Climbing, parenting, Enduring Patagonia, and the Supermouse

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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?
micronut

Trad climber
Feb 12, 2013 - 08:36pm PT
Good topic here.

I wonder sometimes too, but it goes with many aspects of parenting and life too...like sports.

My wife and I both swam on the US Team and we now have kids who are pretty good little swimmers. We really don't push, but it can be tempting because it meant so much to us at the time (Paid for college in full, we got to see the world and live the dream of an Olympic Hopeful.) Its in their genes for sure, my fifteen year old is already moving into NCAA scholarship postential in backstroke, but I often wonder how much to nudge. We have the tendency to go too light sometimes, because we don't want to be "those" parents. But there's also time to "suck it up and train with a little pain" and I think we do our kids no great service by backing off when it gets hard. The most important thing is "are you having fun and is this your choice?" We ask them that on cold and rainy days when swimming sounds like a drag, and they always say "yeah...let's go."

Credit: micronut
With climbing, it seems to be in their blood from out camping days that turned into family backpacking trips. Our little boys love it, and Sierra, the swimmer, is just starting to lead climb. SHe wants to lead her first multi-pitch this summer, a great, five pitch granite 5.5 in the foothills above Fresno. She first climbed it with me when she was about 12 and it was one of my most joyful days as a dad. We are planning on Snake Dike this summer and the boys really want to climb The Grack someday. I love that it's in their language....it's something we share. "Dad, that crack looks awesome doesn't it?" or "Dad, do coyboy boots ever have Stealth Rubber, cause that would be soooo cool."
Credit: micronut

EIither way, I'd be stoked to continue to climb with them when I'm an old man, or just enjoy doing anything that keeps the fire for adventure lit within them, be it Fly fishing, skiing or camping. Every year, each of the four kids gets a one on one trip with Dad, and they always ask to make it a climbing thing. WHo knows, maybe next year it will end up a tour of The Mall of America or The ComicCon. I'm just happy to make sure we support them in whatever they dream of doing and to be right there when they succeed or fail. If they really got after it and started doing hardcore alpine stuff, The true hardcore high risk stuff, I'd have to say I'd rather they chose golf, that would be hard for me as a dad.
Credit: micronut
GhoulweJ

Trad climber
El Dorado Hills, CA
Feb 12, 2013 - 09:16pm PT
Crouch,

Give me that rodent for a summer.

Ill beat him withs carabiners till scales the Captain.
Kids need to learn to push themselves.... Then he can reload my ammo and wash my car.
Bob D'A

Trad climber
Taos, NM
Feb 12, 2013 - 09:38pm PT
I have exposed my kids (all three) to climbing...they all went on to different sports/pursuits. I'm happy for them. All three are healthy, smart and their own people/person. Love them dearly...they have made my life better and more fulfilled.
Will_P

Trad climber
Melbourne, Victoria
Feb 12, 2013 - 10:03pm PT
From another perspective - I kinda wish my stepfather had pushed me more to get involved in 'his' passion of climbing. At the time, he took me out a couple of times for a weekend, but waited for me to initiate it. Once I was a few years older, in my later teens, and getting into it by myself, he was losing interest in climbing (no chance of that in your scenario, though, Greg!). Now I regret that we didn't share more time when it was mutual interest, that wou;d've made for some cool memories. So some gentle encouragement, even just in the form of 'want to go climbing this weekend?', might be just right.

Out of interest, and having read 'Enduring Patagonia' myself - what would your reaction be if he read it and decided he wanted to enlist?
Gregory Crouch

Social climber
Walnut Creek, California
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 12, 2013 - 10:47pm PT
Out of interest, and having read 'Enduring Patagonia' myself - what would your reaction be if he read it and decided he wanted to enlist?

