Seattle's Child

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Two kids rock climbing

Photo: Bo White

5 Tips for Rock Climbing Safely with your Kids

Rock climbing is an amazing sport for kids that challenges them mentally and physically.

Rock climbing is an amazing sport for kids. They challenge themselves mentally and physically, build confidence and trust in others and acquire the skills to experience nature in a unique and intimate way. However, the dangers are real. Here are some tips to keep it safe and fun. 

Parents Should Learn to Climb Too!

  1. Visit a climbing gym. One way to start is by visiting an indoor climbing gym. Choose a gym with an extensive space dedicated to beginners and children. Bouldering is a type of climbing that’s close to the ground and doesn’t require a rope. It’s the simplest way to start because all you need is a pair of climbing shoes and a chalk bag—which you can rent from most gyms. 
  2. Rope climbing. Parents should learn first! Some rock gyms offer rope climbing as well as bouldering. If you want to rope climb with your child, you will need to learn to belay. Ask whether your climbing gym offers belay classes. Better yet, enroll in a climbing course at The Mountaineers.
  3. Learn and follow the safety rules. Climbing can be dangerous. Parents and children should learn the basic safety rules and follow them without question. For example, don’t let children play or climb under other climbers—even from only a few feet up, a falling human can cause serious injury to someone below. 
  4. Keep it positive and low-pressure. Let your children set their own limits. If they are freaked out and want to quit, let them. They can always try again another time. Furthermore, this is not like swimming or riding a bike—not every kid needs to be a proficient climber. 
  5. Learn the ropes yourself. Climbing is an activity the whole family can learn and enjoy together. The best way to get everyone to enjoy this sport is for YOU to lead the way. Once you learn the basics of climbing, you will feel more comfortable and your kids will, too. 

Read about  Molly White’s hiking/climbing adventure with her kids:

Icicle Creek: A scenic fall family adventure near Leavenworth.