Fingers: Cracked Fingertips

My fingertips keep splitting open. I moisturize and use additive-free chalk but my hands still dry out. Any suggestions?

By Rock and Ice | May 21st, 2010

My fingertips keep splitting open. I moisturize and use additive-free chalk but my hands still dry out. Any suggestions?

Dhill | Rock and Ice Forum

I HEAR YOU. The other day I broke two fingernails so far back it hurt my elbow.

I met a German woman in France a decade ago. She was mid 40s. “Do you mind giving me a belay on your route so I can warm up?” she politely asked.

“Sure, have you done it before? It’s 5.12d…”

“No, but it should be fine.”

FedEx’ed into oblivion was more like it. She paused just once to smile gratefully and wipe her hands on her pants! Holy Catwoman, Batman. She didn’t use chalk!

Chalk is a drying agent with or without the extraneous additives. Grinding it under your nails is akin to applying a slow-burn oxyacetylene torch. If you don’t like cracked nail beds, the easiest option is to quit using chalk. Or simply use it much less.

For most climbers, chalk is a security addiction that needs some metaphorical Narcan. Try warming up without it. Try your project without it. Think of boobies. That’s what I do. Not only does it give me that warm and fuzzy sense of security — I was weaned too early — but I get to the top much more quickly if I spend less time with one hand flapping around my ass.

Also, try rubbing a little barrier cream, like a zinc-based diaper cream, under your nails before you climb.

 

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