Whether your favorite climbing area is a crag adjacent to the city, deep in the backcountry, or somewhere in between, we as climbers have all been significantly impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 health emergency. Every state in the mid-Atlantic region currently has a stay at home order in place which limits travel and our daily activities. While the orders categorize outdoor exercise as an essential activity, climbing poses additional risks and impacts that we recognize must be addressed as we join together to flatten the curve and help to stop the spread of this disease.
We have seen a number of climbing closures and access restrictions in our region, as well as land managers urging recreationists to refrain from touching surfaces or engaging in risky activities that may result in injury. Many of our local parks have also become overcrowded due to record amounts of people looking to get outside during this time, creating management challenges for under resourced park staff. The local climbing community has a history of tackling challenges, whether it be removing layers and layers of graffiti at crags throughout the region or securing bouldering access at Catoctin Mountain Park. Our challenge now is to stay home, stay healthy, and plan our next project or climbing trip for a time when it is safe to do so.
We strongly advise against climbing during the stay at home orders. Climbing is inherently social and involves shared equipment; additionally it is unknown how long the virus could remain viable on rock or chalk. The risk is not worth it. If you do choose to walk, hike, run, or bike outdoors please obey all park closures and access restrictions due to COVID-19, and follow federal, state, and local guidelines about social distancing. Stay local and do not travel for outdoor recreation. Trail and other maintenance projects are likely not occurring at the moment, so please tread carefully and be mindful of the impacts of trail overuse. Leave No Trace has posted some helpful guidelines for getting outside, and Access Fund has specific COVID-19 resources for climbers.
MAC has cancelled all Adopt a Crags and other events for the Spring season. While we are hopeful that we will be able to plan events for the Fall season, we will continue to monitor federal, state, and local guidance and make a determination about future 2020 Adopt a Crags at a later date.
What are some other ways you can help as a climber during this time?
- Stay engaged! Follow MAC on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and check our website for the latest information on MAC happenings and for alerts on additional access changes.
- Volunteer (remotely)! MAC is an all-volunteer organization, and we’re always looking for help with communications and planning future events. Sign up here.
- Support our local park staff! Managing overcrowded parks and trails is challenging during these times. Give a shout out to park staff by leaving comments on your favorite park’s or land management agency’s social media channels.
- Support our local gyms! Earth Treks, The Boulder Yard, and Sportrock are gyms that support MAC’s Adopt a Crags and other events. Check out their websites and social media for ways to support them and their staff while these businesses remain closed.
- Support businesses that support local climbing! In the coming weeks on social media, we’ll be spotlighting MAC’s sponsors that help make our events possible. Give our posts a like and a share to thank them, and consider these businesses when you look to purchase your next rope, pack, pad, or beer.
We thank the local climbing community for rising to this challenge, and hope to see you at one of our Adopt a Crags or out on the rocks once this crisis has passed.
The Mid Atlantic Climbers Board of Directors