What’s the Role of Climb/Ski Facebook Groups During Coronavirus

Should administrators be pinning warnings about the global pandemic or going about business as usual?

March 23rd, 2020 by | Posted in News |

As Canada closes borders, shutters stores and really, really, really encourages people to stay home, we have to ask: what’s the role of Facebook groups during a global pandemic?

The Squamish Facebook climbing group, once called Squamish Rock Climbing changed their name to: (Don’t do any) Squamish Rock Climbing (because you’ll spread covid-19). However, other Facebook groups seem to want to be the places where the anti-stay-at-home too-cool-for-school coronavirus-won’t-get-me I-don’t-care-about-health-care-workers this-is-about-my-sessions-not-the-community conditions-are-too-sick-to-stay-home folks can go to spray about their day in the mountains, while most people self isolate.

I’m a member of a number of ski and climb Facebook groups around the world, and different administrators are dealing with this global health emergency, the one that’s killing a lot of people, very differently. Some are pinning access group statements that say to stay out of the backcountry, and some are removing content that pertains to the coronavirus and therefore encouraging people to continue to recreate and post conditions. Top athletes, like Tommy Caldwell, are telling people to stay home.

View this post on Instagram

Boy, My understanding of the right way to live in state of Covid 19 sure is evolving fast. Last week I thought events and spring road trip plans was adequate. A few days ago I thought that limiting interaction to just my immediate family was enough. Today I realize that doing anything potentially risky could become the death sentence for one or more sick people. I wonder what tomorrow will look like. To perpetuate this culture of doing the right thing I thought I would share what my plan is today. Truly isolate, The only people I plan on seeing is my immediate family and one neighbor family that is isolating in the same way as I am. I don’t really drive, I only recreate close to home where I know I will encounter no one and in a way that is very cautious. Soon taking up space in a hospital bed will amount to a death sentence for someone else. (yes, that means no climbing) I am building a better relationship with my hang board. I’ve decided that I will still spend money at local business that offer delivery options. I hesitate here because I know this will cause more transmission. But I figure some economic relief is I order. I’ll donate to food banks and continue to look for other places where donating a little money will help. For myself and for many climbers, the ability to isolate comes from a place of privilege. For those that truly struggling, my heart goes out to you. For those that are risking there own health to take care of others. You are our heroes. But for those with the means to isolate, please do your best. Remember, It doesn’t matter if you believe you are healthy. This is all for the people that are at risk. . And don’t forget to really love those close to you!

A post shared by Tommy Caldwell (@tommycaldwell) on

Do Facebook group administrators have a responsibility to inform their members of precautions, government warnings and to allow them discuss the global pandemic and how it affects the group’s topic? Or should groups only be places where condition reports are posted, and nothing else?

I find it hard to be the later after we published a letter from Dr. Jyoti Seshia asking the outdoor community to stay home. How can you be out collecting conditions information when you’re at home? You can read the letter here, below is an excerpt. Of course, staying home doesn’t mean not getting outside, it just means low-risk close-to-home activities.

People involved in outdoor activities tend to be healthy and fit. Climbers and skiiers may be under the impression that they will not have major problems or die if they contract this virus. This is not true. Make no mistake, young people are dying around the world from this.

Now is not the time to be selfish. We have a responsibility to protect our most vulnerable through this, which includes our rural and Indigenous populations, as well as seniors and others with medical problems. We have a responsibility to protect our healthcare workers who are working tirelessly and under tremendous personal and professional stress to help our population get through this. DO NOT PUT ANYONE AT UNNECESSARY RISK.

View this post on Instagram

The Chief is now closed.

A post shared by Squamish Access Society (@squamishaccesssociety) on