Shutdown: How Pro Climbers Are Spending Time During Self-Isolation

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Mike Libecki staying fit by climbing holds mounted to the joists under his deck.

Mike Libecki staying fit by climbing holds mounted to the joists under his deck.

As the COVID-19 crisis continues, more and more people are working from home or not working at all. This applies to the job of "professional rock climber" as well. With the gyms closed and climbers being advised to stay away from the crags, no one is climbing. We caught up with some of the pros to see what they've been up to during these days of social distancing and self-isolation. 

How are you staying busy and staying positive during self-isolation?

Sasha DiGiulian

Life is really unpredictable. This last week, we lost a friend (Nolan Smythe) to a tragedy in climbing. This week, the world is at home, in quarantine. I think that positivity comes in finding gratitude for the things we do have: the ability to have time to reflect, to take in the simplicities of home-life, and the time to pursuit other passions we may have that may get pushed aside for the outdoors, like cooking, reading, writing, etc.

Chris Weidner

As a writer, I'm used to being isolated. As a climber, isolation is a bit trickier. Good thing my fingers have a long way to go in terms of strength! Now is a perfect time to do some serious work on the fingerboard. Not to mention core work, pullups, and stretching. Getting outside is another excellent way to stay positive—in fact it's encouraged! Just be mindful to keep your distance from others.

Mike Libecki

I feel incredibly grateful that all around me, my family, friends and community seem to be healthy. We are near the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon in Utah. My daughter and dogs and I are staying active and busy, hiking, backcountry skiing, yard work, and of course, super important, something to look forward to: Planning many trips with optimism. Right now optimism is key. We are doing our part to social distance and have three big expeditions on hold now, so we are planning trips with optimism!

Are you taking this time to pursue other interests?

Sasha DiGiulian

I am really interested in learning more about nutrition and cooking. That’s one thing I’ve been doing: spending more time in the kitchen, creating, and learning from reading books. Also, I have been reflecting on ways to create within climbing that may not be the physical pursuit of our sport at the moment. I guess, stay tuned!

Chris Weidner

I'm taking this time to pursue interests I already have, but more in-depth. For me these interests include reading, photography, non-work-related writing, and exploring isolated zones outdoors.

Margo Hayes

My university classes are all meeting online now. It’s definitely not the same, but my professors are really putting their best effort into adapting to the new format. Aside from school, I’m spending time reading, watching movies, beekeeping, and coming up with projects. I’m also helping my mom sew masks for my uncle’s practice in the hospital to combat the shortage.

Do you have any projects you’re dreaming of for when this is all over?

Chris Weidner

Of course! My main project is a new free route on the Diamond that Bruce Miller and I have been working on since 2017. I'm excited to get back up there and finish it up whenever possible.

Will Stanhope

There's a project on the Squamish Chief that I'm really psyched to revisit: Beautiful, exposed with some wild movement. Missing the granite of the North.

Margo Hayes

“Before the virus became so pervasive, I was planning on going to Chile for the Master de Boulder competition and some outdoor climbing with The North Face. I am hoping that the virus is contained and I am able to go in the fall, but my own travel plans aren’t really on my mind right now. With the current state of the world, I feel like it’s best to live in the moment and to make plans that excite you closer to home. My focus right now is to do my part to help contain the virus, all the meanwhile staying connected with my loved ones.”

Any uplifting message you'd like to share with the climbing community?

Sasha DiGiulian

Be present, find gratitude, use this space to reflect and to be responsible; while you may not be suffering from this pandemic, others are. Be understanding of that and of the fact that we all need to do our part to save lives.

Chris Weidner

We're all going to be so pent-up excited and crazy strong when we get back out there, our projects won't have a chance! I also think a forced break from our routines will be overwhelmingly positive. Whatever adaptations we're making right now will stress our bodies and minds in different ways. Change is difficult, but it will make us stronger.

Margo Hayes

Don’t focus on what you can’t do. Focus on what you can do!

Mike Libecki

My Grandmother taught us some amazing things. She always talked about these words and their meaning: optimism, belief, patience, to keep moving forward… She said to find the good in any situation, and that “this too shall pass.” Most importantly, the three things we need to have in a happy, healthy life: Those we love, things to do, and something to look forward to. Something to look forward to rings very true in these interesting times. Onward! Just sharing some great words of life from Grandma with friends and community. We can all use some optimism .This too shall pass and we will all be better for it.

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