/ 7 year old climbing in mountains

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Cake on 11 Oct 2016
I'm thinking about taking my 7 year old girl to the mountains next year for a bit of climbing to see how she likes climbing on a big scale. She is competent enough top-roping diffs usually on grit, but I think she might find mountains more inspiring and possibly easier. Obviously, with just us two, I would be soloing without protection and trailing a rope, but she would need to be protected on a stance. Also, I think we would need to walk off rather than abseil.

I live in Sheffield, so the obvious places are North Wales and the Lakes. Little Tryfan looks good. Do the routes there generally go straight up? Or would I need to place a bit of gear before the stance?

Any other better venues welcome
duchessofmalfi - on 11 Oct 2016
What are you waiting for? aged 7 is plenty! Start easy, a few classic Lakes and Welsh scrambles (with a short rope and harness), would help to determine various factors above technical competence. General stamina, fitness, toughness, a good head for heights and ability to have fun when things get a bit grim all really matter. Always consider a helmet.

Whenever soloing with ropes to a child remember the consequences of falling are very severe so if there is any doubt make sure (a) you won't pull them off and (b) they know what to do if you can't continue. That sounds a bit onerous but it is easy to do. It is worth teaching small kids how to deconstruct a belay and remove gear - you only need a spot of rain to make this feel well worth it. Age 7 is probably ok but some kids tend to freak out left alone on a scary ledge while their only companion disappears up the crag and out of view - be prepared. It is also good to go with another adult (in which case you can up the difficultly quite a bit or bring a friend for your kid).

My feeling is also that if she is only competent on a diff then you need to go really easy - until other things are proven you need to be able to reverse everything in non ideal conditions. But get on it - it is really good fun.

My top tip is have an unlimited supply of palatable food and snacks which you should deploy frequently - I can't every remember carrying too much. And carry a big range of spare clothing if there is any chance of getting cold or wet. Oh and don't let them drink all the water on the way to the bottom of the crag.
summo on 11 Oct 2016
In reply to Cake:

We take our 7 and 9 yr old climbing, they started when younger, we do hills and non tidal sea cliffs. But we do it as a group, ie two adults so the kids aren't alone and whoever leads isn't soloing with the kids below.

I would just keep the grade very low as the distance between some holds can be challenging, or if there is an obscure move that is tough it will sap their fun.

A kid will gain as much joy from a steady grade 2/3 scramble to a small summit, than say a vdiff on a crag.

Think about your escape options and the route off, as much as route up.
Rob Parsons on 11 Oct 2016
In reply to Cake:

Little Tryfan is just single pitch stuff, so no different in that respect to top-roping on grit.

What about a scramble like the North Ridge of Tryfan itself? I've seen small kids on that before now.
MFB - on 11 Oct 2016
In reply to Cake:
Multi pitch

Bit I don't like is when they have to free themselves from the belay, always the risk they untie wrong knot! coloured screwgate biners and distinctive slings help,
use old pro and be prepared to come back later for it,
rap, just lower them, exciting enough
I think a lot of the danger is the walk under and walk off the crag, I often short rope miles of easy ground.

Post edited at 18:22
Ron Rees Davies - on 11 Oct 2016
In reply to Rob Parsons:

Tryfan Bach can indeed be climbed as a single pitch (with easy access to/from the top), but also can be split easily into 2 or 3 decent length pitches, which would probably be more appropriate for age/grade. Most of the routes are vertical cracks straight up a slab. It would be an ideal spot for a first climb with a mountain feel, but doesn't actually go anywhere near the top of a mountain, so you'd soon be looking for other places.

Few of the bigger mountain climbing routes have nice clean vertical pitches though, so communication and coaching up awkward steps would be more difficult. And many of the diff's are 6-8 pitches or more, and with shorter days that might risk getting benighted.

Scrambling might well be better at first - mountain feel and climbing short steps (with or without ropes) but without having to have set pitches/stances

The other option would be to start looking at sea cliffs - Symphony Crack at Rhoscolyn is a short easy top-ropable climb, but with a very different feel to gritstone! Several other areas nearby also have easy and top-ropable climbing - e.g. Porth saint and Porth y garan.

Andy Hardy on 11 Oct 2016
In reply to Cake:

There's a multi-pitch Diff at the Roaches iirc, I've often seen groups on it and once saw a mountain biker come down it (or part of it, I couldn't bear watching for too long) I'm guessing it's escapable which is handy for training purposes...
jonnie3430 - on 11 Oct 2016
In reply to Cake:

Llyn idwal for the diff slabs and a dose of history! Faith, hope and charity. Fairly flat walk in too. If you want to properly break them, as in you'll be carrying them down fast asleep, head higher afterwards for cnefion ridge (or whatever it's called, the amazing diff, and why is it so hard to use predictive text in Welsh? Must drive the Welsh mad!)
springfall2008 - on 11 Oct 2016
In reply to Cake:

I'd certainly start with two adults and have her climb between the both of you. Otherwise what can you do if she gets scared and freaks out from her stance while you are at the next one?
Cake on 11 Oct 2016
In reply to springfall2008:

It would certainly be easier if there was another adult climbing, but there may not be one available. I think a 45m single pitch route on little Tryfan would suffice to start with. Maybe some scrambling also if I borrow a short rope.

She's not that into walking, so if the scramble is easy, she'll just say she's bored.

Thanks
Cake on 11 Oct 2016
In reply to Ron Rees Davies:

Thanks for the advice. That route at Rhoscolyn looks good.
springfall2008 - on 11 Oct 2016
In reply to Cake:

> It would certainly be easier if there was another adult climbing, but there may not be one available. I think a 45m single pitch route on little Tryfan would suffice to start with. Maybe some scrambling also if I borrow a short rope.

> She's not that into walking, so if the scramble is easy, she'll just say she's bored.

Understood.

I think as long as you account for her freezing and/or falling off at any time it will be fine.
Tom the tall on 12 Oct 2016
In reply to Cake:

Not that into walking- this will preclude some classic mountain routes so you end up Valley cragging, which won't be much different to what you are used to.
LakesWinter on 12 Oct 2016
In reply to Cake:

Scout crag in langdale, middle fell buttress would be ok but you'd need to short rope the scrambling above to the main foot path, I wouldn't descend that gully to the left with children. Tarn crag in langdale would also work as it has an easy descent.
GeorgeR on 12 Oct 2016
In reply to Cake:

Go for it. I took my 7 yr old up the north ridge of Tryfan which he managed no problems at all. This year at 8 he easily managed to second me on Little Tryfan. The routes on the left have decent ledges and obvious belays and you can walk off the top. A quick explanation about paying rope out, removing gear and dismantling belays and he turned out to be a more competent second than most on the crag!
MFB - on 12 Oct 2016
In reply to LakesWinter:
Think descent from Scout is also worth a rope
Rapping off Middlefell to the left from the big ledge is equipped and popular, walking down that way, as you say, is too serious for kids I think
Post edited at 16:40
Cake on 12 Oct 2016
I'm now very much in two minds about starting of on a proper scramble or an easy two pitch route. However, I'm happy with to be indecisive as I won't be going til late spring at the earliest.
Cake on 13 Oct 2016
In reply to GeorgeR:

Very encouraging. Thanks. I think she'll be able to take apart a simple belay too.
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Becky E - on 13 Oct 2016
In reply to Cake:

Try everything and see what she likes best! We've taken a family friend on various outings and it turns out that whilst she likes cragging, she enjoys grade 1 scrambles the most.

I would definitely advocate having another adult along - preferably one who knows what they're doing. It's more fun on belays, and more encouragement available if she's struggling with a tricky bit.

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