5 tips for safe rock climbing with your kids

Photo: Bo White

Rock climbing is an amazing sport for children. They challenge themselves mentally and physically, build confidence in others, and learn the skills to experience nature in a unique and intimate way. Yet the dangers are real. Here are some tips to keep it safe and fun.

Parents should also learn to climb!

  1. Visit a climbing gym. One way to start is to visit an indoor climbing gym. Choose a gym with a large space dedicated to beginners and children. Bouldering is a type of climbing that is close to the ground and does not require a rope. This is the easiest way to start because all you need is a pair of climbing shoes and a chalk bag, which you can hire from most gyms.
  2. Rope climbing. Parents must learn first! Some rock gyms offer rope climbing as well as bouldering. If you want to go rock climbing with your child, you will need to learn how to belay. Ask if your climbing gym offers belay lessons. Better yet, sign up for a rock climbing course at Mountaineers.
  3. Learn and follow the safety rules. Climbing can be dangerous. Parents and children should learn basic safety rules and follow them without question. For example, don’t let children play or climb under other climbers – even just a few feet away, a falling human being can seriously injure someone below.
  4. Keep it positive and low pressure. Let your children set their own limits. If they are panicked and want to stop, let them. They can always try again another time. Plus, it’s not like swimming or riding a bike – not all kids need to be proficient climbers.
  5. Learn the tricks of the trade yourself. Rock climbing is an activity the whole family can learn and enjoy together. The best way to get everyone to enjoy the sport is for YOU to lead the way. Once you learn the basics of rock climbing you will feel more comfortable and so will your children.

Check out Molly White’s hiking/climbing adventure with her kids:

Icicle Creek: A scenic fall family adventure near Leavenworth.

Virginia F. Goins