Cragmama "Not all who wander are lost…" JRR Tolkien

Ten Sleep 2020 – Birthday Goals!

Always Keep It Loaded

Considering how covid cancelled both our spring climbing season, as well as our gym training options leading up to the trip, we really had no idea what to expect once we actually got on the rocks in Ten Sleep Canyon. (see here for our we prepped using our quarantine purchased treadwall from Brewer Fitness.) Our main goal was to simply get away from the real world for a while as a family in one of our favorite places. I also had a very specific side goal – coming into the trip I was only 4 sends away from 100 lifetime 5.12’s, and I wanted to hit the 100 mark by my 40th birthday, which was happening at the end of our trip.

This meant that for the first part of the trip, I wanted to focus on 12a’s that seemed like they could go down pretty quickly without putting too much of a dent in my tank for subsequent days. This was also the first trip where we had an extra agenda to balance (my 10yo son just started lead climbing earlier this summer). In light of all that, we found ourselves climbing in areas that were totally new to us for all but a couple of our days.

Unlike pretty much everything else in 2020, our strategy worked out according to plan! I was able to knock out sends 97-100 fairly early on in our trip, with CragDaddy also sending all but the first of those 4 (and with Big C knocking out some pretty big goals of his own…more on that here.) Here’s how everything played out:

Day 1: Always Keep it Loaded 12a (Home Alone Wall)
Day 2: Swedish Penis Enlarger 12a (Austin Powers Wall)
Day 3: Floyd Direct 12a (The Cigar Pillar) Here’s some CragDad sending footage.
Day 4: Rest day at Meadowlark Lake (b/c the older we get, the more we need the rest days!!!)
Day 5: The Barnum Route 12a (Circus Wall) Here’s my sending footy.

With my main objective accomplished, I felt free to hop on a little more variety of routes, both easier as well as harder. Here are my highlights from the second half of our trip:

On top of the Cigar Pillar after sending Floyd Direct on Day 3

Day 6: I Just Do Eyes 11b and Psychedelic Milk Painter 11a (FCR). These were the last two routes I needed to tick all the 11’s on the Back Forty. All of those routes are fantastic, and now after having done them all, the 11b is by far my favorite (closely followed by Crazy Wynona 11d, which I did back in 2018.)
Day 7: Rest day at Ten Sleep Creek (where I had a Lynn Hill and Robyn Erbesfield-Rabotou sighting!)
Day 8: MY 40th BIRTHDAY!!! – definitely one of the best birthdays I’ve ever had! This day ended up being my only double 5.12 day of the whole trip – the mammoth 17 bolt Bossa Nova 12b (vid here) and bouldery and dynamic Sharks with Lasers 12a both went down 2nd go.
Day 9: Mater Hater 12b – It might just be some end of trip exhaustion talking, but this felt like my hardest send of the entire trip. Very bouldery, very reachy, but very fun, and a 2nd go send here was a very good way to end a very nearly perfect trip! (Here’s some video of that one.)

Despite our emphasis on “quickly doable” grades for most of this trip, there were a few harder lines that seemed worth hopping on, despite the lower odds of sending. (As I told my perfectionistic son, “You can’t send ALL the things. But the not-sends are just as important in helping you grow as a climber.”) Routes that went unsent but were well worth mentioning were as follows:

Circus in My Pants 12d

The Gravy Train 12b/c (The Cigar Pillar) – I was all for working it more that day until I hit the final boulder problem, which shifted this line from the very doable category into the more work than I want to devote on a road trip category.
Circus in my Pants 12d (Circus Wall) – This was my favorite route of the trip, and also the hardest one I tried. I was tempted to come back a second day for this one, but in the end the skin shredding factor plus the rest of the family’s goals crossed it out. Next year I would love to invest a little more in this one!
Tangerine Fat Explosion 12c (FCR) – Honestly this one was a little bit of a let down for me. Maybe it was that I was too tired from 3 burns on Circus the previous day, maybe all the hype I’d heard about it had built it up too much in my head about it, but it wasn’t as good as I was expecting it to be.
Vitamin K 12b (Valhalla) – My valiant onsight attempt was thwarted at the very top by crimps and pockets that were just a little too tweaky for a last day send. I’d love to get on it earlier in the trip next time.

Overall, I couldn’t have asked for a better trip, ESPECIALLY considering the circumstances of this year. I am thrilled to have not only reached, but surpassed my goal of 100 lifetime 5.12’s, and so grateful for the time spent with family. And speaking of family, as I alluded to before, you can check out Big C’s goals and lessons learned here. Until then….did anyone else have any summer goals you were able to complete?

