Climbing Chalk

I was a climber; we started to get serious about things , and do a strange thing called TRAINING. 

That meant trying to get fingers, body and mind stronger. This training took place not in a gym, but in our house in Prestwich, Manchester. Improving finger strength for rock climbing by using my fingers on the  top of door frames, extending how far I could get over several doors. Soon I could go and climb over the front room and living room doors, past the dining room door, and eventuality get far enough to reach the dizzy heights of the outside of our stairwell and then extending it to reaching the giddy heights of our bathroom. Apart from lack of fitness there was another problem; it was not wetness (the training was indoors after all). The training was finger and body strenuous, and sweaty. A “danger” was fingers slipping off the top of the door frames. Sure I was not going not die in our house (I hoped), because falling off because for sweaty fingers caused by physical exertion.

My answer came from rumours from America. An undoubtedly brilliant boulderer (a rock-climbing specialist who tried harder and harder rock climbing moves, without ropes, on relatively short and safe hard, dynamic and fingery technical climbing problems). An American guy called John Gill who was a living legend. Photographs showed him climbing amazingly hard stuff. Pre 1954, climbers would wipe sweat off their fingers, by wiping it off on their hands onto their clothes. As well climbers would rub a handful dirt from the ground, between their palms – to try and dissipate the sweat, and improve climbing performance. John Gill was a gymnast in his earlier days, and he remembered using gymnastics chalk to reduce sweat on his hands (and feet). It worked pretty well, and I rushed and tried various chemists/pharmacies to try and get hold of the magic climbing powder that dried your fingers when you trained for climbing.