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Life for a quarantined climber is pain in the backside or how not to go crazy from it


Siurana, Spain

I had just gone to Osp to climb, and two days later the government declared a state of emergency and border closure. I had been thinking for a long time whether to return before they close the borders completely, but I realized that here in Osp it would be exactly the same as back home. So I finally decided to stay indefinitely. In addition to that, I was in the middle of a climbing project and it looked like I could finish climbing it. A climber will do anything to finish climbing. Finally, after a week of climbing, we decided to return home. We did not finish climbing but that sometimes happens. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn't. The bigger is the motivation for a return.

Thinking and preparing

When I got home all hell broke loose. No going out, no climbing, no work, just nothing. A 14-day quarantine just started. I'd never been locked up at home for so long. I thought, "What am I going to do"? I will clear my assignments for school, for work, clean my room and watch a series. But climbing is a huge drug for me. I am fully addicted to it and it’s my whole life. I had realized that if I didn't climb and train, I wouldn't be strong enough to go to the rocks to try my unfinished projects after my quarantine expired. So I sat down at the table, took a piece of paper and a pencil, and began scribbling a training plan. And what does Denise's training plan look like? Well, let’s have a look at it!

Kotelna, Brno, CZE

I live in the centre of Brno in a 2 bedroom apartment together with strong guys Štěpán Volf, Jakub Konečný and Michal Žůrek. I would say that it is rather 3 bedrooms because it’s big. But there’s a catch. There isn’t a climbing wall where I can train. I go training at Kotelna and at Hangar where I can do as I please and give my body a real beating! But there is no wall at home. We only have a TRX, Beastmaker 1000 fingerboard, a few good pieces from Amuerte, including various rungs, cylinders and various other torture items, and last but not least, weights. A lot of weights, but we'll talk about that in a moment.

Kotelna, Brno, CZE

So the time came to open the climbing cupboard in the hallway and dust off all the things that could be used for training. And my goodness, there were quite a few. We had found so many things that I didn't even know I still had them. These were various portable fingerboards, cylinders, rungs, slings and other stuff. And what about the weights that I had mentioned? I own one weight vest weighing 10 kg and one kettlebell, also 10 kg. A total of 20kg but that's not enough. So we got our climbing backpacks and chucked all things out of them, including forgotten rubbish. Well, at least we finally tidied them up. And here was the million dollar question. What are we going to fill the backpacks with? We don't have sand or plastic bottles but hang on! We have an abundance of beer bottles. Good old Bernard bottles with a closable top! We filled them up with water and threw them in the backpack. Suddenly we had a new 100kg weight. That would work. Now all that's left is to get the chalk, stopwatch, speaker and masochism can begin.

Training at home

So when am I going to finally start talking about that workout? Well, let’s get to it! The whole week was divided into several phases and each phase was focused on a different type of exercise. I always trained for 3 days at a time and then had one day of rest and so on. I nearly almost always died during those three days. Climbing for three days at a time is fine for me, but hanging or doing pull-ups is a real tough proposition.


The first day I had three-phase training. As the first phase, I had power hangs on the rungs. I threw weights on myself, because the smallest rung we have is 1 cm and as it turned out, it was a jug. I always hung for 3-8s with a 3 minute rest. A total of 20 hangs like this and I alternated between small, medium or large rungs or round slopers. Of course, I only hung on one hand, which is my big weakness. This phase took me an hour of hard work. This was followed by a 5 hour rest followed by the second phase, which focused on work out using TRX. Again an hour-long exercise without any rest. And as the third phase I had a compensatory exercise that ended in rolling on blackroll.

Training in the kitchen

The next day was again marked by a three-phase training. The first phase was endurance. I have identified 5 rails on which I would hang long endurance hangs. The hangs lasted from 30 to 70 seconds. The rest was 10 s shorter than the hang itself. I like this type of exercise the least, actually I definitely hate it because it hurts the most. But if you want to improve, you have to do the maximum. It’s never made me sick so I recommend it to everyone. The second phase was again workout within the TRX and the third focused on compensation again.


The third day was more concentrated on climbing. The first phase was pull-ups on the fingerboards. So I pop 30kg on and let’s go! As many pull ups as you can possibly muster until you feel like your brain is almost coming out of your head. Ordinary pull-ups were accompanied by one-handed pull-ups. The whole hell lasted for an hour. Then there was a rest period followed by strength endurance hangs in the afternoon. First I came up with a fingerboard circuit where, of course, I didn't use my legs and just did pull-ups. It was an imitation of a campus board. Then I did various dynamic exercises, again to imitate the campus  board, and I ended the whole thing with hangs where you hang for 10 s and rest for 10 s. You hang until you fall below 3s. For me, it always happened around 10 minutes on a 1 cm rung and 8 minutes on a round sloper. I didn't have the third phase, otherwise I would only be able to use a straw to eat.

Kitchen part 2

So, when the promised rest finally came, I always did an hour of training on TRX. I would also like to go out and run, but I wasn't allowed outside so sometimes I ran on the spot or did squats. Because when I wasn't exercising, I was working on a computer, and when you just sit still, your legs weaken and I felt I couldn't even walk. The next day after squat training, I regretted everything because I couldn't walk at all! Not to mention sitting on the toilet. I have never felt such pain in my thighs.

