/ Parents and climbing
I have a very close mate, who's 17, been climbing a couple of years. Thing is, his parents are pretty strict with him, quite overprotective, about the whole climbing thing. They think danger and he'll die.
He goes out on routes, both winter and summer, lying to them that he's just going for a walk or whatever. Telling them he'd like to go out climbing does not work, they just ban him.
He can't go against them, as then they will remove him from their house. They recently relented and now he's allowed to go to the local indoor wall. But outdoors is a no-no, completely. Scrambling is kind of tolerated, as he sells it to them as hillwalking. But him bringing ropes or gear is a no no.
We'd like to go off to cham next summer, if he tells his parents this, they'll stop his uni funding and, because his parents earn a bit of money (so he doesn't get bursarys), he'll have very little money.
Ideas? Reasoning with his parents has not worked with him so far. His parents weren't happy with him going climbing indoors, as they saw it as one step closer to going to climbing outside, and an inevitable death.
His parents say that to go rock climbing outside, he could only go outside with someone who had all the relevant SPA and WML and other such awards, i.e a guide. He has little money and is relucant to spend a day with a guide, costing about the same as his entire rack, just to go over basics that he knows already and still not be allowed out.
Ideas/experiences greatly appreciated.
That's really harsh. I understand that parents will worry, but you cant protect someone from danger all their lives. He needs to live his own life, and follow his passions. Its tough when your still having to rely on your parents so much. But Where there's a will there's a way..... Dont give up your dreams. The only thing I can suggest through uni is that he'll have to work his butt off with a job too. worth it though I think.
Two ways to solve it (and without sounding cruel to him I'm sure he is a great guy)....
get a job, get independance!
Get him to tell his parents he's going to die anyway - guaranteed - and cut him some slack. Sounds like they should do some growing up, not him.
"Look Dad, I get my kicks climbing, or if you prefer I'll nick cars, take drugs or go to footy matches and beat people up"
His parents need to get real
Yup! subversive parent of a kid who started climbing at about age 9 or 10... but instead of freaking (well i did freak BUT then...) i got educated by lots of lovely people on here. Some lovely folks... Heike, David Hooper for instance took us out climbing and showed us the ropes (multi pitch) so to speak etc
Other lovely people we met at boulder UK took us out and started us off with single pitch.
Best choice for me was to be informed rather than scared of the unknown. And by informed i mean i can and do set up abseils, and single pitch belays etc. I have climbed but now the arthritis is worse i dont.
Tell him to man up a bit!
When I took up climbing my mum was not particularly happy. My stepdad however was delighted. Anyway me and my mum came to an agreement that I won't tell her when I am going climbing outdoors that way she can't and won't worry. It is working well for us. She knows I do it, and I often show her any pictures afterwards. When I told her I was going up to Scotland this summer she was not happy at all! Watching too many cliffhanger & vertical limit style films I think. After talking it through with her and explaining who am I going with, and what we are doing when we are there she was a bit more settled.
I took a while to come up with that agreement with my mum but it suites us both. Maybe your friend could try a similar approach. I think it is understandable that parents get freaked out about there child hanging themselves off a lump of rock far from the floor!
He'll just have to do the adult thing and stop telling his parents what he's up to.
Even better, he should construct some kind of cover-life which involves sleeping with syphillitic prostitutes for them to get all het-up over.
Alternatively, if he has to go out with an SPA, why doesn't he go and get an SPA?
Seems to me he's going to have to face up to all this dishonesty sometime. His parents are wrong but it is their money and if your mate wants independence he could always leave home.
- Indoor climbing is safe (safer than walking across the road)
- Outdoor rock climbing is dangerous (broadly comparable to the risks involved in driving a car/motorbike e.g. variable but much higher for those lacking judgment and maturity)
- Winter and summer alpine climbing are very dangerous (greater risk than 'dangerous occupations' such as working underground/off shore)
- Winter alpine and very high altitude mountaineering are extremely dangerous (comparable risk to soldiers fighting/dying in Afghanistan)
Taking an objective view, you can easily see that both sides have a point. Giving a 17 year old a brand new 600cc motorbike is probably safer than giving them a pair of technical axes - at least they have to pass a test to ride the motorbike.
The difficulty is that it is that very few people have a clear idea of relative risks. The parents think it is all equally dangerous and the OP & friend probably don't recognise how high the risks actually are in certain areas.
I spend a very large amount of time climbing and hillwalking with teenagers and I'm sympathetic with the parents. With regard to climbing and mountaineering, young people (and lots of climbers generally) 'don't know what they don't know' so are not in any position to conduct valid risk assessments on what they do.
