My family and I have always enjoyed hiking and biking together but about a year ago, we discovered rock climbing as another great fun physical activity that we can do as a family.
Even though we all have different fitness levels, rock climbing allows us to climb together yet each be personally challenged.
Rock climbing can either be done in the form of bouldering or top roping. Bouldering involves scaling rocks up to 15' high without ropes, while top roping uses ropes to prevent falls. Top roping in done in two person teams, one person climbing while the other person belays. Both climber and belayer wear harnesses. The climber's harness is tied to one end of a rope, the belayer's is tied to the other end and the rope itself travels from climber to the top of the wall through a pulley and back down to the belayer.
This morning, my son Ryan belayed me while I climbed several routes up the rock walls. Even though Ryan weighs about 30 pounds less than me, a belay device attached to his harness which the rope flows through, allows him to lock off the rope attached to me with minimal effort. Entrusting my life to my son not only builds trust between the two of us but also allows my son to feel like he plays an important role in our climbing partnership.
Rock climbing physically and mentally pushes your limits and forces you to decide between pushing yourself to the top, or giving up when it gets tough. This morning I was able to climb several routes which made me feel great. Using my mind to figure out the best route to the top and expecting my body to follow through develops balance and builds the mind-body connection.
Ryan has been participating in a climbing club weekly for the past year and he has become our resident expert so to speak. He knows all the routes in the gym and can give suggestions on which routes would work well for each of us and also give us climbing tips and demos. This allows him, the youngest member of our family, to feel really good about himself and his abilities.
While Ryan and I climbed, my other son Jimmy and my husband worked on some bouldering routes and later on, my husband belayed me while the boys bouldered. Each of us taking on just what we needed and walking away from the experience feeling challenged and that we had spent some quality fun time with one another.
If you are interested in rock climbing, check out your local climbing gym. They should offer classes and rent equipment to get you started. Next time your kids say they are bored, consider rock climbing. You are never too young or too old to start.