I'd ask if he was SURE he wanted to do that, and if the answer was yes, I think I wouldn't have any trouble getting behind it. Hell, I learned a ton in the Army, and I liked it. I just didn't love it. I loved climbing, and therein lay the rub.
Gregory Crouch

Social climber
Walnut Creek, California
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 12, 2013 - 10:48pm PT
@ Micronut: Great post.

@ghoulwej: He'd probably like that. Hell, I know he'd like that. All except the washing the truck part.
Todd Gordon

Trad climber
Joshua Tree, Cal
Feb 12, 2013 - 11:02pm PT
Soccer is his thing;....climbing is Dad's thing..





Todd Gordon

Trad climber
Joshua Tree, Cal
Feb 12, 2013 - 11:09pm PT
I like the idea of family biking.......

Todd Gordon

Trad climber
Joshua Tree, Cal
Feb 12, 2013 - 11:12pm PT
Summit or plummet; top or chop, son......(and tie your damn shoe, son....)...

Todd Gordon

Trad climber
Joshua Tree, Cal
Feb 12, 2013 - 11:16pm PT
Hip hop dance....sure...





Tap dance...(w/zombies...)..why not..



Nude gardening......whatever;...go for it..



Find your own path, dream your own dreams, set your own goals, float your own boat, ride your own wave, sleep in your own bed you make for yourself, ........I will support you in your quests and adventures.......
limpingcrab

Trad climber
the middle of CA
Feb 12, 2013 - 11:35pm PT
Bull crap! I'm forcing my kids to climb so I have a belay slave!

Just kidding, and enjoying these replies and learning a lot from them.

@Todd: Careful with encouraging the snowboarding thing. I've seen people die two times, and lots of people get helo rides, but I've yet to see that first hand climbing!
Gregory Crouch

Social climber
Walnut Creek, California
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 12, 2013 - 11:41pm PT
Naked mud wrestling at Gordon's house!

(Not like it'd be the first time or anything...)
Michael Kennedy

Social climber
Carbondale, Colorado
Feb 13, 2013 - 09:01am PT
Greg, just take Ryan climbing and have fun. Let him try out skiing, surfing, hiking as well. The big thing is to help him develop an appreciation for the outdoors and a sense of adventure. He'll figure out where he wants to take it as he grows up. He's better off climbing than sitting around watching TV all day.

Bobby D says it well ... let your kids become their own people. They are a lot smarter than we sometimes give them credit for!
Gregory Crouch

Social climber
Walnut Creek, California
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 13, 2013 - 02:39pm PT
He's better off climbing than sitting around watching TV all day.

Bobby D says it well ... let your kids become their own people. They are a lot smarter than we sometimes give them credit for!

No doubt, MK, that's my worst fear of all. Although he's a hell of a reader, which accounts for a lot of couch time. Gotta admit, I'm jealous of the amount of reading the little guy gets done. And I do a lot.

And Bob D.: I totally agree with you in that regard. We often underestimate children. I find it pretty fascinating to observe. Total naivite one minute, outrageous sophistication and insight the next.
ontheedgeandscaredtodeath

Social climber
SLO, Ca
Feb 13, 2013 - 03:08pm PT
He's better off climbing than sitting around watching TV all day.

So true- my kid got made fun of the other day for not sitting around and playing video games. Modern times!

I don't push climbing at all, but my guys are still pretty young. They like the gym so I take them sometimes and have also taken them outside, which they like. I'm not sure about when they get older but surfing, skiing and the like seem a lot safer. I've climbed with two guys that went on to be killed and one who was permanently brain damaged. It's not the same as signing kids up for baseball.

Anyway, I was never more than a bush league punter and have dialed things down from even that so they may have to look elsewhere should they aspire to climb!
Gregory Crouch

Social climber
Walnut Creek, California
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 13, 2013 - 03:18pm PT
Anyway, I was never more than a bush league punter and have dialed things down from even that

TD, I'm just hoping that one of these days you'll sink low enough for it to be worth your while to climb with me again.

(Besides, we owe it to Theo to take him.)
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