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Firstly I don’t think I am virtue signalling by laying out a view, with details. Neither am I judging in expressing that view with advice on risk management. Also I refuse to be silent in the face of false facts. As of the 8 May 37,375 people have ACTUALLY died of COVID 19 – as in its on their death certificates as having been the cause of death. This separate from the excess deaths caused by the COVID which are double this time versus last year; especially in the elderly. These are facts, not opinions. The effectiveness of the lockdown – is also irrefutable although I do have views about the way it is managed. It is not comparable to driving or anything similar, it is unique.
I am sorry if my opinions about the sport I value make some feel uncomfortable or are taken badly, personally or as petty virtue signalling or points scoring or whatever. That is clearly not the intent. I have no power over whether people climb or don’t but I hope my opinions have influence. And right now I would rather people practiced caution until the general situation changes. And if they can’t resist that they don’t take part as any form of Club event.
We of course all remain friends, I even still remain friends with people who voted for Brexit 😉
The BMC are wrong. Simple. For all the reasons Andrew has posted. And this just isn’t the same as driving a car. If driving cars killed circa 40,000 people in under two months there would be an outcry. And actually killed whilst there were restrictions on buying and driving cars. The Blitz only killed 32,000 and that took nearly a year. You just cannot compare this to the flu or anything else. Yes it is down to individual risk assessment and choice. If someone climbs with a friend and they meet the risk criteria, take protective precautions and miraculously stay apart a reasonable distance then not only is that an amazing achievement in a sport like ours, yes it is their choice. But if they don’t, if they have an accident, if they help transmission then they are removing that choice from someone else. Just because others bend the rules it is not our freedom of choice to do similar. Remember, we are able to have this debate because some freedoms have had to be limited not in spite of them. I will not judge others if they make the choice to climb. Just don’t put the Club’s name under the activity until access is accepted and the lock-down is properly relaxed. Which it very clearly hasn’t been.
There is so much that we don’t yet know about this virus. And some glimmers of light, like the antibody test with the hope that antibodies will prevent reinfection. A vaccine may be developed and produced faster than any vaccine ever, but it will still be a year at the very least, the fastest previously was 5 years I believe. It will then take a considerable time to vaccinate by priority. We may never get an effective one, we didn’t for SARs but it seemed to burn itself out; although obviously still there and there are treatment options. It MAY burn itself out but we are still learning about treatment options. We are also learning that it can kill very effectively if it takes hold. Roughly 50% of cases that enter ITU went onto oxygen and 50% who do don’t survive. That it is very contagious and easily transmitted. That it is a very lonely death being watched by strangers wearing full PPE even if their names are on the label. We are also just learning that it has residual effects post recovery, there is a growing suspicion that they may be long term for some. Similarly we are learning that children are affected in a different way. It is because there is so much we don’t know that it presents such a risk. It is because we are learning, and that takes time, that time and not filling voids with speculation that risks others is our best defence. BMI is a factor as well btw and I recall a study a long time ago that showed that most of the England rugby team had excessive BMI..go figure. Everything is about climbing.
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.
I have the new 50 page guidance but haven’t read it yet. Penny tells me that from some BMC posts some climbers are already pushing to get out there. My personal feeling is that this confused announcement by the Government really leaves things as they are. If the outdoor community can’t restrain itself for a bit longer we risk damaging the hard won access rights and responsible reputation it has, and which leaves us largely self regulating. There are cases for walking in the further hills for a day, even perhaps for bouldering, even in underpasses, and they are valid but they are premature in my opinion. A bit more restraint will bring eventual rewards. The climbing and outdoor community should be partners in the conversation about access to high pressured beauty spots and climbing venues. When we go back we should be welcomed by the local community not seen as any sort of threat. If we take risks it must be when those who would help us accept the risk we may bring to them and most of all we must survive with honour and be able to look ourselves in the mirror having taken decisions that take account of the big picture and the legacy we leave.
Hope you are all fit and well John