We move to the hall

After 10 days without climbing, the withdrawal symptoms kicked in. We have quite a few nice edges and all sorts of corners in the apartment and so we started to make boulders. A few of them have already been climbed but a few are still waiting. The bouldering mats were scattered everywhere, and when there was nothing to do in the evenings, they were used for the first ascents.


My quarantine is finally oveeeeeeer! It's time to put on the climbing shoes again and go outside. Since the borders are still closed, there is nothing left but to climb here in our country. The Moravian Karst is the closest climbing place and I have been climbing there since the very beginning. I spent the first two days in Rudice which is full of easier routes and so it's the best place to get climbing again. I expected that the performances would not be God knows what, but that it would be so bad I could not get my head around. I climbed convulsively, missing the foot holds with my feet like an idiot, and my extremities were swelling. And the verticals? Well, the biggest pain was in the calves. I climbed out one 9- with bulging eyes and was in shreds. Even though I had been working out hard and hanging, my body was weak except for my fingers. They were like concrete. The rungs became hand grips, but the fix was a disaster. I climbed into a route called Sama's Way 10-. This is a short, very bouldery route with small hand holds. For taller people it’s a walk, for me an outrageous hell! But I really enjoyed it, even though I expected it to be better.

Rudice, CZE

After a few trips, I had enough of rungs and I needed a change, so I went to Krkavka. I've never been there and always wanted to check it out. The time to test it has come. A long sweeping overhang full of difficult routes, especially in the tenth level. I was like a little kid in a sweet shop. I wanted to climb everything, right away. The various combinations that zigzag the routes literally captivated me. It suited me so much that I was pleasantly surprised. I managed to climb several beautiful routes with a minimum number of attempts. I was so carried away that I couldn't believe my own eyes. Who was there will surely say that it's not a nice climb in an ugly rock, but I really like it. Exactly my endurance climbing style, where you just run and try not to fall on the lactate. For me, a mega super-duper area where I will definitely be happy to return.

Holštejn, Glutaman 8c, CZE

I already felt quite started up so it was finally time to go back to Karst. I set my eye on route Glutaman 8c. It was previously classified as 8b+ but after a key handhold broke it became 8c. It is the antistyle of my climbing, which I was very bad at. The route starts with an easier climb with larger holds, but they are far apart. You reach two pockets in a crack but they are wet all the time and cannot be crimped. And my open hand is a nightmare. I am very bad at it. I looked for two days for the right way to get across the crux and in the end I came up with a mighty cross through that will launch you to the Moon. After that there are two long steps into two large holds and the end is a crimping galore which isn’t easy at all. But I’m good at crimps and I knew that when I pass the crux, I will not fall. The first attempts were more like a stage show. I started something and immediately fell down. I pondered for a while whether I can climb this at all. But when I get into that mindset, the best thing I can do is get properly angry. When I do, I have strength in abundance. I had many incentives so I suddenly had a lot of strength.

Holštejn, Glutaman 8c, CZE

When Kuba told me I won’t conquer it and laughed, it was decided. I suddenly became a naughty Hulk who put on his climbing shoes and went to climb it. And yes! The Hulk climbed it! So I laughed back at Kuba and we were even. Climbing 8c in Karst is something amazing for me. When I was a little boy and walked under this route, I was overwhelmed by this colossus. Ten years later, I put this colossus down into my climbing diary which is something amazing for me. The Karst has become my home area, an area where I've never been able to climb before, but now that I have it 40 minutes from home and I can go there whenever I want, it's suddenly different and I can fully enjoy the climbing that is suddenly very easy.

Holštejn, Glutaman 8c, CZE

I thought I would be able to brag in this article about managing to conquer Bruce Lee 8b + climb, but even though I break the hand holds I still haven't climbed it. The quarantine has given me a lot of strength, and that's what it looks like. I haven't been on the wall for more than a month unlike in the Karst where I’m all the time. I always climb two days and then rest and repeat. I'm now quite used to it and I don't want to go back to the wall. But I feel so tired and without strength that I will have to. Training is necessary so that I can have fun outside again. So for the time being here’s the wall and very soon the Karst will shake again.

Holštejn, Glutaman 8c, CZE

A question has occurred to me. Has the quarantine helped me with anything in climbing? I have to say yes and no. On the plus side, I caught up with the unfinished stuff I had been putting off. It changed my view of certain things I had overlooked and didn't realize why I was doing or not doing them. I took a break from climbing and varied my training regime, which helped me a lot, especially in the strength of my fingers. During the quarantine my routine changed, and I came out of the bubble that I was surrounded by and understood that I did not want to experience it again. A lot of things have changed and I had more time for myself. I started thinking differently about certain things, and eventually I was glad that I used that time differently than usual.

Holštejn, Glutaman 8c, CZE

The negative I perceive the most is the abstinence of climbing, a face mask rash, the dust that gathered on the drills I use for setting, I had to clean more, the food was not perfect at all, so I'm a little heavier, maybe it's gravity.


I always say that even the bad is good for something. So head up people and let's move on. Some corona won't stop us! I wish you all success both in climbing and in life and wash your hands. :) I've got enough coins in the piggy bank and I can’t fit any more there :)


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