Family Rock Climbing

Yesterday was one of the most fun guiding days as I got to introduce 3 amazing kiddos to their first outdoor rock climbing experience. David, their father, had considerable previous climbing experience but was coming off a long hiatus and thought a guided trip might be the best way to get the kiddos climbing on real rock after quite a few months of indoor gym climbing.

We met at the Northeast Mountaineering Bunkhouse promptly at 8 AM and made our way over to Whitehorse Ledge. My original plan was to take the family to the Echo Roof area because of the great kid friendly slab climbs that exist there. As we walked up the road towards the cliff I felt a couple drops of rain. I had checked the radar an hour earlier and things looked clear but something had since developed and an updated check indicated a passing cold front had about an hour of rain in-store for us starting… now.

Rock climbing Whitehorse Ledge
All smiles (and awesome helmets!) just before the rain starts

We were heading into the hotel for a last minute potty break and when David came out I showed him the radar and let him know we would need to stall an hour and let this rain pass. He was game to sit it out in the lobby of the hotel with the most well behaved kiddos I could imagine. A huge thank you to the White Mountain Hotel staff who were so accommodating to us “non-guests” who sought shelter from the quick rain. They brought the kids juice and mini-muffins and offered free coffee to David and I. We ended up sitting down in their scenic dining room and ordering up some of the best blueberry pancakes with maple syrup butter I have ever had… If you are looking to stay in North Conway and fancy staying at the base of one of the best rock climbing cliffs in the east you should check this place out! The staff is amazing! Ok, back to our climbing day!

My original plan of Echo Roof was out, I didn’t fancy lead climbing 5.7 wet slab, so we walked (or skipped depending on age) back down to the climber parking and drove over to Cathedral Ledge.

Rock Climbing Cathedral Ledge
The quick storm is over and we are skipping our way back to the parking lot

Around 10 AM we were hiking up to the Thin Air Face. The excitement and natural curiosity of these kids was a sight to behold and my Instagram story was getting pretty epic. I ended up saving the story and will upload it here so you can see what I’m talking about:

Crazy inspiring right? I know. Multiple climbing parties that came through during the day were super jealous of our insane helmet game. Here’s some of the best pics from the day:

Rock Climbing Cathedral Ledge
E., aka “Unicorn Helmet” is ready for the first climb…
Rock Climbing Cathedral Ledge
E. quickly finds herself at the top of the climb and will go on to climb 3 different variations of increasing difficulty for a total of 5 times!
Rock Climbing Cathedral Ledge
J. climbs even better than Spiderman in my book
Rock Climbing Cathedral Ledge
E. figures out the sequence on wet slippery rock!
Rock Climbing Cathedral Ledge
Proud dad and inspiring daughter!
Rock Climbing Cathedral Ledge
Minions climbing Cathedral Ledge!

We climbed for 4 straight hours and these kiddos wanted to keep going! David… your kids are awesome! I was so happy to get to spend the day with you guys and I look forward to swaying you into some ice climbing this winter!

For those wondering about how old your kiddos should be before taking them rock climbing I’d say for many the 5+ age group is ideal! Their legs are strong enough to get them to the cliff and you would be absolutely amazed at what your kiddos are capable of!

David, thank you for choosing Northeast Mountaineering, and me, to be part of this epic day! I really had a great time with you guys!

For more information on getting your family out rock climbing start here and let me know in the comments if you have any questions!

See you in the mountains!

Northeast Alpine Start

Shop Kids’ Outerwear and Gear at Eastern Mountain Sports

3 thoughts on “Family Rock Climbing

  1. Dave it was a super day and thanks for the kind words about my kiddos. I have to say it was one of the best days of my life. Being a Dad to babies and toddlers, combined with more work responsibilities, kept me off the crags and my gear gathering dust in the attic. I always knew I wanted my kids to enjoy the outdoors and the many wonderful facets of climbing – respect for nature, challenging their fears, as well as just enjoying a great day outside. I started with them in a gym and was curious about how to make that transition to “real rock.” I decided to go with a guide for this important first experience and I am SO GLAD that I did. First and most important, it was a HUGE relief for me to be free to concentrate on kid wrangling and know that I had a professional setting our top rope and keeping us safe. Second, your extensive knowledge of local climbing areas and insight into simple things like approach length and degree of exposure made for the perfect day. I was really nervous and wanted my kids to have a great first experience outside AND THEY DID thanks to you and Northeast Mountaineering.
    My kids have all been going on and on about their trip and asking about when we can go again.
    For anyone reading this wondering if it’s worth it and if it’s a good mix for their family – seriously, call NEMGuides. You cannot go wrong.
    And Dave I think we really have a marketing opportunity with the helmets. What adult climber in their right mind DOESN’T want to roll up to the crag with a spider man helmet?


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