What age for kids to start climbing?

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 Scarab9 10 Oct 2011
hi all,

I'm in a relationship with a lass who's got a daughter from a previous marriage. It's a serious relationship and assuming all stays well I'm going to be quite an influence on her daughter, and while I'll do my best to never be pushy about it would love to instil an appreciation for the outdoors as she gets older. Her mother also loves the outdoors though doesn't climb, so is of a similar mind.

Her father showed an interest a while ago in starting climbing and went to have a look at the wall at MCC (this is before they split up) and still has it in the back of his mind though he's not done anything about it. Possibly due to knowing I'm a climber he's recently proposed taking his daughter to a wall (ie. first. To beat us to it - don't ask it's obviously complicated).

Think is, she's only 2 and a half. 3 in Feb.

I've seen a tiny wee lass climbing on little Tryfan on a top rope who was probably about the same age (but smaller - the little one in question is big for her age and generally quite advanced) and she loved it, and assuming the correct circumstances could be found (nice warm day, very easy slab suitable for someone with v little reach etc basically like Little Tryan, near enough to make it a quick trip and doable) I'd happily set something up knowing I've enough experience to set her on something she'll enjoy, manage, and be perfectly safe on. Who knows, next Spring/Summer that might happen.

However I think she's definitely too young for a wall as I've never been to one with a route where she'd be able to reach the holds, most routes are too vertical, it would be difficult to safely set up something that would allow me to climb with her to start with, they're usually rather busy, and also it would be a very focused activity and I don't think she'd enjoy that at the moment.

Her mother trusts me and if her dad does bring it up again will pass on the opinion, but he can act rather immaturely and turns things into a pissing contest at times.

So basically I'd like to be armed with the experience of others with kids or from teaching kids, on whether they agree or not and why.

Basically when do you think it's appropriate to take kids climbing inside and out?

(sorry for the ramble, I didn't want to give the idea that I'm just after people to agree or that I'm being pushy to take her climbing before she's ready or anything)
 Fluvial 10 Oct 2011
In reply to Scarab9:
I think basic enjoyment from it etc you can start early I know Awesome in Stockport has routes for kids on special boulders as well as simple low top ropes for them.
I started taking my son when he was around 6 but a fear of heights he can't seem to get over means he sticks to bouldering and enjoys that which is fine, I take him now and help him where I can but apart from his footwork he is getting some nice routes done and Burbage Boulders have been hammered to death.

I've seen kids as young as four or five doing routes outside with their dads so as long as you aren't going mental with the routes and nice easy stuff I guess let them do what you and they are comfortable with
 marsbar 10 Oct 2011
In reply to Scarab9: I think 3ish is fine, my niece started at that age and she is tiny for her age. Thing is they are so light at that age they can climb by smearing quite easily. Its also quite feasible to pull them up to the next hold if you need to. I would say you are best having at least 2 adults looking after a child that age really, one to hold the rope and one to climb alongside or stand next to them. I've not been to MCC so I can't comment on that, we went to a wall with quite a few slabs and easy bouldering. It depends on the child as well, my niece is one of those kids who would be climbing the bookcases if you turn your back for a second, she loves climbing and is fine with the height, I don't know if all kids would be?
 Mike_d78 10 Oct 2011
In reply to Scarab9: My daughter started on a wall at 3 and a bit. She does a bit of bouldering on a part specific to kids and has top roped some slabs. The most difficult part was to teach lowering off properly which she can do 80% of the time 20% she just smears her body down the wall. Regards
 Andy Hardy 10 Oct 2011
In reply to Scarab9:

Personally I'd wait till she's a bit older, for doing stuff indoors - school age at least. Our daughter started about then, before that I don't think she'd have been heavy enough to overcome the friction descending on a top rope. Outdoors I'd say go for it - I'd set up a rope on very easy boulders - the sort of stuff boulderers wouldn't look at (as mentioned above Burbage has some of these), but make it part of the day, along with building dens / damming streams / having a picnic, not the whole point of the day.
OP Scarab9 10 Oct 2011
In reply to 999thAndy:
> (In reply to Scarab9)
but make it part of the day, along with building dens / damming streams / having a picnic, not the whole point of the day.

that was part of my thought, she may love it but I'd expect after half an hour she'd want to be running around doing something else

cheers all who've posted so far
 winhill 10 Oct 2011
In reply to Scarab9:

Wall climbing depends on the wall, some are set up so even very young kids (3yo) can do it.

Outdoors, a bit of scrambling from any age really. One of mine was very adventurous soloing stuff at Stanage from about 4 onwards.

Taking other people's kids climbing in a relationship though, a different kettle of fish, especially if your partner doesn't want grief from an ex etc. That's suck it and see, I think.
OP Scarab9 10 Oct 2011
In reply to winhill:
> (In reply to Scarab9)

> Taking other people's kids climbing in a relationship though, a different kettle of fish, especially if your partner doesn't want grief from an ex etc. That's suck it and see, I think.

yeah, trying not to get in to that on here. That's separate and fine.

 tom_greenwich 10 Oct 2011
In reply to Scarab9:

Started with my daughter at about 3 1/2 years and she is quite small for her age. Has more fun bouldering outside than at the wall as more she can do. She loved font, as did the 1 year old.
My advice is to give her exposure to climbing but don't have any expectations or put pressure on her to climb.
At the wall sometimes she clearly isn't fussed and just wants to go to the cafe, other times she'll be up and down the same route on a slab 4 or 5 times.

