Reopening the walls: a message from the Association of British Climbing Walls

Posted by Emma Travers on 30/04/2020
How and when will walls reopen? Photo: Sam Pratt

The Association of British Climbing Walls is leading an initiative to develop a set of guidelines to get walls open again safely. Working very closely through the Outdoor Industries Association and with UK Active, the ABC is conducting research in order to provide a solid foundation for the recommendations that will follow.

The ABC (the trade body representing 180 walls in the UK) has five working groups looking at different elements of a strategy for reopening, all consisting of a mix of climbing wall operators, individuals with expertise and partner organisations.

The teams are being coordinated by ABC Chairman, Rich Emerson who commented that, “We will ultimately provide guidelines for safe opening and operational procedures to our members and other climbing walls. Our guidelines will be based on those that are imposed on the fitness sector and have been agreed with Public Health and the Governments across the UK. 

Indoor climbing is about our communities, our customers, employees, suppliers and friends.  Many of us know each other personally and it is this sense that makes climbing walls so special to everyone. In the week beginning March 17th, when we all closed our doors, these communities had their focal points removed and the walls went into damage limitation mode.

With government support we’ve worked hard to stabilise the situation and, over the past few weeks have started to look at how we can reopen in a way that is safe for our customers and staff. We know that our customers want us back as much as we want to be back.

We’ve had some amazing support from our customers and suppliers: Kind words, people continuing to pay their membership others making gifts and buying products from us. These acts have made a huge difference to us all, way beyond their material value.”

The reopening strategy will be based on three elements:

  • Hygiene measures - for both staff and customers
  • Capacity Management - the guidelines we are working on with UK Active mean that it’s very likely that customer numbers will have to be limited
  • Social Distancing - everyone has become accustomed to the 2m rule - this will be no different in a climbing wall environment

Alongside the work with UK Active (the Trade Association for the fitness and health sector), there is also close cooperation with the Outdoor Industries Association, British Mountaineering Council, Mountain Training and the ABC Training Trust.

Furthermore, an international group of climbing wall bodies has been set up to share procedures and learning from different countries. 

The group met on April 27th 2020 with representatives from the CWA, IFSC, ABC, DAV, CEC, FASI, and several leading national federations held a meeting to discuss creating an international working group to facilitate the sharing of hygiene, social distancing, and operational guidance. These organisations have their own internal task forces working towards developing best practices for their respective localities, however by coordinating information and advice the international indoor climbing industry can deliver stronger and more defensible arguments to local authorities. This work group will meet weekly for an indefinite period of time as each organisation works to deliver information in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

They agreed to release the following statement:

"If there is one word that defines the indoor climbing industry above all others it is community. Many other sports and businesses use this word but very few see it manifest in their everyday interactions with peers, customers, and employees at the same level that we enjoy. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every climbing gym, every owner, every competition, and every climber. What everyone wants to know is: When and how can I get back into my gym? In order to help provide guidance that will make climbers, parents, and employees feel as comfortable as possible several of the world’s climbing organizations have joined together to share information internationally."


More FAQs about the BMC and Covid-19

๐ŸŒณ Can I start climbing / hillwalking? Yes, but be cautious in your actions, respectful of local communities and vigilant in avoiding transmitting the virus. Read our latest advice for June here and for the general return to climbing here

๐ŸŒณ What's the situation in Wales? Read the full June update here

๐Ÿ˜ท When and how will the walls reopen?  Read the ABC's advice for walls and watch their live update here

๐Ÿš— What have the BMC access team been doing during this time? Read on

๐Ÿ“œ Will the BMC keep running smoothly? Read more or watch our weekly live updates from our CEO

๐Ÿก Do you have any advice for clubs and huts? All you need to know

โ›ฐ๏ธ Which BMC events are cancelled? Take a look at our calendar 

โœˆ๏ธ I've got a travel insurance question Get your answers

๐Ÿ›’ Is the BMC shop open? Nope - it is now closed

We hope you stay safe during this unwanted adventure and let's come together as a community to help and support each other.


« Back

Post a comment Print this article

This article has been read 44794 times

TAGS

Click on the tags to explore more

RELATED ARTICLES

Live: the BMC team answer your questions
3
Live: the BMC team answer your questions

During these times of climbing and hill-walking lockdown, our dedicated team of staff has been giving weekly access updates and responding to your questions through a series of live Q&As on our Facebook page. Missed them at the time? Not to worry, you can catch up on all the answers here:
Read more »

Lockdown Wales: Stay Local
3
Lockdown Wales: Stay Local

Wales has different regulations to England in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic and consequently, the rules on travel, exercise and where we can go and who we can climb with, are quite different to those on the English side of the border. The regulations and guidance in Wales were changed on Monday June 1st. Read on to see the current situation.
Read more »

Covid-19: Climbing hotspots to avoid in England
0
Covid-19: Climbing hotspots to avoid in England

