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helno


Jul 25, 2005, 6:58 PM
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Mental maturity aside, what age would be ‘appropriate’ for a kid to start climbing??? I have a set of boy/girl twins (and NO they are not identical, and yes – people ask) who just love to try rock climbing; the thing is they are 4 1/2 years old. Now from a parent perspective, SAFETY FIRST, they both have their own harness, auto locking carabiner, and a bike helmet (yeah, I know not the same as rock helmet, but it’s something).

The highest they have ever tried climbing has been about 8 feet up, tied in on a top rope with myself belaying them and mom or friend guiding them up and back down. Has anyone else done this as a kid, started their kids this young or know someone who has?

Just wondering...


quiteatingmysteak


Jul 25, 2005, 7:06 PM
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I work at a rock climbing gym, and a large majority of the business at this time (this time being summer) is YMCA and kids camps. I can tell you right off from experience that your kids enjoy rock climbing; suffice to say they like to play. Don't get me wrong, I am 20 years old and I LOVE to play, but it is far from climbing. A passion for rock climbing is, in my very humble opinion, something that is really hard to grasp at 4 1/2 mostly because of the fact that at that age children are hardly even conscious of themselves, much less their surroundings. I adequate it best to a drunk college student. They are there to have fun, however and whatever the means! Many have started climbing at the age of four (Tommy Caldwell, Chris Lindner leading 5.10 trad - Robbins Crack in Woodson) so what you should do is pursue this as best as you can. The reason is after a few years they will want to climb because of more than just what you see at fairs and carnivals, but because climbing, through maturity, is almost spiritual and helps you find something a little more each day about yourself, and if you can get them into that more power to you!


el_guapo


Jul 25, 2005, 7:11 PM
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Yes I started my kids out perhaps at 5. My theory was if the harness and helmet fit.....why not? The only problems I've had so far was letting my 8 year old daughter do a route that had a ledge at the top. Getting her to come back down was a nightmare and just when I was about to break out the rescue techniques her mother free climbed halfway up this 5.7 and talked her into downclimbing back over the ledge and then getting into a position so I could lower her. That was a bad experience for everyone! Start small, consider murphy's laws, be prepared for anything and I think you'll be okay.


Partner jammer


Jul 25, 2005, 7:24 PM
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If they want to climb, let them climb. It's better to be there when they do then to have them try it without you. As stated, start them off low and let them work their way up. I think this is a great way to beocme closer with your kids. Not to mention the trust that is built!

Alan


theishofoz


Jul 25, 2005, 7:36 PM
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my dad got me started when i was 4 at swan slab in yosemite. i think i turned out alright.


dimsung1


Jul 25, 2005, 7:37 PM
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i work at a gym in abbotsford, b.c., and ive belayed a 4 1/2 girl before. They wont go any higher than they're comfortable with. She only went up maybe 10 feet, but she's tried every wall she can. like el_guapo said earlier, if the equipment fits, let them explore.


northerndrawl


Jul 25, 2005, 8:26 PM
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Some thoughts based on my experiences...

Make sure you are using a full body harness. Little kids being so proportionately top heavy can tip up side down in a seat only harness configuration.

Keep proportions in mind. 8' high to a 3' high person is like 16' high to a 6' person. Enough to scare many.

In some belay arrangments the child may not have enough mass to start the rope moving down. Particularily in gyms where the rope might be double wrapped around a pipe, or on stiff 11mm (not that anyone climbs on 11mm anymore). Meaning you have to open up the belay a lot to get them moving.

Kids that young can't rationalize, and can easily get caught up in panic. If they get stuck (whether for real, or in their minds) you can't talk them through it out of it very easily--as shown in the above story.

Kids may not always grasp time and place--they may start climbing other stuff (trees, furniture, fireplace) when they have no rope or parent present. Though they'll probably do that anyway.

Remember that they are still young and if they don't get excited or are quickly bored its not because they don't like mommy's/daddy's sport. Be patient, they may come around again in a few years.

Best thing to do is let them climb when they want, let them down when they want, and always have a way of getting them down if they get stuck.

To quiteatingmysteak--kids are like drunk college students--that's brilliant


pixelguru


Jul 25, 2005, 8:26 PM
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A good friend of mine has a son who we took to the gym when he was 5. We told the little guy he was going to "spider man school" since he wasn't quite sure what a climbing gym was.

Despite being a little timid at first, he took to it really fast. He also thought it was much more fun to climb up 15 feet and fling himself off the wall to swing around on the rope. He had no interest in going all the way up until he heard the whole gym cheer when a little girl made it to the top. Then, he became really serious and clawed and scrambled his way to the top with the determination of a FA.

He slept all the way home.

My advice is to take them now, but don't expect much. Let them play a little and get comfortable with the idea of human flies. Put them in a harness and swing them a little on the rope. They'll tell you when they want to go higher.


chezdillon


Jul 25, 2005, 8:54 PM
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I have two girls, 5 and 14. The 5 year-old is now using the hand-me-down harness and shoes from the 14 year old.

