/ Climbing holds (indoor) hygiene.

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Chay - on 18 Oct 2012
Hi All,

A slightly odd question but I'd be grateful for any responses, none the less.

I'm looking for replies from climbing wall staff primarily.I was speaking to a friend today about plastic climbing holds and how unhygienic they probably are, my brief question is:

Is this actually controlled or measured/tested by either the wall or the BMC or such bodies? Is there a requirement to keep the holds hygienic?

GB
jonnie3430 - on 18 Oct 2012
In reply to GingerBread22:
>
> Is there a requirement to keep the holds hygienic?
>
Only if you pick your nose and eat it.

thebigfriendlymoose - on 18 Oct 2012
In reply to GingerBread22:

In Yorkshire, full microbiological and toxicological screening of local climbing holds is done by the local BMC, afterwards they apply Dettol to the entirety of Malham Cove and gently mop Almscliff with TCP.
mkean - on 18 Oct 2012
In reply to GingerBread22:
No there isn't any testing. Yes most climbing holds are pretty filthy.
tom_in_edinburgh - on 18 Oct 2012
In reply to GingerBread22:

At Ratho they disinfect the holds by freezing the germs to death.
Kieran_John - on 18 Oct 2012
In reply to GingerBread22:

Not wall staff but my local bouldering place (City Bloc) give the holds a really good scrub every reset (cnce a month).

I feel really sorry for them sat in the street, freezing cold, scrubbing holds in a bucket of water.
Chay - on 18 Oct 2012
In reply to mkean: I didn't think so. Worrying, particularly if someones cuts themselves, common just above the nails and bleeds onto a hold..someone comes along and gets that into their own cuts. If the hold is high, the blood may not even be apparent to staff.

Not that it's going to stop me going or force me to wrap myself in cotton wool mind.

GB
thebigfriendlymoose - on 18 Oct 2012
In reply to GingerBread22:

Yes, we all remember the Great Pudsey Ebola Epidemic that was traced back to a soiled crimp at The Depot.
Kieran_John - on 18 Oct 2012
In reply to GingerBread22:

They may be grubby but given how many climbers I see going to town on them with a toothbrush I can guarantee the majority are plaque-free.
Lord_ash2000 - on 18 Oct 2012
In reply to GingerBread22: No wonder AIDs runs so rampent in the climbing world.
mkean - on 18 Oct 2012
In reply to GingerBread22:
Worrying, particularly if someones cuts themselves, common just above the nails and bleeds onto a hold..someone comes along and gets that into their own cuts.

Lets take a risk based look at this:

-How often do you cut yourself climbing? Probably not very often, which means the quantity of blood on a wall is quite small.
-Most blood transmissable diseases don't live very long outside the body which means only fairly fresh blood is a potential issue.
- How often do you climb with an abrasion or open cut that could lead to contamination? Probably not very often.
- What percentage of people carry a blood bourne infection?
- What is the chance of you putting this injury into a patch of contaminated blood? Very small.
- What are your chances of actually catching something assuming all of the above occur?

Small number x small number x small number x small number x small number = Tiny number

The total probability of actually contracting something nasty (say Hep, or HIV for example) are really vanishingly small and you are probably more likely to get killed by a falling bit of Voyager 1.

If you want to get worried then you should see the stuff I cough up after resetting the routes at my local wall. I should probably be wearing a respirator for shifting all the crud off the holds :-)
mkean - on 18 Oct 2012
In reply to GingerBread22:
Oh I should also add that you want to avoid grit jamming cracks as I've found fresh blood on The Grazer and Melvyn Bragg :-)
Chay - on 18 Oct 2012
In reply to GingerBread22: I was simply inquiring into whether anything was in place.

Not saying whether it should be or shouldn't be or the risk or lack or risk. It was just a meaningless conversation.

