/ Tips on taking my 5 year old neice for her first climb
I've got her kitted out with the DMM Tomkitten full body harness and a petzl picchu helmet.
Any advice is appreciated!
Has she already used an indoor climbing wall?
I recently took a 4 year old on his first slab climb out here in the French Alps. He had never climbed indoors apart from on the furniture. My main concern was him being able to lower off from a top rope. Lots of practice on lower levels before I allowed him to move higher.
I think its really important to find something he's not likely to get stuck on and something with a walk off at the top where one parent or friend can wait and encourage her from above. Personally I wouldn't pull a little one up, what's the point? Let her climb as far as she can and if she gets stuck, encourage her with your voice but not by pulling her and making her believe she climbed it. Lots of congrats regardless.
Sorry I can't help with location. I have been and climbed at Portland but my memory fails me regarding there being easy routes.
Dancing ledge lower tier is a good bet, I've taken slightly older kids there for their first outdoor experience. There are some topos and information on this link:
It doesn't feature in any current guide, but is regularly used by groups. Just a short walk away you have Hedbury Quarry where there are a few longer very easy fully bolted lines (French sport grades 1 - 3). Can't think of anywhere on Portland as good for one as young as 5, although there may be some lines at The Cuttings, The Bower (just below the Cuttings) and the Veranda (on the West side adjacent to Battleship back cliff) that might be straightforward enough.
Definitely a good idea to go inside first if you have not already done so. The little swimming pool that is cut into the rock is another appealing feature of dancing ledge, good to break up the climbing with if the weather is warm.
My top tip would be to take lots of admiring adults.
Definitely practice lowering off. Do this just off the ground. Show her the technique of letting go of the rock and walking down backwards.
Kids at that age will find the lowering down harder than the climb (from our experience with little Ent)
The more people the easier it is. When my niece learnt we had Dad soloing next to her, Mum belaying and someone else at the top to help her top out. I don't think that it matters if you go inside or out first time. Inside is for if its cold or wet imho.
I wouldn't want to do rope stuff outside with only one adult though as you need someone to keep them occupied whilst you set up. If you can't get anyone bouldering might be easier.
Oh and don't pull her up. Make her climb. Kids that age have a strength to weight ratio that is amazing. She will enjoy it more if she does it for herself.
Have you got her used to the harness? We found the kids enjoy hanging about swinging and playing then they know they can trust it.
Totally agree with Enty, practice lowering off from just a foot or two up. You can then help her with the confidence to lean back. practice leaning back a few times on the way up, there may be a point where she decides she doesn't want to lean back. If that happens the lower the better.
lots of encouraging adults or peers often helps as does making sure its all fun :-)
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