Climbing, parenting, Enduring Patagonia, and the Supermouse

Search
Go

Discussion Topic

Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
Messages 1 - 20 of total 91 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Gregory Crouch

Social climber
Walnut Creek, California
Topic Author's Original Post - Feb 12, 2013 - 01:15am PT
After a day of pondering Donini's suggestion, I've decided to take his advice and post this as its own topic, which I don't think I've done before. (If that's a pain in the ass, forgive me.) I'm interested in hearing how other climbing parents have handled these issues...

So here's the post, pulled from the end of another thread:

Having a strange climbing and Patagonia related experience here in California this morning -- my 12-year old son Ryan is reading Enduring Patagonia.

It's been very gratifying to see how much he's enjoying it, but it also raises a pretty serious question about what it means to be a parent, and a climber.

Of course I love climbing, and as an individual, it defines who I am as much or more than anything else, and I'd be delighted to teach Ryan to climb -- if it's something he genuinely wants for himself.

But I don't think it's right for me to make him into a climber just because I'm one. The sport is too damn dangerous, as any perusal of these threads makes painfully obvious.

We've done a little gym climbing and have taken a few trips up to Yosemite and Tuolumne, which have been great, and great experiences for Ryan, but I haven't pushed it too hard. We only go when Ryan asks to go, which he hasn't done very often -- just a time or two a year.

If Ryan wants to be a climber, I feel like it should be his decision as much as possible, one that he makes when he's a little older than he is now, when he's grown into more of his own person. This is one passion I really don't feel comfortable pointing him too strongly toward without him wanting it for himself. I have a pretty strong intuition that I shouldn't force feed it to him.

Of course, when the time comes, if he wants to learn, I'd be delighted to teach him. And I'd want to do it myself.

(By way of sporting comparisons relevant to another thread, Ryan's getting shown a lot more opportunities to embrace surfing by his old man, who doesn't perceive but a fraction of the risk in that sport that he does in climbing...)

I'd also be very interested in hearing from other parents how they've dealt with these issues. To me, it feels like a big one.

Guess what part Ryan just read...
Guess what part Ryan just read...
Credit: Gregory Crouch

(Also a great reply from Todd Gordon relevant to this topic and worth reading about halfway down the third page of the other thread at about #70.)

And where in the hell is David Fasel? Does anybody know?
Gregory Crouch

Social climber
Walnut Creek, California
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 12, 2013 - 01:31am PT
MK? What about Julie? There can't be another human being who has sweated out more mountain trips than Julie...
Ghost

climber
A long way from where I started
Feb 12, 2013 - 01:39am PT
We went through it with our kids. And yes, there were times when I wondered how I'd feel if one of them died climbing, but then I remembered my own youth, and asked myself how things would have turned out if my parents hadn't introduced me to the wilderness.

I was guiding whitewater when I was fifteen, and loving every minute of it. If I hadn't come back from one of my trips, I'm sure they would have questioned themselves. On the other hand, if they'd protected me from all that dangerous stuff, I'd probably have ended up dead in a back alley, or in jail. So maybe they did the right thing.

For what it's worth, we did the same thing you're doing. Introduced our boys to climbing, but then left it up to them. Their choice was to go in other directions. But last summer, on a trip to Squamish, who did I run into? Yup, Number Two son (now 27) up to do some climbing.



Charlie D.

Trad climber
Western Slope, Tahoe Sierra
Feb 12, 2013 - 08:20am PT
Greg,

Your approach is best in time he'll decide. My kids had been around climbing and climbers all their lives but I never pushed it. If they wanted to climb I took them and always made sure they had an enjoyable time. What was interesting to me is that my oldest didn't fully embrace it until he went off to college in Bozeman. He had training through our family and found himself in an environment full of outdoor orientated kids that loved the same things.

They all started climbing together and went through the frieghtful first several years like all of us. That period is what scared me the most when he was comfortable and knowledgeable enough to get himself into some real pickles which he did. Despite all the potential danger I warned him of he had to learn it himself through his own experiences.