GB
Chay - on 18 Oct 2012
In reply to GingerBread22: Though getting the flu or a cold is probably pretty easily done from holds.
thebigfriendlymoose - on 18 Oct 2012
In reply to mkean:

Some routes have absorbed so much blood that the holds have developed voodoo powers. One particularly skin-trashing session at Shipley Glen led to the Red Baron arete opening up a portal into Hell. I had to prod The Great Beast back into the void using my brush-on-a-stick. I now take the precaution of getting my chalk blessed by a priest and using a crucifix-shaped bouldering mat
Trangia - on 18 Oct 2012
In reply to GingerBread22:

I complained to a climbing wall about the filthy state of their urinals on the grounds that after visiting them people promptly went back and smeared urine from their rock shoes onto the holds.

To be fair to the wall they reacted immediately and cleaned the bogs, saying that it was being caused by a leaking drain joint.
In reply to thebigfriendlymoose:
> (In reply to mkean)
>
> I had to prod The Great Beast back into the void using my brush-on-a-stick.

There are a new type of knickers that can save you any embarrassment if you have turtle moments like this often!

mkean - on 18 Oct 2012
In reply to grumpybearpantsclimbinggoat:
SQABASSCOOMN!*

Are you sure you haven't got a comercial interest in this company?

(*Snigger quite a bit and some snot came out of my nose)

Wonko The Sane - on 18 Oct 2012
In reply to GingerBread22:
> Hi All,
>
> A slightly odd question but I'd be grateful for any responses, none the less.
>
> I'm looking for replies from climbing wall staff primarily.I was speaking to a friend today about plastic climbing holds and how unhygienic they probably are, my brief question is:
>
> Is this actually controlled or measured/tested by either the wall or the BMC or such bodies? Is there a requirement to keep the holds hygienic?
>
> GB

Fair play to you if you climb with your mouth.
Chay - on 18 Oct 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane: Putting your hand on a hold, then on your mouth a few hours later if you forget to wash them?

Flu is transferred from hundreds of products in exactly that way. Keyboards/phones for example.
Ava Adore - on 18 Oct 2012
In reply to GingerBread22:

This has GOTTA be a joke, right?
Chay - on 18 Oct 2012
In reply to Ava Adore: I was simply wondering if they were cleaned or whatever. There's nothing that can be done about it, it was just a over-beer conversation.

Though it's a fact you probably can easily get a cold/flu from holds. Though like i say, nothing can be done.

Typical UKC ott responses ;)
Ava Adore - on 18 Oct 2012
In reply to GingerBread22:

OTT? Not really. Do you climb in gloves outdoors? Or do you expect rock to be sanitised too!!
Chay - on 18 Oct 2012
In reply to Ava Adore: I never said i expected anywhere to be, i was just wondering if holds were cleaned now and again.
Jenny C on 18 Oct 2012
When holds are removed from the wall for routsetting they are thoroughly cleaned.
Cleaning in-situ between re-sets would be totally impracticle, but is done if a specific hold is contaminated (usually from dirty footwear).

As others have said the risk of contracting something nasty from bodily fluids is tiny, and TBH in terms of more general bugs/germs probably no higher than from door handles.
Also the fact that a combination of sweat/chalk/rubber leaves your hands visibly dirty after a climbing session probably makes you more likely to wash them before eating.
jkarran - on 18 Oct 2012
In reply to GingerBread22:

> ...Worrying, particularly if someones cuts themselves, common just above the nails and bleeds onto a hold..

Terrifying isn't it! I've long held that all climbing holds should contain a small Cobalt60 gamma emitter to keep them sterile, these things are a serious biohazard!!!

Seriously? They're climbing holds, it's not as if you have to lick them!

jk
MHutch - on 18 Oct 2012
In reply to GingerBread22:

Most walls stick them through the dishwasher when they reset a circuit.

Judging by the number of people I see leaving the loos without washing hands, I'd say there's probably plenty of faecal bacterial on the starting holds of most problems...

Not that it bothers me. My immune system was founded on encountering the pooey and snotty germs of others.
Steve John B - on 18 Oct 2012
In reply to mkean:
> (In reply to grumpybearpantsclimbinggoat)
> SQABASSCOOMN!*
>
> (*Snigger quite a bit and some snot came out of my nose)

Snap, but it was tea not snot in my case!
Wonko The Sane - on 18 Oct 2012
In reply to GingerBread22:
> (In reply to Wonko The Sane) Putting your hand on a hold, then on your mouth a few hours later if you forget to wash them?
>
> Flu is transferred from hundreds of products in exactly that way. Keyboards/phones for example.

