Uniting Canada's Largest Climbing Community

A Climber’s Guide to Surviving COVID-19 (Part 1 of a two-part series)

It's been a couple of weeks since the WHO declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. The effects of social distancing and isolation are starting to hit the billions of people who are responsibly choosing to stay indoors; many are beginning to feel like they are climbing the walls. It's at this time, however, that you, as a rock climber, should realize you're born to deal with this. You have the skills, not to mention the gear, to literally climb the walls.

Below is a climber's guide to surviving COVID-19:
Embrace the K-Scale
In the 90s, John Sherman famously developed the V-scale to grade the boulders problems found in Hueco Tanks. The V-scale, an evolution of the B-scale (which was also famously developed by John Gill), was born out of necessity: to measure the variety and difficulty that could not be contained in a scale of only three numbers. With the arrival of COVID-19, a new bouldering scale has been invented to deal with the emerging and changing needs of climbers: the K-scale, or Kitchen scale. Likely developed by another John, the K-scale (ranging from K1-K19) takes into consideration the variety of obstacles and challenges found in the place where you formerly prepared food. Classic K-scale problems include:

  • Dynos between the sink and countertop island.
  • Navigating loose cupboard doors and handles.
  • Janky gear placements between refrigerators and cabinets.
  • Surmounting range-hood roofs and/or floating shelves.
  • Large runouts over knife blocks or unwashed dishes.
Sleep on a Portaledge
As someone born to thrive on adversity, sleeping on your comfortable bed is going to get tired pretty quickly. Every climber knows the joys of being on the road: being dirty, eating out of cans, and sleeping on whatever surface possible. Sure, you could start couch surfing at your own place or throw a piece of cardboard on the floor, but why not embrace the pinnacle of a climber's boudoir – the portaledge. Portaledges can be put up almost anywhere in your house, depending on the type of adventure you're craving. The basement is an ideal place for a caving-type experience. In front of the fridge makes it convenient for snacking – plus, you can pretend the counter is a "Thank God" ledge where you can engage in some K-scale problem-solving. For the condo dweller, why not embrace the ultimate big wall adventure – set up a portaledge outside of your 27th-floor condo window. With so many distracted by the need to buy toilet paper and Nicorette patches, it's unlikely you will get any complaints from the condo corp. Plus, you can do your business in a paper bag or PVC poop tube. The neighbours will love it!
Hoard Beanies
Every good boulderer knows the importance of a beanie. Not just to look stylish, but to conserve precious body heat whilst walking around without your shirt on (don't you know you lose 90% of your body heat through your head?). In case you haven't seen all the horrific images of empty shelves in beanie departments around the globe, you may already be too late to stock up on beanies to make it through this pandemic. While several bottom-feeders stock-piled beanies before the shelves went bare, both Kijiji and Craigslist have agreed to stop letting people sell beanies through their sites. Now is also a good time to learn how to knit your own beanie. What, have you got something better to do?
  •  The Get Strong aka The Lockdown

    The Get Strong aka The Lockdown

Become a Prepper
Visionary climbers and conspiracy theorists alike have been planning for a climbing apocalypse for some time. If you look back through public records, you can see that over the past 10 years, the 1% has slowly been buying up mountain ranges and boulder fields across America. Rumour has it that Bill Gates bought 19,000 acres of the Andes mountain range right before he gave his now infamous 2015 Ted Talk warning of a worldwide viral collapse. Imagine all the FA's he now has at his fingertips. But it's not just the 1% that have been preparing for a global quarantine. Climbers around the world have slowly been amassing sheets of plywood and polyurethane holds, building home gyms with names like: The Bunker, The War Room, The Fallout and Grimes's Playground. Those in the OC inner circle recently reported that a prominent Ontario climber changed the name of his extensive home gym from The Get Strong to The Lockdown. Coincidence? I think not.
  •  Learn to Solo

    Learn to Solo

Learn to Solo
Sidestepping the discussion entirely as to whether or not now is the time to be grabbing hold of germ-infested polished limestone in the out-of-doors, social distancing norms have made belaying profoundly irresponsible. This is the perfect time to take up soloing. Not only does this allow you more than recommended two meters of separation between yourself and others, but soloing also helps put life into perspective. As human beings, we are always balancing precariously over the abyss of life. You know, the subtle place between majesty and total collapse. Nothing says "Holy Fuck" quite like being a few hundred feet above your last piece. Really makes you think. Plus, in the event that things don't go as planned in your new soloing foray, the likelihood of you putting unnecessary strain on our medical system is pretty slim to none (think morgue, not rescue team).
Join the discussion of this and other climbing related stories at www.ontarioclimbing.com/forum/
Buddysnack is an accomplished OntarioClimbing.com forum bard and prominent online route developer (famous for his discovery of the legendary GMAC). He is credited with starting the short-lived but infamous shirtless/jeans ice climbing craze. He has also been climbing in Ontario long enough to remember a time before hammocks, drones and polished holds. His insights into the obscure aspects of climbing humour and culture have made him an inspiring trendsetter and motivational icon for the next generation of future climbers.