I wanted to start a series of tips or how-to features to help boulderers save money and get the most from their time on the blocks. So this is the first in, hopefully, a long line of Do It Yourself Projects.
The Chalk Canister:
I like to keep a little stash of chalk in my car for those times when I either run out in my chalk bag or dont have a chalk bag around when I happen upon a cool boulder while I'm travelling. My biggest problem has always been how to contain the chalk so it doesnt spill all over the back seat or trunk. I've tried a variety of different methods; from differently designed chalk bags and chalk buckets, to keeping the extra chalk in a big zip lock bag, to buying an expensive dry bag and store my chalk bag in it. But none of these methods ever really worked; the chalk bags and buckets always have a tiny opening for chalk to fall out, and the big zip lock was crushed and chalk exploded every where, and even the pricey dry bag eventually got some holes in it and started shooting streams of chalk out when it was compressed. The easy answer was always right in front of me (or actually behind me in the back floor board)...along with extra chalk, and other random items, I almost always keep a small canister of powdered Powerade or Gatorade in my car, so I can add some to my water bottles when I need an extra kick. So, after I finished a canister it dawned on me that it would make the perfect chalk container, it even comes with a scoop that's perfect for refilling a chalk bag. So, after a good wash and dry, I filled it up with a block of chalk and enough loose chalk to refill my chalk bag about 4-5 times. I used an old Powerade canister, removed the label and added a couple of stickers to it to make it look a little less plain. The canister hasnt leaked any chalk since I've put it in my car, and the other day it saved my session when I forgot to pack a chalk bag.
Rock Prep Kit:
You can also use the same canister to make a small kit to clean and prep the boulder before you send your route. After bouldering all over the place, I've picked up a couple of tricks from other people's approaches to climbing. I met one guy at a comp last year that kept pointing out how most people just go straight up to a route, maybe feel the holds and features and then attempt to climb it. Or at least he was pointing it out to all the other competitors that were trying the problems he was trying. This guy was meticulious about how his rock was before he'd even step foot on the route. He always brushed every hold clean, and cleaned them from the top hold downward, that way you dont get gunk in the holds below that you might have already brushed. He also had a small cloth that he used to wipe down features and would prespread chalk on the rock with it sometimes too. I also saw a lot of folks at Fontainebleau using small pieces of cloth or denim to slap or wipe the rock clean. These 2 items, along with chalk, I think are crucial for a good Rock Prep Kit. I have found that a small, stiff bristled, double sided denture brush is the one brush that I use more than any other while I prep rock. One side is flat and perfect for almost every type of hold, and the other side comes to a point, which is perfect for cleaning and chalking thin cracks and crimps. I add this, along with a small 6"x6" to 8"x8" piece of cloth, I prefer fleece, and a couple of scoops of powdered chalk to an old Powerade canister to make a lightweight Rock Prep Kit thats easy to take out to the boulderfield. You can also leave your chalk bag in the car and save some weight by using your Canister for all of your chalk needs too. After using some of the advice and techniques I've seen and heard around the world, I've been able to see first hand the benefit of cleaning and prepping the rock, by sending some great hard problems I dont think I would have been able to send if the rock wasnt prepped right.
So it might be pretty simple...pour some chalk into an old Powerade canister, but for me it has been a session saver and an easy kit to take to the blocks to send at my best. I hope this helps you to climb harder and enjoy your time in the boulderfields more!