Gosh. I'm never putting my hand on a door handle again.
I really never thought about the danger lurking in every corner. How did I make 46?!
mkean - on 18 Oct 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane:
How did I make 46?!

6 + 40 ?

23 x 2 ?

marsbar - on 18 Oct 2012
In reply to GingerBread22: I wash my hands after climbing. That'll do I reckon. Not that I've died the times I've forgotten.
captain paranoia - on 18 Oct 2012
In reply to Ava Adore:

> Do you climb in gloves outdoors? Or do you expect rock to be sanitised too!!

Outdoors tends to be sanitised by:

i) cold
ii) UV

And not get the same traffic that an indoor wall gets.

Hand sanitiser gel dispensers might not be a bad idea at a wall; before and after. Maybe combined with something like 'Climb On'...
mkean - on 18 Oct 2012
In reply to captain paranoia:
Hand sanitiser gel dispensers might not be a bad idea at a wall; before and after.

Given that a large proportion of hospital staff can't use them properly I really don't see the point.

Howardw1968 - on 18 Oct 2012
In reply to captain paranoia:

> Hand sanitiser gel dispensers might not be a bad idea at a wall; before and after.

yes cause I'm going to sanitize my shoes before I put my foot on a hold too
ashley1_scott - on 18 Oct 2012
In reply to jkarran:
> (In reply to GingerBread22)

> Seriously? They're climbing holds, it's not as if you have to lick them!
>
> jk
What, you're not meant to lick the holds

We play a game that you can only use a hold that you can lick from where you are,

icnoble on 18 Oct 2012
In reply to GingerBread22: Lets hope some bureaucratic t*at from Brussels isn't reading this.
JuneBob on 18 Oct 2012
In reply to GingerBread22:
You brits may want to read this:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-19834975
NicholasHart - on 18 Oct 2012
Wiley Coyote - on 19 Oct 2012
In reply to GingerBread22:

I think the biggest risk comes from women climbing in those weird high heel rock shoes.If they stand on your hand it really smarts. And you don't half bleed a lot.
needvert on 19 Oct 2012
In reply to GingerBread22:

Not just an indoor thing....Take if you happen to come across a granite crack and the leader bleed all over the place because you both forgot climbing tape.

One way I look at it is....though I accept it as quit flawed...viruses are generally what I'm worried about. Bacteria are much more hardy. I rarely get bacterial infections in cuts, so I imagine I never get viral infections introduced through cuts.

Interesting question though. How long does aids live at room temperature in dried blood?
Jonny2vests - on 19 Oct 2012
In reply to captain paranoia:

Bollocks to all that. A bit of muck and germs does wonders for your immune system, sanitizing everything is counter productive long term.
needvert on 19 Oct 2012
In reply to captain paranoia:

I've always been a bit confused about the action of coldness. At the very cold end it can keep some things alive indefinitely (curiously some frogs can be frozen and live).

Generally the colder it is, the slower the decay. Not sure how that applies to viral and bacterial survivability.
dutybooty - on 19 Oct 2012
In reply to GingerBread22: Better delete this thread before the HSE get hold of it!
Nick Russell on 19 Oct 2012
In reply to GingerBread22:
> (In reply to Ava Adore)
> Though it's a fact you probably can easily get a cold/flu from holds. Though like i say, nothing can be done.
>

You do know that cold and flu are spread by inhaling airborne droplets, right? No danger from licking holds. Norovirus, on the other hand, that's the one you want to be worried about
fire_munki on 19 Oct 2012
In reply to jkarran:
> (In reply to GingerBread22)
>
> [...]
They're climbing holds, it's not as if you have to lick them!
>
> jk

You don't have to lick them, but the taste is exquisite so worth doing!
krikoman - on 19 Oct 2012
In reply to NicholasHart: Dolphin parts or frozen penguin chunks?
Fraser on 19 Oct 2012
In reply to GingerBread22:

Most walls clean their holds when they reset routes/problems. Result: initial 'soapy' feel when the new routes are set, until such time as they're chalked/sweated into regular shape.

