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The Climbing Chalk Pepsi Challenge

Since the dawn of time (or possibly since 1954, whichever came first), one question has plagued rock climbers the world over. It is a problem with deep roots, one which cuts to the core of our sport, a perplexing mystery without resolution…

Which climbing chalk is best?

At long last, we have answers. You’ll sleep soundly tonight after we soothe your troubled mind with the balm of knowledge.

What follows is an extremely rigorous and rigidly scientific examination of a variety of chalk products for use in the sport of climbing. These are by no means matters of opinion and they should not be regarded as theory. These are facts*. We had real scientist working on this experiment**.

*May not be true
** Is actually true, but has little relevance

Our experiment is entitled “The Climbing Chalk Pepsi Challenge” and was conducted as a blind taste test of four different products – Black Diamond White Gold, Metolius Super Chalk, Trango Gun Powder and Friction Labs Secret Stuff (the latter of which is chalk of the liquid variety). It was conducted at the Mini Super wall in El Potrero Chico, Mexico.

Each product was placed into an identical chalk bag (except for the liquid chalk, duh…) and used at random on a single-pitch sport route on limestone. This was conducted in the sun in temperatures in excess of 30 degrees Celsius but with low humidity (around 30%). Each product was then given an independent rating based on a series of characteristics, as well as a written comment. We then calculated some averages and can infer quality from said figures.
Please find the data below for your consideration, given as an average calculated from our comprehensive range of data points (e.g. 2 people):

Chalk A – Trango Gun Powder
Lastability - 5.5/10
Feel - 7/10
Dryness - 7/10
Grip - 6/10
Overall Rating - 6.5/10
“Light and airy. Nice feel.”
“Oooh… fluffy!”

Chalk B – Black Diamond White Gold
Lastability - 5/10
Feel - 6/10
Dryness - 7/10
Grip – 6.5/10
Overall Rating - 6/10
“Hard to get decent coverage. Feels inconsequential.”
“Just your Average Joe chalk. Does the job. Super dry, a little chunky.”

Chalk C – Metolius Superchalk
Lastability - 8/10
Feel – 7.5/10
Dryness – 7.5/10
Grip – 8/10
Overall Rating - 8/10
“A good all-round performer.”
“Very dry. Gripped the best, stayed on the longest.”

Chalk D – Friction Labs Secret Stuff
Lastability – 7.5/10
Feel – 6.5/10
Dryness - 7/10
Grip – 7/10
Overall Rating - 7/10
“An awesome product, but with obvious limitations.”
“Works well, but I still needed to chalk up while climbing.”

Our findings are that the products rank in order of quality thusly:
4th Best – Black Diamond White Gold
3rd Best – Trango Gun Powder
2nd Best – Friction Labs Secret Stuff
1st Best – Metolius Superchalk

Even though our experiment was exhaustive, efficient and beyond reproach, there will still be several variables which may cause your mileage to vary. For example, we both really liked the liquid chalk, but used it exclusively on single pitch routes. It certainly wouldn’t be my choice on multipitch outings. Additionally, we tested the various products using our own personal standards. I know at least one person who prefers BD chalk over Metolius because the chemical composition doesn’t agree with her skin. Horses for courses, I suppose.
Thanks to Pinnacle for supplying the raw materials for this experiment and to Chalk Monkey for the excellent chalk bags.


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