Proudest dad moment so far was when she first reached the top of an 11m wall without me hauling her up any of it!
In reply to Scarab9:

Both mine were on the easy part of my home wall more or less as soon as they could walk, and could climb to the top before they were two. But that's set up for them with holds close together; I don't have any relevant experience of commercial walls. I'd rather share your concerns about crowdedness and holds too far apart and so on if I were venturing there with a three-year-old. I suspect whoever said you're best to go with at least two adults devoting themselves to the task had a good point.

Outside mine were top-roping from about four, and I've known others who started younger. It depends on the child, obviously.

Fawksey 2 10 Oct 2011
In reply to Scarab9: Id probably let the father be a father and like you said not turn it into a pissing contest. It is his daughter.

 rick0361 10 Oct 2011
In reply to Scarab9: been taking my little lad since he was about 4 and could fit in a full body harness. It has taken him some time to get into the swing of it but he really enjoys going now - thing is you have to be patient with them and not push too much.
 marsbar 11 Oct 2011
In reply to 999thAndy: I have never had any problems lowering my niece on a top rope from 3, and she is teeny for her age.
pooh 11 Oct 2011
In reply to Scarab9: My eldest asked for a harness when she was 4. I took this as the rule as she had asked to go and not something I was trying to push her into have fun mate
OP Scarab9 11 Oct 2011
In reply to Scarab9:

cheers guys
 gribble 11 Oct 2011
In reply to Scarab9:
My own daughter was outside on rocks from crawling (bum-shuffling!) age onwards. I bought her a harness when she was 3 and a half as she was starting to solo routes. She likes indoors, but also struggles with the reach between holds. She generally asks me to pull the rope if she genuinely can't reach. She also enjoys bouldering, where she can be more creative with holds.

I took my step daughter out from the age of 4/5, and although her father had reservations, she did enjoy it and still does. So ulitmately no issues, but care should be taken not to tread on the father's toes really.

Good luck, give a a try and it would be nice to get the father's blessing, but only if your small borrowed girl is enjoying herself! I'm sure she will, coz climbing is fun.
 ChrisJD 11 Oct 2011
In reply to Scarab9:

Based on a sample set of two....

Age 2.5 plus is fine, indoors & outdoors.

<all kids vary and it should be obvious once you've tried it whether its the right time or not>
 teflonpete 13 Oct 2011
In reply to Scarab9:

My daughter first went climbing at around age 4 but didn't really start climbing regularly until I did. By that time she was 8. My son started at 5.
Indoors it really depends on the wall but a couple of walls we have down here (MK and Reading) both have routes suitable for 3 year olds (slabby angles, closely spaced holds etc).
Outdoors, I went with a recommendation from a friend and took my two to Three Cliffs Bay on the Gower peninsula in South Wales. There's lots of easy slabby routes there and a beautiful golden sand beach so you can make a day of paddling in the sea, building sandcastles and doing 'a bit' of climbing. The other thing I found was that belaying from the top of a route was better for overcoming my son's fear of heights as he was looking up and climbing towards me, rather than being conscious of getting further away from the ground.
Be cool about letting little'uns dad take her climbing, she's the only person that will lose out of it becoming a p1ssing contest.
OP Scarab9 13 Oct 2011
In reply to teflonpete:

just to clarify, it's not me that's against her dad taking her, it's her mum. Her mum knows I've more (as opposed to none) experience with climbing and so will look to me for advice if they argue about it, I don't want to be saying yes/no/more-complicated-things if I'm wrong so was after opinions from others who have taken little people out.

It's her mum that believes he only wants to take her due to trying to beat me (and her) to it and doesn't feel he'll do it with her daughters best interest in mind.
 Skyfall 13 Oct 2011
In reply to Scarab9:

I'm surprised Carolyn's not posted on this as she and her husband are v active in the Lakes and took their's climbing v early. I think Font was a big hit as it's more like a playground with tunnels, as well as climbs, thro the boulders.

I think a lot of the points on here are well made. On a couple of occasions where a parent has been belaying a child on TR with no one else available to help (at least no one who can climb), I've had to help by scrambling up to talk the child through whatever needs to be done as they've gotten into a bit of a state. I suspect the belaying from above idea is a good one, provided there's someone at the bottom as well.

Three Cliffs and the Gower generally would be a top place for a multi-activity holiday/weekend away. I have to say, when I did climb there more, we always spent as much time 'playing' on the beaches and looking in rockpools as much as climbing..
In reply to Scarab9: Like many others have said it depends on the child and the venue. Here is a video of my wee one age 2yrs and 8 months climbing with his mum on The Gutter in Glen Nevis. We climbed 3 pitches with me belaying from above (they often find it easier to climb towards someone than away from someone) and him attached on a bight of rope just ahead of his mum. Then we abseiled off with him attached to me. He loved this but has no interest in the local wall. Go figure. I'll take him when he asks but just because I'm a climber it doesn't mean he has to be.

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