With indoor climbing walls closed, Swanage Coastguard says it’s seeing a larger number of first time climbers attempting to take on challenging cliff climbs along the Purbeck coastline.
Now it’s warning people to be careful and to stay within their climbing ability, following a number of incidents after the easing of coronavirus restrictions allowed people to travel to the coast.
“Climb a grade or two lower than you are usually comfortable with”
Swanage Coastguard is offering its advice to help prevent climbers getting into places they can’t get out of. It said:
“If you are unfamiliar with the area, please stay well within your climbing ability and climb a grade or two lower than you are usually comfortable with to get familiar with the area. Some climbs here can be under-graded with steep and in places, loose rock.
“Be sure that on our sea cliffs, both leader and second can climb out. Leave your abseil rope in place and ensure you have prusiks (a friction hitch or knot used to attach a loop of cord around a rope) and more importantly know how to use them! A lot of routes can be remote and once you’re in, you’re committed to climbing out.”
“Our response may be slower than usual due to COVID-19 protocols”
While climbing can be a hazardous activity in normal times, the action required to prevent the spread of coronavirus makes it harder for the coastguard rescue team to respond to incidents quickly. Swanage Coastguard added:
“Please ensure during these extraordinary times you make sensible choices. We will attend any incidents we are called to, however be aware our response may be slower than usual due to COVID-19 protocols and the additional PPE we need to put on, to keep ourselves, our team members and our casualties safe.
“In case of emergencies there is an emergency phone with a direct line to the National Maritime Operation Centre located by the gate of the lighthouse at Anvil point.
“There is no mobile phone reception along the cliff top or at the bottom of any crags please keep this in mind, and if you do need our help, an exact location of the area you are climbing and the climb you or your partner need help on, will assist us in getting to you as quick as we can.”
For more information
The British Mountaineering Council (BMC) is the representative body that exists to protect the freedoms and promote the interests of climbers, hill walkers and mountaineers.