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Stick or Slip


Submitted by joemor on 2002-06-28

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Ever been climbing and your feet just wont stick like they use to?
This happened to me a few days ago and I couldn’t work out why my footwork had gone out the window. I turned my shoe over to find it caked in chalk (I was bouldering indoors). I cleaned them off the best I could noticed an improvement and kept climbing. When I got home I read up a bit on the topic and found these three ways to increase the grip and efficiency of your shoes.

1. For good performance carpet or similar fabric will provide a suitable surface to remove the dirt and grime from your shoes sole. Most gyms have a carpeted area somewhere and if you outdoors it really pays to bring a scrap along with you. To use it basically scuff your shoe against the carpet until the sole appears clean.

2. For better performance it pays to wash the sole of your shoes. You can use spit (which is readily available), water or if your feeling anal rubbing alcohol. Wet the sole of your shoe and start rubbing with either your hand or a rag. As you go you will find the sole becomes stickier until your hand no longer slides across the sole but squeaks and skips.

3. For the utmost performance its time to scrape the old oxidized rubber off the soles. Rubber no matter how clean sticks better if its un-oxidized. You can do this a number of ways, the most simple of which is to just rub your two shoes soles together un till a black “out of the box” colour appears. Another method if the first doesn’t work is to lightly sand the soles until the surface of oxidized rubber is removed and the sticky rubber beneath is revealed.
Obviously repeated rubbing or grinding of your shoes will wear them out more quickly so use these methods with that in mind.

Of course the more your shoes stick to the rock, the more dirt will stick to them as well so make sure they don’t get dirty between cleaning and climbing. There are again many ways to do this, walking bare foot to the rock, wearing plastic bags over your shoes and standing on a clean mat before stepping onto the wall.

The cleaner your shoes the better they’ll grip!

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