/ Abseiling with a 6 year old
I was thinking about setting up an abseil outside somewhere and abseiling down with him to help him get more comfortable. He's only 6, so not that heavy, and he's got a full body harness. What's the best way of sorting this out?
Obviously, he's your son and you know him best, so any suggestions are likely to be based on others' experience with their own kids.
My eldest (daughter) never had a moment's doubt and would fling herself over the edge with abandon; we had to work hard to get her to understand about risk and the limitations of equipment.
The youngest (son) was altogether different, and was diffident from the word go. The two things that helped were top-roping from the bottom (so the end of the ascent wasn't the end of the affair, so to speak, and lowering off was associated with safety), and just letting him arse about with a retired rope - making swings, hanging off it, all that kind of stuff.
I think an enforced abseil is likely to promote fear, whereas lowering off back to you has a more positive outcome. But you know him best.
Go tree climbing & ab out of the tree. Start just off the ground so he can get used to how it all works / feels. You could even just set up a rope swing but instead of a seat fix him to the rope via his harness, belay device & prussuk.
Abbing of a rock face can be very scary for the first few goes. Some think it stays scary.
A good idea about messing around hanging on a rope. The reason I thought about the abseil was that he has a tendency to be really cautious, but is quite happy to try something new if I do it too.
What worked well with my niece when she was little was one person belaying from the bottom, one person at the top to encourage her up, and one soloing next to her. Depends how many people you have around if that is practical for you.
Attaching her to solid bits of trees by sling and full body harness was also popular.
Indoors I have had small kids enjoy hanging around in mid air off an overhang ( only when its quiet)
If your son is showing an interest in climbing why do you want to take him on an abseil? Loads of people climb for years without abseiling and as it's about the most dangerous activity involved it seems totally daft to me to start this way. Take him for a mountain walk, a bit of scrambling, some easy bouldering or rock climbing, leave the abseiling till it's necessary. IMO, of course.
I don't see how a well set up abseil is any less safe than a well setup top rope.
I reject the notion that its the most dangerous aspect of climbing.
As a kid abseiling was my first exposure to verticality and it was great.
( http://www.stephabegg.com/home/projects/accidentstats )
Just a couple of observations on what kids will trust, based on my own kids, in case it's of interest.
My 7 year old is happy to climb on the auto belay working higher up and jumping off each time. He is much more reticent to be belayed by a human being. In his own words, "I trust the auto-belay more than the daddy-belay". I'd say he's not that confident in the auto-belay either, compared to other kids his age.
Back out in the outside world, going bouldering sees both my kids climbing freely, having a lot of fun. In this case, they develop their own skills and build self-confidence. For safety, I am there is spot them. It seems that taking the kids bouldering is a much more rounded, fulfilling experience for the kids... even if it's harder work for me keeping them safe.
If I had a point - it's that my son seems to trust his own ability more than ropes or equipment which are not under his control.
I have taken both my kids climbing from young ages when and if they wanted to go as we have to remember its meant to be fun.
I also teach scouts from 6 to adults so have had to adapt how to give the best experience to each person.
This is just about AB's
My youngest no issues just extended the fig 8 away from him with a doubled sling so nothing could get snagged ad ran it as realisable with a safety direct to his harness.
My oldest needed a bit more help so set it up with both of us on a single line suspended on a Y hang below the fig 8 with a prussic back up and I did the control.
2 different systems for different people. Both ended up trying both ways and loved it.
Just use your imagination but stay safe
Hope that helps
I would second the accompanied abseil using a y hang set up.Tied so they are slightly higher than you during descent, to avoid stepping on feet. I'd also recommend an easy angled slab with a high anchor so the launch off is easier. My lad was 4 and loved it!
My two are a bit like yours. They've been climbing since they were 5 and 3 (now 8 and 6). They both prefer bouldering and will climb quite high without a rope. Stick them on top rope particularly outdoors and they are not so happy to go too high. They are quite happy with an auto belay though. They also like bouldering more because it is a bit easier for both to just get on with climbing without the rope faff (guess this also appeals about auto belay). It will come with time...
When my daughter was 7 I used to take her and her older brothers to Dancing Ledges at Swanage. We used to bottom rope them and my daughter was utterly fearless. She trusted the rope completely to the extent that she would deliberately let go and fall off so that she could swing about on the rope.
Very much the same here - the 5 year old refused to do anything with ropes for years (bouldered very happily from before he could walk). It was auto belays at Clip and Climb that convinced him, because he discovered he loved being lowered down by them, so went a bit higher each time. He'll now happily be lowered off by a real person, but won't step off over an edge abseiling for anything, even when alongside an adult.
The 8 year old, otoh, will launch himself over anything....
+1 for starting with a top rope, so the kids can learn the leg and body technique for lowering/abseiling. I used to do this off the roof of our house for birthday parties. As the kids grow older, pulling them up for a second go becomes harder and harder....
On a slightly different note, when climbing with a group of kids you are bound to get stuck on top of a rock with at least one child that does not want to be lowered down, as they are afraid of dropping over the edge. Initially I used to clip myself into the rope and have the child in front of me, clipped into both strands with an extender on the harness, so they would just slide down and sit on my lap while I abseil with slightly bent legs.
However, I now find it easier to larks foot a sling into their harness and clip this to my belay loop between my legs. The child will therefore stand and later hang behind/below me, holding the back of my harness with their hands. Much less faff and a lower riks of anything getting caught in my ATC.
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