Most states enacted stay-at-home orders last week, but some traveling climbers still inundated popular destinations, taking advantage of their unscheduled “vacations” from work due to closures and shelter in place orders at home.
Potential Overburdening of Limited Resources
Many climbing destinations are in a remote location, and the nearest population centers may have minimal resources and medical facilities. Visiting climbers can strain both; grocery stores are struggling with keeping shelves stocked, and visitors add to the strain and potential shortage for residents.
Small hospitals with an equally small staff and inventory are already at risk of being overburdened by COVID-19 infections of their local constituents, and visiting climbers could add to this potential catastrophe if they fall ill themselves, in addition to introducing another infection vector.
Furthermore, visitors becoming injured and requiring medical resources, including search and rescue, could negatively impact local patients needing care for COVID-19 infections.
Many gateway communities near popular climbing destinations are pleading to the public to stay away, including Bishop, CA; Moab, UT; and Estes Park, CO.
The Access Fund Recommends Enjoying the Outdoors Closer To Home
The Access Fund asked climbers last week to respect shelter in place orders not only to slow the rate of transmission of COVID-19 but also to avoid burdening already stressed health care systems. Although some climbing areas are still open, the Access Fund recommends not traveling to climb and strictly complying with all shelter in place orders. They have compiled a list of official closures and restrictions here:
Help Your Local Climbing Gym
Climbing gyms are struggling just like other service-oriented businesses; both social distancing and shelter in place ordinances have most gyms on lockdown with their near-term financial futures unclear. And some may, unfortunately, be unable to recover from the economic burdens invoked by COVID-19.
The Climbing Wall Association started a petition on change.org that asks the federal government to expressly add fitness and recreational facilities to the recently adopted Coronavirus Economic Stabilization Act of 2020 and any future related legislation. You can sign the petition here:
Expressly adding fitness and recreational facilities would help guarantee that these businesses are eligible for Small Business Administration loans and grants that are part economic stimulus package.
Pay It Forward
The Access Fund also publicized a list of closed climbing gyms compiled by the Climbing Business Journal, urging those that can to pay it forward by way of purchasing gift cards or punch passes: