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Is It Possible To Ethically Climb Outside?

Some Canadian provinces, like Ontario, are dealing with serious lockdowns and stay-at-home orders. So, can you climb outside?

Nearly the whole country has closed its doors leaving many to wonder whether they can climb outside. Ontarians have entered a Stay-At-Home order, with projections ranging beyond 17,000 new cases per day by mid-May.

What is local?

If you follow pro-climbers or other climbing accounts on social media, you will have heard that  climbing locally sanctifies getting outdoors. In the past, we described local as originating from an area or neighborhood, but that definition allows for variability in its meaning. How do we negotiate this?

While Gripped covered this in January, the situation has greater national consequence now than ever before.This piece will not beat around the bush as it did in the past. Local refers to one area: the space around your home. This has presented in the limitations provinces have put on travel. Provinces do not wish for you to leave your health units.

That said, they have allowed ambiguity in that many provinces have slotted exercise as an essential service. COVID restrictions do not apply to people in pursuit of essential services and, as such, this allows for climbing outdoors and numerous other activities.

The counter-argument comes when we consider that going to climb outside has inherent risk. If climbers hurt themselves and place additional stress on the ICU’s, they have made life more difficult for already exhausted health care workers.

Although climbers must acknowledge this fact, frustration persists. Running and cycling, especially in cities, also has inherent risk. Climbers will note that cycling in a city seems a lot more dangerous than climbing in the woods with family members.

Furthermore, it has become known that athleticism reduces your risk of heart damage from COVID-19. Sitting at home does not improve your resilience to the heart damages caused by the infection. Furthermore, COVID transmission via climbing holds appears almost negligible. As shown by a recently peer reviewed study, COVID-19 is reduced by 99% when it comes into contact with chalk.

Add Friction Labs Secret Stuff to the mix, and your hands will likely climb outside infection free. Last year also showed that zero COVID outbreaks originated in climbing gyms. Another study showed that COVID does not spread easily in outdoor spaces.

Furthermore, another group will of climbers will argue for their mental health. Canadians have battled this illness for over a year with no end in sight. Mental health is not negligible. Although this truth hits hard, climbers also do not represent the most affected demographics. In Canada, climbers tend to have a level of affluence that pushes them about the poverty line and out of the way of illness or high-transmission neighborhoods. In this way, it might seem a little entitled for climbers to go and do what they will when the pandemic has not affected their lives directly.

Climbers have fortune smiling upon them in health and in wealth. Taking that for granted does not put them at risk. Instead, it puts an already impoverished demographic at risk.

Stay safe and stay stoked. The Olympics are coming, climbing is about to be so radical.