I have let the 5 year-old "climb" for two years now. Up until this summer that has mostly meant gently swinging about 6 feet off the ground on top-ropes set up on very overhanging routes. (of course she uses a full-body harness and a helmet)

This summer she has started actually climbing, and has done a couple of easy routes. She goes as high as she feels comfortable, and then I let her down. Sometimes that means climbing to the anchors, sometimes that means climbing 5 feet. We started climbing "crab style" (we would climb together with her between me and the rock - always on slabby routes) with two belays so that I could be with her on the route. Now she climbs by herself.

In reply to:
The only problems I've had so far was letting my 8 year old daughter do a route that had a ledge at the top.

The 14 year-old does not climb any more. She has climbed A LOT since she was about 6. She has been on more road trips than many climbers I know. She had a bad experience on a route at the NRG and does not find climbing fun any more. Now she plays soccer and cello.

The 5 year-old is benefiting from our experience with her older sister. I am very careful to pick routes that do not have any features that might cause a situation like the one described by el_guapo. I wish our oldest hadn't had the bad experience, and I will do everything I can to make sure the youngest always has fun.

In reply to:
A passion for rock climbing is, in my very humble opinion, something that is really hard to grasp at 4 1/2 mostly because of the fact that at that age children are hardly even conscious of themselves, much less their surroundings.

I know plenty of adult climbers that are barely aware of their surroundings... :)

Fun is an appropriate starting place for children in the world of climbing. Passion will come when they decide whether or not this is something they really want to pursue.


icenwy


Jul 25, 2005, 9:24 PM
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My daughter turned five last friday and has been climbing for at least two years. At first, it was only bouldering. This summer as well as last we have been introducing her to the rope. Normally, she'll only head up 10 or 15 feet with me accompanying her(sometimes less), and it is fun for her.This is key, making sure they are having fun. If it becomes a chore/boring, then interest fades quickly.

Chezdillion, good advice, and do you mind telling what happened at NRG with your eldest?


wannabarockjock


Jul 25, 2005, 10:11 PM
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My six year old actually got me into climbing.... his day care did a trip to the local gym and my son came back home, telling stories about how great it was, if I could take him back there some time.. long story short, three years later we both have our own equipment and enjoy taking the family to camp grounds that are close to climbing areas. he enjoys it, and I think that it will help with self confidence, fitness, responsibility and how to make good choices. my number one rule: no expectations - if we walk 3 miles to get to a crag and he suddenly wants to turn around and go home - OK, doesn't want to climb any higher - ok. wants to eat all my energy bars - ok. as long as we are safe and come back uninjured then it has been a great day. someday he will cherish these moments - heck he will think of them when he is stuck in some Grey cubicle pushing paper for the man!

I recently started both my kids slack-lining, ages 5 and 9 again - no expectations, just a cool way to spend the summer.


thedejongs


Jul 25, 2005, 10:48 PM
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They're never too young. If you go to the gym, take them with you. If they have older siblings, they'll imitate the older siblings. My youngest (1 1/2) likes to have me hold her as she grasps at the holds-- I give her a bit of a push to show her the movements. One of these days, she's going to do it herself. Use a full body harness (my 5 yo son would never climb more than 15 ft. with a seat but will now crank anything you throw at him when he's got a full body harness on). Kids are there to have fun . . . which is the reason I'm there, too. When you go outdoors, make sure you go somewhere that has a decent approach (no fun entertaining a 1 yo on a seven foot ledge with precipitous drops everywhere) and isn't going to be occupied by a bunch of overly-serious dudes that will be pissy at you because your kids are having a good time and letting everyone within a four mile radius know it. Kids (nowadays in particular) need the outdoors. Don't know when folks have let their little ones do their first multi-pitch. Prob depends on age and maturity. I know I'd not let me 10 yo do one; in 4 years, however, I'm betting my 6 yo may be ready for it.
Cheers.


tigermeat


Jul 25, 2005, 11:14 PM
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I have 3 kids 7, 5, 3 and all climb in some way shape or form.

The 7 year old climbs ~5.7-5.8 on toprope and usually locks up when he gets ~15-20ft off the ground (his limit gets higher with time).

The 5 year old is perfectly happy to stick to the 9ft woody in the garage on TR, and enjoys wearing a harness, shoes, and helmet as much as the climbing.

The 3 year old likes to hang on the rope and feel like she is part of things.

All 3 started by the time they were 3 and really enjoy it. As far as having a passion for it, the eldest started after a trip back to my home in CO. We were having a picnic in Eldo, and he suddenly noticed a party at the top of the bastille Crack. He pointed, slack jawed, and asked "Dad, can you teach me to do THAT?"

He currently aspires to doing big walls in Zion


tnchief


Jul 25, 2005, 11:37 PM
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My kids are absolute monkeys. My 7 year old daughter regularly climbs my overhanging training wall in my bedroom. My 5 year old son is a climbing fool. I found him on top of the refrigerator (5 1/2 ft off the floor) 2 years ago. My 3 year old follows suit. What he lacks in ability, he more than makes up in tenacity.

They all started climbing around 2 years.


chezdillon


Jul 25, 2005, 11:41 PM
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In reply to:
Chezdillion, good advice, and do you mind telling what happened at NRG with your eldest?

