Climbing, parenting, Enduring Patagonia, and the Supermouse

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Gregory Crouch

Social climber
Walnut Creek, California
Topic Author's Original Post - Feb 11, 2013 - 10:15pm 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?
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
BC
Feb 11, 2013 - 10:25pm PT
you better talk to Mike Kennedy .... and then hold onto your hat!

Just kidding. completely valid topic. There is already a thread in existence just loaded with the stuff you are looking for.... damned if I can remember what its called though.

Hey things could be worse - he might yet take a shine to crystal meth! My kids think climbing is for the birds and old washed out has beens. I wonder where they get that idea?
Gregory Crouch

Social climber
Walnut Creek, California
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 11, 2013 - 10:31pm 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 11, 2013 - 10:39pm 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 - 05:20am 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 - 05:31am 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 - 06:29am PT
YOU WILL BE A CLIMBER.

AND YOU WILL ENJOY IT, DAMMIT!
T Hocking

Trad climber
Redding, Ca
Feb 12, 2013 - 06:44am PT
You planted the seed,
talk to him and find out his desires.
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
BC
Feb 12, 2013 - 07:37am PT
There won't be any real problem until career time comes along and he says "I've decided to be a mountain guide! Say dad, the certification stuff is pretty expensive. You don't mind helping me out there do you?"

At which point you say "I'll start thinking about it if you first go get yourself snipped!"


Hey that reminds me - listen to this. I heard it jut yesterday. This guy Kevin O' Leary nails it on multiple points:


http://www.cbc.ca/player/Radio/ID/2332935061/


Click on the "Kevin O'leary" then scroll to 26 minute.
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
Feb 12, 2013 - 08:01am 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 - 08:21am 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 - 08:32am 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 - 08:58am 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?
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
BC
Feb 12, 2013 - 09:52am PT
,
I'd hazard that she probably nailed the MPA.


And certainly she got the MVP award in your household at least. He didn't suffer head injury in the chimneys I hope...... in other words he won't aspire to mountain guiding?

By the way I met your wife once down in Argentina . we were both working an Eco challenge race in ?Bariloche. Nice lady i recall

Now that would be a very good family trip - Bariloche, the frey spires and Tronador and Pampa linda, lots of wine and roasting lots of wild cow with the cowboys
Todd Gordon

Trad climber
Joshua Tree, Cal
Feb 12, 2013 - 10:10am 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 - 10:20am 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 - 10:31am 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 - 10:33am 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.
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
BC
Feb 12, 2013 - 10:46am PT
The campanille. One of the best little route I've ever done! Make sure you listen to that podcast. I wish I did about twenty odd years ago
stevep

Boulder climber
Salt Lake, UT
Feb 12, 2013 - 10:52am 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.

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