Safely Climbing Outdoors During COVID-19

Written by Armando "Doc" Beverly

Covid Climbing Conundrum

We've all seen the news, and many of us climbers are going back and forth between whether it's safe or not for us to climb. I know I live barely 20 minutes from some gorgeous Diabase, yet I haven't touched it since the lock down hit. I'm not the only one who's aching for the feel of rock, but there's a lot of information to take in and consider when it comes to Safety with Outdoor Climbing right now.

High Risk Circles

Some people (self included) have family at home that are immunocompromised (IC), and unfortunately for us while the CDC hasn't said for sure it can be transferred via surfaces like rock, it's far more likely to play this safe than sorry. I'm sure none of us would want to bring that home. Keep in mind if you're on medications *LOOK TO SEE IF THE'RE IMMUNOSUPPRESSANT*, while you're not as bad off as some, it's definitely something to take into consideration when assessing risk factors.

Expanded Circle Risk

One of the other big aspects of spreading (and reducing the spread) is contact with others. Are you someone who is still working and for some reason has to frequently interact with others or frequently handled goods? (Cashiers, delivery staff, movers, etc are prime examples) You may want to forgo the crag as you might be inadvertently increasing the risk of those around you!

Protect Your Local Crag

Excellent, you've ruled out the first two points, now how can you keep your local climb spot safe? Keep close to home. Only climb local, and try to minimize how many different local zones you travel to if you have multiple options. In the same spectrum, try climbing with the same partner(s) to keep Contact Tracing simple if needed down the road. As mentioned in many other articles, keep in mind the 2m/6ft rule, if a particular line or boulder is busy, consider finding a project elsewhere for the time being.

Optimize Your Home Wall

This applies to a smaller portion of lucky folk, but worth mentioning. If you have a home wall, consider putting it to work. And if you happen to have some spare funds around, maybe now is the time for a personal project wall! There's tons of great hold companies offering sales on holds and volumes alike, and if you're a DIYer like myself, companies like Metolius are even showing you how to make your own home wall!

Play It Safe

If you're going to climb, make sure to pack and plan. Bring sanitizer/soap, wipes, and a mask for the hiking trails. Clean up before and after each climb/attempt and for rope climbers mind how often the rope goes to the mouth for clipping. A strong point to be made, CLIMB SOFTER as many medical resources are being used elsewhere right now, so lets minimize any injuries and avoid the need for a Search and Rescue team.

It's been a long few months. But sometimes you have to take a break and remember it's not the end of climbing, just a longer than normal recovery time.