November 24, 2020

Grand River Rocks have reopened their doors to climbers and with the abundance of precautions and new research emerging, it’s safe to say rock climbing is one of the safest sports to participate in during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We’re open! And, we’re doing our best to make climbing a safe activity during this pandemic,” said Cornelia Le Roux the general manager of GRR.

Grand River Rocks is an indoor rock climbing gym with two locations in Kitchener-Waterloo, the first gym opened in 2011 in Kitchener, and in 2019 a second bouldering only gym opened in Waterloo. 

GRR was one of many local small businesses that were shut down due to COVID-19, but both gyms survived the closure and reopened on July 18, 2020.

Upon reopening, GRR initially saw a major decrease in climbers but as time has gone on and the word has spread that they are back open these numbers have slowly picked up. “It’s nowhere near where we were before the pandemic, largely due to our capacity. But we’re just happy to be open,” Le Roux said.

Since reopening GRR has introduced multiple safety protocols to reduce the possibility of COVID-19 contraction. 

“We are currently operating on a timeslot system with online bookings in order to stay within our capacity and allow for contact tracing,” said Le Roux. “Masks are mandatory at all times in our facilities. We have installed hand sanitizer stations throughout our gyms as well and encourage frequent hand washing. For our roped walls we have done our best to space our climbs to encourage social distancing.”

Along with the multiple precautions GRR has taken, research conducted by De Montfort University also suggests that when chalk, (something many climbers use to improve grip and reduce moisture on the hands) comes in contact with COVID-19 on plastics surfaces (climbing holds) it reduces the number of infectious particles by more than 99 per cent. 

The experiment was completed by researchers who dusted dry plastic surfaces with magnesium carbonate, calcium carbonate, (ingredients in climbing chalk), or a combination of the two then added droplets of a model coronavirus called HCoV-OC43, which has a similar structure and survival pattern to the SARS-CoV2 virus. 

According to the study “within just one minute of the virus coming into contact with the chalk, the number of infectious particles in all of the samples was reduced by more than 99 per cent.”

With this information and the precautions GRR is taking, climbing should not be considered a risk in the spread of COVID-19.

For more information on climbing or the precautions GRR is taking to combat the spread of COVID-19 visit their website

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