Water Into Wine 5.9 – not part of the 5.12 goal, but perhaps the most photogenic route we did!
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A Cross Country Driving Adventure with Kids!

If you’ve been following our family on social media at all, you’re probably aware that we just got back from a summer escape to Ten Sleep Canyon, WY. When we first started going out there 8 years ago, we had no idea we would keep coming back again and again…,and again! We’ve tried all manner of “getting there” options. In 2012 we flew into Rapid City, SD and also climbed in Spearfish Canyon and the Custer State Park. In 2015 we flew into Salt Lake City, UT and sandwiched Ten Sleep in between Wild Iris and Logan Canyon. Then in 2018 we flew into Casper, WY so we could spend our entire climbing time in Ten Sleep. But this time around, we opted for something I’ve always wanted to do – a long haul drive across the country in our good old Craggin’ Wagon! Due to our wanting to save some of the CragDad’s PTO for later this fall, I made the leg to Wyoming solo with the kiddos. He flew out for the climbing, then flew back home…on the same day my mom flew out to meet us to help with the drive back home. Logistically, driving has always made a lot more sense.

Somewhere along I-70 in Kansas

SAVING MONEY

Belle Ridge Retret in TN

For one thing, this year we only had 1 plane flight to buy, and because it was purchased with flyer miles, we actually only paid around $20 for it! We also saved a lot in rental car fees. Additionally, we saved a lot of money by bringing our own crag food bought in bulk at Costco as opposed to buying individually packaged bars/jerky/etc in the Wyoming grocery stores once we got there. We did have an additional cost of lodging along the way, but we chose pretty budget friendly hotels. Had the CragDad been with me I probably would’ve opted for camping…but I just couldn’t make myself set up and breakdown that tent every single day all by myself! (There’s definitely an incentive here for building out the van with some sort of sleeping set up!!!) Our original plan was to camp once we got to Ten Sleep, but due to covid we felt better about having our own bathroom, so we rented a little bunkhouse from Ten Sleep RV Park. We were thrilled that additional perks of this place included A/C as well as a refrigerator…and because we were driving, the fact that the kitchen only had the fridge and a sink was no biggie because it was easy to bring our camp stove set up. While it was more expensive than camping for sure, it was by far cheaper than an Air BnB, which would have been our only lodging option with flying, unless we wanted to pay a whole bunch of extra baggage fees (climbing gear is heavy and takes up a lot of room!!!)

ENJOYING THE JOURNEY

As a homeschooling family, we love to take advantage of everyday learning experiences. Driving across the country together was an amazing way to experience parts of the United States my kids otherwise would only read about in books. Here’s a brief snapshot of all the amazing learning we were able to experience on either side of our vacation that we would NOT have been able to encounter via airplane.

  • Waterfalls and Swimming Holes in Tennessee
  • Historically significant sites, such as Fort Massac in Illinois, the Gateway Arch in Missouri, and the Ingalls Homestead in South Dakota
  • “Sledding” on St. Mary’s Glacier in Colorado
  • National Park Sites – Rocky Mountain, Badlands, and Mt. Rushmore
  • Creation Museum and Ark Encounter in Kentucky

PLANNING

With the exception of a very scary, altitude-related ER visit in Granby, CO (more on that below), this trip went off smoother than I ever thought it would have! One of the things that was invaluable in trip planning was the Roadtrippers App. While I usually don’t like to pay for apps, I must say this was well worth the $29 (there’s also a free version with limited features which I used to try it out first) I was able to see my entire route, along with any possible stop along the way, even when you’re in the middle of nowhere. (Did you know there’s a Jolly Green Giant Statue in Minnesota? I didn’t, but Roadtrippers did, and it gave us a well-timed stretch break on the way home!)

Hiking the Door Trail in Badlands National Park

Another app that was very useful was Hotels.com. CragDad and I have been using this for a while now, and we love it! First of all, we don’t like paying a lot for hotels, and this app allows you to see a wide range of hotels in the area you’re looking for, as well as reviews. Secondly, booking through the app gives you a “stamp” that you can use to redeem for free stays after every 10 nights, so you get a similar benefit as other “points” programs that are affiliated with specific hotel chains, but without being limited to a certain chain. Twice on this trip we ended up with fabulous locally owned hotels at a very good price that would have been hard to find without the app!

