To Climb or Not to Climb?

So… is it safe to go climbing?

Every single one of my climber friends is having a similar conversation. The crag by their house never has anyone at it, so, is that okay? Is crack climbing okay? What about climbing in BLM areas that are closed? What if I climb with a partner who I live with?

How is anyone to know what the right move is anymore? 
To answer this question, I searched the web for the answers from industry leaders, the Bureau of Land Management, and the CDC to try and get a more complete picture of what is safe right now. 

Quick jump buttons:


The CDC does not have an official stance on rock climbing and does not have guidelines to keep rock climbers safe. However they do have a resource for visiting parks and recreational facilities. We can extrapolate from there. According to the Center for Disease Control,“ Staying physically active is one of the best ways to keep your mind and body healthy.” To many, this could mean climbing. However, they have important caveats that apply to outdoor activities in general. 


  1. “Visit parks that are close to your home.” This means if you’re going to go climbing, please please stay in the areas close to your home. Now is not the time for a cross country road trip to your favorite climbing destination. 
  2. “Prepare before you visit.” Specifically, they mention State and National Park closures. If your local crag happens to be Yosemite Valley, make sure the park is open before you go. You should not go climbing in areas that are closed to the public. 
  3. “Stay at least 6 feet away from others and take other steps to prevent COVID-19” If you’re going climbing, make sure it is with someone from your household. 


  1. “Visit parks if you are sick or were recently exposed to COVID-19” Obviously. 
  2. “Visit crowded parks.” Many climbing areas can get really crowded (I’m lookin’ at you Red Rocks) and it could become impossible to maintain social distancing. 
  3. “Use playgrounds.” This reads as a suggestion to stay away from things many other people are touching. In rock climbing, that would be everything you need to get to the chains/summit. 
  4. “Participate in organized activities or sports.” Climbing is not exactly an organized sport as they define it. However, it is not recommended that you go climbing with people from outside your household. 

What are they saying?

Stay home if you can, minimize your contact with other humans, don’t touch surfaces that are touched by a lot of other people, maintain social distancing, wash your hands.

The Bureau of Land Management

In response to the pandemic, the BLM has closed portions of the land they manage. If an area is closed it is not recommended to visit. Public restrooms and visitors centers are closed, and there is no trash service going to these places. 

For this reason, many climbing areas are closed to the public. For a full list of closures please visit the BLM website. 

What are they saying?

Don’t visit public lands that are closed right now.


Access Fund

Access Fund is one of the main voices in the climbing community calling for reasonable restrictions on climbing. They have put out a ton of resources for climbers looking to do what’s right, including: An infographic on the pandemic, a list of resources for climbers, an outline of what they’re doing to keep their employees safe, a list of climbing areas that are currently closed, as well as a comprehensive webinar on climbing during the pandemic. 

What are they saying? 

Stay home if you can, don’t go outside if you’re sick, minimize the distance you go to climb, maintain social distancing, wear a mask, keep yourself and others safe. 

The stance top brands are taking on COVID-19 right now

Black Diamond 

Black Diamond has taken a vocal stance against climbing during the pandemic with their #livenowclimblater campaign. This campaign reminds us that if we ever want to climb later, we need to take care of ourselves and our communities first– live now, as they so pointedly put it. From their social media, to their personalized COVID-19 message on their website. Black Diamond is asking the climbing community to stop climbing, for now. 

What are they saying? 

Live now. Climb later. 

The American Alpine Club 

The American Alpine Club is encouraging the climbing community to, above all else, stay local. They’ve put out a helpful infographic for us to reference. 

While they make note that saying inside all the time is bad for you, they are pushing a strong message of stay local across all social media and on their website. To encourage this stay local attitude, all AAC facilities have been closed to the public and to members. They have also decided to close their private camping facilities as well. 

What are they saying? 

Stay local. Get outside. Be prepared. Leave no trace. Stay local.


While Petzl has not taken an overt stance on whether or not we should be climbing, they have put out a list of recommendations for disinfecting your climbing equipment. This is super helpful for those who may end up going outside to climb during the pandemic and want to do everything in your power to keep your gear sterilized. 

Their recommendations are as follows:

  • Protocol 1: Respect a 72 hour quarantine period.
  • Protocol 2: Hand wash products with soap and water, at a maximum temperature of 65°C (Warning: these are exceptional measures during the COVID-19 crisis. Otherwise, under normal circumstances, please wash your equipment at 30°C).

What are they saying? 

Disinfect your gear if you are going to climb.

La Sportiva 

Based out of Italy, one of the countries hit hardest by COVID-19, La Sportiva has done their best to educate their customers about the dangers of the coronavirus. In a blog post by one of their athletes, Jeff Yoo talks about the known risks of coronavirus and how it will affect rock climbers. La Sportiva has also dedicated a portion of its workforce to making personal protection equipment (PPE) instead of climbing shoes. They hope that their efforts can help reduce the spread of the virus. 

What are they saying? 

Nothing for or against, but they have begun to manufacture PPE at their factories. 


To climb or not to climb? The climbing community as a whole has been mostly in agreement on this issue: If you’re going to climb, climb locally, and stay safe. 

Climbing is dangerous and rock climbers are risk-takers. When we take risks on the wall, we are usually only risking our own lives. With the coronavirus, we are not just risking our lives, but also the lives of our friends, families, and strangers in our communities. As climbers it is difficult to separate the two, but please do your best to take the climbing community’s advice and stay safe. 


About the Gear Tester

Outdoor Prolink Pro

Kaya Lindsay is a writer, photographer, and filmmaker with a passion for rock climbing and the outdoors.

In 2016 she converted a Sprinter Van into a tiny home and has been traveling around the US & Canada to pursue her passion for rock climbing. Since hitting the road she has begun a career in filmmaking and is currently working on her One Chick Travels series, highlighting solo female travelers who live and work to pursue an adventurous lifestyle. Her films have been highlighted by major brands such as Backcountry and Outside TV. To fulfill her passion for writing, she chronicles her many adventures in her blog. Professionally, she writes for the adventure sports company Outdoor Prolink and The Climbing Zine. Kaya hopes to spend many more years in her tiny home on wheels, Lyra, and is currently living in Moab Utah.

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