • Dakotaconcrete February 26, 2015 at 2:23 pm #

      How so?

      GD Star Rating
      loading...
      • mowz February 26, 2015 at 3:09 pm #

        @18:00 HUGE tick marks
        @19:19 the entire arete is chalked up.
        Those are just two examples I’ve found quickly. It just seems that almost every boulder problem featured in that video has an ungodly amount of chalk on it. And it’s the first thing that comes to mind whenever that video is brought up.

        GD Star Rating
        loading...
  3. Owen February 26, 2015 at 1:27 pm #

    CO climbers..

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  4. Narc February 26, 2015 at 1:38 pm #

    Unfortunately this problem is not unique to Colorado

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    • The menace February 26, 2015 at 4:06 pm #

      That’s the truth. I think the bigger the tic the weaker the climber. I try to find subtleties In the stone to aim for. If there are none then a thumb print is fine. Big tic marks are a big pet peeve of mine.

      GD Star Rating
      loading...
      • Matt February 26, 2015 at 7:28 pm #

        I was mocked by the older men for using chalk when I was a kid. They patted their hands in the dirt. They climbed 5.13 in the 80’s for what it’s worth.

        GD Star Rating
        loading...
    • alan March 4, 2015 at 10:59 am #

      it’s not unique to boulderers either :rolleyes:

      GD Star Rating
      loading...
      • Truth March 4, 2015 at 4:34 pm #

        For real. Ya’ll should have seen Mission Impossible… I counted 35+ ticks visible from the ground.

        GD Star Rating
        loading...
  5. DD February 26, 2015 at 7:57 pm #

    Allowing chalk to build up on holds and fondling holds with greasy un-chalked fingers are much greater issues than tick marks.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  6. Andrew Cassidy February 26, 2015 at 9:26 pm #

    If you walk up to something and someone left tick marks erase them. I personally always try to erase my tick marks, but I’ve definitely forgotten in the past. I’m amazed at the number of opinions people have about tick marks. aka you’re weak, you can’t climb real rock, blah, blah, blah. Get over yourself. Tick marks are often a useful aid (yeah even really big ones every once in a while). Just be a good steward and clean up after yourself.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  7. Mark Tick March 1, 2015 at 6:14 am #

    When climbing outside there is only one simple rule to follow:
    Leave no trace.

    -with respect to chalk usage this means:
    minimize the use of chalk and remove the chalk after climbing.

    without a doubt tick marks can reduce the number of tries neccessary to succed, but e.g. on sandstone tick marks cannot be completely erased without using water.

    Fortunately there is a simple solution to the tick mark issue:

    Use finger tape for tickmarks!!!

    How to:
    -only use finger tape that does not leave traces of glue when used on your skin
    -softly attach the finger tape to the rock, just enough that it does not fall off

    Pros:
    -easy to remove (no trace)
    -properly collect your tickmarks and you can use them for several problems
    Cons:
    -probably more expensive then chalk tick marks

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    • Jared March 3, 2015 at 3:32 pm #

      Considering people don’t even try to remove their tick marks most of the time, I’d rather have tick marks to brush than tons of trash to pick off of every boulder. It sounds nice in theory, but I foresee lots of tape left on the ground/rock at popular crags.

      GD Star Rating
      loading...
      • Jared March 3, 2015 at 7:51 pm #

        Also, the thought of taping boulder problems outside is just straight revolting. There’s the gym for that…

        GD Star Rating
        loading...
    • the menace March 4, 2015 at 8:39 am #

      I hope your kidding about the tape idea. I find enough crumpled tape on the ground at both boulders and crags I visit

      GD Star Rating
      loading...
  8. Tom Shpakow March 4, 2015 at 5:29 pm #

    I love the tick marks and already chalked holds. It helps me flash/on-sight routes at my limit. The hornets nest has been stirred… 😉 but it’s true…

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    • Jason Grubb March 6, 2015 at 1:18 pm #

      It could be argued that tick marks on a route would negate an onsight. Granted, chalked holds aid a climber in navigating a route, but unlike tickmarks, chalked holds are really unavoidable.

      GD Star Rating
      loading...
      • Tane March 14, 2015 at 8:07 pm #

        I argue the chalked holds/onsight thing all the time… not a popular concept. Can you really onsight something if chalk is leading your path? The answer is no, unless you have an 8a scorecard, then the answer is yes.

        GD Star Rating
        loading...
        • DD March 15, 2015 at 12:27 pm #

          It’s an unpopular concept because it would make it basically impossible to onsight any overhanging route in the world without having a friend rap down the entire route and wash every single hold with a power washer.

          GD Star Rating
          loading...
        • Ian March 15, 2015 at 10:24 pm #

          The bolts also lead your path. Missing lichen and clean rock lead your path. Your knowledge of the grade affects when you commit to a sequence and when you keep looking for a better way. Your knowledge of the length affects your pacing, etc. None of those things rule out an onsight. Obviously, where we draw the line for what information rules out an onsight is arbitrary, but the rules for any sport are arbitrary–that’s practically the definition of “sport.” And the rule we’ve pretty clearly settled on is that existing tick marks don’t DQ an onsight.

          My objection is probably moot anyway since in my experience, tick marks are more likely to make an onsight harder because people tick a lot of sucker holds.

          GD Star Rating
          loading...
          • Ian March 15, 2015 at 10:34 pm #

            I meant for that to be about chalked holds (not tick marks) as per the preceding discussion, although reading what I wrote it sounds true to me about tick marks as well.

            GD Star Rating
            loading...
  9. Zach Miller March 5, 2015 at 10:35 am #

    I think it’s also important to consider whether the ticks are going to be washed off by the rain eventually or if they will remain as pictographs for future archeologists.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...

Leave a Reply