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Bergretter

Introducing the vertical world

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I'm excited to get my 3 y/o boy off the ground. I've got a full body harness that he is just about to fit into. What would be a good way to introduce him to the vertical world that won't give him too much of a scare the first time around. Maybe a low tyrolean rig to scoot across? Or just haul him up a small wall on TR and see how he likes it. What have other parnents tried and found works?

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My daugther started by bouldering with me when she was 5. I let her decide when she wanted to start top roping. She started out on small, 30 foot crags at first. I think just letting the kids have fun on their own terms is a big thing. If the child finds the experience frightening, or unpleasant then there may not be a second time for a while. I would suggest trying not not to push the child. If you are top roping and they want down, let them down.

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I am tackling the same ideas. I have a few thoughts

 

kids do better when in the company of other kids. If there was a climbing play date with a 6 or more kids, hopefully one is at least a little experienced, the others will follow along. Kid's peer pressure is the most powerful energy know to the child world. Birthday parties at vertical world is a natural situation.

 

take your boy along to mellow short climbing days cragging. Let him/her watch with no pressure. Eventually when the location is no longer a novelty, they will explore what you are doing. Much like they watch and imitate what you do at home. With enough time at the crags, hopefully the imitation follows. For that age, big concern are needs to be safe with no big drop offs nearby or raging rivers, easy face climbing and close to car. mtneers clubhouse outdoor wall, fun rock and exit 38 is a good location. Merrymore and leavenworth crack climbing not so.

 

If your 3 year old starts at index, then we have a prodigy at hand.

 

Make a short easy climbing wall at home. Put a bell on top to ring. get on it daily in full view of child. Helps daddy out to is a bonus.

 

For older kids, tell them that they are not allowed to climb till they are 18. Guaranteed to make them climb right now.

 

Our aging cunning and skills should win over youth in this endeavor. But you will hate yourself when he/she climbs harder than you in a couple years or becomes a Colin Haley uber alpinist. Such is life.

 

Not sure if the hauling up wall or tyrolean is a good idea. probably would be if they can escape or end at slightest whimper.

 

I am going to be trying more cragging child efforts this year. Maybe we can keep this thread running with peoples successes and failures.

 

 

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My dad got me started really young scrambling around at Indian rock and the other bouldering areas in the berkley hills on visits to my Grandma who lived down there.

 

Aggressive spotting, short roping (tied on with a bowline and hip belay) on sketchy sections, and easy routes (think steep trails) to the "summits" with little loose rock were key and eventually lead to more formal top roping, bouldering and leading.

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I started taking my grandkids out last year. the younger ones (4 yrs.) didn't like the harness much but really liked easy boulders. The older ones did fine with harness on easy TR. We have mostly gone around Barney's Rubble up the Icicle. There is a nice easy boulder on your left just as you drive into the parking lot that the little ones really like. The tallish boulder to the right as you look from the road has an anchor on top and made a good starter climb for the more adveturous. Be creative, the kids will have fun on rocks that we don't really notice. I bought a Trango Junior harness, it fits kids weighing from low 30's to 80 some pounds. La Sportiva makes a kid's shoe that is designed to cover two sizes. My grandkids really liked wearing them, once they had them on they didn't want to take them off. Dave A.

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My kids at 3 were very happy crawing around on 5 foot high boulders in the city park. No gear, no special anything, just moving on stone. Both have turned into pretty fair-dinkum climbers. My son moved on to other interests at about 16. He loves stuff with no gear, like running. All my daughter could talk about on her 21st birthday phone call last night was how she sent a bunch of 5.11s in New River Gorge in KY last week. I don't think she mentioned booze. We did something right.

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I don't know much about this but my $0.02 is this:

 

Step 1: Take them with you climbing as much as you can, even if they aren't actively climbing.

 

Step 2: At the gym, put them in the harness and swing them...don't climb at all, just push them...they get giddy at the swing, and learn to absolutely love the rope. (age 2-3)

 

Step 3: Someone mentioned this, but its really applicable at age 5 and up. ALWAYS have buddies around. When outside, make a point to camp and do kid stuff (roasting marshmellows, fire is always good, throwing rocks into the river, etc.). If you get a pitch or two in great, but don't count on it.

 

Step 4: So far my kids have all gone through this. Around 7 they begin to think logically and have to relearn to trust the rope. Ie. they start to get the whole cause-and-effect and understand logically that hitting the ground is real and deadly. DO NOT FORCE THEM through this, they will get through it on their own.

 

The whole goal of the above is to make climbing more than just a sport or activity. It becomes part of them, something they ache to do, look forward to, and miss when they can't do it. A minor argument with the wife that i "won" has never made me feel better than what happened last spring. She wanted to go to Disneyland and my boys "demanded" to go to Yosemite!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

 

My kids, for the record are: 11, 9, and 4 and are some of the finest, toughest little climbers i've met. This thread brings a tear to my eyes as i know, that the future comes, that they will leave and my "bestest" climbing partners will move on...

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+1 on the above...

 

Also I use to put plastic animal toys on the holds, and ask my boys to rescue them... Each time I would put the toy a couple holds higher... they loved this game...

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