Family Hang Time: How To Rock Climb With Your Kids
Rock climbing may seem out of reach (literally) and intimidating for a family outing, but my kids and I love it. It’s been rewarding to see them master the basic skills and scramble up a wall ahead of me. And it’s an easy activity to build a day or weekend trip around or to get you out and exploring places you otherwise might not on longer vacations. Here are some easy ways to take the first step and learn the ropes.
First, take a few hours and check out your local rock gym. There’s at least one in every major city (and most minor ones). They have beginner classes and instructors to get you off the ground.
A few my favorites are Earth Treks with three locations around Washington, DC; MetroRock with two locations in Boston; and Rockreation with gyms in Los Angeles, Salt Lake City and Costa Mesa, CA.
Don’t worry about gear. Climbing gyms all have shoes, ropes and carabiners you can borrow or rent (and buy if you get hooked). Just wear comfortable clothes and be ready for some fun.
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Head Outside With Help
Outdoor rock climbing is where my kids and I have really gotten to share unique experiences.
To be on the safe side, hire a guide for your first outing (any time you’re climbing someplace new). Here a few suggestions. Near New York City you can hit the “Gunks” as the Shawangunk cliffs are commonly referred, to with Alpine Endeavors. Owner and lead guide Marty Molitoris has literally written the book on climbing in the surrounding area. Yosemite Mountaineering in California can give you taste of granite on the famed walls of Yosemite. They have introductory classes. But if you’ve climbed before and have a vacation budget as large as the shear 2,800 foot wall of El Capitan, they’ll take you up it for a cool $4,466 ($1.60 a foot!). Outdoor gear retailer REI’s outdoor school offers climbing classes, including a family introduction class, in 14 cities across the US.
Keep in mind, your kids can’t bury their noses in video games and you can’t text the office when you’re rappelling down a rock wall, 50-feet above the ground. So if you’re looking for a hint of adventure on your next outing or just want the chance to “hang out” and connect with your kids, give rock climbing a try. It’s easier and closer than you think.
Eric Cohen is the Chief Dad at Macaroni Kid, llc, the leading platform for local news for kids events and activities. He is a serial entrepreneur, family man, skier and rock climber. You can find him @macaronidad