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Wait a minute. I thought you said you wanted to hit the local crag today with the little ones? Oh, so you don’t want to go on a hike? You’d rather hang inside? But I thought the Patagonia vest, Kavu pants and Subaru indicated you were down for a toddler-in-tow bouldering sessions I’m confused. When you said you’d like to go climbing sometime you meant never?

Why is it so difficult to find other parents that are excited to take their toddlers on outdoor adventures? Does the hassle outweigh the time spent climbing or hiking so much that you’ll wait years till he’s old enough to do it on his own? Apparently, it is. Finding a willing parent is much harder than I ever thought it would be. I don’t live in a particularily lazy town, so when Baby C was no longer just a thought, I was certain there would be plenty of families out there who continue to pursue their outdoor adventures post baby. Again, I was wrong. Okay okay, I’m sure you’re out there. Maybe we’ve even seen each other at the grocery store? Maybe, that woman I thought was giving me a strange look while I let Baby C stand on the grocery cart seat was really just attempting to communicate her desire to go climbing with her toddler too telepathically!

When I do meet a climber parent their initial reaction to a family climbing trip is “My wife can stay home with the kids.” Bah! In my book, that’s just not how it works. You had a kid, planned or unplanned, and now they’re a part of your life. Your WHOLE life. Of course that doesn’t mean if you’re attempting a summit to Mt. Rainier that you bring them along. As a courtesy to your partner and your child, take them with you. And wear a damn smile on your face! Not only will it help to develop a love for the outdoors for your child, but also, your entire family gets to share in the experience. Resentment need not apply. He’s too heavy? You only got three routes in today? Boo-stinking-hoo. In a couple of years you’ll be back ticking off one route after the other and bagging peaks left and right. But in those couple short years with your toddler in the backcountry, you will have given him something that will last a lifetime. When he’s fifteen, he’ll look through pictures of toddler climbing trips and think (even if he won’t admit it), “dang homie, my parents were awesome.” I could go on and on about the importance of taking your kids outside (better physical, emotional, mental health – stewardship – imagaination -etc.), but I won’t.

This is a personal ad to all of your lovely climber parents:

Family seeking other awesome family who likes to spank crags and not kids

We enjoy bringing our toddler climbing, backpacking and skiing. We don’t take breaks on hikes, but instead just slow down to the pace of molasses. If you need to stop, we won’t judge, we’ll just hope you catch up. Our child determines our schedule and we respect his limitations. If it’s time to go, it’s time to go. We’re looking for a like minded family who loves bringing their kid climbing or hiking. Parents who are down for all sorts of adventures and mean it when they say it. Seeking family who let’s their kid get absolutely filthy. Seeking parents who aren’t afraid to get out there and keep pursuing the activities they love!

Signed,

F.A.M.I.L.Y

(family adventures make intelligent little yougens)

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Hey Baby, Don’t Be Lazy

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Just because your sixteen month old acts like a baby, doesn’t mean you should give them a free pass to be lazy. Stick him in a harness (yes, they make them small enough) and make him climb an easy 5.6. ¬†Okay, so he doesn’t actually use his hands and feet. For the most part, “climbing” for your baby, really translates as you pulling him up the wall.

If you find it difficult to convince your baby to go climbing, just have a little chat with him about the importance of excerise. This is how my conversations have gone with Baby C:

“Baby C, I noticed you’ve been napping a lot today and I thought it might be nice to go to the gym for a little bit?”

Baby C stares blankly at me, which obviously means he’s mocking me.

“Okay, so clearly you’re not into it. Your dad and I really think it’s important you start practicing early if you want to fulfill your dream of becoming a world champion rock climber / mountaineer / skier/ poet. So let’s go.”

Baby C leaves the room and returns thirty seconds later with a grape he found on the floor. Mind you, we hadn’t given him any grapes in days.

“This is serious.” I say very sternly.

“Bubble,” says Baby C.

“A bubble would make a a terrible climbing partner. No limbs and very fragile.”

