As COVID-19 mitigation efforts continue across the country, it’s clear that sanitation will continue to be a high priority of climbing facilities for months to come. Fortunately, a homegrown innovator in the holds and volumes sector is adapting its line of volumes to help gym operators overcome exactly that challenge.
Rooted in Serving Climbing Gyms
Plantd Climbing is a Durham, North Carolina-based climbing volume company that’s all about bringing technical expertise to the art of climbing. Through precise engineering and texture study, Plantd creates volumes that are not only beautiful, but also longer-lasting, sturdier and environmentally responsible.
Started in late 2019, Plantd boasts a full fleet of wood volumes designed to spend more time on the climbing wall, and less (or no) time in a landfill. To that end, Plantd designed its flagship Classic Triangle volumes so that they’re super versatile. Volumes in the series can be mounted on their own or stacked with a triangle base, allowing routesetters to create seemingly endless combinations with each set.
“Think of them like the building blocks of volumes,” says Jill Johnson, co-founder of Plantd. Since the company’s launch last year, Plantd’s Classic Triangle volumes are already expanding throughout North Carolina’s Triangle area. They are a staple at the Chapel Hill Community Center roped climbing walls, and Progression Climbing Gym recently contracted Plantd for several of the XL varieties for their bouldering walls.
Additionally, the company uses only plant-based resins as opposed to polyurethane when finishing the volumes. Plantd volumes are fully edge-sealed to help prevent chipping and peeling of the coating at the corners. The texture is cutting edge too, the result of a study designed by Johnson’s co-founder, Huade Tan, in partnership with the Research Triangle Nanotechnology Network.
“Our research has us looking at texture in terms of microns, rather than buzz words,” summarizes Johnson. Now, that vigilant attention to detail is taking on new meaning during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
The First Hand Sanitizer Dispensing Volumes
The CWA guidelines for re-opening, consistent with CDC guidance, stress the importance of clean hands to prevent the spread of germs and emphasize that it is the most effective way to protect climbers and gym employees alike. But it’s challenging for climbers to wash their hands before and after each and every climb. As the team at Plantd followed the reopening efforts of climbing gyms, they saw a way to help.
“Our goal at Plantd Climbing has always been to innovate, which right now means helping gyms come up with new solutions for our new normal,” says Johnson. “Working with Kyle Long, a local USA Paraclimbing National Team member and registered nurse, we developed Clean Send to do just that.”
The Clean Send technology of Plantd integrates a touchless hand sanitizer pump into its Classic Triangle volume. The pump is battery operated with a USB port on the exterior of the volume for re-charging, an on-off switch, a sensor/dispenser, and a fill port for easily re-filling the sanitizer liquid. Climbers wave their hand underneath the sensor to dispense hand-sanitizing liquid, sanitize their hands and begin their climb. Immediately upon coming back down, climbers sanitize their hands again. By sanitizing before and after each climb, climbers help ensure the cleanliness of their own hands as well as the climbing wall.
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Existing hand sanitizing stations provide an accessible, practical solution, but free-standing holders for sanitizer pumps are surprisingly expensive, and they may also create hot-spots throughout the gym, which might actually increase the airborne spread of a virus. Inspired by the foam-in, foam-out initiative that healthcare workers use when entering and exiting a patient’s room, the Clean Send provides a functional, integrated solution that brings the sanitizer right to the wall―foam-on, foam-off.
“The Clean Send is just one solution, and it’s certainly not the only one,” adds Johnson. “We just want to do whatever we can to get everyone back into the gym and climbing safely―or at least to keep the conversation rolling around innovative approaches to COVID-related problems in gyms.”
Help Drive the Innovation
Currently in development, the Clean Send has been going through testing at Chapel Hill Community Center during the wall’s temporary closure. Climbing facility operators interested in testing the Clean Send prototype or providing feedback on the current model are encouraged to reach out here.
Climbing Business Journal is an independent news outlet dedicated to covering the indoor climbing industry. Here you will find the latest coverage of climbing industry news, gym developments, industry best practices, risk management, climbing competitions, youth coaching and routesetting. Have an article idea? CBJ loves to hear from readers like you!