Frankly, IMO life's too short to worry about such delicate matters.
Dave Kerr - on 19 Oct 2012
In reply to GingerBread22:
> (In reply to Ava Adore)
>
> Typical UKC ott responses ;)

Have you considered the alternative hypothesis that your original and subsequent posts came across a bit OCD thus inviting a gentle ribbing?

Just a thought. Best get back to my oxygen tent now.
catt on 19 Oct 2012
In reply to Dave Kerr:

Shit! There's not enough oxygen in the air??! :-(
Ava Adore - on 19 Oct 2012
In reply to catt:
> (In reply to Dave Kerr)
>
> Shit! There's not enough oxygen in the air??! :-(

Well there is but it's awfully dirty. Oxygen tents are so IN this year. ;-)
RockSteady on 19 Oct 2012
In reply to Trangia:

Yeah, I hate when I see people walk into the toilets with their climbing shoes on. Urinals generally have an area of 'splash back' that is then trodden onto all the holds. This is probably an irrational dislike (isn't urine sterile?) but I don't like the idea of it at all!
DynamoCL - on 19 Oct 2012
In reply to RockSteady:

Urine is sterile (unless suffering an infection), but the toilet floors probably are not.

Was getting changed once, and a rather large set fellow walked out of a cubicle after what sounded like an epic deposit. Didn't bother with washing his hands - next I see he is climbing the routes I had my eye on. But this happens all over the place, as stated above, door handles, keyboards etc.


Another pet hate is people bouldering with bare sweaty cheesy feet.


Just make sure you give your hands a good wash after climbing!
Simon Preuss - on 19 Oct 2012
In reply to GingerBread22:

Back at Uni, when we were taking the freshers for their first climb at the local bouldering wall, most people were climbing in their normal outdoor shoes.

One of them had dog shit on their shoes. I found this out the hard way, by putting my hand in some. The culprit was not found (One can only assume he/she had managed to scrape it all off on the holds)

Being the one who found it, it somehow fell to me to go around with a brush and a bucket of disinfectant trying to find all the shitty holds.
Bulls Crack - on 19 Oct 2012
In reply to DynamoCL:

I always carry a little anti-bacterial spray when climbing. Adds a bit of time onto the ascent but I haven't fallen ill yet so it must work
Lukeva - on 19 Oct 2012
In reply to GingerBread22: I should stop licking my way up routes then?
Rigid Raider - on 19 Oct 2012
At the height of the AIDS paranoia the Michael Sobell Centre wall even had a small disclaimer notice about patrons catching AIDS from the holds.
In reply to captain paranoia:
> (In reply to Ava Adore)
>
> [...]
>
> Outdoors tends to be sanitised by:
>
> i) cold
> ii) UV
> iii) Bird shit
> And not get the same traffic that an indoor wall gets.
>
> Hand sanitiser gel dispensers might not be a bad idea at a wall; before and after. Maybe combined with something like 'Climb On'...

Fraser on 19 Oct 2012
In reply to DynamoCL:
> (In reply to RockSteady)
>
> Urine is sterile

I think that's only while it's - ahem - in its 'container'!


> Another pet hate is people bouldering with bare sweaty cheesy feet.

Agreed - completely!
tom_in_edinburgh - on 19 Oct 2012
In reply to Bulls Crack:
> (In reply to DynamoCL)
>
> I always carry a little anti-bacterial spray when climbing. Adds a bit of time onto the ascent but I haven't fallen ill yet so it must work.

Maybe there is a market for anti-bacterial chalk.
thin bob on 19 Oct 2012
In reply to GingerBread22:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fomite

objects do spread diseases. as long as you don't lick things like handles & holds & wash your hands before eating or rubbing your eyes etc, you'll be alright.

I have seen blood on holds indoors & out. and I washed my hands after....