Another important part of planning was providing the kids with stuff to do during the drive. Because I count this as part of our schooling, each kid had an assignment folder they would work in each day, with activities relevant to where we were headed that day. Both had maps to keep track of our travels as well as license plates we saw along the way. (We saw all but three – Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Hawaii!) They also had a coloring sheet for each state and many of the historic sites we visited. At the end of each day they would record their “rose” and “thorn,” (highlights/lowlights of the day), and my 10yo did some math by finding totals and averages with our mileage for each day. We also had loads of books, drawing stuff, audiobooks, and travel games…and of course each kiddo got an allotted amount of screen time each day as well.

While we grabbed take out a couple of times, and ate on a restaurant patio once, the majority of meals were eaten either on the road or park picnic tables. In this regard, being covid-conscious and money-conscious aligned really well. Thankfully my kids are pretty okay with not a lot of variety, and ate their body weight in sandwiches, crackers, mandarin oranges, and canned pineapple. I had brought non-perishable goods for Ten Sleep dinners once we got there (pasta, tortillas, etc), and stopped at a grocery on the way in to purchase meat and produce.

WHEN PLANS GO SIDEWAYS

Well-cared for at Granby Hospital!

As I alluded to before, we had one hiccup in our plan…and it was a big one! The day before we were scheduled to meet the CragDad in Casper, WY, my 6yo daughter ended up in the ER due to altitude sickness. Her very mild symptoms took a big turn for the worse in RMNP. By the time we got to the Granby hospital, she was in pretty bad shape between the nausea, dehydration, and oxygen levels of 80. After several hours she had stabilized, but we were instructed to go back down to Boulder rather than continuing on through higher elevations to Laramie, then Casper the following day. Providentially, the CragDad’s flight connected in Denver, so we ended up just picking him up there and continuing on our way via a lower elevation route than planned. We arrived in Ten Sleep only a few hours later than originally planned, and by the following day, Little Z seemed back to her normal, bouncy self. ‘

Lessons learned? Be careful with altitude, especially with small kids, because they can go downhill in a moment’s notice. I had thought we had done all the right things as far as gradually introducing higher elevations, but the combo of heat + exertion + dehydration put her in a hole she couldn’t dig herself out of. Looking back, none of her symptoms had seemed any different than any of the typical out of sorts type symptoms we’d all been feeling until all of a sudden she was failing fast. So definitely err on the side of cautiousness! (And always have a plan B!!!)

Ark Encounter in Kentucky

Thankfully, all’s well that ends well, and we certainly ended up well, with loads of family memories of fun and adventure! While nobody is ready to hop in the car again any time soon, we all voted that a long road trip is definitely worth the effort, and we would all love to do it again! (That said, we are headed to the Red River Gorge to climb over Labor Day, and after this monster of a trip, that 7 hour drive will feel like a drive to the store. ;)) And speaking of climbing, check out that aspect of our trip here and here.

Driving the covered wagon in De Smet, SD

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Summer Training (aka 10 Sleeps Til Tensleep)

If I would’ve told you 6 months ago that I would spend the whole summer training for a climbing trip almost exclusively on the same 5 boulder problems + hangboard combo, you probably would’ve told me not to get my hopes up.  And I probably would’ve agreed with you.  It certainly wouldn’t have been my first chocie, but Covid 19 pretty much destroyed most everyone’s first (and second, and third) choices in these past few months. 

Big C crushing Bee’s Tongue 10b out at Melrose Mountain

Summer Climbing Recap

Let me back up.  For those of you that might not be aware, our family’s big quarantine project was putting together a Treadwall from Brewer Fitness.  We bit the bullet back in March, and after multiple delays, we were finally able to climb on our very own home wall on May 15.  (For a detailed analysis on why we went with the Treadwall over other popular home options, check out CragDaddy’s guest post HERE.)  Mid-May is also about the time things started opening up for us to be able to climb outside as well, and with a couple of casual day trips, psych was restored and spirits were lifted after the longest hiatus we’d ever taken in our almost 15 years of climbing.  

The early weeks of summer featured surprisingly good climbing conditions, and we were able to take advantage of it several weekends in a row at Hidden Valley, VA.  We all got settled back into the rhythm of weekend adventures, and CragDaddy and I were able to work our way back up to 5.12 again.  This is also when our 10 year old decided he was ready to start lead climbing (!!!!), and he was able to amass a rather impressive tick list in just a handful of days, including his first 5.10 (Tidy Bowl, 10a.)  