Since lockdown eased on 13 May, the vast majority of climbers around the country have been doing a fantastic job of spreading out and finding less popular crags to visit. But there are a number of hot spots where Covid-19 related access issues have arisen. These areas are worth treating very sensitively or, ideally, avoiding for the time being to prevent access problems in the future.
Read more »

Post a Comment

Posting as Anonymous Community Standards
3000 characters remaining
Submit
Your comment has been posted below, click here to view it
Comments are currently on | Turn off comments
9
Anonymous User
30/04/2020
Just some ideas wondering if they would work *armchair opinion
- hand sanitising hands before and after each boulder?
- for people to keep a log of which climbs they did/attempted and hand it over to the staff before they leave so the staff can make sure those ones are disinfected at some point throughout the day.
- filtering entry/capacity based on level?? so if you have a spread of v1-v8 climbers instead of all v1-v3 climbers in a day reduces the chance of people touching the same problem. if climbers can book going to walls before hand and categorise the level they'll be climbing e.g. working either v1-3 problems, 3-6, or 6+ surely this might help reduce the probability and numbers touching the same holds on the same day.
-allowing people to visit 1x per week initially - so if they develop symptoms between that period, everybody that was there on the same session as them could be contacted and told to isolate before revisiting

just my thoughts :)
Anonymous User
30/04/2020
oh and one more thought - for centres not to allow new members. to prioritise existing climbers/members to book sessions upon return for a while. I think existing members would respect hygene more as they wont want the centers to close again. so I think to prioritise those who already give them business will be the climbers who get a true benefit from the climbing centers being reopened instead of newbies just curious to try something new out and could easily live without it.
I feel like bouldering centers in recent months have been too packed full of newbies climbers who are just doing it for the gram but actually being really dangerous by getting in the way of others climbing. dont get me wrong, climbing should be accessible for everyone but the new climbers need way more instruction at bouldering centers instead of just being allowed to go on the wall straight away when they're not safety conscious - so yes i think not allowing new members to register FOR THE SHORT TERM to give the climbing walls back to those who really need them right now for a bit could be advantageous
30/04/2020
This is excellent news and much welcomed. Thank you to everybody involved in the process for dedicating the time. Will the BMC be reaching out to the government with advice on outdoor climbing restrictions?
Anonymous User
30/04/2020
Wow, any gym that is open only if you maintain distance and limit numbers is going to be awful. You might as well stay closed until things are truly normal.
01/05/2020
It's great to get an update on the activities of UK and international bodies working together. Looking forward to reading more as work progresses.
Anonymous User
01/05/2020
What about limiting the amount of time people can sit in front of a problem whilst doing bugger all, some centres were hotter than others at moving people to safe seating areas, whilst others are not so keen at policing people sitting around.

Another idea could be to set a limit on the time you can be in a place, as this allows a higher volume of people to attend, rather than first come first served. If you knew you had a time limit you'd be more focused.
Anonymous User
01/05/2020
The idea of limiting people to a smaller number of routes is not the way to go IMO. You're essentially restricting the places people can put their hands. 50 people using 5 routes is 10 sets of hands of a route. 50 people on 10 routes 5 sets of hands. The best way I think it should be done is just to severely restrict footfall within the buildings, just like they used to do with swimming pools and the wrist bands, calling out which colour band has to leave.
Anonymous User
02/05/2020
Does the 2 m rule really work in indoor environments? Surely, if you are asymptomatic and breath out, the virus lingers in the air? I would have thought ventilation was key for any indoor activities to go ahead. Might be beneficial for climbing walls in the long term too, to help manage indoor chalk dust levels which I'm sure can't be good for you.
Anonymous User
20/05/2020
This comment is awaiting moderation, it will be reviewed

RELATED ARTICLES

Live: the BMC team answer your questions
3

During these times of climbing and hill-walking lockdown, our dedicated team of staff has been giving weekly access updates and responding to your questions through a series of live Q&As on our Facebook page. Missed them at the time? Not to worry, you can catch up on all the answers here:
Read more »

Lockdown Wales: Stay Local
3

Wales has different regulations to England in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic and consequently, the rules on travel, exercise and where we can go and who we can climb with, are quite different to those on the English side of the border. The regulations and guidance in Wales were changed on Monday June 1st. Read on to see the current situation.
Read more »

Covid-19: Climbing hotspots to avoid in England
0

Since lockdown eased on 13 May, the vast majority of climbers around the country have been doing a fantastic job of spreading out and finding less popular crags to visit. But there are a number of hot spots where Covid-19 related access issues have arisen. These areas are worth treating very sensitively or, ideally, avoiding for the time being to prevent access problems in the future.
Read more »

BMC MEMBERSHIP
Join 82,000 BMC members and support British climbing, walking and mountaineering. Membership only ยฃ16.97.
Read more »
BMC SHOP
Great range of guidebooks, DVDs, books, calendars and maps.
All with discounts for members.
Read more »
TRAVEL INSURANCE
Get covered with BMC Insurance. Our five policies take you from the beach to Everest.
Read more »