10 Activities for House-Bound Climbers

by Ashley Zheng

A lot of climbers may find themselves ‘climbing the walls’ feigning boredom while trapped indoors over the coming weeks. To help fellow climbers, we’ve come up with a list of 10 home activities for climbers which will not only pass the time at home but help prepare for a future adventure!

Climbing the walls. Literally.
Image: Ashley Zheng

1. Update your log-book

Starting with a very simple task, make sure all your latest ascents are put into your log-book and that all previous entries are all up to date. Not only is this a valuable organisation exercise, but if you plan on pursuing an instructor qualification, having an organised log book is of great benefit. UK Climbing (UKC) provides a place to record your climbing successes, failures and climbs that are on your wish list; if you are considering a qualification in climbing, consider a nationally-recognised qualification through Mountain Training.

2. Clean your rope

An often forgotten but very important task, what better opportunity than now to give your rope a good clean!

  • Step 1: Figure 8 flake your rope into a bathtub and fill with warm water (just enough to cover the rope). Leave it to soak for a few hours.
  • Step 2: Using a rope cleaning solution or a gear cleaner of your choice (like Grangers Gear Cleaner), measure out the correct quantity of solution into the bath. Agitate your rope to make the solution nice and foamy. For a deeper clean, consider using a soft nylon brush and give the rope a little scrub. If you don’t have a cleaning solution, pure soap flakes (those that don’t contain any bleaching agents or detergents) work well. Remember, don’t use anything you wouldn’t use on your skin.
  • Step 3: At this point the water in your bath is likely to be rather filthy. Drain the bath and rinse your rope.
  • Step 4: Run some warm water again, let the rope soak for a few minutes, then drain the bath again and rinse the rope. Repeat until the water runs clear.
  • Step 5: (Optional): Use a rope brush to ensure the last bits of dirt in the rope have been removed.
  • Step 6: Dry your freshly cleaned rope in a warm location out of direct sunlight (and where it’s unlikely to be a tripping hazard!)
Rope cleaning: somewhat therapeutic!
Image: Ashley Zheng

3. Label up your gear

Whilst your rope is taking a bath, why not label your kit? Labelling your equipment is important; the last thing you want is for your gear to get mixed up with someone else’s at the crag. Coloured electrical tape is cheap, offers good adhesion and can be removed without leaving too much sticky residue. Once you have have selected a suitable tape, carefully apply to an area that you think is appropriate, ideally one that doesn’t affect operation of the item (i.e. the ‘long side’ of a carabiner, opposite the gate).

Image: Will Day

4. Practise your knots and familiarise yourself with rescue techniques

Use your time at home to learn a new knot to show off to your climbing buddies. Animated Knots is a fantastic resource for learning knots and rescue techniques. Make a brew, grab a length of rope, and in a quiet, relaxing location, practise to your heart’s content.

Image: Will Day

5. Train without the climbing gym

With gyms closed, climbers must seek alternative ways of maintaining strength. Using your time at home to build strength will ensure that when the opportunity returns to get out and climb again, you’ll be on your absolute A-game. Consider the following strength exercises:

  • Pull-ups: primarily targeting the lats, these also work our your triceps, shoulders and core. For a full lat workout, try standard, wide, narrow or sternum pull-ups.
  • Lock-off exercises: Lock-off strength is really important because it allows for greater climbing with control when needed. A lock-off is often needed when you have to reach for a hand hold within about an arm’s length. Pull-up – hang – release, Interval pull-ups, and Pull-up – hang – one arm release are valuable exercises for building lock-off strength.
Image: Will Day
  • Fingerboard hangs: Fingerboard hangs are a very simple but challenging exercise and are important for bolstering endurance whilst on the wall. For more information on building finger strength, consider this article from the British Mountaineering Council (BMC). Please note: fingerboard training is not for the faint-hearted. Beginners should avoid excessive fingerboard training until a sufficient level of strength has been established.
Image: Will Day
  • Cardio: Going for a solo run is great for climbing; not only because it burns calories which results in weight loss, but also since it builds good stamina, which helps climbers climb for longer and avoid getting tired and out of breath as quickly.
  • Core exercises: Working out the core muscles is crucial for a climber. This is because your core plays a big part in the way you climb and is one of the most used muscle groups in your body. Consider a look at this article from Climbing.com for a complete core workout.

6. Browse Rockfax

Rockfax is a subscription-based app that offers climbers over 35 guide books, 50,000 routes, 850 crags, and high-detail topographic maps covering major crag locations across the United Kingdom and Europe. It is incredibly comprehensive and a valuable resource for trip planning.

7. Binge on some fascinating climbing films or watch some climbing competitions

If you need a rest from all that exercise, but can’t stop thinking about climbing, why not indulge in some climbing films, or watch climbing competitions that you might not have seen before? With climbing an increasingly popular outdoor pursuit, the production of climbing films and videos has increased in quality and availability, with a near endless supply on tap. Our picks for climbing epics are Free Solo and Dawn Wall. Guaranteed to have you salivating over your next climb.

8. Shop for new gear

We are here and open online for business. Things may be different right now, but we’re still here to help with all your equipment enquiries. Feel free to browse online at www.openair.co.uk and if you have any enquiries, contact us!

9. Organise your gear

There is something oddly satisfying about organising your gear. Be sure to lay it all out and take a snap to share with us (we love a good “flat lay”). Take the time to develop a a storage system for your equipment that works for you, be it crates, tubs or pegboards and be hyper-organised and ready for your next trip. Who knows, you might even find that long-lost nut at the bottom of your gear cupboard?

Image: Will Day

10. Practise some yoga

Yoga is of great benefit for both body and mind, improving flexibility and strength as well as improving mental focus. We’ve really enjoyed Ieva Luna’s Quarantine Yoga for Climbers – definitely worth a look!

‘Send routes like walks in the park’
Image: Ieva Luna

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