1) I wouldn't want any teenager to go trad climbing without at least some formal instruction or at the very least mentoring from those with much more experienced (in a club environment or otherwise).
2) Without a very sub-substantial amount of progressive mountain-walking and on-going climbing experience, or as part of a large experienced group, there, is no way I'd want a teenager to be out trying to climb in Winter.
3) If there was anything I could do about it, there would be utterly no way I'd allow my son/daughter of any age to go Alpine mountaineering without first doing a Conville Course or getting similar formal instruction.
Possible options are:
Get your friend to ask his parents to pay for him to do a climbing course a Plas y Brenin etc. as his Xmas present. He'll no doubt find out that he doesn't know as much as he thinks he does and his parents will have the reassurance that he's had high quality instruction.
As mentioned, join a climbing club. You learn a fair bit climbing with other people and his parents will know that there are 'responsible adults' around when he's out climbing.
Anyway, regardless of anything else, make sure the two of you apply for places on a Conville Course if you do intend going to the the Alps - see http://www.thebmc.co.uk/Feature.aspx?id=1166.
Really good post Mark
An honorable post Mark but at 17 he's a young adult. His parents seem to be using finance to stop him climbing and are are unlikely to co-operate with common sense introductions to climbing. I'd say he probably needs to own up to what he's been doing and see what happens then, but it's a tough call.
Your friend could offer to take his parents climbing so they can see how caerful he is and how their fears about 'dangerous sports' might be overdone
Also, sign up for a Conville Course so they can see he is getting safety training through a bonafide national organisation; cost is reasonable compared to hiring a guide.
Learning through experience is, in my opinion the best way. If I was particularly worried by my own skills then of course I would seek instruction. Saying that I have climbed with MIA and SPA holders (I am now doing the SPA myself) and none have said that my practise or technique was dangerous or unsafe.
In relation to the OP, I went to Cham at 18, with no guide or experience. Just me and a mate, we got on the Mer de glace for a couple of days to teach ourselves some basic skills, Practise crevasse rescue etc. We got up the Petit vert and cosmiques arete after a few days of bad weather kept us in the valley. Thoroughly enjoyed it and am going back for the enitre of next summers season.
I guess you would get "more" out of paying for a guide. But I entirely disagree that going with little experience was "unsafe". Use your head, dont go too difficult, read the weather conditions. stick to popular routes. if you see people backing off, consider the same, and I am sure you will have a great time.
This is definately a good opportunity for him to scam some quality instruction courtesy of worried parents. You might even get an SPA training out of it yourself.
In the longer term, your mate surely cannot allow himself to be "owned" by his parents like this for the duration of a University degree. I'd sooner work in MacDonalds and pay my own way.
I'd go along the lines of Al's idea, I think the only reason my mum let me start climbing when I was 17/18 was because she figured she'd rather I spent all my money on climbing gear than on a motorbike.
He should tell his parents that climbing is the only thing that stops the voices in his head. Then casually mention that the voices tell him to kill them. Both. Horribly...
Your mate could try to stop talking about it, and and keep his gear out of sight. Obviously his parents are not going to forget that he is climbing but have done this my Da has stopped lecturing me, its worth a shot...Or take up bouldering;-)
You are currently one of the 99.9% so it is perfectly reasonable that none of my comments makes any sense in the context of your personal experience.
Finally, it'd be great if mountaineering was as simple and safe as you make out. It isn't. Far too many die in the Alps every year and there is a very good reason why people generally take until their mid-30s to qualify as mountain guides.
> Finally, it'd be great if mountaineering was as simple and safe as you make out. It isn't. Far too many die in the Alps every year and there is a very good reason why people generally take until their mid-30s to qualify as mountain guides.
Not wanting to get into an argument, I never once stated or even hinted in my post that I considered Climbing or summer Alpinism to be "safe and or simple", or any form of outdoor activity for that matter.
My point was, that if you are confident in your own judgement, dont set the goal too high and stick to within your limits. You are "probably" going to have a safe and enjoyable time climbing, wherever you are in the world.
I am well aware of the objective dangers of climbing and mountaineering, I've witnessed avalanche and rockfall in the alps, I've just missed being hit by a screwgate dropped by a novice learning to lead who decided to shout "below" 5 seconds after it had smashed into the floor a meter from where I was walking. But in my opinion there is just as much chance of me coming to harm in day-to-day life as there is on the mountain due to something happening which is out of my control.
Take them to the gym for a lesson so they understand the ropes are safe.
They will also be worried about him putting his life in the hands of another hormone riddled Teen idot.