Washington’s Better

CascadesTieton

Mountain ranges, coastlines, climate and people; all of these things define the place you live. There isn’t much that tops a regions geography when determining a place I’ll be happy in. If there are no mountains and no granite, I’m out. For some people, if there isn’t a rugged coastline or warm beaches, they’re out. Different strokes for different folks. However, I will argue that Washington State is one of the best places to live in all of the United States and I’ll give you five compelling reasons why:

1. Geography. There is a geographical hotspot for nearly every outdoor enthusiast. Too the east are deserts with tons of early climbing spots, to the north are rugged mountains for skiing, to the west are coastlines for surfing and to the south are rivers for kayaking. More importantly, there are two massive mountain ranges that offer excellent peaks to summit for all skill levels. The Cascades and the Olympics are home to beautiful old growth forests, rain forests, alpine meadows and excellent alpine climbing. We’ve got all of our bases covered.

2. Climate. ¬†True, it rains a lot here. However, this solely depends on what part of the state you live in. If you live anywhere near Seattle or Olympia, you will mold. Fortunately, drive two hours east and Bam! The sun is beaming on your pastey skin and you have a chance to revitalize your vitamin d deficiency. Besides, this state wouldn’t be as beautiful as it is without out all of that water.

3. People. Bottom line, people are laid back here. Sure, there is sometimes an overwhelming amount of passive aggressiveness, but if you can’t handle it, just be straight up with people and they’ll get real with you. If not, retreat to the mountains and do what you do.

4. Outdoor enthusiasts. While there are many posers out there, there’s equally true outdoorspeople. Washintonians are excited about and protective of their beloved outdoor sports. So, don’t come between one of them and a summit because they’ll shank you with a trekking pole.

5. Because your state isn’t good enough. Ever heard the statement “it’s not you, it’s me,” well they lied, it is you. By you, I mean, your state. Don’t get me wrong, there are couple states that rival Washington. It’s just, where else can you get such a wonderful cocktail of awesomeness?

If I haven’t you convinced that Washington is the best, it’s probably because you’re just not ready for the truth. You can’t handle the truth! Or mabye it’s because you prefer your stinky, drab and so ten years ago state. For my favorite places in Washington, check out Places to Go!

Smith Rock Classic: Spiderman Buttress

smith rockSmith RockFirst pitch of Spiderman ButtressSecond pitch of Spiderman Buttress
No denying that Smith Rock is a very special place. Whether you’re there to get spanked by its stiff routes or hang on some softer classics, you’re in for a real treat. All climbers must go to Smith Rock to be humbled. As you walk through the canyon, you hear the echoing of grunts and screams from full grown men and women as they fall to their last piece. Shades of yellow, brown, red, orange and pink paint the rock walls. In early October, the sun can still leave you heat stroked and desperate for a tree, but you won’t find shade unless you retreat to the trail. Smith is truly a magical place for climbers.

My husband and I have been to Smith countless times. Each trip has led us to different quests and different routes. The most memorable of trips was the day we climbed a very popular, but nonetheless classic route, Spiderman Buttress. I don’t care what the too-cool-for-5.7’s climbers say, this route is fan-freakin-tastic!

To get there, you have to climb over Asterisk Pass onto the back side of Smith. This side is great because on a clear day you can see Three Sisters, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Jefferson among many other peaks. If you’re lucky there won’t be twelve groups of climbers waiting at the bottom. The belay area is practically a four star hotel, so you can relax and enjoy the dry sauna. I know, I know, you’re still hung up on the fact that it’s rated so low. You’ll forget about all of that once you’re on the second pitch because you’ll have a shit eating grin on your face from all the fun you’re having. The first pitch is probably the most difficult but nothing you can’t handle. The second pitch has everything! Exposure, smooth moves and a roof! Roofs are so fun! This one is particularily awesome, so don’t be scurrred! The last pitch is an easy jaunt up and tada! Have a seat and watch the climbers on Monkey Face as they slowly and painfully move up their 5.14C.

