By Tarsh Turner
March 2020. Nationwide lockdown. No climbing, no trips into the backcountry. I shrug apologetically at my trail runners as I step out to pound the pavement. How do we avoid the pit of despair at this sudden upheaval in our lives? I’ve been concocting a list of coping mechanisms, ways to stay sane and psyched until we are allowed to play outside again. I know there are people out there with far heavier burdens than I at present, and I do not mean to diminish the seriousness of the covid pandemic. Yet when we are used to wandering in wide open spaces and structuring our lives around the mountains, there is no denying that this sharp change is unsettling. So here’s my thoughts…
1. The Great Gear Tidy.
While we aren’t able to get out on missions, it is a great chance to sort and tidy our gear. In my case this meant finally getting the electrical tape out and marking all of my climbing gear consistently, while checking for wear and tear. I also had a go at repairing a gaping hole in one of my backpacks. Next on my list is to wax my touring skis ready for winter. In the midst of back-to-back missions there always seems to be a growing list of niggly jobs like this that stack up… Now’s our chance! Check the batteries in your transceiver, wash your rope, sharpen your ice tools.
2. Refreshing our knowledge / practicing skills.
Assuming we are all allowed out to play this winter, let’s be ready! I’m excited to finally get all the way through the copy of ‘Staying Safe in Avalanche Terrain’ (Bruce Tremper) that a friend bought me last winter. There are also tonnes of online resources to learn about avalanche safety (and other stuff!) I’ll be nagging my housemates to get out and do some transceiver search practice in our backyard, and I am looking forward to running through crevasse rescue systems to refresh my memory after completing an NZAC course earlier in the year. By the time they let us out, we’ll be bursting with new knowledge and frothing to put it all into practice!
3. Creative workouts.
I know from social media that lots of us are all over this. Some buddies of mine have come together to do regular workouts via Zoom, I’ve persuaded my housemates to install a pull-up bar and several friends have taken on daily yoga, some for the first time ever. There are so many online workouts popping up on social media and many yoga studios have transitioned to online classes. Some personal favourites of mine include “Yoga with Adrienne” on Youtube, and the at-home strength workouts from uphillathlete.com. But I’m sure there’s something out there for everyone! Let’s get set to crush!
4 . Day dreaming.
Finally, what better time to dream up new adventures? I have always been a little in awe of my buddy Scott. Every time we lock in dates to do a trip together, I’ll say something like “I guess we should think about a Plan B in case we don’t get the weather,” and he’ll send through a list of trip ideas in different areas of the country, with some amount of thought having already gone in to the route, trip length, etc. He’s like a tramping thesaurus. I love it. Well Scott, hopefully post-lockdown I’ll be able to add to your lists! Armed with a topo app and a bookshelf full of guidebooks, I for sure plan to spend some time building my wish list. I’ll also be fueling the fire by reading other people’s trip reports and blogs, and checking out the festival films that the Banff Centre has made free to watch online at the moment – Omgwut!
I gotta add, I think that we mountain lovers have some strengths we carry into this lockdown period. Many of us will have spent hours hunkered down in small backcountry huts, waiting out bad weather. We have trudged endlessly tedious river valleys, and slogged our way up uncomfortable hill climbs. We know how to coax our minds into passing the time to get us through. We are accustomed to solitude and isolation in a way that many are not. The mountains’ variable conditions and changeable weather have prepared us to accept uncertainty and adapt to situations as they unfold. Now we have the opportunity to employ these skills and support our friends and family through this uncomfortable and uncertain time. Let’s dig in and use these skills. Stay sa(f/n)e folks, and see ya out there when things have calmed down!