Introduce them to your nice, reliable, trustworthy partner.
Join a club where you will be with more experienced people not just other teenagers.
I have a friend and he wouldn't let his son climb with other 14-18 year olds but was happy for him to come out with us in our 30's as we had climbed with the dad and were safe company in and out of climbing.
I would be more worried about him getting in a car with teen drivers myself.
Get him to do his SPA training and get qualified?
I'm not sure what you do in your day to day life, but this is nonsense in the context of alpine climbing.
Accidents that are beyond you control are exactly that, beyond your control. By their nature they are more common for those spending time in alpine areas than those holding down 9-5 jobs...
Find the statistics for climbing injuries and deaths in different (relevant) scenarios and then do the same for activities that his parents do. I imagine that it could be demonstrated that climbing is not really a super dangerous activity in comparison to crossing roads and getting on planes etc.
Be prepared for serious angst/hate in your life if you help now and your partner does get injured or killed. That would be a weighty burden to carry and it does happen as we all know.
As for your mate this is an age old problem for parents and teenagers,first i would get a job this shows responsibility,and will give your friend some finantional independence from his parents,it would seem this is their tool of manipulation so this will mean they will have to open up to some sort of negotiation.Also if you are off to Cham next summer you'll both need some finances to get some decent instruction because as much as you might not like to be told you will need it.I wouldn't go to a lecture at PYB and think you are prepared.Scotland and wales don't even come close,made that mistake and it came round to bite me on the arse and it wasn't as exciting as some people make out on here!
Is there a local mountaineering/climbing club that can be joined? This may offer opportunity to get out with experienced climbers; something that may also appease his parents a little.
I went off to cham this summer, had no experience (in alpine climbing), but plenty of scottish winter. By most people's perspectives, I probably jumped in the deep end, but I kept in control and let my head overrule my heart at all times. To be honest, the things I actually learned in cham were:
1) how to tie the rope together so you have loops around you
2) simul climb faster, do everything faster
3) wake up ridiculuously early
4) abseiling fast
5) how to sport climb and lower off
6) reinforced my view that simul climbing with no gear is retarded
Glacier travel is not that hard, you got to be able to self arrest, screw in a screw, or two, equalise them, figure out a hauling system if neccessary, communicate with your partener, use prussics. All this stuff I knew before I went out. It's not hard. I religiously avoided glacier travel without a partener, tbh, it terrified me as I thought that on average everyone fell in one or two crevasses a day, I didn't see anyone fall properly in one the whole time I was there. Still go roped up though, I'm not an idiot.
Of course there's more dangers you wouldn't get much experience of back in scotland, lightening, seracs and rockfall, but you can avoid most of the danger if you think about it. E.g don't go out on bad days, stay away from seracs, climb early, get off the route early.
Does sound as if his parents are over-protective.
I'd go with the suggestion made above to get his parents to buy him a course for Christmas or brithday....that way they're ensuring that he goes out with someone they can be sure is qualified...and ou did mention that they've said that the only way he could climb outside would be with someone with all the certificates.
Sounds and ideal solution.
And once he's done the course, that'd be the leverage for continuing to go...to keep his practice levels up.
It's either that or breaking away from parents by getting a job....if they're that over-protective, would they really throw him out of the huse and deny him uni funding for defying their wishes? If so, that's just perverse...not to want their kid doing something that has some danger attached is understandable, but to be prepared to put him in a situation where the dangers are huge (sleeping rough, getting into drugs or booze etc) for the sake of preventing him from doing something somewhat less dangerous in the scheme of things is crazy.
I think the alps are a bit more risky than 0.1% for people that get into it. Of the thousands of climbers through my Uni club in 20 odd years many hundreds climbed a lot on rock with onsight attempts upto E7 and yet only a few serious injuries; the worst being a big fall scrambling on wet rock which should have been fatal. In scotland on snow and ice there were a few serious injuries that were also lucky not to be fatal from about the same number. I'm guessing about 50 (that I know about) went on to alpine climb in the alps (about half of those just did the Conville course and little else) and I know of three deaths in the alps including two close friends, one in an abseil accident, the other caught out in an unexpected storm.
It may be worth pointing out a few facts, or discussing their fears, for example: how many people are killed in road traffic accidents in a year? and how many people are killed in climbing accidents?
Driving a car, or being a passenger in one, is a very dangerous activity - but because for most people it is a regular occurrence the perception of danger appears to be greatly reduced, maybe if they watched him climb a few times they could allay their fears. Who knows, they may even want to give it a try!
Your absolutely correct but it depends what the % refers to.
