Everything Epic

 I recently discovered that Vimeo has a large number of climbing videos available. . . I spent a few minutes yesterday watching one of the popular free soloing videos starring Steph Davis (amazing).  Here’s the video.  Steph Davis – Castleton And Diamond Free Solo from Andrew on Vimeo.

As I watched her outstanding climbing ability and fearless free soloing efforts, I was left wondering how my current climbing adventures could seem even remotely interesting when viewed next to these accomplishments.

On the heels of watching that video, I started thinking about my own version of an “epic” adventure and how different it would look from what seemed epic to me in my pre-kids life.  In the past, a climbing trip would be considered epic if we spent the majority of the trip going up rock, hanging on rock, or getting to rock. Other requirements: difficult approaches, exposed terrain, BLM camping, tough climbs that pushed our abilities, and consecutive days of sustained climbing.  Dirty. Tired. Bruised or Bloody.    If the trip didn’t end with these boxes checked, it was merely a vacation.  Completely non-epic.  

Kids have definitely changed our requirements for “epic” status.  The length of the trip is no longer a factor.  A long weekend will do.  Even a day trip requires packing appropriately and a strong eye for timing it correctly.  We spent this past Thanksgiving at the Red River Gorge. . . an epic trip despite the fact that we only climbed a few routes a day.  The approaches were minimal.  There was limited bloodshed. We stayed in a cabin.  It rained a bit.  We went to the movies to watch Tangled.  We could have gone without kids, but that isn’t how we choose to live our life.  We choose to make our kids a part of our passion for climbing and the outdoors.  As @familyonbikes and @lovingthebike (and others) write – “Life is more fun with kids”.  And while we might not be quite as physically strong as we were before we started climbing with kids, we are likely safer and smarter about how we climb (thanks for that @clairedloon).    

The logistics of planning a day of climbing take on epic proportions with kids.  The reality is that you carry more in, you take longer to hike, you spend longer setting up, and you generally call it a day much earlier – and there’s not guarantee that you’ll actually get to climb.  We do it because we want to share this with our kids.  We do it because we don’t want to wait until our kids are grown before we climb again.  We do it so that our kids hopefully learn to love climbing as much as we do.  And we do it because “Life is more fun with kids”.  

As @theactiongirl wrote in today’s blog about mini adventures, “Instead of waiting all year for a big vacation I am taking perfect Sunday’s and letting their goodness carry me all week long.”  (Full post here). 

There are amazing people out there doing incredible things.  People like Steph Davis (and she is amazing).  But that isn’t the reality for most of us.  Most of us look forward to enjoying our chosen activity as often as possible amidst the craziness of daily life.  Perhaps my daughter can follow in Steph Davis’ footsteps.  Of course, I hope Cala will use rope :). 

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 ClimbingWeather.com app was showing predictions of snow on Friday night - and it wasn't far off.  The drive took us eons, especially in the Appalachians with the travel trailer.  We … [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 water", or "I want to sleep in the sand") and end up as something completely different ("The route had a group staked out on it for the day" or "I couldn't … [Read More...]

Climbing Gym Etiquette With Kids

Tips for taking kids to the climbing gym. There are few things more troublesome than going to a new place and not knowing the spoken and unspoken rules.  Add to the uncertainty the presence of children, and it can be quite intimidating to enter into unknown territory.   For those new to indoor climbing and/or new to indoor climbing with kids, here are a few tips for bringing your kids to the gym. Those that know me will laugh at the irony. . . My … [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 friendly" to try with the kids. Surfing, Kite Surfing, Kayaking Ryan has wanted to try surfing for years, but that's a solo endeavor, as … [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 one of those locations that combines both.  There are amazing climbing opportunities in the shadow of the National Monument.  There are … [Read More...]

About Laura Boniello Miller

Laura Miller is a internet marketing professional and a mother of two. Her interests include sport climbing, bouldering, reading, traveling, and spending time with her family. She believes that playing outdoors is integral to health and well being, and that if your kids aren't dirty, they haven't had enough fun.


  1. Cool post….thanks for including me in it. My family and cycling is what matters to me most and my kids are definitely along for any adventures to take them on. We are sort of modern day gypsies, so they've definitely had their share of adventures….and many more to come.Darryl

  2. Katie L says:

    Although I don't have children, I think the general theme in this post is incredibly important and can apply to anyone! Everyone will define what an "epic" adventure is a bit differently, and no adventure is too small or too insignificant. You hit the nail on the head :)

  3. Haley says:

    I didn't start climbing until AFTER I had kids. I try to get my kids involved as much as possible and I love that they love the outdoors as much I do and show a sincere interest in climbing too. I also enjoy getting out on my own with friends to get some quality time on the rock when time allows. But kids sure do make life more fun :)

  4. Climbing Mom says:

    Haley – I like to think of it as a day of hanging out with the kids (and getting in some climbing) vs. a day of climbing (which usually only happens if ONE of us is climbing and the other is there, but on kid duty). Bouldering is much more balanced (able to both climb and hang out) but sport is usually an either/or. . . No trad, especially not with kids.

  5. Lindsey says:

    Great post, so true! I always try to remember that I'm now creating 'epic' adventures for my kids, not necessarily me. A class 4 route for a 4 year old is epic, so is eating lunch in a 'rock cave', or sleeping in a REAL cabin! We will have our day again… 😉

  6. Climbing Mom says:

    Love the idea of "eating lunch in a 'rock cave'. . " Wonder if we can brainstorm some other fun "mini adventures" to create with kids while out on our climbing hikes/trips. I'm starting a list, stay tuned :)