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    The BMC are doing a live broadcast at 1230 tomorrow to talk about what the updated guidance means to us. Here’s a link to sign up:

    Coniston Mountain Rescue Team have done a writeup of how a rescue would play out in these circumstances. It’s painful and drawn out. The rescue. Not the writeup. Though that is quite long too.



    The BMC statement today raises many questions about practicalities and hygiene. It is vague and very short on detail. I choose not to use Facebook so I may not see the broadcast. If you are ‘present” some questions to which answers might be welcome are below. Especially Question No 7.


    (1) Is it recommended that climbers not in the same household travel separately (to maintain social distance ?) 2 metres distance is recommended on public transport but not possible in one car.

    (2) If so, what is the likelyt impact at crags located on small country lanes with limited parking — ie assuming that there are twice or three times as many cars ? {That’s most of our crags of course ]. What does the BMC recommend as to relations with local residents ? Will climbers suffer reputational damage by visiting crags against the wishes of locals ?

    (3) If I lead a climb, what do I now do when I reach the top ? Given that my second has handled all the rope, surely the BMC does not recommend that I then haul the rope in ?? That would be tatamount to shaking hands repeatedly with my second. ? So how can a lead climber hygenically make a belay or bring up a second ?

    (4) When bringing up a second — say top roping, does the BMC recommend a stance 3 metres back from the crag edge, so as to maintain 2 metres minimum as the second tops out ? Are any problems anticipated with not being able to see or possibly hear the second ?
    (5) Is it supposed that at each gear placement, the second will weight the rope and apply disinfectant before removing the gear ?

    (6) On many popular single pitch routes, a different climber may have ascended 5 minutes previously using all the same handholds. What is the detailed hygiene advice about handling rock holds immediately after a potentially infected person ?

    (7) Does the BMC expect that the convoluted operations which seem necessary to maintain hygiene will be adopted and maintained by all climbers ?



    A friend of mine cycled over to Crimple Beck crag this weekend to see if it had fallen over yet, and came across a couple of climbers there.
    From what he could tell, it was their first time outdoors. They didn’t seem that aware of guidebooks, UKC, or that clear on some of the terminology we use. They’d made a mostly good job of setting up a top rope with rope protectors and a static line but they’d also made some questionable choices with their anchors.

    I’d guess that a lot of people are in the same situation. Keen indoor climbers for whom the only option to continue their hobby this side of summer is to venture outside. These are naive, vulnerable people coming into our domain out of desperation, with very little awareness of how much is at stake if they make a mistake. We won’t stop them by turning our backs.
    It is in the best interests of everyone to try to help them and I think that as a club, there’s a part we could play in that. Sharing the pastime I enjoy is my least selfish reason for joining YMC.

    That’s a lot of words to say that I’m going to start climbing outdoors again, carefully, and I’m willing to climb with other club members who want to do that too.



    I defer to my earlier post. Noting the news today where inhabitants of the Lake District are effectively putting up barriers to make it clear that visitors are not welcome yet. I guess other people in other local beauty spots and climbing venues will feel the same. The remains a serious risk to reputation and future access, that has taken years to negotiate, and, even at popular established places, remains tenuous. We all recall the recent night time climbing activity that nearly had us all banned from Almscliffe.
    Then there is the individual and collective risk. The community infection rate is relatively low. But then lock-down is still largely in place and as a region we have been fairly good at compliance. But it is out there still, without a doubt. It’s impact individually if infected varies according to a number of factors. Age is a big one, youth helps but isn’t a sinecure, men seem to be more affected, BMI and having a long term health issue, in particular diabetes, are significant risks. Members of the BAME community also seem to be affected more. Consistent exposure in certain settings also seems to be a factor, especially for health and care workers; hence the real PPE concerns and the youth of some who died.
    Protection and prevention of spread assists but has to be applied correctly. The 2m (1.5m in Germany) rule is really based on standing still, activity increases the risk distance, coughing sweating, spitting also don’t help. Face coverings do help but are time limited and frankly, unless a real clinical mask, they are there to catch your spit and as public reassurance rather than actually stop inhalation of other peoples germs. Clinical gloves, hand washing (properly not just a quick rinse) are best, with hand gel an added extra. Soap is better.
    Then there is the risk to the wider community and health care system. If an accident happens someone has to pick up the pieces. In fairness A and E has never been so quiet but an injured party still has to be treated as a viral risk until it is known that one doesn’t exist. CPR isn’t recommended atm for obvious reasons so “at the scene” you had better hope that the emergency crew can port a defib. Possible as they aren’t that large now, but depends where you are I suppose. Then of course you are possibly in hospital adding to the NHS bill which is already going off the scale. And of course, back to the individual risk, if you want to catch an illness, hang out in a hospital.
    I feel no responsibility for people who choose to climb outdoors without training and preparation referred to by Oli; other than walking over and advising them to go on a course or read a book. I would only worry that by damaging the venue, irritating the locals or tragically hurting themselves they then fxxxd it up for the rest of us by their actions.
    My son and his partner, effectively professional outdoors people, Miriam climbs competitively, furloughed and frustrated though they are, are sitting on their hands, running, doing finger board exercises, gardening etc just like the rest of us. Will’s wall is unlikely to re-open for a while.
    If people must go, then consider the risk factors beforehand, not just in climbing terms: Individual risk, Community risk (to others you are with or that are around you) and reputation risk for our sport. For example, if you are under 30, female with no underlying health conditions and want to go easy bouldering on land away from crowds where you have permission and easy access to rescue then your risk level is negligible. But if you are a 57 year old man, climbing at your grade boundary, with a friend with whom you don’t cohabit at a popular venue in the Peak, packed with others, that is half an hours walk in…well…
    I miss climbing, I especially miss the hills and mountains. And because I love both those things so much I will wait until I deem it right, at an acceptable risk level, as an individual, for the community and for climbing’s reputation and future. For me and those I care about, I don’t think that is yet, it may only be weeks away I grant, and even then it may only be a window if the infection rates rise again, but it will come soon and the hills will still be there.

    J :-)



    This is not about rock climbing. We should not think it is about us as climbers.

    A small-scale hill famer may lose his livelihood if he falls ill, or may have vulnerable people at home. We should not presume to judge whether the fears of country people are justified: we do know they exist. At many locations parking and sometimes crag access depend on the tolerance of locals. We will all need that in the future. Hence I trust that simple courtesy will keep everyone away from the tiny roads and parking at places like Scugdale, Slipstones, Park Nab etc. (Especially if using two cars !!).

    Numerous people have lost their jobs, or are about to. Many people live in flats or small houses without gardens. Whatever movement can be tolerated in the community, should first of all allow for such needs of work and simple local fresh air. If we risk resurgence of infections, then the penalty will be paid by the unemployed and by coop-ed up families.

    I do not believe that it is possible in a practical situation, to carry out rock climbing whilst truthfully staying 2 metres distance and not sharing equipment. Given the precautions we see in industry and retailing where open, given that playgrounds remain closed, it seems to me, impossible to make such a claim. (Whatever words it is wrapped up in. Even if someone describes a convoluted process for hygiene, I don’t imagine it would in practice be maintained for very long).

    So it is my own clear belief, that a decision to go climbing is a decision not to adhere to the guidelines. If that decision is multiplied across several thousand climbers, then I suppose that inevitably it will result in more infections. If the infection rate goes back up, so will unemployment and the problems of those bouncing off 4 walls.

    Even in my own nice house and big garden, this is getting rather depressing. But until there are guidelines which clearly sanction repeated equipment exchange and proximity, I would feel very uncomfortable at the crag.

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