The Covid-19 virus has me personally and professionally rattled simply internet researching all the indoor climbing companies open today across America and in some of the hotbed areas of this virus. Most, if not all, have not addressed their response openly, aggressively or appropriately to combat the spread of this virus as an active community participant. They are putting profit as a priority, turning a blind eye to their complicity and the magnitude of the spread of this virus. They are willing to put the public at risk. In one of the hotbeds areas of the Covid-19 virus, Bay Area of California, we have a monopoly of climbing gyms who have done nothing to address the public openly on their responsibility of keeping the community safe. Our schools have been shut down from the South Bay to Sacramento for 3 weeks (approximately 15 climbing facilities/walls in a 120mi radius) There is nothing on the websites, no email alerts or social media announcements. They are open regular hours.
Climbing gyms are Petri dish cesspools of germs. On any given day in any climbing gym across America, you will see the following actions: shared community shoes without socks, people using community nail clippers without proper sterilization, bare feet walking the floors, men pee barefooted or in climbing shoes at the urinals and return to the climbing wall, climbers who don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom to avoid softening hands and rechalking, dudes hurling snot rockets, constant crotch itching and readjustments, obsessive blowing of chalk on hands; creating the perfect chalk stick with a little breath moisture between the dipping, sweat pouring down usually from shirtless dudes, bite feeding the rope on the lead line, dead flapper skin, and blood.
Let’s talk routesetting. One gym monopoly in particular in my area has the same setting crew for multiple gyms they own. These people are responsible for taking down holds and setting new routes at mass and record speed, often resetting an entire section of the wall. They routinely rotate their setting schedule to cover every gym in the Bay Area in a week. How are they protecting themselves and the public? Are they washing their hands between every action and everything they touch? Are the wrenches and drills sterilized? Are the setters wearing face masks and gloves while setting? They gorge food and slam coffee between their creations, are they washing their hands or using napkins? Because of the nature of setting pay structure, are they pushing through personal colds to get routes set? Do they have good health insurance and support from their company if they get sick? For gyms that are closed across the country, I want to publicly know the plans and procedures for sterilization, cleaning for reopening, and future procedures to keeping the community safe.
Let’s asks some basic questions that apply to those needing to stay open for profit. Are gyms eliminating rope climbing, because to be in compliance of safety checking it means to break the social distance compliance? When the community comes in, are gyms enforcing climbers to wash their hands before they get on the routes? This new generation of gym folx in particular can’t seem to put their phones down during a climbing session. Are their phones clean? Did climbers wash their hands after using the phone and before getting back on the route? Are gyms at all thinking about our 60+ climbing community, or only from a particular demographic they’d like to appease. Can members hold the gym responsible if the gym becomes a breading point for the virus?
I lost a lot of income this weekend after doing the right thing and staying home instead of traveling to private coach some of my advance climbers in the pacific northwest. I don’t know how I’m going to make up the income, and I seriously doubt any small business loan if ever approved is going to trickle down to us, but I know that my responsibility and my moral obligation to keep my family, community and country safe far out weighs my profit loss and need to coach. I know these major gym monopolies have incredible business coverage insurance!!
It is everyone’s responsibility to keep the community safe and hold these gyms accountable to keeping our communities safe. Just because you may be a healthy young individual who can go to the gym and just because you are corporate people who monopolize and profit within the industry doesn’t mean you aren’t responsible for spreading the virus. The impact of climbing gyms staying open during this crisis in the Bay Area, and all over the US is huge, and lack of preparedness, communication and response of care of protecting all communities is grossly negligent.