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So when do I put my child on a rope...and how?

Original Post
Sean Sullivan · · Boise, ID · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 65

Hey all,

My child is almost two and climbs whatever he can find, often while shouting, "climb." When have you gotten your children out climbing? Two? Three? As soon as you could find a harness that fit?

Any feedback would be appreciated. I have my own ideas. I'd just like to hear about what others have done.


Sean (tommy wiggins)

SteveMarshall · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 40

friend has some young girls (3 or 4) and he put them on a rope. one loved it one hated it, but both were so light that he couldnt lower them due to friction!

Alicia Sokolowski · · Brooklyn, NY · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 1,045

Our 2 year old climbs. We started by just letting him swing on rope in his harness when we were climbing outside. Eventually he said he wanted to climb for real, so we let him. We found the no pressure approach worked best. Make sure you tie a tag line to the back of their harness in case you have to pull them down. Here's a photo of him trying a 5.7 at the gym.

Keeping to the route and everything
Jason Kim · · Encinitas, CA · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 255

I started taking my son to the gym at 2. You'll want a full body harness, and a helmet if he/she tends to go spastic like my kid (climbs up and then launches off the wall with no warning). I like the Elderid harness (also have a Petzl that I don't like). I've taken him outside a couple of times, but he struggles at this age (3 now) since the holds are less obvious. I think it will be another year or two before he enjoys real rock.

I've seen some parents pushing their toddlers/young kids too early and that doesn't make sense to me. My son is afraid to climb higher than 6-8 feet but loves to swing on the rope and hang on big holds and then jump off. So that's what we do. For hours. Others might disagree but I believe it should be about having fun at this age, and every kid is different in that regard.

Gargano · · Oakland, CA · Joined Jan 2011 · Points: 1,280

Strap him in Sean!

jellybean · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 0

Tommy, I have 4 kids and they all climb. I harnessed up my older two for climbing straight away and noticed that they were more fearless bouldering than roped climbing which I didn't understand. With my youngest two I did like Alicia, and swung them in a harness as soon as they could fit. By the time they were big enough to start climbing they already trusted to rope and had no difficulty with roped climbing. Nothing is worse then watching your kid crank up a climb only to get to the top and be petrified to lower off. Play with your kid on the rope down low, like "spiderman jumps" and keeping your feet in front of you. I think if you concentrate on making them comfortable just being on the rope, you'll find that these little creatures are natural climbers.
Be safe,J-

Sean Sullivan · · Boise, ID · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 65

Thanks for the feedback. The tagline is a great idea. Can't wait to start him.

rogerbenton · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2011 · Points: 210


I take Charlene to the gym about once per week.
As soon as she was totally comfortable lowering from the 60' ceilings at the Cliffs I started taking her to Peterskill. She flies up 5.3-5.5. It's amazing.

When Con is ready lets do PK!

Stich · · Colorado Springs, Colorado · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 1,470

All good advice, but there's more to it. For one, you should figure out what your child likes the most in the world. It could be the cat Snuggles, or your dog Beagley. It could be M&Ms. In any case, always hint that if they don't want to go climbing with you that "something might happen to Snuggles if we don't!" Make it a game of course, don't frighten them unduly. But always suggest that "Whew, Beagley is sure happy we went out and got on the rock, isn't he? I think his beagle heart is much better today and he won't die suddenly in his sleep." Trust me, this works a lot better than promising ice cream or other things after you go or bringing along other kids for them to play/climb with.

Sean Sullivan · · Boise, ID · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 65


I will definitely take you up on that. In the spring, I may try to start him on holds to worry about.

I was at EMS today looking at full-body harnesses...anyone have any recommendations?

Sean (tommy wiggins)

Stich · · Colorado Springs, Colorado · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 1,470

I got the Petzl one and every time I put it on my daughter it's a little confusing. But you get the hang of it.

Jim Amidon · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2001 · Points: 880

I've been bringing my son to Eldo since he was two....

Roped climbing from 3 years on....

He's now 8 and still enjoys it.....

Seems most full body harnesse are lacking shoulder chest protection from falling out.

I bought the Trango one to be local....

But had to supplement with slings and lockers to make me comfortable in its use

Alan Ream · · Lafayette CO · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 5,170

Time goes fast- Our girls 10 yo b-day today.

Ava at City of Rocks.
Sean Sullivan · · Boise, ID · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 65

It did seem like the chest harnesses could slip around the shoulders. Supplementing seems a smart way to go.

Great picture, Alan. How old was your daughter in that picture? And is she wearing socks?

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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