We are in unprecedented times, calling for unusual restraint and an acute awareness of the consequences of our actions. Just as any other member of the community, climbers must play their part to the full. Though the weather is finally fine, and we feel the urge to get out as much as anyone, we at UKClimbing believe that all climbing should now cease, and we will be promoting that message loud and clear.
Just two weeks ago some of us at UKC were still planning on going to Italy for a climbing trip. A week later that seemed a bizarre idea. Last week we were contemplating our article suggesting that people keep away from climbing walls. This week that too is old information, made redundant by events.
This week the online discussion has turned to whether we should be going out to climb at all. There have been many threads on the UKC Forums and social media with some people saying that we need to keep active, and safe climbing on isolated crags is fine. Others have argued it is better to stay home and avoid unnecessary risks.
Our position at UKClimbing is now clear, we no longer think it is socially responsible to go climbing on outdoor crags. The activity is certain to bring people into contact with others away from their own domestic group, which is precisely what we are being advised not to do. There is a risk of passing the virus from hand to hold to hand. There is also the risk of accident at a time where we really need to reduce the burden on the NHS. Even if you think you can isolate and climb safely, recent events have shown us that the cumulative effect of lots of people doing that results in places being swamped.
On a UKC thread Elfyn Jones, BMC Access and Conservation Rep for North Wales summed it up:
This shit really is getting real - I've spent over 35 years in various professional roles passionately defending the rights of the individual to go outdoors, to take risks, to have the freedoms to do the activities we love. This time I'm saying bluntly and loudly - just don't! Stay home.
Too many very experienced medical professionals I know and respect (who are also climbers) are shitting themselves. We all owe it to everyone else to [do] everything we can to help or at least delay the spread of this disaster. Thousands of lives are at stake. Please put climbing, mountaineering and hill-walking on hold until it's safe to do so... and I promise, if I survive this thing ('cos there's no guarantee I will and many of us won't!) I'll be the first in line demanding to get better and improved access in the future.
From today, we are suspending the Top Ascents page, the Conditions reports and we are blocking any logged climbs after this date. The recent ascents page closed last week.
We are not saying that people shouldn't go outdoors altogether - although maybe that will be the message in the near future. However we believe we should restrict our activity to safe running and walking only, in line with advice from bodies such as the Ramblers:
We will continue to publish our varied and inspiring news items, gear reviews and articles. It may feel strange to watch a video, or read a destination article to a place that you can't go to - but these are strange times. Please bear with us: publishing content about topics other than the current health crisis is not trying to belittle the seriousness of the situation, but instead we will seek to provide some distraction for us all so that we can look forward to better times ahead.
This is a time for common sense and reasonable behaviour from all, and certainly not a time to fight for your right to go climbing.