Whitman Climbing Center to reopen its doors to students

Charlotte Elliott, Sports Editor

The Whitman Climbing Center will be opening to students with new safety guidelines.

The center will have a limited capacity of 20 individuals, including staff, all of whom must be cleared to be on campus. Climbers will be expected to reserve a one-hour time slot before they arrive at the gym; they can do this by filling out the online form.

Staff have also made a number of changes to the center to maximize safety of both staff and climbers. Walkways have been marked on the floor of the gym to limit contact between climbers. Hand sanitizer has also been made readily available with new hand-washing stations and all climbers will be encouraged to use it in between routes. Climbers will be expected to wear masks at all times, even when climbing.

One of the new guidelines limits the use of loose chalk or chalk balls in the center in order to improve the air quality. Climbers will, instead, need to use liquid chalk or no chalk at all. Windows will also be kept open, temperature-permitting, to improve the air flow.

Climbing Center Manager Nate Gamble is confident that they have done all they can to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transfer via surfaces.

“We will be cycling through which colors of routes climbers will be allowed to use per day; for example, routes open on a Monday might be red and orange, Tuesday might be green and blue…” Gamble said. “In theory, this would allot enough time (72 hours) for the Coronavirus to break down before each set of holds is used by another day’s worth of climbers.”

Rental gear will also be disinfected and ‘timed out’ for 72 hours between uses.

Staff at the center have been working extensively to bring back the much-loved campus facility, which is known as a place where both beginners and experts can come together to have fun and climb. Gamble views the gym as more than just a fitness facility.

“For years, it’s been a community hub for Whitman climbers, outdoor enthusiasts and excited newcomers,” Gamble said. “We’re excited to open our doors, once again, to help the Whitman community through this difficult semester, and we’re committed to doing so responsibly.”

The center will be open from Oct. 7, during the hours 6-8:15 Monday-Thursday, and 2-4:15 Friday-Sunday.