This might look like a helpful and informative post, but it’s actually a trip report from two days of climbing in Vedauwoo, with nine adults and five kids under 4 years old, over Labor Day weekend. Shhhh. I’m being sneaky.
The golden rule of climbing with babies and young kids is that there is safety in numbers. Basic math states that you need at least three adults for a climbing trip involving a child: one belayer, one climber, and one to put cookies in the screaming baby hole. But the more people on a climbing trip, the more cookies you’ll find, and eventually, the relative number of screaming baby holes converges towards zero.
However, it may be that your area does not have many families out climbing. What if you’ve been climbing with only one partner for years, and now you need to recruit new people into your group of cragfamiles? How do you go about bringing people into your world? Well, here are some methods that have worked for Mark and I.
1. Be a good example.
Get pregnant and then keep climbing with your old friends. If you can pull it off, they may think that being a parent is easy and fun, and try it for themselves.
2. Be Flexible.
Invite everybody you can think of, but don’t worry about details. Just give everybody a vague description of where to go and when to show up. If you or multiple other families get lost on the way there, you’re probably doing it right.
3. Be generous.
Give away or loan out all of the clothes, gear, backpacks, tents, and toys that your cragbaby outgrew last year. Make sure the “gift” or “loan” comes with the prerequisite that the recipient accompanies you climbing. Then they will owe you for the favor and you can hold it over their heads, with Godfather-like power, for years.
4. Be daring!
When your vague plan for easy topropes falls apart, try leading up a climb that you have no information on, but “looks good” from the ground. Your new climbing partners will love slipping on lichen and moss on their way up a remote and unheard of 40-foot bolt ladder, I assure you. If it rains and then you taunt them into trying the climb on rock so wet it is “like climbing a mountain of soup,” they’ll be fellow cragfamilies for life!
5. Be helpful.
“I’ll watch yours if you watch mine” was never more true than with cragbabies.
6. Be interesting.
Start fires with dry grass and a flint and steal. Give lectures around the campfire about how trees turn air into wood (or bugs turn poop into water). Allow your 22 month old son to cover himself in spaghetti and sauce while everybody watches.
7. Be silly.
There’s no “ego” in “cragfamily”, and there’s no shame in our climbing. There’s no standard, no rules, and no such thing as “too much help!”
8. Be lazy.
Don’t bother to take your own camera out, and then steal photos from all of your new cragfamily friends! People love to feel needed, and despite their complaining, your friends will actually appreciate this deep down inside.
9. Be outside.
The winds, the storms, the lightening, the rocks, the sunshine, the smell of pines, the occasional moose, the coating of dirt on our children… is Vedauwoo.
10. Be happy.
Relax, enjoy your days in the sun, get dirty with the kids, and climb on!
Thanks to all of my friends who let me use their pictures for this post. Love you all! I hope we get lots of great climbing weekends with the kids over the next few years!