What will returning to indoor walls be like? Natalie Berry explores how indoor climbing walls are responding internationally as the world attempts to learn to live with COVID-19 and get back to some form of normality.
It's obvious that close proximity to others in a social or paired activity, along with high-contact surfaces in the form of hand and foot holds and a dusty atmosphere, all make indoor climbing a tricky environment for hygiene and transmission reduction. During lockdown, climbing wall owners, associations and newly-formed international working groups from around the world have been cooperating to establish new best practice guidelines following the first wave of COVID-19.
This might interest you.
Interesting and thought provoking. I hope the walls can ride out the storm. A big risk must be foreclosure on buildings or loss of equipment.
Brucey bonus,for me, is that I learned a new world class bouldering facility had opened in Huddersfield, looking forward to giving it a go when it's able to re-open.
We have so many bouldering walls in London and I would be happy if just a few reopened at the start.
I think its true that indoor climbing walls are one of the most likely places for transmission to occur as with fitness gyms. The idea of having routes spread out as such to limit the close proximity to others is a good one. But the fact that every handhold on a route is touched by countless other people is a concern. Im not sure whether the fact there is a chalk barrier between a climbers hand and the hold is a limit to transmission it would be interesting to see a study. I purposely avoid touching gates and handrails when out for this reason. I'll definitely be visiting the more quieter crags. I just hope the indoor climbing scene will bounce back as strong as ever.
Crag wise. When I want to Burbage North with Offwidth and Buxton Coffee Lover the whole Burbage Valley was really quiet - I think we were the only people there.
I do hope the indoor climbing scene will bounce back stronger then ever.
I think they are some studies on the disinfectant properties of different Liquid Chalks
High neb was quiet on Saturday but then again, uncharacteristicly so was the whole of stanage!
Yes actually I hadn't considered that as liquid chalk carries a percentage of alcohol
I think for Liquid Chalk to be effective it needs to contain more than 70% alcohol.
> I think its true that indoor climbing walls are one of the most likely places for transmission to occur as with fitness gyms
The frustrating thing is that there isn't really a practical way of knowing. Obviously everyone could be tested in theory, but that doesn't seem likely, which is a shame because if it were known that no-one entering a wall was infected then there'd be no need to worry about the extra precautions.
Reason suggests that the likelihood of infection is pretty slim, and hopefully becoming slimmer, but I suppose there isn't really a point at which everyone can collectively accept that catching corona is a risk of climbing, just as injury is, because someone dislocating their elbow doesn't then go on to dislocate those of anyone they subsequently meet
Matt Hancock says that everybody can get tested now - except for children under 5 years old.
Maybe The BMC can incorporate that into their posters etc about injury and death.
> Matt Hancock says that everybody can get tested now - except for children under 5 years old.
At the risk of dumping on an easy target, it has been the case that there is something of a gulf between what Matt Hancock says and what actually happens. At any rate, what would be ideal is knowing that right now the wall (or really anywhere else in public) one is about to enter has no-one infected inside, with on-the-spot testing before one goes in (I'm not sure this is practical, or even possible at this stage - it's just an idle hope of mine).
Knowing that you didn't have Coronavirus two or three days ago is all very well, but of limited use if you're mixing with others of uncertain status between having the test and finding out the result
Yes. Very true about Matt Hancock. Do you remember the 100k tests that was really around 85K then he fiddled the numbers?
Maybe not swabbing or antibody tests but possibly temperature checks at walls a s asking people if they have any of the symptoms.
I wrote out a reply but didn't send it because as I read it out it seamed like common sense but there will always be exceptions.
Temp screening is a good way to test 1 symptom of which we know there are many. Some one with a temperature should feel like crap anyway and know they should NOT GO INTO A CLIMBING GYM full stop.
Asymptomatic carriers have to be careful not to spread the virus so wash hands thoroughly on the way in and out and use of alcohol based chalk is a good idea I think. This goes for everyone. The basics count here. Stick to social distancing, wash hands regularly and before/after eating, don't go around coughing and sneezing in people's faces or licking any handholds....High fiving a tough send is out the question for now 🙄
It works for anywhere
I agree with everything you say. There have been more symptoms of COVID 19.
