Climbing in a Time of Coronavirus, vol. 3

Ann’s been using her down time to mark her gear.
(Note the color scheme. Or colour scheme, as it were.)

Hello climbing friends:

We hope you’re all still healthy and safe. And sane. Healthy, safe, and sane. The trifecta!

So, did you hear the big news this week? No. Bigger than that. That’s right, on April 1, Black Diamond announced the debut of the biggest cam ever: The #21 Camalot C4.

On the same day, legendary trail runner and ski mountaineer Kílian Jornet shocked the world by announcing his retirement. Yep, he’s only 32 and has raced up and down Denali, Matterhorn and Everest, won the Skyrunner World Series six times, and won a slew of ultramarathons, but from now on, he’ll just be sitting around and fishing.

And word from Yosemite is that California’s social distancing laws are having an unexpected benefit.

Unfortunately, across the country search and rescue groups are being overwhelmed by calls from climbers injured during kitchen traverses.


We actually have some non-April Fools things to share with you—and then we’re hoping you’ll tell us what you’ve been up to.

For starters, it’s nice to see the variety of ways that outdoor gear manufacturers are pitching in to help ease the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Also, while the #21 remains a dream, Black Diamond did introduce two new sizes of the C4 cam this week: #7 and #8. Yes, for real. Might be worth a look if you have any off-widths in your (long-term) plans.

When you do get ready to buy gear, SNEWS has a reminder to think about our local gear shops during what is sure to be an economically challenging time for small businesses.

If you’re doing your social distancing in the great outdoors, be aware that access to several local trails and trailheads has been restricted. Tonto National Forest has an extensive list of closures, which include First Water Trailhead, Peralta Trailhead, and Picketpost Trailhead. The city of Phoenix has closed Cholla trail and is limiting parking and access for Echo Canyon, Piestewa Peak, Pima Canyon, and other areas. And, of course, Grand Canyon National Park is now closed. Point being: while it’s always good practice to check the status of an area before you head out, it’s extra important right now.

We’re sure you’re all recreating responsibly, but Outside has a sobering discussion about what happens when someone needs a backcountry rescue right now.

However! We’ve also rounded up some vicarious adventuring for you and it’s safe, free, and available 24/7.

Mammut has posted a fleet of free videos on their website. You can travel to Antarctica, speed climb with Dani Arnold, follow Tom Belz as he scales Kilimanjaro on one leg, and generally explore the world from your couch.

Mountain Equipment Cooperative also has a collection of short documentary films about outdoor adventures including this amazing bike ride, which is, indeed, an escape.

And you can keep getting ready for your own adventures with some more home workout ideas. Yes, we do have an endless list of these, why do you ask?

Uphill Athlete has put together 24 (count ’em!) at-home strength training workouts, which are varied to prevent boredom and ranked in difficulty from Ranier to Denali to Everest. (No offense to Ranier.)

Lattice Training is still putting out helpful ideas for training at home, including their new video using workout gear improvised with stuff you have around the house. Dog optional.

They also have a great six-minute workout that needs nothing more than some floor space and a pull-up bar.

Don’t have a pull-up bar? That’s an easy fix. Andrea put this one up in about five minutes. Eyebolts, quick links, cordage, and a dowel. Done!

But while exercise is great, this is maybe not the time to go crazy with endurance training. (TL;DR: If you overwork your body, you get sick.)

In fact, this might be a nice opportunity to build better sleep habits.

And, as Kylee Toth Ohler observes, we can also use this time to develop mindfulness, which will help us in everything we do.

UK Climbing adds some mental health tips for climbers on lockdown.

Of course, climbing isn’t just about fitness. It’s also about knowledge. And, while experience is a fantastic teacher, there are a lot of lessons that you can learn while off the rock, too.

Climbing Tech Tips offers more than 200 short instructional videos covering everything from how to put on a harness to how to evaluate wandering trad lines on a multi-pitch route.

For an analysis/argument regarding the best method of racking gear, Black Diamond considers the relative merits of loops vs. slings. Spoiler: People have OPINIONS.

Here’s a gear question with more quantifiable answers: How strong are carabiners really?

If you want even more tech tips, Petzl offers a wide array on their website, including an illustrated guide to several useful knots and cautions about some of the dangers inherent in roped climbing.

Speaking of danger, some of you may know of Andrea’s deep love (LOVE!) for accident reports but even if you aren’t a weirdo disaster-voyeur like her, you can save yourself a lot of trouble if you learn from other people’s mishaps. That’s why the American Alpine Club publishes the annual guide to Accidents in North American Climbing. You can order back issues from their website, or you can listen and learn from their excellent podcast The Sharp End. It’s a great way to become a smarter climber even while you’re just walking around the block. Again.

Another way to improve your climbing is, of course, through training, which is why Training Beta’s weekly podcast is also a great listen.

Or, for a rather less serious (but no less worthwhile) discussion, try Jam Crack, which is hosted by Irish climber and author Niall Grimes, who talks about climbing, reads stories about climbing, sings songs about climbing, and interviews other climbers including a recent conversation with the inspiring Hazel Findlay.

If podcasts are just too 21st century for you, you can go back a few years with video classics like Masters of Stone III: Third Stone from the Sun and Masters of Stone II: Hard Rock. 90’s hair, don’t care.

No matter what you’re watching, why not borrow a tip from Ann and mark your gear while you’re hanging out at home? She made hers all fancy-like, as you can see up top.

But even with arts & crafts distractions, you might be getting a little stir crazy. In that case, you’ll find yourself in good company with alpinist Nate Kenney, who scored a first ascent despite both bears and angry roommates.

These British climbers also got creative in their search for lockdown exercise, although possibly to more useful effect.

And, for some helpful perspective, Semi-Rad compares 2020 Social Distancing to the 1967 Denali Expedition snow cavy bivy. We know which one we’d pick.

So how’s it going in your cave? Got any exciting workout tips? Gear marking ideas? Kitchen traverse catastrophes? Tell us all about it!

Isolate on!
Ann and Andrea

Author: Andrea Galyean

4 thoughts on “Climbing in a Time of Coronavirus, vol. 3

  1. Hitting day 14 of my self quarantine tomorrow after a trip cut short—will get to see wife and daughter after five weeks. Been camping out and about in the RV and texting with Rogil and found out that her and David were camping not too far away. They stopped by on the way out (they stayed in their vehicle and I kept my distance); great to see friends!

  2. The Masters of Stone videos are so good; love me some 90s nostalgia.

    Thanks for continuing to provide these awesome posts 🙂

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