By Katie Griffith
Public lands across the state of Washington, including many climbing areas, are closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Trailheads, campgrounds, and day-use areas managed by the U.S. Forest Service could be closed as late as the end of September. Governor Inslee issued official orders for Washingtonians to stay at home until at least May 4th. As the weather in Washington improves, climbers across the state are stuck looking out the window, their finger strength atrophying.
Many climbers have accepted the current reality, ready to do their part for the good of their communities. This doesn’t mean they’re not missing the sport and their climbing partners. To help climbers stay stoked and keep their fingers strong, here’s a list of online resources made specifically for climbers “staying-at-home.” Keep reading for training programs, technical skills videos and connections to the climbing community.
Online Training Programs and Coaches
Move and eat well with Mercedes Pollmeier of Modus Athletica
Mercedes is a coach, author, and climber based in Seattle who offers personalized online coaching. To help climbers stay in shape without access to climbing walls, she’s created a hangboard program that also incorporates movement drills. Mercedes regularly posts free content on her Instagram, @modusathletica, including a recent “at-home” strength workout for climbers. If you’re using your time at home to experiment with cooking, you can also pre-order her new book, Peak Nutrition. It’s chock full of delicious recipes and provides the “why” behind fueling for outdoor athletes.
Get strong at home with Bouldering Project and Uphill Athlete
By the time Seattle Bouldering Project (SBP) closed its doors in mid-March to prevent the further spread of Covid-19, plans were already in the works to create a series of online training programs in partnership with Uphill Athlete. If your goal is to maintain and build climbing specific upper-body, finger, and core strength, you can try the hangboarding and climbing training plan. To build general strength and capacity, check out the strength endurance and core program. These programs are totally free, designed for doing at home, and there are several different options for a variety of fitness levels.
At home training tools and how to use them with Training Beta
Matt Pincus and Neely Quinn of Training Beta have created several resources specifically for climbers trying to stay strong at home. Check out their free podcast to hear a conversation between Matt and Neely discussing “at-home” training tips. They’ll share their favorite “at-home” training tools and how to incorporate them into workouts. They also provide options that require minimal equipment, so you can make do with what you already have. If you want more structure while you try to work-out in your living room, you can sign up for their Covid At-Home Training Program or choose any fingerboard training program for 25% off while we’re still stuck at home.
Virtual Technical Skills
Learn climbing knots and more with Kaf Adventures
With public lands closed, Washington’s many guide companies have halted operations when they would normally be ramping up for their busy season. That hasn’t stopped Kaf Adventures, a Seattle-based guide company, from continuing to teach climbers new skills. Kaf has created a series of videos teaching “twelve essential knots for climbers.” If you sign up for the first series, Kaf will send you further instruction on anchor building techniques and give you the option to participate in free live sessions with their guides. You can check out other tech videos they’ve released previous to the Covid-19 pandemic on their YouTube channel.
Work on anchor building techniques with She Moves Mountains
After the female-owned guide company canceled all of the company’s spring programming due to Covid-19, the company’s owner, Lizzy Van Patten, began partnering with several small businesses to create anchor boards and educational videos for climbers to learn and practice new skills at home. The boards are available for $60, and the videos will be available to the public if you have your own supplies at home. Follow the company’s Instagram page @she_movesmountains for the link to the videos. For further questions and individual coaching, you can also schedule a one-on-one virtual lesson with one of the guides for $35 an hour.
Refresh rock skills and explore new outdoor hobbies with University of Washington’s UWild
With all of the University of Washington Recreation facilities closed and in-person programming canceled, UW’s outdoor program, UWild, has gone virtual. UWild’s Climbing Programs Manager will be offering a Rock Refresher course every Friday through June 12th, covering a wide variety of technical skills. All of the virtual content will be available to the public on UW Recreation’s YouTube channel. Expand beyond climbing technical skills with a variety of other one-off virtual workshops offered by UWild, including “Transitioning from Backpacking to Bikepacking,” “DIY: Aluminum Can Stoves,” and “Finding the Balance: Intro to Slackline Equipment and Set-up.”
Climbing Community Connections
Connect with the female climbing community through Chicks With Nuts
The guides of Chicks with Nuts have had to cancel their women-only climbing events due to Covid-19 this spring, but founder Kelly Fields is continuing to inspire female climbers. Kelly has hosted several live interviews with notable female climbers, including Lynn Hill and Madeline Sorkin. She is talking with a few more crushers on Instagram Live in the next couple weeks, including Josie McKee and Tiffany Campbell. Kelly is also running a gear giveaway for good deeds through Instagram, encouraging her followers to take action to support folks most affected by the pandemic. Follow the Chick with Nuts Facebook or Instagram (@chickswithnuts) pages for details.
Check in with your favorite climbing pros with The Run Out Podcast
Chris Kalous and Andrew Bisharat of the RunOut Podcast have decided to dedicate their next few episodes to reaching out to friends in the climbing community, citing separation from loved ones as one of the biggest challenges of the “stay-at-home” orders. In the first of these conversations, they caught up with Canadian competition climber Allison Vest, to see how her at-home training has been going at her family’s home in Canmore, Alberta. Allison has spent most of her time at home building a training wall and making slapstick “training” videos with her 18-year-old brother. Check out the RunOut Podcast for more check-ins with pro climbers and find Allison Vest’s hilarious quarantine videos on her Instagram, @allisonvest.
Stay inspired while “staying at home” with free films from Banff Mountain Film Festival
The Banff Mountain Film Festival has had to cancel many film screenings this season, but they are keeping the adventure alive by offering a large selection of the 2018 and 2019 film finalists online for free during Covid-19. Not just a climbing film festival, Banff Mountain Films include a wide range of outdoor adventure films as well as films on public land advocacy.
Access Fund Guidelines
As you hang out at home building finger strength, planning your next international climbing trip, or learning the finer points of self-rescue, check out the Access Fund’s guidelines for climbing during Covid-19. The Access Fund encourages climbers to adhere to stay-at-home orders and do their part in slowing the growth of the pandemic. You can also find links on their webpage to your local climbing organization to check on public land closures near you.
Katie Griffith is a Seattle-based climbing coach, guide, and writer. She writes at the intersection of climbing and life, most curious about topics related to gender, privilege, healing, and vulnerability. Read her external processing at shrinkitandpinkit.wordpress.com.