headline-covidguildines

Increased cleaning.

There will be increased cleaning, disinfecting, and decontamination of facilities and equipment by both staff and patrons. We ask that climbers wash or sanitize their hands before and after each climb or belay. We ask that patrons using the fitness facilities wipe down any fitness equipment with disinfectant spray before and after use.

Personal responsibility.

If you feel ill or have displayed any symptoms associated with COVID-19, you MUST stay home.

COVID-19 affects different people in different ways. Infected people have had a wide range of symptoms reported – from mild to severe. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that people with the following symptoms may have COVID-19: Cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fever (100.4° or higher), chills or shaking with chills, muscle pain, sore throat, and new loss of taste or smell. This is not an all-inclusive list; other less common symptoms have been reported: headache, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Practice good coughing and sneezing etiquette.

Maintain a minimum of six feet of social distance between you and anyone who is not a member of your family or intimate social circle. Do not touch other people (no handshakes, no hugs, no high fives, etc.). Climbers and belayers should use a "non-contact" double check procedure and continue to maintain six feet of social distance.

Wearing a mask or face covering is REQUIRED in shared spaces and while climbing or exercising. Everyone must provide their own mask. This is a city requirement in St. Paul and Minneapolis. There will be no exceptions.

Wash, sanitize, or disinfect your hands before and after each climb. Sanitizer and disinfectant will be placed throughout the facility.

Climbing by reservation or walk-in.

We are open at limited capacity and numbers vary per gym. Certain areas of the gym such as bouldering, fitness, yoga, restrooms, locker areas, etc. may be subject to additional capacity limitations.

Initially, Vertical Endeavors will have reduced hours and will institute a reservation system in order to manage capacity limitations in our facilities and to manage the new guidelines. This will give us the opportunity to thoroughly clean and disinfect the facility and keep track of who is climbing in the gym at any one time. Members and Non-Members can reserve a 2-hour climbing slot for themselves and up to four additional participants. They may call ahead or walk-in and climb if the facility has not reached its capacity or there are spots available. However, they may be turned away if the facility is at or near their capacity limits. Check here for gym capacity.

No cash or check transactions will be accepted at this time, cards only. Every member, customer, and guest must check-in at the front counter with an employee, there will be no self-scan-in.

Upon entering the facility, everyone will have their temperature checked. Anyone with a temperature of 100.4° or higher will not be admitted to the facility. Everyone entering the facility will respond to a daily health screening questionnaire.

Every Member, Customer, and Guest in the Facility must sign a New Waiver and COVID-19-Related Assumption of Risk Statement. You can access this waiver online here and fill it out ahead of time.

Climb safe.

Patrons must change out of street shoes and wash or sanitize hands immediately after entering. If you do not have your own climbing gear, you will need to rent shoes and a harness. Rentals are $10. Do not share chalk, belay tools, or any other equipment. Chalk bags will not be available to rent. 

Do not climb on a route, problem, rope, or auto belay next to one that is already being climbed. Be patient, courteous toward, and aware of other climbers. This will help keep proper social distance for climbers and belayers. Climbing should be limited to one partner, no changing partners or having multiple climbing partners during your climbing session, unless everyone is in the same immediate family or intimate social circle.

Wash or sanitize your hands before and after each route whether climbing or belaying.

Do not congregate in groups without maintaining six feet of social distance. Hangouts, socializing, and beta-talk, should be limited.

REACT

Frequently asked questions.

Please take a couple minutes to read through these Q&As and if you still have questions about Vertical Endeavors' reopening, email us at marketing@verticalendeavors.com. Thanks!

Who can climb?

Everyone! Members, 10-Visit Pass holders, and Non-members may make reservations or walk-in if there are any available time slots. Please call ahead to ask about availability. Members will not be able to utilize guest passes at this time but may purchase additional spots for up to four people when making a reservation. No spectators will be allowed in gym. Due to capacity limitations, everyone entering the facility will be required to pay even if they do not intend to climb.

What is the cost?

Memberships are going to continue to be frozen (with no freeze fee) and on hold (your prepaid annual membership will be extended for the entire time it has been on hold, since March 16, 2020).  Therefore, everyone will have to pay a reduced daily fee to climb. As a benefit to our members, only members can reserve a two-hour spot to climb ahead of time online:

  • Members will pay $10 per reservation.
  • Members can reserve a spot for themselves ($10) and one other person, another member ($10) or non-member ($15).
  • Non-members will pay $15. (Punch Card holders may use their punch cards)

Edit: We have decided to give members the option to pay per 2 hour session OR reinstate their memberships. Members who want to reinstate their membership must sign a Membership Re-Institution Acknowledgement Form, understanding they will not have full access to the facilities, as this does devalue memberships. Members will still pay $10 to reserve a time slot but will be refunded when they check-in. If a member does not show for their time slot, they will be charged the $10. More details for how to reinstate memberships will be coming soon. Thanks!

