This is a guest post by: Kirsten, a mother of two, enjoying California’s cold and rainy weather.
When I first thought about taking my kids rock climbing, I pictured bringing a few magazines and chatting with my friend while a professional taught my kids. Ha! It was worth a shot. I called the facility and a very nice young man on the other end of the phone gave me my options either my kids could join a class, OR I could be trained as their “belayer.”
He was subtle in his approach, but when he explained after my training, our future visits would be at a greatly reduced rate, I forfeited the magazines and social hours.
The training rate was $41 for my instruction, rock climbing for my two kids, and all of our equipment. After my training, as long as we arrived before noon, future visits would cost just $10 per kid. Now that sounded like a great deal.
A little background is probably necessary. My brother and sister-in-law rock climb all over the world. That’s their idea of a good time. So for me to learn a little bit about their passion seemed like the least I could do…or at least the right thing to do. I don’t know. I just needed to learn how to do it.
When my friend and I arrived at the rock climbing gym, we were introduced to our equipment by the same nice young man I spoke to on the phone, Andre. He showed us how to fasten the straps around our waist and around our legs and then around our children’s waists and legs.
Next, we learned to tie the rope through the loop on the front of our kids’ strap and how to create a completely secure knot. There were five points to check on the rope. He was extremely patient and interested in safety as he repeatedly stressed how to check the three points on the straps and the five points on the rope. He told us that we needed to check these points before our kids began every climb.
Mechanical things are not my strength, and I was almost embarrassed by how many times I needed him to repeat his points. I was impressed by his patience and clarity. I am also a college instructor, so this experience helped me understand from my student’s perspective how it feels to be in waters never tested and to need the information broken down and explained repeatedly. Andre was a great instructor.
Finally, we were introduced to the rock wall.
Andre reviewed what we needed to check and recheck as we tied our kids into the rope. He then explained how to allow enough rope for the kids to keep climbing, prepare them to descend, and allow them enough rope as they approached the floor. He had easy-to-remember acronyms as we practiced these techniques several times while our kids waited (pretty much) on the floor. Andre stayed with us for a few climbs and then let us graduate to alone time with our kids and the wall.
After about ninety minutes, I was exhausted but proud of myself for learning a new skill. Mostly, it was incredible to have something new to do with my kids and to grow as a person.
On a philosophical level, both my friend and I commented that this activity was a metaphor of our relationship with our kids. They were dependent on us and yet we needed to literally extend the cord or rope so they could explore new heights.
I encourage you to find a rock climbing gym or any kind of new physical experience to enjoy with your kids. I highly recommend the facility we used, called Hangar 18 (named after Roswell, New Mexico).
From their website:
over 35,000 feet of textured climbing terrain, world-class bouldering, massive lead caves featuring routes up to 70 feet long, a friendly and professional staff, and a variety of fitness and yoga classes
Wow! They have facilities in Upland, Riverside, and the South Bay near Los Angeles.
No monetary compensation was received for this post. It is merely about a child friendly destination that Kirsten enjoyed. The opinions are her own and were in no way influenced by Hanger 18. Others experience may vary.