Climbing with kids

One thing that is heartening, but sometimes very frustrating, about my daughters is that they really don’t care too much about social norms at this point. I don’t know if that’s because they’re very independently minded or just oblivious, but it’s particularly obvious when we go climbing. Everyone is wearing what seems to be the consensus for appropriate clothes – breathable fabrics made by one of four or five climbing-specific brands, or a shirt with the name of a climbing club or competition. La Serpiente, on the other hand, likes unicorns and rainbows, so she wears a pair of tights with a rainbow on them, and a unicorn tshirt. If I could find her a unicorn chalk bag, she’d be in raptures.
Today, though, La Serpiente decided to wear her Nova Scotian "Pinch Me, I’m Cute" tshirt. The one with a cartoon lobster on it. Maybe I’ll encourage her to go lobster fishing and wear a bunch of Patagonia/North Face/Marmot/Black Diamond/5.10 gear instead.

Because I managed to remove a few square millimetres of skin from the inside of my right ring finger yesterday, I didn’t go climbing today. I suppose I could have, but it would have been 50-50 between being in pain and not doing much, or being in pain and making my wound take longer to heal. So instead I hung around and shot some video of my eldest climbing.

Today she climbed to the top of the wall – it’s just over three stories of height. This took her two tries. I was coming back from Starbucks, trying to locate my daughter, and then saw her half way up the wall. On that first attempt, she’d suddenly realised she needed to go to the loo, so I had to do a mad dash downstairs to find her and take her upstairs to the euphemism and then back down again.

On her second try, I was a bit worried she was going to get her line tangled with another kid. There was a boy of a similar age climbing on the route adjacent to hers, but both of them were doing a better job of going sideways rather than up, so I had occasional moments where I thought either she was going to kick him in the face or get a climbing shoe in her mouth. Still my aching heart, Competitive Dad that I am…

She went up and up and up after that, and although my heart was in my mouth when she got near the top – tired, she wanted to give up when she was just three holds from competing it – but she gathered herself and heaved all the way to the top. Which is more than I’ve done there.

I’m pretty happy with the technique they’ve taught her. She cheats a bit and uses holds that aren’t part of the route, but purist approaches can come later. She seems to have pretty good smearing technique on the wall, and as she’s strong and flexible, a lot of things are easy for her that others could struggle with. Now if only she had self awareness so she didn’t bump into other climbers.

But then would that mean losing the unicorn shirts?


2 responses to “Climbing with kids”

  1. When you’re short you have to smear more, I was impressed with how she’d got that. I’m also cheerfully advised, Get your feet up high, sometimes as high as your head (I’m definitely not up to that), but La S seems well on the way.
    Not climbing across someone else’s route is another thing I noticed the other kid’s dad didn’t tell him.
    You’ll appreciate the not going with norms when they’re teenagers and can’t be doing with the drama other teenage girls seem to thrive on.

    • There’s a particularly bonkers video of a guy called Alex Migos who gets his feet up high:

      As for slightly-out-of-control children, I agree somebody should have told the boy what he was doing wrong, because a bad habit only gets harder to correct later on. But I also worried I’d leap into Competitive Dad territory – I doubt my wife would have any such qualms…

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