Hangar 18 climbing gyms reopening

Climbing shoes, chalk bag, tape and medical kit that are used for climbing. Catherine Norby/Lariat

Hangar 18 climbing gyms will reopen in response to California’s four-tier color system as laid out by Gov. Gavin Newsom, the company announced on Sept. 9. Currently, Orange County is in the red tier, meaning the spread and positivity rates of COVID-19 are at a substantial level, allowing gyms to open at 10% capacity. Because of this, Hangar 18’s San Clemente and other Orange County locations are opening restrictively. 

When gyms opened in California in mid-June, Hangar 18 followed the Center for Disease Control guidelines to protect its patrons and workers. All staff members and climbers were asked to wear masks and wash their hands before and after using the walls. 

“I felt super safe the first time the gym was opened up,” said Jennifer DeRose, climber at the San Clemente Hangar 18 and Trader Joe’s employee. “I am an essential worker so the same protocols that we have at my job were followed by the gym so I felt they did everything in their power to keep us safe.” 

Hangar 18 had to close its gyms again around July after California experienced a spike in COVID-19. In order to stay afloat, they asked members who could to continue paying their $36 monthly fee. 

As California slowly reopens again, climbers and employees at Hangar 18 alike hope their gym remains open this time. 

“I feel the gym will be a safe place during its reopening, six feet distances and limitations will be met on how many people can be in climbing at a time,” said Hannah Drever, yoga instructor at the Hangar 18 in San Clemente. “Safety and cleanliness will be our priority to keep our community together and stoked.” 

The reopening of Hangar 18 this go-round is stricter. In accordance with the 10% capacity rule in the red tier for gyms, Hangar 18 has requested climbers use their booking system before coming to the gym so the number of climbers can be monitored. Members also have to sign a COVID-19 waiver and watch a safety protocol video before coming to the gym. 

“I feel that the extra protocols for safety (including the temperature check and the questionnaire) are again good because my job does the same thing,” DeRose said. “Adding the time slots sign-ins of that I believe will also help and if someone were to have COVID they could have the exact time and dates of when that specific person last came into the gym.” 

This month will be free for members of the San Clemente and Mission Viejo locations because of the closing in June. Monthly rates return to normal on Oct. 1.