Colorado climbing gyms face new obstacles in a COVID-19 world

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DENVER (KDVR) – As climbing gyms continue to open around Colorado, they’re finding themselves facing new challenges.

Climbing is a hands-on sport. And in a COVID-19 world, that’s tough to maneuver.

“We closed on March 15. And we’re now – three and a half months later – reopening for the first time on the eve of our second birthday,” said Andrew Fraser, Managing Director at Movement Climbing + Fitness RiNo.

Movement re-opened its RiNo climbing gym on Friday afternoon with safe new procedures in place to protect staff and members.

“Unlike some other gyms where you might be able to spray down equipment after each use, there’s a lot of space here we’re unable to manage over and over again,” Fraser explained. “So we’re asking our own members to frequently sanitize their hands in-between climbs. And we’re also selling a liquid chalk with a high alcohol content that helps in that disinfectant process.”

Climbers can use either liquid chalk or chalk balls. Loose chalk is no longer an option.

“We chose to prohibit the use of loose chalk to minimize the amount of particles floating through the air. With our current understanding, the transmission of COVID-19 is primarily airborne,” Fraser said.

Only one climber is allowed per taped zone at a time now, and all employees and members must wear masks – even while climbing.

“While the normal capacity of this gym is approximately 400 people, we’ve scaled that back to about 25%. So we’re having reservation blocks up to 2.5 hours,” Fraser said.

Even with new rules in effect, Movement members are excited to return.

“Fortunately they’ve been understanding, patient and overwhelmingly positive,” Fraser said. “Because this is a place where people come to recreate. To come and take care of their physical and mental health.”

The climbing gym also closed off high-traffic areas, including lockers, changing areas, showers, saunas and drinking fountains.

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