He's all grown up and a compedent climber and skier and now he and his wife also a climber are expecting a baby. Pay back time, I'm sure they'll go through all those same nigths laying there wondering if their child is down or thinking they should have warned him or her about that descent etc. etc.

One things for sure being a climbing/skiing family sure makes reunions enjoyable beyond all the knife and fork activity. Good luck, he'll do fine either way. He's got a great dad that cares and that is the best ticket toward success.

Charlie D.
Jebus H Bomz

climber
Peavine
Feb 12, 2013 - 08:31am PT
(By way of sporting comparisons relevant to another thread, Ryan's getting shown a lot more opportunities to embrace surfing by his old man, who doesn't perceive but a fraction of the risk in that sport that he does in climbing...)

I wonder what the rates really are. I perused a surf (message) board and some casual "answer" sites, but there don't seem to be any hard and fast numbers on surfing mortality. Don't get knocked out by your board, smashed head first into the rocks, trapped out in a rip current, and you'll probably be okay. I'd reckon surfing has less, but what if you take alpine climbing out of the equation?

Do tourists on Everest count as climbers?

Had I children, I would probably do as DMT does.

Like Charlie says above, it's probably good payback for us climbers to have children who climb.
Randisi

Social climber
Dalian, Liaoning
Feb 12, 2013 - 09:29am PT
YOU WILL BE A CLIMBER.

AND YOU WILL ENJOY IT, DAMMIT!
T Hocking

Trad climber
Redding, Ca
Feb 12, 2013 - 09:44am PT
You planted the seed,
talk to him and find out his desires.
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
Feb 12, 2013 - 11:01am PT
Greg, my son turned 12 today and climbing is how we spend time together. I just emphasize saftey and that it is about the experience not the end result. He reads everything about climbing that he can get his hands on. So I know he is interested in it. Many times our "climbing trips" turn out to be just hiking in the woods, shooting his bb gun, or just playing in the stream on a hot day. I just see it as a way to spend time with him in the outdoors. I have had many more friends hurt seriously by biking than climbing but most parents don't think twice about giving them a bike.

That being said it is probably easier to pay the ultimate price while climbing than most other sports, and I would never be able to forgive myself if something happened to either of my children while climbing, but who better to teach them how to be safe than you, and I think it will become second nature for them.
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Feb 12, 2013 - 11:21am PT
Great topic.

I've got 4 younguns, 24, 22, 15, 13.

They've all been introduced HEAVILY to mountains, hiking, camping, lakes, canoeing, playing in the snow.

They've all been introduced LIGHTLY to technical climbing. They all like it a little, meaning they humor dad. But none of them have begged to take off on the sport.

They could never fill the shoes.....BWA HA HA hahahahaaaaa!!!


Credit: survival









Credit: survival









Credit: survival
TradEddie

Trad climber
Philadelphia, PA
Feb 12, 2013 - 11:32am PT
Of course I love climbing, and as an individual, it defines who I am as much or more than anything else, and I'd be delighted to teach Ryan to climb -- if it's something he genuinely wants for himself.

But I don't think it's right for me to make him into a climber just because I'm one. The sport is too damn dangerous, as any perusal of these threads makes painfully obvious.

We've done a little gym climbing and have taken a few trips up to Yosemite and Tuolumne, which have been great, and great experiences for Ryan, but I haven't pushed it too hard. We only go when Ryan asks to go, which he hasn't done very often -- just a time or two a year.

I think that sums up my approach nicely, (although I would define myself as parent first, climber second) and would be my recommendation to others too.

TE
Gregory Crouch

Social climber
Walnut Creek, California
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 12, 2013 - 11:58am PT
Super good thoughts, people.

Excellent point about the family reunions, @Charlie D. I didn't realize you were the patriarch of such an outdoorsy clan. Bring 'em out cragging some time!

Congrats on the coming grandkid. DeAnne (Ryan's mom) and I did Epinephrine in Red Rocks when she was pregnant, and although I'd guess that DeAnne didn't get the FPA of the route, since she was 5 months pregnant, I'd hazard that she probably nailed the MPA. I'll bet she still has it, too.

But last summer, on a trip to Squamish, who did I run into? Yup, Number Two son (now 27) up to do some climbing.

