Mountain climbers usually spend most of their time outside, close to nature. But during the coronavirus pandemic, they too are stuck at home and have plenty of time on their hands. How they use it varies.
"Our living room has become a training ground. There are mats everywhere as well as other utensils,” said Ralf Dujmovits, the only German climber who has conquered all 14 eight-thousanders (mountains over 8000 meters high). "We have increased our power and gymnastic routines.” The pro climber and his wife, Nancy Hansen, who also does the sport professionally, are trying to keep fit in their small home on the edge of the Black Forest.
In their private climbing wall in the basement they've moved the handles in order to create new mini climbs. The muscles required in climbing are often under a lot of stress and the pair are keen to make sure that inactivity doesn't lead to them reducing in size. The two have stopped their running routine though. "We have to keep our distance,” Dujmovits told DW. "Every couple of days we treat ourselves to a mountain bike trip somewhere remote where we don't meet anyone.”
Base camp becomes home
The coronavirus pandemic means that new climbing expeditions are not currently in the 58-year-old's plans. Almost every single professional mountain climber around the world is in the same situation as Dujmovits. Planned expeditions have been canceled as all plans generally have been put on ice. Outdoor athletes, those who spend most of their time in the mountains and only experience home as a stop on the way somewhere else, are suddenly spending a lot of time inside their own four walls.
For Germany's top climber Thomas Huber, the current situation reminds him of life in base camp. "Yes, it is a difficult moment for all of us and it feels like being on an expedition right now: Life in base camp is simple and many deprivations are required,” the 53-year-old wrote on Facebook. "But there is one good thing: everything slows down, you understand whats really important in your life, you finally have time and you hear the silence.”
Huber calls for "patience and prudence, responsibility .... In the end we will be successful, just as if we were a brave team. I hope we will reach the summit very soon and I know we all will tell the stories for a long time: when the whole world were together on a big expedition!”
Finding fitness online
Like Huber, other pro climbers have taken to social media to share their thoughts. Some are trying to "entertain those who cannot go outside” as Ralf Dujmovits explained. He published panorama pictures of his expeditions around the world. Spaniard Kilian Jornet, who has climbed some of the tallest mountains in the world in some of the fastest times, has made his films free to view.
South Tyrol's leading climber Tamara Lunger gave 30 minute training sessions on her Instagram under the hashtag #sportividacasa (home video sport). The 33-year-old, who has stood on the summit of the eight-thousanders Lhotse and K2, posted the video with the message: "Stay at home! Even though we're apart, we will climb this mountain together.”
Every day counts
For Italian Carlalberto Cimenti, nicknamed "Cala”, the risk is tangible. The climber from Turin, who just last year climbed the eight-thousander Nanga Parbat in Pakistan, tested positive for the coronavirus. He also has a lung infection. The doctors in the hospital sent him home with medicine and the advice to call if things got worse.
"My goal now is not to reach the top of a mountain, but to reach the next day in the same condition or maybe even a slightly better one,” the 44-year-old posted on Facebook. "Anyway, today is my eighth day of sickness and I am still here! I am not giving up!”
Anyone who has regularly been on expeditions has learned perseverance and patience, Dujmovits believes. Those skills helped him back in 2009 at the Lhotse base camp in Nepal when he sat out three weeks of terrible weather. He was once also halted for weeks on end by the rainy areas of Patagonia in South America. "We have practiced patience,” said the climber. "We know that terrible weather and big problems will also pass. You learn to be calm.”