To all of our climber friends:

As Anchorage now has confirmed community spread of the COVID-19 virus, practicing safe social distancing and following the instructions of the government and health care workers is more important than ever in our community.   

The Anchorage Mayor has issued a “Hunker Down” order  (EO-3) indicating that:  “Everyone in the municipality of Anchorage should stay home as much as possible, except to (…), and to get fresh air without contacting others.  On the limited occasions when individuals leave home, they should maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet from any person outside their household whenever possible. …” (FAQ on that order here)

There is a great disparity in how people view the issue and how seriously they are treating it. I don’t know the right response. What I do know is that we SHOULD take this seriously for at least the next 2-3 weeks, and possibly for much much longer. The risk present is worth being careful. So what does being careful mean?  Does it mean not going climbing at all? That is up to you to decide within the confines of the law, but here are a few ways to make going as safe as possible. 

#1 Wash your hands and bring hand sanitizer with you.  Use it before and after climbing. 

#2 Climb with members of your household or with a single partner.  No social climbing groups.  

#3 If there are other people in the area you were intending to climb, go somewhere else. 

#4 If you go somewhere that you find others have been or you unexpectedly come in contact with someone outside your household, self isolate afterward. The CDC recommends a quarantine period of 14 days from the last date of exposure for Corona viruses. Symptoms should generally show by that timeframe. If you show symptoms or a positive test in that window, SHARE that information. There are multiple online forums to share it, and if you’re worried about being shamed online, contact me and I’ll post it anonymously. People need to know!!!

#5 Be safe.  As in be far safer and risk averse than normal. This applies to driving, the approach, the climbs you choose, etc. The healthcare system as a whole is about to be overwhelmed. Don’t add to it. 

#6 Don’t post about it. It’s important for all of us to maintain our sanity, but posting pictures and videos without context leads to misinformation. Others may assume the wrong thing.  While part of that is on them, part of it is on you. Just don’t post it!!!!!! 

Our climbing community here in Anchorage is unique in that we have a small enough crag/climber ratio that we can climb and still practice social distancing.  Throughout so much of the country this is not possible, and climbing has become a health rick in those areas prompting shutdowns and response from authorities.  We hope that by the end of this pandemic, the climbers in Anchorage and Alaska can be proud that they took the proper precautions to not amplify the impact of this virus.   

Thank you for reading this and I’m confident that we all get through this together. 

Todd Helgeson
Climbers Alliance of Southcentral Alaska