10 Climbers You'll Meet (Virtually) in Lockdown Article

Being a climber in lockdown isn't easy. We're used to both the freedom of the hills and rubbing shoulders with sweaty bodies in crowded walls, neither of which are currently on the cards. Leading a socially-distanced life is the status quo for some climbers but for most of us, maintaining some semblance of a climbing life while at home is being shared with friends online in various and sometimes irritating ways.

Climbing the walls at home.   © UKC Articles
Climbing the walls at home.

Overnight, the dusty fingerboard turned from foe to friend and suddenly bog roll pull-ups and enchaînements of all the rooms off the hallway were the in thing. If you didn't #Do10Share10Tag10 of some contrived exercise, then you're now subject to a ten-year curse. Or something.

Here are ten climbing character profiles that you might despise recognise in their online emergence during COVID-19. See how you would score in this Lockdown Climber Bingo...

DISCLAIMER: Any similarity is purely coincidental. But it's probably you. All of you. We're all in it together...

Frustrated Fingerboarder

The Frustrated Fingerboarder had never touched a fingerboard in his life before COVID-19, and he still doesn't know his back-three from his front-two. To him, a repeater is what makes the wifi stronger for all those bloody Zoom calls upstairs. Despite remaining unconvinced as to how fingerboarding will boost his trad climbing, The Frustrated Fingerboarder clings on to the notion that it's still climbing, and it's got to be better than doing DIY around the house, or polishing his nuts once again.

Tell-tale identifier: Shares photos of a wonky, second-hand fingerboard from the '90s bought off Facebook. Complains about elbow tendonitis within a week. Tried and failed in the #BananaLockChallenge.

Not to be confused with the The Fingerboard Fanatic, who's currently in their element spraying the fingerboard lingo on social media and adding more weight every day, or strapping their dog to their back while complaining about bad skin due to over-washed hands. They're obviously also in training for Tokyo 2020, since it's an Olympic sport now.

Fingerboarding: Overrated.  © Dark Sky Media
Fingerboarding: Overrated.
© Dark Sky Media

The Livestream Lover

Every man and his dog is 'going live' on Instagram asking you to 'Ask them Anything'. The Livestream Lover is revelling in the opportunity to share their self-obsession for climbing with others in an altruistic act and thinking of the follows inspiring you to be the best version of yourself. Workouts, training tips, stories of their life...anything goes.

Tell-tale identifier: Usually a pro climber, consistently '...going LIVE now!' on Facebook or at the front of your Instagram story feed, sharing recipe ideas, talking about their favourite pair of shoes or talking sh*t on camera with their pet.

The Domestic Daredevil

The Domestic Daredevil is a new breed of gym rat who thinks they're being funny and original in puntering about the house and making the First Ascent of the fridge or the First Free Ascent of the bookcase in full climber get-up. The Domestic Daredevil is oblivious to the fact that they're not a proper climber; after all, indoor climbing is for wimps. They haven't considered the unprotected sandstone arête on their doorstep, trending left to a series of ledges and finishing up a steep roof. That's outdoors, and outdoors is scary. Real rock is for real climbers. FAs include Bathroom Buttress E1 5c and Kitchen Girdle VD, a circuit of every table in the house and an ascent of Everest via laps of the staircase.

Tell-tale identifier: Posh people only, because no-one with IKEA furniture would possibly survive any kind of household hijinks. Boulderers or sport climbers in their BC (Before Corona) life. They've probably already made a stop-motion video of themselves and ended up in the Daily Mail.

Home Wall Humblebragger

The Home Wall Humblebragger ranks highest on the Smugness Scale and is the most-hated in the climbing world right now. Especially the ones who were 'prepared' with a pre-built construction. If they weren't prepared, all the engineering geeks, Handy Andys and overachieving kids with over-obliging parents were quick off the mark in getting a membership-worthy board in place. They've become the envy of their doorframe-dangling friends and the enemy of their neighbours, who now have to put up with powerscreams and look out onto a hideous construction in the garden.

Tell-tale identifier: Posts videos on Instagram stories asking friends to make up boulders for them, because they're 'bored'. Poor things. Look at these people, just look at them!

The Workout Wally

The Workout Wally seemingly hasn't stopped moving since lockdown started, while you've been beachwhaled on the sofa eating twice your weight in lockdown supplies. Yoga, doga, pilates, HIIT sessions, 5Ks, fingerboard, mobility, Zwift - these fitness freaks do it all and more. Have you moved today? Is your body Corona-ready? Have you sweated-out your laziness? The Workout Wally apparently leads and takes part in Zoom fitness classes 24/7 and generally makes you feel tired just watching them lead their busy lives.

Tell-tale identifier: Always in Lycra. Uses a plethora of hashtags including #Do10Share10Tag10, #SomethingSomethingChallenge, #CoronaYoga, #FitterThanB4. In reality, their red-flushed exercise face is likely the result of a 4-week wine binge. Probably into Cross-Fit in their previous life.

