Whether you like it or not, the one thing we all have in common is that we don’t, not even scientists themselves, understand it. If we did, then it just wouldn’t be science! Science, then, is much like religion, but I’m getting off topic and it’s still only the first paragraph! Where’s my damn peer-review?
From the Neolithic Hominid who did science to a rock and made the wheel, to Sir Isaac Newton who did science to an apple and created gravity, right up to the future now of yesteryear, which is today, science has been messing with things to make other things for no other reason than ‘Just coz’. If we chug through a few hundred thousand laboratory mice a year and most of the atmosphere and fossil fuels in the process, it’s all in the name of progress! PROGRESS!
Science has given us so many great things. Genetic modification, missile-guidance systems, fluoro-carbons, the ability to grow human ears out the spines of regular field-mice, sorbet. The list could go on. And all of the above, with the possible exception of sorbet, have been eclipsed by one ground-breaking break-through. Scientifically better climbing chalk! Forget graphine, nano-machines, 3D printers, spider-silk battle exo-skeletons and sorbet, better chalk equals more points! Maths. You can’t argue with numbers because they never lie.
Where’s the proof, you ask? Where’s the peer-review, the articles in scientific journals, the substantive evidence? Read on and I’ll bloody tell you. For a start, Frictionlabs Chalk was created in a lab. The evidence is right there in the name. Lab. Not a dog, it’s short for laboratory. I know this because I did science to it and looked it up in what’s commonly referred to as a diction-ary. In labs they have things like beakers and schematics, and forgotten freezers full of polio vials. If it didn’t come out of a lab and wasn’t messed with by a small man in large glasses and a white coat, it’s not SCIENCE.
Let’s do some science now and take a little trip back in time. It’s the 1970s and John Gill is standing at the base of The Thimble. He’s like, ‘Oh snap, I have sweaty hands and Stump-cream hasn’t been invented yet, so Imma use that chalk stuff from gymnastics.’ Boom. He becomes the father of modern bouldering. Back to the world of the future, and you have three-year-olds running laps on 8c’s after Saturday morning cartoons. And all of this is because of chalk. If made-up facts are good enough for Jesus, they’re good enough for me, so your argument is invalid.
Regular run-of-the-mill chalk was good enough for the father of bouldering, and it’s been okay for the forty years of ascents since, but what it hasn’t had is a boost of SCIENCE! Enter Frictionlabs, which as I mentioned before—and which I’ll mention again because the best thing to win an argument with is repetition, especially when you don’t have any other points to make—is made in a laboratory. We’re not in the ’70s any more, and only some rock climbers still have mustaches, so it’s long past time we caught up to the future. Daniel Woods and Jimmy Webb are busy doing futuristic boulders, while Thomas Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson just did that other futuristic thing, so there’s no excuse for living in the past! The theory is thus:
Chalk comes in many forms. I can only think of two off the top of my head, but the future won’t wait for research! There’s the stuff your maths teacher used to humiliate you with by getting you to do complex equations with letters (a heinous blasphemy) in front of the whole class. Then there’s the White Cliffs of Some Place in England. Scientifically, chalk is actually made up of the failed hopes and dreams of a thousand different extinct species, and like crude oil, is a renewable resource*. It’s got calcium carbonate in it, which comes from calculus (another heinous blasphemy), and also magnesium carbonate, which comes from magnets. What’s the difference? Doesn’t matter. What matters, according to SCIENCE, is that the first one traps moisture on the OUTSIDE of the molecule, while the other one, magnesium, turns moisture into radness, which is the cosmic dust in our pores that helps us rock-climbers update our 8a scorecards with sweet FAs. For the lay man, the above translates to this: calculus=sweaty gross no sendage % magnets=super-amazing crush-monster. It’s climbing’s equivalent to the theory of relativity, and here I use that same theory to relate total nonsense to reasoned debate.
By doing SCIENCE to chalk, Frictionlabs have managed to unfriend as much calcium carbonate as possible, and isolate magnesium carbonate, thusly making highly superior sending powder. I know this article is a little heavy on facts and science and technological terminology and such, but try to keep up. We’re nearly there.
Now, you could go off and read a less well-researched review, which is full of boring and made-up economical fluffery here, or you could read on and find out just HOW Frictionlabs did it. How they cracked enigma. Decoded the Rosetta stone. Possibled the impossible. Well, their powder comes in three blends, and much like normal science, they turned to the animal kingdom to help solve their problems. They took regular animals, tested their chalk on them, and measured the results on clipboards. In other words, they sacrificed dozens of noble farm-yard beasts in pursuit of the arcane voodoo-magic otherwise known as ‘The Scientific Method.’