What is the capacity limit?

Capacity will be limited at each facility. Numbers vary per location. Certain areas of the gym such as bouldering, fitness, yoga, restrooms, locker areas, etc. may be subjected to additional capacity limits.

When will VE be open at normal capacity?

Vertical Endeavors is operating within the executive orders of the Governor, therefore we cannot estimate when we will be open at normal capacity. Keep up to date on our website and social media. We will be posting updates as we get more information. We will be making decisions that take into account the decisions of the Governor, the recommendations of the CDC, and the safety of our staff and patrons.

Do I have to make a reservation or can I walk-in?

We expect to be very busy for the first few weeks after opening. Reservations are strongly recommended. We are also accepting walk-ins if there are available slots. Check out the gym capacity here before coming in. You may also call your local gym to check if there are any walk-ins available that day. Do not show up at a gym without checking for availability.

Do I have to wear a mask when I climb?

Yes, masks or face coverings are required in our climbing facilities. They must be worn in all shared spaces (entrance, front counter, walkways, locker areas, restrooms, etc.). Masks and face covering are also required while climbing or exercising. Everyone should provide their own mask. The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case YOU are infected. So, we are asking everyone to take personal responsibility and wear a mask. Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance. Please continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others. The cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing.

On Wednesday, July 22, 2020, Governor Tim Walz issued Emergency Executive Order 20-81. It declares that all Minnesotans must wear a face covering in indoor businesses and indoor public settings beginning Saturday, July 25, 20201. Workers must also wear face coverings outdoors when it is not possible to maintain social distancing. In Illinois, individuals must wear masks, unless they are participating in a socially distant outdoor activity2. Vertical Endeavors complies with these requirements by making face coverings mandatory throughout our facilities.

We have chosen to establish a consistent policy and place the health and safety of our staff and customers as one of our highest priorities. Even though it may be personally inconvenient, we are asking everyone to abide by this requirement to help mitigate any potential transmission of the Coronavirus and COVID-19. There will be no exceptions.

The most effective measures for preventing further spread of COVID-19 are staying home when you are sick, maintain physical separation between other people while out in public (at least 6 feet), and frequently washing your hands with either soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub. Additionally, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., stores, pharmacies, even health and fitness facilities), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. The CDC also advises the use of simple cloth face coverings, non-medical grade, to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. We have decided that the most prudent course of action is to require face masks/coverings along with other protocols such as limited capacity, increased cleaning/disinfecting, hand washing/sanitizing before and after each climb, appropriate social distancing measures, etc.

Everyone must take personal responsibility and do their part in helping to reduce the spread of this pandemic. Face masks/coverings must cover the mouth and nose to be effective. Because individuals should also avoid touching your face, nose, and mouth to allay possible virus transmission, also avoid touching your face mask while wearing it. Of course, if there is a medical reason for not wearing a mask, please let our staff know at check-in. They can determine if it is appropriate to allow you in the facility. Children over the age of five must also wear a mask or face covering in our facilities and we ask parents to adequately supervise them and use their discretion in bringing them to the climbing facility.

Additionally, The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Minnesota Executive Order (20-81) notes that “(m)asks that incorporate a valve designed to facilitate easy exhaling, mesh masks, or masks with openings, holes, visible gaps in the design or material, or vents are not sufficient face coverings because they allow exhaled droplets to be released into the air.” With the type of mask that has a valve or vent, unfiltered air is released when the wearer exhales. Therefore, VE will not allow face masks that incorporate a valve or vent because this does not protect others from a potentially infected wearer.

We acknowledge that we are taking a conservative approach by continuing to require everyone to wear a face mask or covering while in our facilities, even while climbing and exercising. But, we feel that is best for now. Vertical Endeavors is committed to take the proper steps to keep our staff, members, and guests safe and healthy. Therefore, we ask everyone to do their part to support and comply with all our COVID-19 protocols.

Can I wear a face shield instead of a face mask?

Yes, face shields are an option. However, if they are worn in place of a face mask or face covering, then they must be worn at all times within the facility. Vertical Endeavors requires face masks to help protect others from potential transmission of the Coronavirus and COVID-19 in our facilities. But face masks can be hot, they can irritate the skin, fog glasses, make it difficult for some to breathe, and create a world without smiles. It also can be difficult for people who have hearing loss to communicate when mouths are covered, muffling voices and hiding facial expressions. Therefore, climbers can choose to wear a face shield instead of a mask, although they may seem bulky and cumbersome while maneuvering up a wall.