We were letting her top rope a route behind the Super Mario boulder at Beauty Mountain. This area is widely acknowledged as appropriate for beginners. The climb is very easy 5.4 or 5.5 and she had been climbing for a while by then.

She encountered problems about 3/4 the way up the 30 ft. climb. She came to a blank slab almost completely devoid of climbable features. The rest of the climb involves huge jugs on very low angle rock.

In reply to:
Kids that young can't rationalize, and can easily get caught up in panic. If they get stuck (whether for real, or in their minds) you can't talk them through it out of it very easily--as shown in the above story.

When she reached the perceived impasse, she broke down emotionally. It didn't matter that one of us climbed up to help her or that we didn't "force" her to continue. In her mind she had had enough. There was nothing left but fear.

Now at 14 she can look back on the incident and see that there was nothing to be afraid of. That doesn't change the fact that she has no interest in climbing.

Children are shaped by their experiences. It is vitally important that their experiences in rock climbing are as positive as possible.

In reply to:
Now from a parent perspective, SAFETY FIRST, they both have their own harness, auto locking carabiner, and a bike helmet

Safety is of course the first concern in any activity your child undertakes. Given that any sane parent would not needlessly endanger their children, the next most important thing has to be making the activity as fun as possible.

Any situation that results in paralyzing fear is bound to leave a bad memory. What amazes me is how long that memory lasts and what a large affect it can have on their lives.
In reply to:
at that age children are hardly even conscious of themselves, much less their surroundings

:)


el_guapo


Jul 26, 2005, 12:41 AM
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Chezdillon, sorry to hear about your daughter's experience. My daughter came down crying and screaming "I'm never gonna climb again!" The resilient drama queen climbed the next morning as though nothing happened. :lol: I learned from my parent's (mistakes) to never push kids into anything. Simply present them with the opportunity and if they spread their wings and fly then that is COOL!


kachoong


Jul 26, 2005, 1:11 AM
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In reply to:
A good friend of mine has a son who we took to the gym when he was 5. We told the little guy he was going to "spider man school" since he wasn't quite sure what a climbing gym was.
....I've been in Spiderman School all this time and nobody told me?!?! :shock: .... crikey, that's AWESOME!!! When do we start to catch criminals? 8^)


pud


Jul 26, 2005, 4:53 PM
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http://images5.theimagehosting.com/elisends.3.jpg

My son Elias sends this 5.2 at Jtree just after his 3rd birthday.


bigjonnyc


Jul 26, 2005, 5:00 PM
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In reply to:
...start them off low and let them work their way up...

Wouldn't it be rappelling if it were the other way around?!?! :lol:


stonefoxgirl


Jul 26, 2005, 5:11 PM
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Now now now!!!!!!
It's the perfect time to get your kids into climbing!
Let them give it a whirl, if they love it get them into it,
if they hate it, at least they know at a young age and can either
try something else or try it again later, but they won't ever say,
"mom/dad never gave me the opportunity".
Good Luck!
God if I only knew what climbing was at that age!


landongw


Jul 28, 2005, 10:00 AM
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as with any sport, just maker sure you don't push them. Just be sure you're not subconsciously trying to get your kid to live YOUR dream.

I know several hard climbers that started young. but they also say "but, i was climbing for my father, not for myself. It wasn't until i got away and stopped climbing for him that i got good"


wolfemom


Jul 28, 2005, 11:31 AM
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I am a newbie to climbing so there aren't many opportunities for my to contribute anything useful on these boards. But my area of expertice in life is definately kids (and I have two kids who climb.)

As long as they are the ones asking to climb, and as long as you make the experience a positive one, then take your kids climbing. The most important thing is to bring them down when they say they want to come down. You need to help them feel like they are in control when they are on the ropes.

While there are definately some kids who are climbing phenoms by the age of 6, the more probable scenario is that the little guys (the gender neutral form of the word) will spend many years happily climbing the easier routes. Follow their lead and they will show you what they are ready for.

-Wolfemom


shiggetyshiva


Jul 28, 2005, 11:52 AM
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Many kids are natural climbers. Last night while standing in the checkout line at the grocery store I watched a little girl (couldn't have been older than 4) boulder up the checkout counter while her mom was paying for groceries.


kachoong


Jul 28, 2005, 8:17 PM
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Have had heard that children, especially under the age of twleve, can develop finger problems from over-using them for climbing. They are still growing and as they climb harder and crimp harder, they put more and more strain on their growing joints and tendons. Has anyone else heard this? I suppose it just means a lot more effort and concentration warming up and down and not pushing TOO hard on tough, crimpy climbs.


pud


Jul 29, 2005, 12:34 AM
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In reply to:
Have had heard that children, especially under the age of twleve, can develop finger problems from over-using them for climbing. They are still growing and as they climb harder and crimp harder, they put more and more strain on their growing joints and tendons. Has anyone else heard this? I suppose it just means a lot more effort and concentration warming up and down and not pushing TOO hard on tough, crimpy climbs.

we thought about this and decided sore digits were better than a big butt from sitting around playing x-box...

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