Bitchin'! Unplanned? That must have been fabulous.

I wonder what the rates really are.

Bombz, I've been surfing for 33 years and climbing for 28, and of all the people I've known surfing, I don't think I personally know anyone who has had an injury surfing worse than 30 stitches on their head from a scag. As a climber, I have personally shared a rope with 14 people who have gone on to get killed climbing. Although neither myself nor my partners have ever had anything so bad as a hangnail from climbing while we were climbing together. One of my career statistics of which I am most proud. Statistical sample is probably about the same size in each group in terms of raw numbers -- I'd guess about 300-400. Climbing is outrageously more dangerous than surfing, in my opinion and experience.

Great thoughts from the rest of you, too.

Perhaps we should post pics of climbing with the sprogs?
Todd Gordon

Trad climber
Joshua Tree, Cal
Feb 12, 2013 - 01:10pm PT
Here's my post from before.......thanks, Greg, for starting a new post;....yeah;...as parents, and climbers;....it's something we all grapple with.......

I'm w/you on this one, Greg. Climbing is my thing, not my kids. They are still sort of little (6,6, and 8), and I take them climbing every few months or so. They go out scrambling and running around in the wilderness all the time, but roped climbing not too often;....usually only when they ask or we are going w/other families who want to take their kids climbing. My kids love computer games, soccer, tennis, basketball, mountain biking, baseball, swimming;...that is their thing. I support those activities more than I support climbing. Climbing is my thing, not theirs. Climbing is a dirty and dangerous sport. I would rather see them surfing and snowboarding too......less likely to get snuffed and they can meet those cute rad surf/snowboard girls;...........(we got to hang out with the dirty camp four girls;....with their bad habits and foul mouths......worked for me, but probably not for them....).....
My son Von, who is handicapped and has CP, was scrambling and bouldering a few days ago in Indian Cove in Joshua Tree Nat. Park......he said, " Dad, will you teach me how to rock climb better. I want to be a good rock climber."....and I said, "Sure, Von....we can do that."......so there you go........

Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Feb 12, 2013 - 01:20pm PT
Once when I was four I was quietly sitting at the kitchen table while my father was practicing his violin. He stopped and went into the kitchen without seeing me at first. He reached into the fridge and took out a carton of milk, opened it, and started to raise it to his mouth and then stopped as he spotted me.

Sternly he wagged his finger at me and said, "You should never do this!"

Then he took a drink.
Gregory Crouch

Social climber
Walnut Creek, California
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 12, 2013 - 01:31pm PT
Then he took a drink.

I suck. I do that all the time.

And Todd, bring up that killer pic!
Gregory Crouch

Social climber
Walnut Creek, California
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 12, 2013 - 01:33pm PT
I met your wife once down in Argentina . we were both working an Eco challenge race in ?Bariloche

We didn't make it, Bruce.

But that was a fun season, no doubt. Frey and Cerro Cathedral is a phenomenal trip. Imaginate is one of the best rock climbs I've ever done. Was it on Campanille Eslovenio? Great route; great summit.
stevep

Boulder climber
Salt Lake, UT
Feb 12, 2013 - 01:52pm PT
Done some climbing with my 10 year old daughter. Both in the gym and outdoors. She likes it, but is not wild about it. Her thing is taekwondo. You'll know pretty quickly if a kid is really into something on their own, or if they just want to dabble.

I'd generally agree with you that climbing, even bouldering and sportclimbing is orders of magnitude more dangerous than surfing. Maybe real big wave surfing is comparable.
But deaths in bouldering/sportclimbing are pretty rare. Plenty of broken ankles and the like, but it's only when you get into the alpine world that the mortality index really rises. So if your kid doesn't go down that road, and if you give them good instruction on safety, it is possible to climb without huge risks.

Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Feb 12, 2013 - 04:08pm PT
We only go when Ryan asks to go, which he hasn't done very often

I treated it exactly the same with our kids, and felt the same way. They sometimes climb a little bit, but are mostly into other stuff, like running (when they are not injured). I'm quite happy with this.
SGropp

Mountain climber
Eastsound, Wa
Feb 12, 2013 - 04:28pm PT
Great topic! It's conversations like this that make Supertopo a worthwhile visit, in spite of some of the real idiocy that happens here.