But then the ACTUAL summer came, and with it, all the oppressive heat and smothering humidity summer climbing in the Southeast is known for.  We tried to keep on keeping on, but while Big C was able to continue his sending streak at various local crags, CragDaddy and I were melting off anything slightly harder than warm-up level. 

Treadwall Training Programs

Now back to the Treadwall.  As our sole form of mid-week climbing since early March (our gyms are still closed), our “Dreadwall,’ as we have affectionately named it, has been absolutely invaluable in gaining back, and then keeping fitness. 

But how exactly do we train on it?  Depends on which of us you ask, b/c we all use it in a slightly different way.  But first here’s the breakdown of our current set-up.  For the record we’ve had a really hard time grading these. 18 feet is way too short for a route, but the sustained nature of the climbing would make for a beastly long boulder problem.  We tend to use a combination of the two, knowing that once we start stacking problems on top of each other, the YDS grade will shift upwards. That said, here’s what we’ve been working with, in order of difficulty.  

Me on Gaston Red
  • Green: V1/5.10 
  • Blue V3/5.11
  • Big Move Black V4/5.11+
  • Orange V4/5.12
  • Pink V5/5.12
  • Gaston Red V6/5.12+

If you are interested in seeing some of these problems in more detail, you can check them out on the Eat Spray Love app and search for Dreadwall or videos posted on instagram (see instagram usernames below). Here’s how each of us has been using the wall:

Cragmama’s Training – @CRAGMAMA

While the harder problems took me a session or two to send, I primarily use this wall for endurance/power endurance.  In the early weeks, the goal was to send the harder problems and progressively add multiple laps to the easier ones, until I could comfortably handle several sets of 3-4 lap combos of varying difficulties.  Nowadays, my typical workout begins with a few triple/quad laps of various green/blue combos before moving into some single lap lock off drills.  Then I’ll try for some harder double lap combos – some that I can consistently send, others not so much.  For example, I can pretty much always double up on Orange, but am hit or miss with Red into any color, because I’m not 100% on sending even one lap of Red.  If I’m also doing a hangboarding workout that day (repeaters on 3 different hold types), I’ll probably do 5-7 or so sets of these double links, then head to the Hangboard.  If not, I’ll probably just try the Red link up a few times before going directly into some sort of Power Enduro work.  Since I already had good fitness with the easier problems, the  goal here was to increase time under tension with the harder problems, ie pink and orange (red is too hard at this point to include.) 

CragDaddy on Big Move Black

I started with “On the Minute” drills (something I picked up from training with Power Company Climbing.) For these, I would start a problem at the same time I started my stopwatch, then rest until it hit the minute mark, then go again.  I would climb 6 single laps this way (I worked up to 3 pink and 3 orange, although initially I had to throw in some Blues and Greens.)

I then moved to traditional 4x4s with a 5 minute rest between sets (climb a single lap, hop down, chalk up, climb another problem, etc for 4 single laps.), Just recently I switched it up a little to 4 triple laps on Orange, with 5 minutes in between.  These are SUPER HARD and I am failing miserably by the end, BUT seeing progress each time!  

Cragdaddy’s Training – @SHOCKSLL

According to CragDaddy, “Everything about our Treadwall setup works my weaknesses.” The size of the wall forces him to climb in a much “smaller box” than he is accustomed to, the 36 degree angle wall is his anti-style, and the hold size limitations combined with his bigger hands size makes the jugs feel “less juggy” compared to how they feel for Big C and I. He has progressed from barely doing a single lap on Green to comfortably doing doubles, and even the occasional triple. His fave link-up is Big Move Black into Green, and he is super close to a double Blue link.

Big C on Orange

CragDaddy’s typical workout consists of playing around with some of the above mentioned link-ups before projecting Orange, which he was recently able to send last week. After several working burns on Orange, he will move to the hangboard, on which he has made a ton of progress.

Big C’s Training – @CANAAN_CLIMBS

Clipping Practice

Honestly, out of all of us, this kid by far looks the best on it.  While the moves on the appropriately named Big Move Black are a little too long for his wingspan, and he has yet to send Gaston Red, he manages to make all the others look super casual.  In addition to playing around with various link-ups, the most effective training he has had on the wall has been clipping practice!  

