The latest and greatest about climbing with kids:

New River Gorge with Kids

New River Gorge Climbing Trip We finally made our way back to the New River Gorge in West Virginia for a weekend of climbing.  It has been years (pre kids) since we had been to this area as it seemed to be a bit less kid friendly than other areas that we had been to.  Our app … [Read More...]

Hiking in a Creek

Have you ever started out on a day hike with children only to have it turn into something completely different that what you planned?  Ha. Of course you have. Many of our adventures start out as one thing ("I want to climb X route" or "sleep at X campground". . . "I want to relax in a tube on the … [Read More...]

Stand Up Paddleboarding

The best rock climbing areas tend to be located in or near wilderness, national parks, mountains, and forests.  There are exceptions, of course!  Still, when we took a family trip to the jersey shore this summer, there was no rock to be found.  As usual, my husband and I sought out something both "active" and "family … [Read More...]

The Mount Rushmore Dilemma

Visiting Mount Rushmore with Kids Our summer trip to Wyoming and South Dakota was amazing.  We combined climbing with family time, history, geography, science and more.  When we planned the trip, climbing was the main focus, but hitting some of the National Parks and National Monuments were also a must.  Mount Rushmore is … [Read More...]

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Wild Iris Wyoming Climbing, Trip Report

Wild Iris As you know from previous posts, we purchased an RV for our summer travels.  In mid June, we took that show on the road for a two week trip across country, from Pennsylvania to Wyoming. The trip took around 48 hours, with one overnight rest, and a brief stint in Cheyenne with a flat tire.  Our original goal was to stop at the Sierra Trading Post store, but by the time our flat tire issues were resolved, the store was unfortunately closed.

Wild Iris vs. Tensleep or Sinks Canyon

In our trip planning process, we spoke with friends who have climbed in Wyoming extensively.  Their advice for a kid friendly sport climbing area was to start at Wild Iris.  Other (somewhat close) crags include Sinks Canyon and Tensleep – both of which have exceptional climbing options, but both have a harder approach.  In addition, Sinks Canyon is known to be less of a summertime destination, with hotter temps and a higher likelihood of rattlesnakes so we started with Wild Iris and decided that we would try Sinks if we had time.  Turned out that Wild Iris kept us quite busy!

We camped at Twin Pines Campground, a nice family run campground a few miles south of Lander, Wyoming.  Twin Pines wasn’t a climber’s hang out (though they did have tent and rv options), but they had great bathroom facilities (with lots of hot water) and it was the closest campground (that we knew of) to the Wild Iris climbing.  Wild Iris itself had rustic camping options (and an outdoor/open pit toilet) with no running water. The campsites at Wild Iris were extremely nice for those interested in the more rustic and cliff side camping option.  Wild Iris has a few options for climbing walls/areas.  For the most recent list of climbs, access, and area information, we used the Lander Wyoming climbing guide, Lander Rock Climbs.  If you are looking for the Lander climber hang out, look no further than the Lander Bar/Gannett Grill – a local bar/grill with relaxing outdoor seating and some great home brews from the Lander Brewing Company.

OK Corral at Wild Iris

We started with the most accessible part of the Wild Iris crags – the OK Corral area.  The OK Corral is a short walk from the truck and offered a large number of moderate climbs in a dense area.  The approach was a short hike and the base of the climbs were mostly child friendly (though toddlers would likely need some off belay supervision given the uneven rock and the potential for a short roll down the somewhat uneven terrain).  Our kids were excited to find makeshift shelters for playing, and after a quick stability check and snake check they were free to hang out inside the makeshift shelters that were found within every cluster of routes.  

Our day one adventures introduced us to the vertical limestone walls of Wild Iris at the Blooming Rose Wall. We warmed up on a “eh” 5.9 called “Iron Horse with a twisted heart” and then went up a nice 10b called “Stacked Deck”.  The climbs had some great lines and nice solid holds, though it took some getting used to the limestone as it was a bit less textured and a bit more polished than we were used to.  We set up a toprope for the kids inside of a crack, (“Phat Phinger Phrenzy”) but the odd stemming left our four year old struggling to reach, so she didn’t make it too far up.

After a packed lunch, and a small detour while we helped search for a missing 11 year old (she was located after a few hours, so all’s well) – we hopped on Red Rider – a super classic 5.10a.   Big holds whenever you wanted made the climb a fun one, up an arete and with pretty vertical climbing.

On day two, we hit OK Corral again, this time for a run up “Claim Jumper” (10c three star)after the 5.9 warm up on the arete to the right (“Annie Get your drill”.  Claim Jumper had a lieback flake that Ryan made quick work of, but I couldn’t get the hang of pushing off the wall to the right, and leaning left. By this time the kids had had enough of the climbing, forts, and playing outdoor imaginary games – and the windy weather was a bit much for us all so we headed back to home base.

NOTE: the Wild Iris area tends to be a good 5-10 degrees cooler than Lander.  Bring extra clothes because the temperature varies greatly based on the wind.

Wild Iris for kids

There wasn’t much in the under 5.8 range for kids to climb on, and given that ours are 4 and 6, that limited their options for getting on the wall at Ok Corral.  The forts, though, made the area an exciting adventure.  The short approaches made it accessible, and the shade gave them relief on the sunnier days.  While rattlesnakes are reported to be seen in the area, we didn’t see any, though we did see a deer or caribou on our hike one day.

All in all, OK Corral would work for kids of all ages, though some landing areas would require more supervision than others.  I’d say that 3 plus would have no problems, as long as you do a snake check first and they aren’t prone to wandering off.





Sad News, 12 year old Tito Traversa

Supertopo blogIn tragic news, 12 year old climbing prodigy Tito Traversa has died while climbing.

There will be many reports and Monday morning quarterbacks discussing the tragedy, and placing blame.

This is not one of those posts.   You can read more about the accident and the cause here.  I’m glad to see that the climbing community is coming together to recognize and mourn this young boy rather than place blame and/or point fingers.  (Read the comments).  It says something that we value his life and don’t want to add more burden to his family with “I told you so’s” and “should haves.”

Instead, I just want to take a moment to say that we all have those times that we didn’t check gear/place gear/check knots etc.  Most of us don’t fall to our deaths and have another chance to remind ourselves that people count on us, love us, want us to be safe.   We all need to be more careful, more aware, and more cognizant of what we are doing, and what we are asking or allowing our children to do.

If I have had moments of inattention (at 36), then I can darn well be certain that had I been climbing at age 12, I too might have climbed that gear without checking.  We can all be more diligent about checking one another, each and every time we go out.

I just purchased climbing helmets for my two little crag monkeys for our recent climbing trip to Wyoming.  Should they be wearing them at all times?  Probably.  Did they?  No.  It was hot. We forgot.  And so forth.

Hindsight is all knowing.

What will you do on your next climbing trip to make yourself, your partner, and your family safer?  I’m going out to buy another rope.  Our current rope would probably last for another climbing trip, but we also know a new rope will not show the signs of wear that appear on our current rope.   I might have chanced it.  And you all could have Monday morning quarterbacked my fall.

Instead, I will think of Tito and his family as I use this tragedy as a reminder to be more aware.