The Weekly - May 27, 2020 - 11



ue to state orders to
help slow the spread of
COVID-19, The Spot
Bouldering Gyms, with
facilities in Boulder and Denver,
shuttered both facilities' doors on
March 15. And just like that, the
climate-controlled space filled
with bright color holds bolted to
the overhanging walls went dark,
and the walls were untouched for
60 days. Gone were the memberappreciation parties and the apr├Ęsclimb beers on tap. Gone were team
workouts, weightlifting, gear demos,
and competitions.
As hard as it was to shut down,
opening up will be even harder.
"There is a lot of trepidation,"
says Scott Rennak, marketing
manager for The Spot and publisher
of the Climbing Business Journal
(CBJ), about who opens first. His
team has been talking to all the gym
operators on Colorado's Front Range
about potential opening dates, and
he says: "The best-case scenario is
late May or early June."
Before the shutdown, there were
37 climbing gyms in the Centennial
State, with most patrons showing
up after school and work to meet
friends and pull on plastic. The future of indoor sport climbing, which
was about to explode worldwide
with its debut in the 2020 Summer
Olympics, is now unclear.
Now, nearly two months after
closing, gyms are sharing opening
strategies, says Rennak. Companies are turning to the Climbing
Wall Association, a resource for the
indoor climbing industry, as well as
the CBJ, which reports on the indoor
climbing world.

CBJ reports that gyms currently
open in Georgia and Tennessee
require everyone visiting their facilities to wear face masks. "Climbing
gyms are also open in Missouri,
Arkansas, Alabama, Alaska, and
Oklahoma, with more opening on

Friday May 15," says Rennak. In
Colorado, Eagle Climbing + Fitness
owner Larry Moore is hoping his
facility will be one of the first gyms
to reopen in the state.
His facility is currently in the
slow-opening phase, which is "helping us facilitate what to do in the
future," he says. "Some people are
anxious to get back to our [climbing] community. Some are scared."
On May 4, he opened the gym's
fitness and yoga areas, allowing a
maximum of 10 people for up to
90 minutes by reservation only for
punch card holders and members.
At that point, Moore stressed, "you
cannot climb yet."
With the gym walls still closed,
some workouts take place on hangboards to improve grip strength,
and also include isometric training,
like planks, to strengthen the core.
The equipment is disinfected after
each class.
"May 25 is the target opening
date for climbing," Moore says,
adding that he'll have a new plan
moving forward. He's willing to
extend the hours, keep sections
of the gyms segregated by the
number of people, and follow the
state-mandated rules of allowing
only 10 or fewer in an area. When
the rules allow, he'll go up to 25.
In the meantime, Eagle
Climbing + Fitness member
David Roetzel is training on a
home wall in his garage and visiting off-the-radar climbing areas
along the I-70 corridor-crags
peppered along Glenwood Canyon. "Nobody visits Glenwood
Canyon," he says.
"As a climbing gear rep for
Edelrid, I talk with accounts with
regularity for sure," Roetzel says.
"Some of the gyms are withering,
dying to open up. I know some
people who would be psyched
when gyms open again."
One of these gyms is The
Spot, whose front-desk staff and
route-setters are anxious to get
back to work.

Alexa Long on
a deep water
solo climb


Opened in 2002, The Spot was one
of the first bouldering gyms in the
U.S., says Rennak. Less than a year
before COVID-19 hit, the company
opened a second location in Denver.
"We didn't make it to our first-anniversary party," Rennak says.
For Rennak, customer and
employee safety are top concerns.
"When we finally open again, no
one will have climbed on those
holds for months, so any virus
germs on the holds will be dead," he
says. "It's all about controlling what
comes after. You'll have to wear a
mask. We'll self-screen. You'll have
to wash your hands when you come
to the gym. We'll have sanitizer all
over the place."

As for a magic bullet for keeping
virus germs off holds: "There is no
guaranteed solution for climbing
holds. We've been looking for it," he
says. "There are a few UV machines,
but they are cost-prohibitive, and
the frequency that you'd have to do it
is unrealistic. Controlling what happens with humans before they touch
the holds will reduce the amount of
potential contamination on holds."
"What you're going to see is widespread sanitizer everywhere and
social distancing. This way, you'll
minimize the number of hands
on the holds as well. We haven't
decided if we'll break up into zones
yet. We're considering many procedures, like cycling routes, so people
don't climb on the same routes day


The Weekly - May 27, 2020

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