Yes, we all need a little dirt, but usually we get this as kids.

ads.ukclimbing.com
tlm - on 19 Oct 2012
In reply to GingerBread22:

> I'm looking for replies from climbing wall staff primarily.I was speaking to a friend today about plastic climbing holds and how unhygienic they probably are

They are probably as unhygienic as toilet door knobs, or bar peanuts.
dr_botnik - on 20 Oct 2012
In reply to Lukeva: I think I did actually have to use my tongue when climbing once, it was an outdoor route somewhere, with a balancy move like 3 pebble slab, but at stanage, carnt remember which route though *stumped*
timjones - on 20 Oct 2012
In reply to GingerBread22:
> Hi All,
>
> A slightly odd question but I'd be grateful for any responses, none the less.
>
> I'm looking for replies from climbing wall staff primarily.I was speaking to a friend today about plastic climbing holds and how unhygienic they probably are, my brief question is:
>
> Is this actually controlled or measured/tested by either the wall or the BMC or such bodies? Is there a requirement to keep the holds hygienic?
>


Don't fret about the climbing holds. It's the door handles that are out to get you!
Ava Adore - on 20 Oct 2012
In reply to GingerBread22:

Having face planted a volume on Thursday maybe I should be more concerned about hygiene :-)
Sarah G on 20 Oct 2012
In reply to GingerBread22:
> Hi All,
>
> A slightly odd question but I'd be grateful for any responses, none the less.
>
> I'm looking for replies from climbing wall staff primarily.I was speaking to a friend today about plastic climbing holds and how unhygienic they probably are, my brief question is:
>
> Is this actually controlled or measured/tested by either the wall or the BMC or such bodies? Is there a requirement to keep the holds hygienic?
>
> GB


Are you for real?!

Sx
SeasonalDrip on 20 Oct 2012
I hear most walls are signing up to Kim and Aggie's new series, "How clean is your hold" this should solve many issues around wall hygene.

Naturally, this is great news for HLA members (hold lickers anonymous)
landskip - on 20 Oct 2012
In reply to GingerBread22:
City Block is far too dirty for germs, never mind climbers!!...... great problems though. leave your brush at home and take some industrial cleaning spray plus full body gear like in Breaking Bad!!
stuartf - on 20 Oct 2012
In reply to GingerBread22:

This reminds me of this clip from That Mitchell and Webb look...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TA-0nki_XL8
AgentStarling - on 20 Oct 2012
In reply to needvert:
> (In reply to GingerBread22)

>
> Interesting question though. How long does aids live at room temperature in dried blood?

I'm doing a PhD on HIV biology. You have very little to worry about. HIV has a lipid membrane: drying it out effectively kills it. You should only worry if you somehow get fresh, liquid blood into a wound of your own but the chances of this happening are very small I should imagine!
andyclubleymoore - on 23 Oct 2012
In reply to GingerBread22:

I strongly recommend climbing at Reading Climbing Centre, my local. They have a wonderful system of bathing all holds that come off the wall in mild acid and scrubbing off all the chalk, rubber - and sweat, grease and skin!

The result is that the wall is super clean in appearance and feel of holds. The bouldering area is in the process of a full reset of come the weekend it will be sparkly.

Although I guess a trip to the climbing mecca of Reading is not exactly what everyone wants to be doing! Pay attention other walls! cleaning really works!
ashley1_scott - on 23 Oct 2012
In reply to andymoore83:
I am off to the climbing mecca that is Reading on sunday to see your lovely clean holds. I will give feed back on how soft the boulder mat is when falling from under the roof section as well, of course this is all for everyone else's safety :D
And not as you all might think, and just a day for me to go climbing.
CosmicHobo - on 25 Oct 2012
In reply to GingerBread22: My wall uses a hold wash that reacts with the rubber and stuff called Benky Wash and then dishwash them after for a good rinse everytime they are removed for resetting. Come out pretty clean and new looking afterwards.
Stuart William - on 26 Oct 2012
In reply to GingerBread22: I did actually read a study (possibly carried out by UIAA) addressing the risks of infection spreading through blood or other dirt left on climbing holds. Their conclusion was that the chances of it happening were laughably remote and it could only really happen if someone left fresh blood on a hold and you then placed an open wound of your own in the exact same place within 1 or 2 seconds. Even then you would have to be very unlucky to catch anything.

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