Words By
Sarah Kampf

Suddenly our lives are turned upside down. The more events accelerate around the globe with the spread of COVID-19, the more our everyday life is slowed down. Our range of motion, leisure activities and personal encounters are minimized. Of course, this also determines my climbing, my everyday life and my family routine. 

I have decided to learn from my children in how to deal with the crisis. Being 3 and 5 years old, they too are already grasping the scope of the current upheavals. No more kindergarten, no organized playtime, no meetings with friends. Nevertheless, they keep up their pragmatism and solution-oriented approach, something which really fascinates me. They accept what cannot be changed, but when they realize that there is a chance to act and shape they do so with an inspiring, optimistic attitude. They are creative, discover new activities at home and become even closer as brothers. 

But what does that mean for me – as a freedom-loving sports climber who has been used to climbing the rock several times a week for many years? As an employee? For us as a family? 

To cut it short: The reorganization of our daily routines works quite well (at least so far – today is only day 3 of the official exit restrictions in Bavaria) and I am aware that I am in a relatively comfortable position. I’m lucky enough to be able to do my job easily from home. The flexibility of my employer Equip Deutschland GmbH is worth a lot and certainly not a matter of course. This is a great support for our family routine. 

In addition, we are pleased that we can still go outdoors and meet up to our need for movement and fresh air. Jogging, for example, is still officially allowed, which is an essential prerequisite for me to be able to relax and ground myself. Being together outdoors as a family is worth a lot, it is our source of strength and calms down in cases of impending cabin fever. 

And climbing? I’m already missing it a lot, no doubt. And admittedly, I too have heard an inner voice in the past few days with the seductive question of whether the official quarantine requirements could not be interpreted according to my own interest – perhaps bouldering alone somewhere deep in the forest? But in view of the dramatic developments in some European countries, which also could become reality in Germany if we don’t act determinedly, I decided against it. 

So for now, it is time to focus on “real” indoor training instead. I have never really focussed too much on training – I am a rock climber from the bottom of my heart, I need being outdoors at least as much as the performance aspect. I draw my motivation from projects on rock and usually don’t strictly follow a training regime, but instead trust my gut feeling. My simple set-up consisting of a pull-up bar, fingerboard, rings and yoga mat can of course not produce the same excitement as being outdoors, but I remind myself to approach the situation as unprejudiced as possible. 

The training has quickly become part of our new family routine, with the kids taking part as in all other activities. A stopwatch-precise division of the repetitions and sets therefore does not quite work – there are Lego vehicles that instantly need to be repaired, little controversies that demand a referee or other urgent stuff to do in between pull-ups, front levers or down dogs. But this makes the workouts fun, diverse and never boring. 

After a day on the rock, I was rarely as knackered as after my recent home sessions. Additionally, these sessions have quickly revealed weaknesses that have triggered the necessary motivation for bridging the time without rock climbing. So, my fitness will probably not suffer, and judging from the many contributions that are currently circulating on social networks, climbers are in for a top season after the quarantine anyway. 

In my view, the lively virtual exchange is a positive aspect of the current situation: one can find plenty of suggestions and tips for exercises, and there are many good training programs published by other climbers. This shows well that the digital world can actually function as a true community, that the shared feeling of being in the same situation can foster solidarity, support and encouragement.

But the pandemic also reveals the downsides of our strong digital connectivity. Faster and rougher than ever, in addition to the many positive posts, we can see the spread of criticism and defamation. Debates as to whether and how climbing should still be allowed in times of quarantine regimes are of course fine and also necessary in order to build a consensus as a community. However, freedom of speech should not be mixed up with unfair contributions or even insults. A post alone may not create a reality, but it creates a subliminal mood of hostility that is counterproductive right now, given the major challenges our society is facing.

I very much hope that at least we as a climbing community will be able to get through this together, that we will allow each other enough room for exchange, and that above all, we will act in a fair, rational and responsible manner. Empathy, solidarity and support will be the benchmarks by which we – both as a climbing community and as a society – should be measured in retrospect of the crisis.

Sarah Kampf is PR & Communications Manager Central Europe at Equip as well as a passionate climber. Together with her husband and her two sons, she is living in Frankenjura/Germany.