First they took a regular horse, fed it with chalk, and it suddenly became a unicorn. I’m actually not joking. The evidence is right there on their little packets. Take a friggin’ look if you don’t believe me. Frictionlabs actually created a mythical creature. Next they took a donkey and made it into a prize-fighter. Their last blend they fed to a gorilla. Not much change there; gorilla’s are pretty badass anyway. But still, getting a gorilla to eat your chalk isn’t easy. Normally they eat other stuff, like bamboo, and Chinese photographers and so on.
My point stands up to the fiercest of scientific scrutiny. Feed Frictionlabs to ordinary animals, and look what happens. Just think what it’s doing to your hands. And that leads me into the EVIDENCE portion of this scientific study.
My local area is Castle Hill. It’s renowned for having no friction, and for destroying the egos of visiting American campus-board-crushing college frat-boy tourist boulderers. Out there, chalk matters quite a lot, as do atmospheric conditions, humidity, air-to-moisture ratios, wetness, heat, cold, weather, precipitation, dew-points, and temperature. All those may sound like the same thing but they’re actually quite different. You wouldn’t understand. It’s SCIENCE.
Anyway, I did a control test on a random boulderer, who may bear a passing resemblance to me but is somebody else entirely, and applied him to a number of gnar boulder problems. He was unaware of which chalk he was using at the time. Here’s some pictures of him NOT using Frictionlabs on Morse Code (V11), and falling off because he’s a chump.
As you can see, he failed on this boulder precisely because he was using inferior chalk. That’s why his spotter is laughing scathingly at him, as is clearly shown. Below is the same dude, again he may look vaguely similar to me, but isn’t, on a different boulder, using Frictionlabs Chalk. Now, you may think that in order to be scientific, he should be on the same problem. Well, barring things like learned-movement and recruitment and so on, he didn’t want to try Morse Code again because it was dumb and he always fall off, so okay, the control test had one or two very minor flaws. This next problem was using the chalk blend that turns an ordinary horse into a self-sustaining power-drill: Unicorn Dust. The Problem is Cartman, (V9). The photos don’t show it but I dominated this boulder. That is to say, I dominated it after my control subject did it…
And here’s the same guy again on Hyperspace 500 (V10). From carefully analysing the schematics back at the lab, we can deduce that Frictionlabs made him 33.78% awesome. For brevity let’s just round that up to 70%. Scientifically, that’s pretty high.
The evidence is compelling. Frictionlabs turns regular animals into monstrosities in the name of SCIENCE, and it’ll stick to your sweaty chodes real good. At best inferior chalk feels like milk power, and at worst it’ll give your grandkids cancer, so it’s really a very easy choice. And don’t crow to me about Frictionlabs being thrice the price, because we’re rock climbers, what the hell else are we going to spend our money on? We have no damn social lives, and any conversations not involving micro-beta with ridiculous sign-language makes us uncomfortable! If you still don’t believe me, here’s a graph. Everyone loves graphs.
As you can plainly see, Frictionlabs Chalk is the highest bar right in the middle. And as we were all taugh at school, the biggest or highest thing on any graph makes it the best. Once again, that’s SCIENCE, and you can’t argue with SCIENCE. Not to be confused with SCIENTOLOGY. That’s sorta more like Fantasy Football for movie stars.
All joking aside, there is a quantifiable difference using this stuff over other anonymous white powder, and I’m not just saying that because I have to make nice to justify receiving a free sample. To the best of my knowledge, which as you can see from all the facts listed above, is considerable, there is little difference between the three blends other than granular consistency. Two have chunks, the third is ultra fine. In my deluded state at the end of a session I sent a boulder using this third one, and now I’m utterly convinced it’s the best of the three.
Is it a magic bullet that will allow you to cheat your way up all the stuff you couldn’t do before? No. Well, maybe. I think where it really comes into its own is at the end of a session—or a trip—when you’re at that point where no chalk sticks because you don’t have any skin on your tips left. You all know what I mean: that oozy red layer where there hasn’t been any fingerprint grooves for the past few days, and no matter how much you chalk up your pads just stay pink. This stuff sticks. Like a good wingman, or a successful drug deal when you still owe Fat Tony from across town, Frictionlabs chalk will come through for the win. Hyperbole? Yes, and that’s okay. So’s regular chalk, but if you want to live in the future, and enjoy the finer things in life, then give it a dabble.
No actual animals were harmed in the making of this article, or in the making of chalk. Just the fake ones. They got messed up but good.
*Which is the only thing the Oil Companies agree on, so it must be right, right?