As climbing gyms begin to reopen, discussions about the best ways to mitigate risk of COVID-19 continue. Plantd Climbing, a newly formed volume manufacturer based out of Durham, North Carolina, has proposed an innovative idea for keeping climbers safe: a hand-sanitizer-dispensing volume, a.k.a., the Clean Send. The volume is currently in a prototype stage.
The project began when Kyle Long, a registered nurse and Team USA paraclimber, approached Plantd Climbing with the intention to replicate the healthcare industry’s “Foam-in, Foam out” protocol. The protocol requires healthcare workers to wash their hands before and after seeing a patient, and it is carried out with the aid of hand-sanitizer dispensers at the entrance of patient rooms. Similarly, the Clean Send can be mounted to the start of routes and boulders for climbers to use before and after each climb.
Jill Johnson, co-founder of Plantd Climbing, wrote in an email to Gym Climber: “Our goal in putting the idea out there before we’re really past the prototyping phase is really to start a conversation and find out if this is a good idea. Is this something that gyms could see themselves using? Is there something else that we could be innovating to make their new day-to-day easier, or better?
“We are a newcomer in the climbing volumes world, for sure, but my co-founder, Huade Tan, is an engineer who spent the past five years working on rockets, so innovation is definitely a driving force behind our work,” says Johnson.
The first Clean Send prototype is in use at the Chapel Hill Community Center in North Carolina. So far, says Johnson, feedback has been good. “There’s also some who think it’s a little crazy–and they’re not wrong. Mostly we’re excited about the conversations that it’s starting–we’ve gotten a few suggestions that we tweak it to dispense liquid chalk instead, or to dispense both, which is a cool idea.”
The company’s broader goal is to source better materials for their holds and volumes that will help them reduce carbon dioxide emissions and prevent agricultural waste. Plantd Climbing currently uses plant-based resins in place of polyurethane to seal their products. “We’ve taken the first step,” says Johnson, “but we’re looking to reduce the industry’s reliance on timber and polyurethane.”
The company welcomes further ideas from climbers and industry leaders. Suggestions can be submitted here.