Sometimes it's helpful as a parent to look for guidance at our own upbringing.

My family were very active hikers and skiers, but not climbers, but they did have a friend that had climbed the Matterhorn.That fired my imagination ,aided and abetted by my librarian Grandmother who brought me a copy of ''The White Spider'' when I was 14.

When I expressed my interest in climbing,my parents insisted that I got a solid grounding in the basics, which I got in the Seattle Mountaineers Basic Mountaineering Course in 1969.

A year later my father and brother found me unconscious and bloody with a broken back at the base of a cliff from which I had fallen while climbing unroped. Months later, after the brace came off, I was back at it , climbing as hard and as often as I could. My parents did not try to discourage me, realizing that there was something good there in spite of the real risks.

About 15 years later , I accompanied my parents on a trip to pick up my sisters ashes who had died in a car crash. During that time I realized, that to be a parent can bring out our greatest strengths and deepest vulnerability.

A month later, my wife and I left on a planned trip to try and circumnavigate Moresby Island in the Queen Charlottes in a kayak. It was a particularly stormy summer on the west coast and after a few weeks we realized how easy it would be to simply vanish without a trace in that pitiless ocean.
I think at that point I finally fully grasped my own mortality.

Now years later, with two sons 22 and 18, I find myself ,as a parent, worrying as they go out into the world on their own adventures. We brought them up in the outdoors, camping and hiking from a young age. When they were teenagers I took them on mountain climbing trips in the Cascades to give them a taste of that incredible world above the snow line. I tried not to push it, hoping to give them a sense of what is possible.

The oldest one enjoys it, but I think the climbing made him nervous. He's into other passions of his own interest.

His younger brother seems to have gotten a stronger taste for adventure in the mountains , going regularly to a climbing gym and completing training as a wilderness first responder during his first year away at college. Recently ,he confided to me , that he had gone off bouldering on his own while he was in Japan on a school trip last year.
It will be interesting to see where and how far it all goes with him.
Just in case, I'm building him a custom made ice axe for his birthday.

I think it's important not to push them into climbing ,just because it's something that we love. It's really needs to be their own personal choice, that they arrive at through their own growth process. As a parent it's good to inspire them, provide some solid guidance and maybe some financial help getting geared up if it goes that far.

In spite of all the advances in gear and technique, it's still a dangerous activity. Worth it in my mind, but I wouldn't push anyone into it. Even so, there's a lot of worse things for a young person to get interested in. Or even worse ,not interested in anything at all.
Gregory Crouch

Social climber
Walnut Creek, California
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 12, 2013 - 06:42pm PT
SGropp.... what a great post. Thanks for sharing.

it seems like most of us are coming at this situation on the same tack, although I suppose nobody's going to post, "f*#k no, I make those little bastards climb every weekend, whether they like it or not."

I ran into a similar problem of "climber cool" when I tried to do a story on "broken-hearted ascents" years ago -- ie, wild-ass climbs inspired by breakups. And although I'd HEARD stories about them for years, when I actually went to do the interviews, what I heard, over and over, was, "Yeah, well, I did that, but it wasn't really that unreasonable... I'd been thinking about it for a long time."

It really blew me away to listen to people lie about their motivations... I mean, come on, I'd been thinking about soloing the west face of GIV, too, but my motivation has never risen to the undertaking, and in that circumstance, the only scrap of motivation that's important is the shred that makes me decide to do it....

If Rolando Garibotti hadn't come through with brutal honesty and self-introspection and criticism, I don't think I'd have been able to do the story.
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
Feb 12, 2013 - 08:03pm PT
If you are a parent and climb a lot you are spending significant amounts of times away from your family. Is it selfish to not involve them in what many of us spend so much of our free time doing?
Messages 1 - 20 of total 91 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
 
Our Guidebooks
Check 'em out!
SuperTopo Guidebooks


Try a free sample topo!

 
SuperTopo on the Web

Review Categories
Recent Trip Report and Articles
Recent Route Beta
Recent Gear Reviews