With all that said, we’ve been working hard…but will it be enough?   Our fitness is high, but our limit bouldering has for sure suffered without a gym.  And does hangboarding alone replace the finger strength we are missing out on from all those little crimps on the vertical/slightly overhanging gym walls?  Time will tell.  One thing that I do know is that this treadwall has already gotten us back on track way faster than we ever would have guessed, and we have been super thankful for it. Next week at this time the kids and I will be taking the scenic route through Rocky Mountain National Park on our way to pick up CragDaddy in Casper, Wyoming.  But for now, the countdown is on!  Only 10 sleeps til Tensleep! If you would like to follow our journey, I will be posting as much as I can on social media!

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Why We Chose a Treadwall

Brewer Fitness Kore6 Treadwall

Hi everyone, Cragdaddy here with a guest post. A lot of people have been asking about why we chose a Brewer Fitness Treadwall over the other available options like a home woodie (custom built home wall) or maybe even a full Moonboard. We had considered building a Moonboard at our house in the past to give Cragmama an at home option when I am traveling. We do live in the south, therefore wee really wanted it climate controlled and we didn’t have the space to build it inside. We looked at enclosing a part of our attic and putting in a window HVAC unit or something but could never justify the cost since we have a fantastic gym in our area, Inner Peaks, with one location 10 minutes from our house and the other location 10 minutes from my office. When COVID-19 hit our area and everything closed down, it didn’t take us long to decide that we needed an at home climbing solution.

Moonboard

The first thing we considered was the fact we have very limited carpentry skills and would need to probably pay someone to build us a Moonboard. We probably could have cobbled together a home woodie but since a home option had been discussed well before COVID-19, we wanted to have something that would work for us in the long term and compliment our gym training instead of just being a solution during quarantine.

Our friend Jim’s Home Woodie

One of the things that attracted us to the Moonboard was we could spend more time climbing than setting, as the Moonboard app has thousands of different problems set by people all over the world. A home woodie we felt would require setting often because once we send a problem, we are probably wanting to move on to something else or set something new. We determined that the goal for us on the Treadwall would be to not just send a problem, but after sending, start stacking problems in different orders to basically build hard routes that we can work. This means that we aren’t going to be setting as often. We were guessing maybe 2-4 times a year since endurance and power endurance were our main goals. We are mainly sport climbers so we often do a training cycle of 4x4s at the climbing gym and we felt like we could accomplish a very similar thing on the Treadwall.

Home Wall Alternatives using Choosing By Advantages (click to enlarge)

I had just learned about the Lean Method of Choosing By Advantages (CBA) at work so we decided to try it on our home wall decision.

Brewer Fitness Boulderboard

The main purpose of the CBA method is to help decision makers to differentiate alternatives and to understand the importance of those differences. In CBA, decisions are based on advantages of alternatives, which are positive differences, not advantages and disadvantages; this avoids double counting. 

We put all of our factors in, and for each factor, determined which option was the best and which was the worst (red is worst and green is best in image above). We then scored the advantages based on importance to us (the worst doesn’t get any points). Afterwards we were able to add up the advantage points and then graph it against the cost to help us make a decision.

We decided that the 4 options were:

Kilterboard

We decided to group Moonboard, Kilterboard and Tensionboard all in one category because for us they seemed similar and if that category won, we could do another CBA exercise to pick which one we liked the best. One key factor was that we felt like we could NOT build a Moonboard, Kilterboard or Tensionboard ourselves and would need to hire that work out. Considering the quarantine state at the time, this option wasn’t really viable. When it was all said and done, the Treadwall came out on top (see full analysis in the image above or click here) but was also the most expensive. Since the second place option wasn’t really an option because of COVID-19, and the Treadwall had much more advantages over the other available options, we decided to bite the bullet and go for it.

Tensionboard

We decided to go with the Kore model which is made for the home vs their other models which are made for more commercial purposes. The height of our ceiling required us get the 10 ft model because if we set the unit at -35 degrees, it will be slightly shorter than 8 ft. We also opted for the 6 ft wide version to give us a little more climbing space in addition to being able to accommodate a larger climber like myself. As for options, we purchased the electronic display and the holds set which Brewer Fitness helped create but is actually molded by Rock Candy Holds. We did not buy the mat thinking we could use our existing bouldering pads.

Almost able to climb!!

Overall we’ve been very happy with our purchase so be on the lookout for future posts on how we’ve used the Treadwall and what we like and don’t like about it. If you are interested in learning more about our Treadwall, I’ve made some videos showing the assembly, a walk through of the unit and a talk through of the assembly. See the YouTube playlist below to view.

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CragKid on the Sharp End!!!

