Not Going Outside - Some Tips for Climbers on Lockdown

A slightly irreverent take on the corona virus lockdown, and how to survive it as an obsessed climber.

A few days ago the situation seemed alright for outdoorsy types.

"Well if we're not in big groups and we go somewhere away from people it's fine and I've got all this time off now"

Then over the weekend everyone ended up out in the Peak, North Wales had one of it's busiest weekends ever, and pretty much every outdoor space was full of people. Not just nasty air-coughing spluttering ones, but those sneaky asymptomatic types, shedding virus everywhere they go.

A lot of people most definitely NOT practicing social distancing at Higgar Tor A lot of people most definitely NOT practicing social distancing at Higgar Tor

The current guidelines are quite clear - DO NOT GO OUT UNLESS IT'S ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY!

"Oh but going climbing is necessary, for my own fitness and mental health"

Well tough. We're in the middle of an international crisis. You're just gonna have to deal with it.


Build that woody

Get your indoor training setup built. Now is the time to clear out the garage and get that woody built and festooned with holds.

James T's home climbing wall, with most of the junk out of the way. James Turnbull's home climbing wall, with most of the junk out of the way.

You may as well make a decent job of it now, as home-working becomes the norm - this is one positive and likely long-lasting effect of corona virus. Those little twenty minute sessions snatched here and there will make all the difference. Also don't forget that Liquid Chalk is less likely to make a mess of your house.

Pull up bar/Fingerboard

At the very least, sort out your fingerboard and pull-up bar. Assuming you can find one, I think stocks are pretty limited around the country at the moment. Even just a single rung, like a Lattice Fingerboard, will do. Accessorise your bar with pulleys and weights to change the intensity, and therabands are great for warming up and conditioning those stabilising muscles.

The pull-up bar - your new best friend The pull-up bar - your new best friend. Make sure you use those little cups to fix it properly to the door frame, you don't want this popping out when you're in a front lever.

Something inbetween

Maybe go halfway and get something like a POWER STATION. These things are kind of somewhere between a fingerboard and a panel, take up less space and use a lot less wood (hardware shops were shut today) so you may be able to construct one with just what you have lying around.

It's possible to train stamina on them too if you have the boredom threshold. It's also moveable, so you can set up in the yard for a sunny outdoor sesh.  At the moment they're still in business so you could possibly get one delivered, but a quick search online found these simple plans to help you build one. You're welcome!

Get a solid playlist

Training at home can be pretty tedious, so make sure you've got a motivating playlist. Here's mine,  50 tracks, all styles, all vaguely virus-related, and all belters (some are pretty tenuous tbh, but I guess "my Sharona" sounds a bit like "Corona"...)


Practice Your Ropework

There are loads of little tricks you can learn while you have some time on your hands. Escaping the system, self-rescue, new ways of equalising belays. Can you rig a tyrolean? Your skills get rusty unless you practice. These are all things that you might not need to use in your day-to-day climbing, but might come in handy one day. Grab a text book for pointers, or check out the excellent VDiff Climbing website.

Floor based exercises

Work your core and those antagonistic muscles. Use all those tins you've been stockpiling as free-weights. Join an online pilates or yoga class. You can just watch a video, but it's too easy pause it and get distracted, so do a live-stream instead. Thanks to video conferencing these can be just as sociable as joining an actual class. And it’ll keep your local yoga teacher in business.

Clean and repair your gear

Wash your ropes. Clean the gunk out of your cams and lube them up real nice, you don't want them to have seized up by the next time you go climbing. Wash and reproof all your waterproofs. Clean and  reproof your boots. Learn how to sew and fix the rips in your tattered bouldering pants.

My favourite E9 bouldering pants, repaired in kinsugi style! My favourite E9 bouldering pants, crudely repaired but (IMO) much improved in kintsugi style!

Learn how to cook

Like really cook. I'm talking about making bread, preserving & pickling, making sure nothing goes to waste. This is vital knowledge that will actually come in handy if this carries on.

Mildred smiling as she grabs her jar of I told you so. Mildred smiling as she grabs her jar of I told you so


Grow some veg

We're in this for the long haul, so get growing! An afternoon hoeing is a great workout and you’ll be out in the sun. Plus, having a constant supply of salad coming from your yard or windowsill means you'll be less tempted to venture to the shops.

Having an actual farmer for your quarantine buddy is advantageous here Having an actual farmer as your quarantine buddy is advantageous here!

Learn some acceptance

In my experience, climbers are the worst at dealing with not being able to do their hobby (yes, I know, it's not just a hobby it's a lifestyle choice, man). But it isn't everything, really it isn't. I mean, obviously if it's everything to you then do what you can to stay on top of the very specific fitness required, but it doesn't matter if you don't. Learn something new, catch up with your friends, use your prescribed single excursion to find some some new local running routes. It doesn't matter in the scheme of things. And although it seems like social-distancing is going to be necessary for a while, it won't be forever. Go with the flow, and embrace the absurdity. It really is for the greater good.


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