Face shields are a legitimate option in reducing the transmission of COVID-19 in community settings. To be most effective in stopping viral spread, a face shield must extend below the chin. It should also cover the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. There should be no exposed gap between the forehead and the shield's headpiece. Wearing a cloth face mask will contain the respiratory droplets of the wearer and protect others, as well. A face shield protects both the wearer and others. To be completely safe, avoid close contact with anyone who is not wearing a mask. If someone must be in close contact with anyone who is not wearing a mask, a face shield may provide some additional protection. The most protection would come with a combination of a mask and a face shield, as is common in the medical field.

Amesh Adalja, M.D., a pandemic preparedness expert at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, says, “There's a lot of at least biological possibility to suspect that [shields] are definitely better than homemade face masks, and maybe even better than other types of masks as well, because they not only prevent you from spreading it … [and] because it also covers your eyes, it provides more protection to the mucus membranes of your face where you might be getting infected.”  Another benefit, according to Adalja, is with a mask, you may find yourself constantly adjusting it and therefore touching your face and possibly transferring the virus from your hands, but wearing a shield “doesn't really put you in a position where you're touching your face so much, because it's not as cumbersome to wear."

Reporting in the April 29 Journal of the American Medical Association, experts led by Dr. Eli Perencevich, of the university's department of internal medicine, and the Iowa City VA Health Care System, promote the use of face shields. While the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advocates for the use of cloth masks to help stop COVID-19 transmission where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, the report says that laboratory testing "suggests that cloth masks provide [only] some filtration of virus-sized aerosol particles." According to Perencevich's group, "face shields may provide a better option."

They stressed that face shields should only be one part of any infection control effort, along with social distancing and handwashing. There will never be any intervention -- even a vaccine -- that can guarantee 100% effectiveness against the coronavirus, the authors said, so face shields shouldn't be held to that standard.

Face shields may have several advantages over masks. First, they are endlessly reusable, simply requiring cleaning with soap and water or common disinfectants. Additionally, shields are usually more comfortable to wear than masks, and they form a barrier that keeps people from easily touching their own faces. When speaking, people sometimes pull down a mask to make things easier -- but that isn't necessary with a face shield.  And the use of a face shield is also a reminder to maintain social distancing but allows visibility of facial expressions and lip movements for speech perception. Also, if people have had trouble breathing wearing a face mask, especially during an activity that requires physical exertion, a shield can allow better airflow and breathing capabilities.

And what about the ability of a face shield to prevent coronavirus transmission? According to the Iowa team, large-scale studies haven't yet been conducted. But "in a simulation study, face shields were shown to reduce immediate viral exposure by 96% when worn by a simulated health care worker within 18 inches of a cough."

"When the study was repeated at the currently recommended physical distancing distance of 6 feet, face shields reduced inhaled virus by 92%," the authors said. No studies have yet been conducted to see how well face shields help keep exhaled or coughed virus from spreading outwards from an infected wearer, but the authors of the JAMA report hope that studies on that issue will be conducted soon.

Will there be classes and lessons?

Yoga, fitness, and climbing lessons will be offered on a limited basis. Only private climbing lessons will be offered at this time. Social distancing and "no touch" requirements must be maintained. Classes and lessons will have reduced capacity limitations. More information on Yoga and Fitness classes will be posted as soon as we make those decisions. Please do not ask about starting dates for those classes.

Will there be groups?

Until further notice, no groups.

Will there be camps, climb teams, or climb league?

Until further notice, no. Camps are cancelled through the month of August as of now.

Can I rent equipment?

Climbing shoes, harnesses, and belay tools will be available to rent and will be disinfected after each use. There will be no chalk bag rentals. Liquid chalk that contains alcohol may somewhat help mitigate the spread of the virus, but most liquid chalk does not reach minimum alcohol content recommended by the CDC. Do not share chalk bags or chalk buckets.

Can I lead climb? Is rope available to use?

Yes, you can lead climb if you are lead belay certified! You have the option to bring your own lead rope, must be inspected by a staff member. You may also check out a VE rope, which can not be shared with anyone except for your lead partner.

How do I cancel my membership?

All memberships have been frozen during the closures and will continue to be frozen (with no freeze fee). Month-to-Month members have not been charged. Those who have purchased a One Year Membership will have their membership extended for as many days as Vertical Endeavors was closed. Memberships will NOT be reactivated Wednesday, June 10th. Therefore, everyone will have to pay a reduced daily fee to climb. Members can reserve a two-hour spot to climb ahead of time online.

If you still wish to cancel your membership please fill out a Membership Update Request. All Membership Changes, including Freezes and Cancellations, must be submitted by the 1st of the Month in order to be applied to that month’s billing.

Will I have to retest for belay qualifications?

You may have gotten one of our automatic emails saying you have to come in to climb or your qualifications will expire. Retesting will be done on a case by case basis but please be prepared to retest. Proper social distancing will be followed during belay or lead testing. Wear a mask or face covering.