Referring to someone who as done two routes in their first Alpine season it's actually about right. For every 1000 novice Alpinists who climb a few easier routes, 999 will probably survive their first season.
However for a committed mountaineer the lifetime risk is anywhere from perhaps 3% to 30%!
I've found all sorts of stats on this sort of thing, but as a summary, here goes:
Risk of any young person dying in the UK:
0.52 deaths per 1000 population per year, with appreciable numbers from car crashes, suicide and murder.
Rough estimate of the risk involved from regular rock climbing:
0.06-0.3 deaths per 1000 participants per year (on a par with car crashes).
Risk of climbing big mountains - Matterhorn, Mont Blanc, Denali etc.
1-3 deaths per 1000 ascents/attempts.
Risk of climbing really big mountains (8000m+ and exploratory 7000m+)
5-50 deaths per 1000 ascents/attempts.
Chance of a committed Alpinist/Mountaineer dying
5-20 deaths per 1000 population per year.
In some more understandable metrics:
Alpine climbing and high-altitude mountaineering is around 100 times more dangerous than UK rock climbing.
Going on patrol as a soldier in Afghanistan is probably safer than attempting a big mountaineering ascent.
2 routes in a first 'season'is maybe a bit unlucky?
Climbers should make informed choices and where I do agree is that this includes the knowledge that alpine climbing is one of the most risky things a teenager can do. However, irrespective of how much they care or realise the danger, his parents will do more harm than good by an unconditional 'no'.
> Going on patrol as a soldier in Afghanistan is probably safer than attempting a big mountaineering ascent.
Which was more dangerous?
Ten days I had this summer where climbed the following: Dru North Face, Gervsutti Pillar, Frendo Spur and Freney Pillar.
Ten days wandering around Helmand Provence.
I know which I'd rather do.
> Your absolutely correct but it depends what the % refers to.
> Referring to someone who as done two routes in their first Alpine season it's actually about right. For every 1000 novice Alpinists who climb a few easier routes, 999 will probably survive their first season.
> However for a committed mountaineer the lifetime risk is anywhere from perhaps 3% to 30%!
> I've found all sorts of stats on this sort of thing, but as a summary, here goes:
> Risk of any young person dying in the UK:
> 0.52 deaths per 1000 population per year, with appreciable numbers from car crashes, suicide and murder.
> Rough estimate of the risk involved from regular rock climbing:
> 0.06-0.3 deaths per 1000 participants per year (on a par with car crashes).
> Risk of climbing big mountains - Matterhorn, Mont Blanc, Denali etc.
> 1-3 deaths per 1000 ascents/attempts.
> Risk of climbing really big mountains (8000m+ and exploratory 7000m+)
> 5-50 deaths per 1000 ascents/attempts.
> Chance of a committed Alpinist/Mountaineer dying
> 5-20 deaths per 1000 population per year.
> In some more understandable metrics:
> Alpine climbing and high-altitude mountaineering is around 100 times more dangerous than UK rock climbing.
> Going on patrol as a soldier in Afghanistan is probably safer than attempting a big mountaineering ascent.
That all seems about right to me. Unfortunately I think a lot of novices and particularly non-climbers assume rock climbing is actually more dangerous than easier alpine routes, because the alpine routes generally involve little steep climbign of any kind. It has only taken me 3-4 seasons in the alps to realise how wrong this is!
At the end of the day, I think at 17 he should be making his own choices, the guy will never grow up properly if he is babied at that age. I started climbing at 19 and would have been astonished if my parents had even had the temerity to try to consider trying to stop me. As it was, they didnt - and they were a bit worried at first but realised after a while that I knew what I was doing.
Your analogy of the 600cc motorbike is thought-provoking...
PS (to the OP) Dont put off uni or risk havign it put off for any of this. University should be the best 3/4 years of your life. It will also make you FAR more independent than you have eer been before - as an exampel there is no need to tell your parents where you are going at the weekend, if you live at the other end of the country all year.
If his parents want him to go to university, then it is far better that he should be competent at his chosen sport before he gets there. Freshers' Meet is probably one of the most hazardous moments of a novice climber's career, followed by that first term or so. Lots of opportunity and no idea, aided and abetted by others with lots of opprtunity and no idea. Bettter by far to be competent and able to climb with those of simialr ability
My folks always made similar threats were I to get a road bike (motoX climbing, rally etc was ok!). Having reflected on this over the years there's a good chance I'd have killed myself on a bike by now. These days it's my common sense (or rather distinct lack of it) that prevents me buying a crotch rocket.
