Many climbers use gymnastic chalk to improve their grip, especially in hot sweaty weather. The chalk is usually carried in a chalk bag worn on the back of the harness or attached to a separate runner tied around the waist, so you can dip a hand in the chalk whenever you need it.

Some climbers feel that chalk detracts from the rock by leaving white smudges. They also argue that the chalk identifies the holds, robbing other climbcrs of the experience of finding the holds and figuring out the climbing sequence for themselves. A compromise solution used by some is colored chalk that blends in with the rock. Several colors are commercially available.

On frequently climbed pitches, sweat and chalk can leave holds slimy and difficult to use. Some climbers carry a small brush, such as a toothbrush, to clean the holds.

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