Here’s a compilation of things you can do during self-isolation and social distancing to keep you busy, productive and entertained.
So, you’re a climber or hiker, and the usual trip to work was an escape from being home. There are some outdoorsy people who just don’t like to be home. In a case where there’s no avoiding it, here are some things outdoorsy people can do during self-isolation to avoid the dreaded cabin fever.
Be Productive at Home
You’ve got all the time in the world right now, it might be time to start engaging in some productive activities at home to get you ready for when public areas begin opening up.
Organize Your Gear
We all say we’re going to keep our gear organized, and then it ends up getting a bit messy. That’s okay, now is a good time to start organizing all that gear you have for climbing, hiking or other outdoor activities. Aside from organizing it, you should take the time to inspect the gear for damages, age, signs of wear… Also, take inventory of what you have, what you need and what you’d like. Work on a budget for future gear, and design a new organizational system.
- Organize gear
- Inventory your gear
- List what you need
- List what you’d like to have
- Work on a budget for future gear
- Design a new organizational system
Also, check out our guide on how to buy gear on a budget and our downloadable essential mountaineering gear checklist.
Write that Book
You’ve been out there, man, you’ve seen things! Now is the time to write that book you’ve been thinking about. Make it an homage to the outdoors, a photography book, tell a story about an adventure, or be creative and build a fictional story like-minded people will enjoy. You know, they don’t really make a lot of books for people like us (hint, hint).
When you’re done being productive, it’s time to get a bit lazy and binge watch some docs, movies and collect new books.
Watch Made-for-TV Mountaineering Documentaries
Mountaineering documentaries are some of the most immersive experiences to learn about harrowing experiences, dramatic stories of survival and triumphant tales of success. It can be an inspirational experience, but also humbling.
You can find many of these documentaries on youtube, including some about the 1996 Everest Disaster, or about K2.
Watch Climbing Movies
If you’re more of a motion picture kind of person, you might want to opt for some movies about climbing that have become lenses into the life of climbers and this career that is often misunderstood. Here’s a list of some recent and award-winning films to watch asap.
In this film, three elite climbers struggle to find their way through obsession and loss as they attempt to climb Mount Meru. It is one of the most coveted prizes in Himalayan big wall climbing.
Meru is the story of that journey, an expedition through nature’s harshest elements and one’s complicated inner demons, and ultimately on to impossible new heights. It stars Conrad AnkerJimmy Chin and Renan Ozturk.
On The Verge (2019)
“In the mountains behind the sleepy coastal town of Powell River, BC, a small group of rock climbers has spent decades quietly pioneering routes on some of the largest granite walls in Canada.
As the last stands of old-growth trees harbored in these valleys come under threat of logging, the climbing community faces the uncertain future of a place that has come to define their lives and legacies.”
Free Solo (2018)
Free Solo is the story of Alex Honnold’s lifelong dream of free climbing El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. He achieved this goal on 3 June 2017. His ascent made headlines around the world, instantly making him a household name.
This film stars Alex Honnold, Jimmy Chin and Tommy Caldwell and won nine awards in various fields. It was viewed internationally and acclaimed as one of the best climbing films ever produced.
Safety Third (2017)
In this film, Brad Gobright is followed on his journey to continue his free solo climbing career unhindered by the fear of falling. He prepares to undertake a never-before completed free solo of an exposed and difficult route.
This film has seen a recent increase in interest in honor of Gobright. Brad Gobright died in November of 2019 in Mexico after a fall while climbing. This film stars Brad Gobright and Alex Honnold, two of the world’s best free climbers.
Fine Lines (2019)
“There is something far deeper that drives the world’s most elite group of mountain adventurers to take life-threatening risks. At times brutally honest, other times pensive, these athletes’ stories reveal the triumph of the human spirit.” This film stars Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin, and Alex Honnold.