If your friend wants to climb then he has limited options:
* Man up and take the consequences. They probably won't be anywhere near as bad as threatened if he's mature about it.
* Continue to lie to his parents. This wont last forever and is likely to cause a lot of friction when it all goes wrong, especially if he has an accident. Accidents happen, listen to what people are telling you, climbing is not 'safe', do it long enough an you will get caught out.
* Gain some independence from his parents. There's other ways to fund university, you can IIRC declare yourself independent and be assessed on your own merits, not your parent's for funding. One of my friends with a difficult family setup went this way, it's not easy but it is freedom of sorts (at a cost).
* Get the parents on side by negotiation, persuasion, and mature actions like joining a club and doing some formal training. Maybe this seems over the top but it will provide a huge amount of reassurance, it may also keep him (and you) alive. It may also prove difficult if your friend is not particularly mature in which case his parents likely have a point.
Good point about the hazards of Freshers week we had to deal with some right nightmares, including one 'experienced VS leader' who couldnt cope with a grade 2 scramble, others who saw themselves as gods of climbing instruction and pursuaded inexperinced people to follow them with some nasty accidents resulting.
> Ten days I had this summer where climbed the following: Dru North Face, Gervsutti Pillar, Frendo Spur and Freney Pillar.
> Ten days wandering around Helmand Provence.
> I know which I'd rather do.
About equal risk. Of course you'd prefer climbing because it's what you know. Ask a squaddie and he would likely prefer Helmand.
A difficult one. I think Mark's posts contain a lot of sense. Mountaineering is an order of magnitude (or two) more dangerous than even high-standard trad. climbing (no-one died on a grit E8).
I can think of approximately 10 people I have climbed with who have died in the mountains (8+ in the Himalyas, 2 in the Alps) and 1 person who died cragging (Abseiling accident). I think these numbers are fairly representative. Coincidentally, or possibly not, all were in their twenties and on their first or second trip to the bigger hills.
When I was 17 and wanting transport my (ex-biker) Dad told me he would pay for my driving lessons if I promised not to buy a bike. Perhaps negotiating some compromise like this will keep everyone talking.
IMO he should come clean to his parents. They'll mind him going on lying to them even more than they mind his climbing. They are understandably worried that he wants to take part in something which they perceive to be incredibly dangerous. They need educating, so get them to come along to the wall so they can see what's involved and that falls aren't invariably fatal. Get them to speak to more experienced climbers, preferably older and more mature ones. They need to understand that the essence of climbing is not reckless risk-taking but careful risk-management.
I must admit, I'd be a bit reluctant to allow a 17 and 18 year old to go to the Alps without more experienced company. Alpine climbing relies on good judgement. At that age you're convinced your judgement is good, but a few years later you'll realise it wasn't. That's just part of growing up.
He should talk to his parents and make them understands why he wants to climb, but he should also take account of their concerns and find a compromise. Yes, he'll shortly be an adult and they won't be able to stop him, but is it really worth falling out with your family over when it should be possible to work it out?
He's already an adult in most respects the only issue is consent but the threat was removing funding for University ... a bribe which will continue when he is over 18. I'm not as optimistic as you about such parents doing the right thing but I agree he should be honest irrespective of this (but thats his choice).
As a parent this is basics, like telling your 4 year old christmas is cancelled and santa wont be coming if he draws on the walls again.
Clearly you wont actually cancel christmas, and neither will they withdraw his funding in reality.
tell him to call their bluff.
If he spends a day with an instructor who declares him "fit to practice", will his parents relent? If so, then it would be worth it.
What is it that his parents are scared of? That he's doing a dangerous activity, or that he simply doesn't know what he's doing? Maybe he needs to address their specfic concerns. Spending a day with an instructor may do this (and if his parents can be persuaded to pay for it, for their peace of mind, then so much the better).
Once he's at university then he'll be able to climb more often, but he needs to work with them rather than against them.
> He's already an adult in most respects ...
He's not an adult until he's 18. But even when he is legally an adult and able to make his own choices, he should still want to maintain a relationship with his family.
How mature and sensible he is, I don't know. I do know that when I was 17 I thought I knew everything, only to realise when I was older that at that age I knew nothing. I also believed at 17 that my judgement was sound, which it wasn't because I didn't then have sufficient experience (of life, not just climbing). I think that's fairly typical of people of that age, in my experience.
His parents may have a totally misinformed view of the risks and dangers of climbing, or they may have genuine concerns based on his character and common sense (or lack of it). Either way, this is something that they need to work out between them, with both sides recognising the other's point of view. Sneaking off behind his parents' backs (especially to the Alps) is not the answer.
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