One of the biggest walls in Italy, Urban Wall in Milan, plans to re-open on the 1st June after nearly 3 months of being closed. Users will be temperature tested on entering & have to sign a self-declaration form indicating their current known state of health ie no COVID-19 symptoms. After that there's a whole raft of rules : everyone except the people actually climbing have to wear masks though they have to put theirs on as soon as they're back on the ground, sanitise hands before & after climbing, each person uses their own rope or their own end of the rope - no putting the rope in your mouth, 2m distance between climbers, use liquid chalk with more than 70% alcohol, etc, etc. Check out their website for further info (in Italian ;-)
You need accurate, extensive data to make decisions about "opening up" again (not that returning to "business as usual" is a good idea - it is destroying our chances of survival as a species - https://thebulletin.org/doomsday-clock/) - until you have that data (& decent measures in place to stop the spread of the virus: contact tracing, isolation & quarantine, a health service that is able to cope, vaccine(s), massive testing, a much better understanding of the virus itself etc.), reason dictates that you should exercise caution (i.e. the precautionary principle) & non-essential things should remain closed. Talk of dates by which/on which certain things will "open up" is premature.
If I had to stop climbing all together but I could breathe cleaner air, hear the birds sing throughout the day and not have to listen to the noise of airplanes flying overhead I would do so. The world doesn't revolve around me - we are in this together.
One thing to note is that main transmission vector is through aerolized droplets. Touching stuff is a very hard way to catch the virus, there was even a recent study that showed that. I'd want more focus on chalk particles, air conditioning, distance etc as close proximity to others is truly the main way to catch this
> One thing to note is that main transmission vector is through aerolized droplets. Touching stuff is a very hard way to catch the virus, there was even a recent study that showed that. I'd want more focus on chalk particles, air conditioning, distance etc as close proximity to others is truly the main way to catch this
A significant improvement in ventilation in walls would be a good thing overall - the amount of chalk dust in walls does my asthma no good at all.
Rich Emerson, Chair of the ABC and CEO of TCA Group is doing a Q&A on the BMC Facebook page at 12.30 today https://www.facebook.com/BritishMountaineeringCouncil/posts/10159682152010828
> Touching stuff is a very hard way to catch the virus, there was even a recent study that showed that.
> A significant improvement in ventilation in walls would be a good thing overall - the amount of chalk dust in walls does my asthma no good at all.
Would the presence of chalk in the air be a significant factor in increasing any risk of transmission (not arguing against better air in climbing walls, just wondering)?
It's an interesting question.
Also occurred to me that a mass switch to liquid chalk would improve my breathing no end too! The only times I tend to need a dose of the blue stuff are climbing and running. Would be nice to knock it down to running only.
From the article, hygiene section: 'One potentially more beneficial aspect of liquid chalk could be the reduction in airborne chalk dust, which provides a potential surface for transporting virus particles through the air to be breathed in by climbers.'
With these links in the text:
Chair of the Association of British Climbing Walls (ABC) and Director of The Climbing Academy Group, Rich Emerson will be live at 12:30 today on the BMC Facebook page, where he will be discussing reopening plans.
(in 10 minutes!)
I saw this live today and it did get my hopes up - but just a bit though.
The second link suggests a fairly convincing link between viral infection rates and air pollution, but it still seems a bit speculative; it doesn't appear conclusive (and I suppose it would be hard to test) that the pollution is the cause of transmission, as opposed to being a factor in making people more vulnerable through respiratory damage - which, the first link suggests, isn't a consequence of chalky environments typical of climbing walls.
As before, this isn't to argue against limiting chalk per se, just to suggest the ABC/BMC/individual walls remain circumspect in their approach to chalk policy
'I'm much better than people understand. I'm a much better climber than they realise.' It's only with hindsight that Johnny's statement, despite being mildly tongue-in-cheek, was proven to be correct. Rarely has anyone moved on rock like the...