Read Dramatic Mountaineering Disaster Books
Sometimes, a movie isn’t enough, you want to see the details of harrowing experiences and tales of enduring success written in the pages created by the climbers themselves. We’ve compiled a list of stories of disasters and survival, which were some of the best we’ve ever come across. Check out our selection of top mountaineering stories here; they include Touching the Void by Joe Simpson and No Way Down by Graham Bowley.
Read Instructional Climbing Books
If you’re a beginner looking to get yourself ready for this journey called mountaineering, compile yourself a list of instructional books for you to read. We recently compiled a collection of climbing books for beginners, which included Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills. These books will get you started learning about technical instruction and avalanche safety among other categories of self-help.
Go to the Wilderness
Currently, there’s no ban on heading into some wilderness locations in some states. Here’s the thing though, if you’re going to do these things, it’s better to do it with members of your household if you’re not going alone. Why? Because the whole point of self-isolation is to keep away from others, who will disperse elsewhere afterward, as much as possible.
If you go with members of your household, you’re not breaking any self-isolation rules. You are all together in the same house, and your contact is limited to each other. If you go with friends, regardless of what they say, you just don’t know where else they’ve been, who they’ve been with and whether or not they may have been exposed to coronavirus. So be safe, just make it a family affair.
Also, keep in mind that the American Alpine Institute and other climbing, recreational and park authorities are asking that people refrain from going to isolated towns, reservation lands and areas with limited resources to combat COVID-19 in the event they become exposed. This is what we are asking as well. It’s preferable to just stay home, but if you have access to public lands in well-equipped areas, it may be passable to engage in some outdoor activities as long as you practice serious social distancing. This includes the avoidance of going to stores, pharmacies, public boat launches and locations that are still open in the area. Either go with what you already have, or stay home. Limit exposure to others and yourself.
Go Hiking With Household Members
Take the family out on a wilderness day and go hiking. Pick a new spot, or an old favorite, and just take in the scenery. If you’re already on a self-isolation regimen, and you don’t have to be back to work for a while, now is a good time to do some of these outdoor activities that you often don’t have time to do.
Try to stay local, and just get in your car, drive and hike. Pack your essentials for semi-cold weather hiking, and you’re good to go.
As mentioned, those who don’t have to be back to work for a while have some time on their hands. Yes, it’s a stressful time and you are worried about what you’re going to do financially and many other things. Take a day or two, grab a tent and take the family out camping. If you’re a hiker, and you’ve never tried camping, here’s what you will need:
- A tent
- Sleeping bags
- Portable toilet and/or shower
- Camping stove, packable kitchen, outdoor mess kits
- Reserve water tank
- Rugged outdoor clothing, boots
Really though, if you want to do camping on a budget, all you really need is a tent, some freeze-dried or non-perishable food, some sleeping bags, water and good company. You might even consider a portable campfire. We reviewed the Radiate Portable Campfire and found it was a must-have for the outdoors.
If you bought some new gear and haven’t had the time to use it, now is a good time to try it. Whether it’s for hiking, climbing or camping, pull it out and go test it.
Be mindful of safety practices though, especially when you’re traveling to a mountain area. Follow the proper steps for mountain safety for hikers when scouting new routes.
The weather is warming up and it’s a great time to go kayaking on a lake or river right now. If you’ve always wanted to try it, but never had the space needed in your home for a hardshell kayak, try an inflatable one.
If you’ve never heard of them, you were like us too. At first, our thought was that it would bob when we tried to get in it, and then we’d fall out. To our surprise, it was a great alternative. Sturdy and glides on the water. We scraped the bottom a few times when trying out the K2 Explorer Kayak by Intex, and it stood up to the task.
Keep in mind, many states have closed boat docking areas. Don’t do this if this is the case in your area. And as we mentioned before, it’s better to stay home if you’re unsure. Avoid going to populated areas and only go to areas your local government has deemed open to the public. When the threat of coronavirus is over, you can check out our list of things to do when self-isolation is over.
I watched Meru and Free Solo when it was going international. It’s sad what happened to Brad.