The Zoom Zeitgeister

Video conferencing platforms are booming, and most of us are Zooming. The Zoom Zeitgeister embraces this trend wholeheartedly. They're weirdly tolerant of the obligatory family Zooms with Nan and Uncle Jim - AKA 'Take your finger off the camera/Can you hear me now?' sessions - but they're also social climbers. TradLads Tuesdays, WomenWhoClimb Wednesdays and Friday Night Pub Quizzes with the same old rehashed questions about Stanage Severes, not to mention virtual 'training' sessions with mates on the fingerboard, in which more beer is consumed than energy expended.

Tell-tale identifier: Enviably strong wifi connection. Owns shares in Zoom.

We're loving it, really. The pets, not so much.  © Natalie Berry
We're loving it, really. The pets, not so much.
© Natalie Berry

The Don't-Try-This-at-Home-Trad Head

A sub-species of the Domestic Daredevil, but with less street/social media cred - the DTTAH Trad Head has withdrawal symptoms from 'the real thing' and seeks gratification by placing cams, nuts and household objects between furniture, white goods and walls. Knee-barring the bannister, jamming the Fridge-Cooker crack, chimneying the actual chimney: the possibilities are endless. Unlike the Domestic Daredevil, the DTTAH Trad Head has ventured outside and made the First Free Ascent of The Lawn Wall E2 5c, and Chez Moi E7 6c.

Tell-tale identifier: Posts videos of sketchy climbs around the house while cropping out pads and explaining away the clipping of a bolted hanging basket as 'fair game'.

Mick Fowler - a proper home climber - soloing on his house in the great outdoors. No gear needed.  © Mick Fowler
Mick Fowler - a proper home climber - soloing on his house in the great outdoors. No gear needed.
© Mick Fowler

The Kama Sutra Koala Climbers

The Kama Sutra Koala Climbers gloat about their perfect partnership by partaking in the #KoalaChallenge or #PartnerClimb challenge on social media. One - usually the female - begins by putting her arms around the male's neck while he hoists her up, legs around his waist, then the female starts to climb up onto his shoulders and turns upside down while grasping for his bottom and her head eventually appears between his legs. The female reaches up and grasps at his shoulders/neck to right herself into the starting position while trying not to kick the male in the balls.

It's a kind of lockdown mating ritual for climbers. We think.

Tell-tale identifier: The cutesy couple who are always posting selfies on Instagram. Pray to God that they don't post the naked version, because we all know they did that too.

The koala's expression says it all...  © UKC Articles
The koala's expression says it all...

The Reminiscing Romantic

The Reminiscing Romantic won't stop posting pictures of 'That Time at Base Camp', or 'This trip to Spain' when life was as it used to be. The slightly older RR is posting photos of their younger selves climbing harder routes than they are capable of today with terrible hair (or just hair) and naff clothing, while being backed up by their similar mates as to how great it was. Throwbacks are all that are keeping this kind of climber sane, so don't judge them too harshly.

Tell-tale identifier: Usually of an older demographic. They post climbing pictures that temporarily get your back up, before you spot *TAKEN BEFORE COVID-19* in the caption. Makes spurious connections between waiting out bad weather in a tent and surviving lockdown.

The Youtubertunist

The Youtubertunist is making the most of the opportunity to bait a load of bored climbers and attract YouTube followers to their new channel or 'vlog' with 'fresh content'. Generally, corona-content is a mashup of sh*t chat and yoga exercises, or resembles some form of confused lovechild of Big Brother, Bake Off and Mr Motivator.

Tell-tale identifier: Pro climbers, UKC, 'climbinfluencers'. Only slightly more respectable than climbers-turned-TikTok-dancers.

The Corona Moaner

(yes, we turned it up to 11). The Coroaners are not dealing well with lockdown and moan about wanting to be out climbing at their local wall or the crags soon.

Tell-tale identifier: Well, it's all of us, really, but we know we've got to be #StayAtHomeHeroes for now.

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28 Apr, 2020

Great stuff, can I add

12. The sneak out spoiler.

Justifies their selfish actions using poor risk assessments which fail to include the influence their actions may have. Carry on climbing because climbers are special and they are special climbers.

Risk spreading the virus, lengthening the lock down restriction and future crag access but that doesn't matter they are extra special and more important (see above).

28 Apr, 2020

Ha! Just so.

Special, with your choice of phrase to follow. My choice would be 'little moppets', though other are available.


Top marks to UKC for the article too. Excellent stuff.

28 Apr, 2020

And for completeness

13. The sanctimonious signaller.

Frustrated with the lock down and itching to get out. Takes out these frustrations by ranting on the Internet about the selfish behaviour of a few. Questions advice and policy, usually backed with data and/or critical thinking.

Points made may hold validity but seldom go down well.

28 Apr, 2020

14. The sloth

Using the lockdown as an opportunity to do hardly any exercise and certainly nothing climbing specific while wearing out the keyboard by discussing such existential questions as ‘is it hypothetically ok to go climbing’ on UKC and Facebook. Fascinated to find out how much their climbing level will drop after this (self)imposed period of inactivity but living in hope that ‘trad cunning’ would somehow see them through even when the arms give out.

That’s me, at any rate.

29 Apr, 2020

Well done for this - enjoyed it a lot!

... especially the 'Lawn Wall'!!

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