What is happening with my Vertical Endeavors membership as your facilities begin to reopen?

Vertical Endeavors Climbing Gyms (“VE”) provide annual memberships so that participants can enjoy unlimited climbing, pro shop discounts, and exclusive member-only events. Memberships offer all-access to any VE facility anytime or single gym memberships which grants you unlimited access to any single facility of your choice.

On March 17, 2020, VE had to temporarily close due to mitigation efforts and State mandates in response to the COVID-19 pandemic declared by the World Health Organization (WHO). The decision was made to freeze all Month-to-Month, or EFT, memberships and waive the freeze fee for the duration of the closures. Additionally, VE put all pre-paid annual memberships on hold with the understanding that the length of the closure would be added to the end-date of all memberships. Therefore, members would not lose the value of their investment.

On June 10, 2020, VE began to open its facilities with mandated limits on capacity. As a result, a reservation system was instituted to accommodate those limits and the fact that not all of the facilities would be opening at first. Because members would not have complete access to our facilities and capacity limitations could prevent them from climbing when they choose. VE decided to keep memberships frozen and on hold until capacity limits are lifted and all of our facilities can open and accommodate our members. VE also realizes that some of our members will not be able to return at this time, until further pandemic metrics are met, or for various personal reasons.

Because memberships are still frozen and on hold, the reservation process requires a pre-paid daily fee ($10 for current members and $15 for non-members). These fees will allow us to open our facilities on a limited basis while there is no revenue from memberships, groups, etc. If anyone wants to activate their pre-paid annual membership or their Month-to-Month (EFT) membership with an acknowledgement that they understand the current and temporary access limitations, they may do so. Month-to-Month (EFT) memberships will have to pay a prorated amount for access during the current month. For members who activate their membership, they must still pre-pay the $10 reservation fee as a deposit. The fee will be refunded upon check-in. (Note, if the member misses or does not check-in for their reserved session, the fee is non-refundable).

All Monthly EFT Members have been credited for 19 days from March 17th – April 4th. This credit will be applied when your membership is reactivated or may be used toward other purchases including entry fees, rentals, and pro shop items. No refunds will be given. 

What are you doing to clean the hand holds and climbing surface?

We cannot sanitize the hand holds and climbing surface between each person. So, we are asking everyone to diligently wash or sanitize their hands before and after you climb. Avoid touching your face, after you climb, after you cough, sneeze, eat, use the restroom and at other times, or until you can wash or sanitize your hands. Surface contamination is not the main way of viral transmission according to the CDC and medical experts. Therefore, wearing face coverings and diligently washing/sanitizing your hands will go a long way in mitigating potential transmission.

Is there increased ventilation in the facilities?

Yes! Since opening our St Paul facility in 1992, we have used the best HVAC filters for our application. In the furnace filter world, filters are categorized by the MERV rating system. MERV, otherwise known as Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, is a system used to evaluate the efficiency of an air filter based on how effective it is at catching particles of varying sizes. Basically, the higher the MERV rating, the higher the air filtration capabilities of a particular filter. MERV 8 is what is recommended based on our buildings and HVAC usage. We use MERV 10, which is a better and more robust filter. Higher rated filters are usually only found in hospitals, cleanrooms, and nuclear power plants.

To further increase the filtration of our HVAC systems, we have built or added special “return air” plenums to accommodate multiple filters, instead of just the standard one or two filters on regular commercial HVAC systems. This allows for extra filtration that most other systems do not provide. We have done this to not only increase filtering, but to increase air flow through our systems. This allows us to use the more restrictive MERV 10 filters that allow less air thru the filter but capture more particles/dust. This may sound odd but by using a more restrictive filter we make up for it by using more filters.  In this way we are moving more air and providing more air filtration in our facilities. We originally designed this to better capture chalk dust, but it certainly helps in the new reality of life with COVID-19.

Add to the enhanced air filtration at Vertical Endeavors, the HVAC systems in our facilities have enhanced fresh air capabilities with additional  exhaust fans to move air to a greater degree. We have also instructed our staff to open the doors and garage doors to allow fresh air to flow through the facility in conjunction with our robust exhaust fans. The overall result is fresher air, more air, and better air filtration to enhance your climbing experience.

What if I need to cancel or reschedule my reservation?

Because Vertical Endeavors is operating at reduced capacities the following cancellation and refund policies will be strictly enforced: 

  • Reservations may be cancelled for a full refund up to 24 hours prior to your reservation time. 
  • You may reschedule at no charge prior to the start of your reservation. 
  • After the start of your reserved time you will not be able to reschedule or receive a refund. 
  • Members that miss their reserved time or do not check-in will not be receive a refund of their deposit. 

Cancellations must be done 24 hours in advance by calling the facility. Emailed cancellation requests will not be accepted.