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Introducing You

In this article I would like to talk about something that every top climber uses. And I don't doubt some of the top climbers are missing it (or at least not in the hot seasons). “The secret to success” as Daniel Woods pointed out is called Antihydral [1]. Usually this medicament was related to people having hyperhidrosis or related conditions, but over the past decade is used increasingly by performance climbers to avoid hand sweating. More and more people drop some words or share some advices of its usage, some of them kinda incognito like the Austrian Harald Berger that red-pointed a six pitches route in Switzerland called Antihydral (8b).

Antihydral tube

One tube of this fine shit will last for years! (you can see also the main ingredient is Methenamin)

Thoughts:

Anyway, although being one of the most used substance you'll never see it on video. I have 220 gb with climbing videos and never saw it in any movie. Not a single frame, not a single word. You'll see a plenty of shit like madly drunken and stoned "athletes" being "psyched" and later on giving their "pro tips" having awful headache, or the usual stupid "training" clips displaying trivial stuff and exercises, but none of them saying some real words. No-one says what you should eat and when to eat to recover fast and to be able to do more and longer sessions. No-one says how to take care of your skin to be always in good conditions to survive over all sessions without forcing you to take more rest days then planned. No-one tells you how to take care of your other important body parts like joints, tendons and muscles, besides the trivial "take a rest - as long as you need son!" (bullshit). The only important book that reveals some secrets is "So weit die Haende greifen..." (click) and discusses climbing injuries and some ways to prevent them. And I didn't checked all the books but some of them and read dozens of forum and blog posts.

However, in this article I am not about to discuss further the different accents in the "climbing community". So I'm gonna start talking about how I found it. It was couple of years ago when I realized, that I am sweating like a monster. Not a just little bit - much more. So I've started searching for some different substances like doing my own liquid chalk, and I was really fine with that. Time went by and I started climbing harder, so breaking the flow for chalking, while bouldering on my limit was just impossible. I got so many times frustrated about being unable to match hard moves in the end because of sweated fingers, and even worse - falling of easy top out after doing the crux! All of this while reading some head news for people flashing and onsighting 8c or 8c+ routes in the middle of the summer with 40 degrees of temperatures on brutal humid places like on the beach of Kalymnos!!! How brutal is that?! I know some guys that are really gifted with good skin, one of them using 2-3 times softening creme daily and sweats on +15 degree less then me in -15 degree!

Firstly some rumors told me about the so called Botox but it seemed too brutal for me, however I heard and read that some people checked it out. Anyway I decided to let it go... Later on I heard some rumors here and there, when I finally stuck onto the blog post of Marc about Antihydral (click) and though I better give it a go. So in the beginning I kinda made all of the mistakes that everyone did while using it - split fingers, glass dry skin, slow skin regeneration... Later on when I checked google and found couple of topics in ukbouldering forum (click 1 and click 2) I just laughed how the people repeated my history, or better said I repeated theirs, also Marc's and all other anonymous climbers. In the forums you can find some pretty useful tips, but usually you are too annoyed by the typical local jokes there, which seem for the foreign checker, that seeks for something specific, just a shit talk. In the blog posts you might find more useful information, but you wouldn't tend to understand it before you try it yourself and find your own way (this here is no exception).

Bouldering Usage:

There is no general formula of usage! Great! Try it by yourself! Cool huh? Anyway, I'll tell you what I usually do:

1. Couple of days before your trip use Antihydral couple of times on your whole palms. (You may skip this step)

2. If you boulder above 7A you might need only to "antihydralize" the finger tips or at most to your second joint. Do this the night before and sleep well with it on your fingers! Don't apply it to your joints - you'll suffer ugly cuts if you do this mistake!

antihydral amount for the fingertips only in bouldering

Amount for both hands fingertips (thumbs included)

antihydral for the fingertips only in bouldering

How it looks like :)

3. You may do this the morning before you climb and let your fingers to dry for a little while.

Example of usage avoiding the joints (the main part is on the top of the fingers and the rest on the second level)

4. Important step! Whereever you see signs of dead skin (yellow) tear it down! By doing this you'll avoid very nasty cuts and flappers that are the side effects of very dry skin!

5. Don't overuse! The effect is not immediate so don't abuse! Wait and see!

Further tips:

  • You might combine antihydral with different regeneration cremes that retain the skin dry like Calendumed or ClimbOn.
  • Be busy as a bee with your scratch paper.
  • Try to locate the exact sweat places and be precise as painter!
  • I'll amplify again - don't touch the joints!
  • Try out your schedule!
  • For different rocks you need to tune your skin differently! ("growing" fat skin is cool for crimping, but bad for slopers, also on granite you would like to have more skin than on sandstone)
  • Same goes for different times of the year.
  • For plastic climbing Antihydral is generally bad, but if you use less then usual it's better for you then nothing, if you sweat too much. The problem here is you may dry-fire off the holds, having glassy fingers and no grip to the plastic. In the gyms it's usually splashy and warm so it's pretty sweaty, thus you should find your formula for indoor climbing, if you care anyway (I don't care that much for the gyms).
  • Aah, and read the instructions as well! Like, that one that you are not supposed to use it if you are allergic to formaldehyde (click).
  • Be careful, choose your sources and avoid a misleading information that can lead you to fucked up skin (like http://dave.scottishclimbs.com/2010/12/04/drying-out/). Some people just write articles for something they have no clue, just applied once or read here and there about, but actually have no clue what's up!

Further Read:

1. http://eveningsends.com/2011/07/review-antihydral/

2. http://www.rokblog.de/2007/02/17/antihydral/

3. http://ukbouldering.com/board/index.php/topic,11714.0.html

4. http://ukbouldering.com/board/index.php/topic,2640.0.html

5. http://www.epharmapedia.com/medicine/profile/127053/Antihydral.html?lang=en

Further Usage:

In Boxing you can enjoy an absolute solid feeling when having gloves on. Normally in amateur boxing you box often gloves that aren't yours and are already used that day. So take a good care to dry them at least a little bit with some paper before putting on. Squeeze them also a bit to refresh the air at least for a while. Put some longer bands than you usually use. All of this helps a lot. Having a non sweaty hands or at least a less sweaty hands changes the feeling of a gloves. You'll feel much more solid when punching and like a rock when guarding. So remember - having water gloves just sucks and having it all dry and perfectly fit is just a new dimension.

Antihydral might be used on your feet as well. I haven't tried, but I can imagine it helping a lot. I usually put a big fat sweat absorbing socks with having my feet fitting optimally to my shoes. I make all nice and tight. Remember - everything must be perfect. Slipping feet in the boxing shoes is the last thing you wanna have. In boxing every punch or move is so important, that you can think of giving you last go to a boulder in the last day of your climbing trip. However if you never used Antihydral, try to be very careful and check our the instructions in the article above!

In Grappling sweaty hand will always be your handicap. You'll never have the decent grip on your opponent with sweaty hands. Grapplers usually eat food like garlic just to sweat more than usual and make it difficult for the opponent to wrestle them, so if you have sweaty hands you have a double problem. And remember - small things are making the big difference. That's why the smart people are emphasizing those small things.