A chalk hag is a pouch filled with gymnastic chalk. It is worn on a belt around the climber’s waist, where a hand can easily be dipped into it. Chalk dries the skin, which creates a better grip.
Most people appreciate the benefits of chalk. Chalk helps a lot indoors, where the nature of the plastic holds, combined with high use, can produce some slippery holds. The act of chalking up is also a relaxation tool.
Letting go, with one hand hanging, in the middle of a steep pitch requires control and poise. Chalking offers a chance to rest and strategize or to procrastinate if the next moves look scary.
Chalking up is also potentially a big mess. Fine white powder has a way of getting everywhere. Although a crumbled block of gymnastic chalk provides the best chalking performance, use some sort of enclosed chalk ball whenever possible.
Chalk balls prevent messy spills when a chalk bag tips over and, more importantly, they help keep the air reasonably clear in a stuffy rock gym.