Shaking out in the kneebar rest of Massive Stargazing 12b

Despite the rocky start to our climbing year, our family has been trying hard to make up for lost time the past few weekends, and it’s been refreshingly awesome. Typically by this point of the year we are tired of melting off the rock and ready to exchange our climbing gear for paddleboards and kayaks. But after all the spring clovid closures, we have been far less picky with conditions than we usually are by mid-June! Not to mention, the weather has been seasonably tolerable, especially up at Hidden Valley, which is where we’ve spent the past couple of weekends. (Looking to check it out and want beta? Check out this series of posts.)

Two weekends ago the whole family was able to get lots of mileage on some old favorites as well as new to us sends, and this past weekend CragDaddy and I not only ticked our first post-quarantine 5.12s, but also unlocked a new Crag Parent achievement – our 10 year old is officially on the sharp end!!!!

For those of you not familiar with climbing lingo, the “sharp end” refers to lead climbing, which involves bringing the rope up from the bottom and securing to various anchor points along the way. This is different from top-roping, which is what most people think of when they picture a birthday party at a climbing gym – the rope is already hanging from an anchor at the top, and as the climber ascends, the belayer takes up the slack, holding the climber in mid-air in the event the climber falls. In lead climbing, the belayer both takes up and feeds out slack, depending on what the climber needs. A fall while lead climbing has the potential to be much more significant, as many times the last secured anchor point is below the climber, rather than always at the top as it is in top-roping.

About to take off on “Where’s the Beef?” 5.6

Because lead climbing puts a lot more safety responsibility on the climber rather than almost solely the belayer, the decision to do it is not something to be taken lightly. CragDad and I had been on the fence for a while about it with regards to Big C, and had decided a few weeks ago that if he expressed an interest to learn, we would start teaching him…but that we would wait until he brought it up. Fast forward to Saturday when 10 year old Big C watched 13 year old Myles Kish from Greenville, SC work his 13a project out the roof of the Planetarium at Hidden Valley. Apparently seeing someone close to his own age climbing “like the grown-ups” was all the inspiration he needed.

The next day it was all he could talk about. So we decided to take him to an out of the way spot for a Lead Climbing 101 tutorial. We talked about clipping, rope management, the physics of falling, and practiced scenarios on the ground. Then we had him do a “mock lead” on It’s Schwinging 5.6. (Mock leading is where the climber is tied into both a top-rope as well as a lead rope, allowing the climber to practice the components of lead climbing while still on a top rope belay.) He crushed it, and was ready for the real thing…but this particular route had bolts a little farther apart than CragDad or I wanted for his first lead. The route next to it (“Where’s the Beef?”) was the same grade, but slightly steeper with bigger holds, as well as a couple more bolts, all of which meant much safer fall potentials.

Making sure he’s not back-clipped!

He said he was “nervous but excited” as he tied in, which in my opinion was a good thing. I wouldn’t want him to be terrified, but a little bit of nerves shows me he comprehends the added risk, at least as far as a 10 year old is capable of comprehending it.

His first lead went great. He did better than most adults I’ve seen on their first lead. After he got down, his first comment was, “Leading is really fun!!!” This immediately brought to mind the memory of myself on my first lead, Jim Dandy 5.5 at Table Rock, where I clearly remember saying, “If this is what lead climbing feels like, I don’t want any part of it!” (Turns out my first “sport” lead was actually a mixed route and that 25 feet between bolts was not the norm. When ya know better, ya do better 😉 )

His first lead experience was so positive, in fact, that he was chomping at the bit to do another one. After much debate, we settled on Snake Crack 5.9+, a short well-bolted route he had just top-roped the week before. The crux is under the first bolt (which we obviously stick-clipped), and the rest of the climbing is substantially easier. My concern with this one was that some of the clips he would have to make one-handed, as opposed to the awesome hands-free stances he had encountered on “Where’s the Beef?” But he practiced one-handed clipping on the ground the entire time the grown-ups were taking their turns, and by the time his turn came up again he seemed ready. And once again, he crushed it!

All smiles a top Snake Crack 5.9+

As a Cragmama, I couldn’t be prouder of him. As a mom, I think I aged 5 years watching him, especially on the second one, even though he did everything right. Watching your child on the sharp end is nerve-wracking, to say the least. But he has shown every sign I could ask for of his being ready for this, and I am so excited about where this new achievement will take him!

To the parents out there reading this – how old was your child when you first started letting them take some personal risks in their adventures? I’d love to hear stories!

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