When can kids start climbing, when should kids start climbing?

Winter means hitting the climbing gym.  For us, that’s PRG, Valley.  We are lucky enough to have the ability to take our two year old and almost-four year old to the gym (PRG is quite open to kids of all ages being on the gym floor).   Check with your gym on age limits, and when you need to start paying. For the most part, it seems that each gym has a kid’s wall (or an area where smaller kids can climb best with low angles, smaller holds (for smaller fingers), and more hold density (for the height impaired).

At what age can kids start climbing?  Well that number is all over the place and depends specifically on the child’s interest and physicality.  Technically, they can start grabbing onto the wall as soon as they can walk.  Once they show an interest in trying to get up the wall, they are ready to start experimenting. That often just means making a move or two before losing interest.  My kids tend to like to climb without roping up. . . they are just “boulderers” at the moment.  They might put on the harness, but they never seem to go any higher than they would without a rope – and the harness is merely an excuse to hang from the floor and swing around while mommy and/or daddy hold them suspended.  Still, my niece (age 5) took to it like a monkey, while her older sister (age 8) was interested, but didn’t quite have the “no fear” mentality or the physical affinity for it. She stubbornly persisted and could develop the strength and skill needed over time but it didn’t come quite as naturally to her.

What does all of that mean?  Kids may or may not take to climbing at any age from 18 months to . . . .whenever. Interest and ability is completely dependent on the child.  Parents can certainly encourage and/or push a child to climb but I believe that results can provide mixed results with outcomes of creating a prodigy climber (climbing a 5.12 at age 12) or hating the experience.  So far, we’ve opted to hang out at the gym with our kids, getting in as much climbing as possible for ourselves, and letting them decide when they want to grab the chalk and climb the wall.

What has your experience been in creating a love of climbing in your children?

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.