Here’s the thing, don’t be a party pooper. Chasing grades is all fine and well, but if you get caught up in your own ego’s master plan of achieving epicness, you’ll miss out on a huge part of climbing. There’s a time and place to dominate a route and “tick” off all of those 5.12’s so you can tell your bros at the gym how yolked you are. Just don’t forget, climbing is about having fun too. Besides, you can do the softer grades and say “I soloed that barefoot.”

Bouldering in Pink Aquasocks

Apparently it’s frowned upon to tether your baby to a tree, while you and your husband climb a couple of quick sport routes? Even IF he’s on a crash pad, and is obviously very content to be eating a little dirt and chalk, it’s just not okay. If Baby C began to cry, one of us would simply unhook from the rope and console him. Oh, the climber? They’d just have to sit tight and hope for big jugs to hold onto.

In our last trip for 2013 climbing season, we went to our beloved Leavenworth. If you don’t know about this place, don’t go there, it’s awful. Totally sucks. I’d rather watch five hundred Youtube videos on tips for Microsoft Excell. Just kidding, it’s our favorite place in the whole wide world! Not only is it home to one of the best authentic German bakery’s, it’s also home to world class climbing. Coincidence? I think not! Hidden in the Cascade mountains is a real gem. Nestled below one of the most beautiful sub ranges, the Enchantments, Leavenworth offers not only awesome views, but an array of sticky slab, fun bouldering and stiff ratings that are matched with even stiffer routes. Bring your crash pad and trad rack. If you have more time and no kid, then check out some alpine climbs (popular classics located in Beckey’s books). What happened? I got sidetracked. Oh yeah, Leavenworth blows, don’t go.

We didn’t end up tying any babies to trees. Instead, we opted to do a little bouldering at Barney’s Rubble, Swiftwater and Mad Meadows. All three spots offer excellent varieties of ratings, which was great because once you make the switch from bouldering to sport, those softer routes are gentler on the ego. It’s always surprising to see people’s reactions when they notice a baby hanging out on a crash pad. At Mad Meadows, we were greeted over and over again by welcoming climbers who were stoked to see a baby at the crag. I think this one of the only places you will find a group of twenty something’s men, ask to hold a baby. This does not happen in day to day life, test it! I won’t lie, taking your baby bouldering is no picnic. You have to be extremely conscious of where he is at all times. Rocks and other obstacles are on your radar as well as that 6’2 lanky climber who just missed his heal hook and is now falling right next to your baby. Fortunately, on this trip, we managed to keep Baby C unsmooshed. After a day of climbing, we went back to the campsite and made a giant bowl of food. Side note: ever notice while camping, food tastes more amazing than anything you’ve ever had in your life.

Day two, we headed for a short hike up to Eight Mile Lake. Nevermind that it was 90 degrees. The hike is very easy and a nice distance when playing donkey to your twenty pound love child. We arrived at the first little lake before the actual Eight Mile lake and let Baby C roll around in the mud. The finL destination was a refreshing payoff with awesome mountain views. This is a great hike for families. It’s steep enough to cause your children anguish and you’ll probably hear a lot of whining, but not so steep that they will give up all together. All in all, the last trip of the season was very satisfying.

The take home: take your baby outside! Take your baby bouldering if it’s just you and one other person or sport climb if there’s a babysitter at the crag. Please, I beg of you. If you had a kid, and you think your climbing days are over, they aren’t! It’s just different, but think about how awesome they’ll think you are when they’re fifteen…or maybe twenty. Or maybe they’ll have a lot of resentment because instead of letting them play video games, you took them rock climbing? Don’t worry, you’ll have that covered because you’ll have already saved up for a college/and-or/ therapy fund!

Lastly, I discovered something absolutely hilarious on this trip. If you put pink shoes on a baby, it’s automatically a girl. Baby C grew out of his shoes in exactly 24 hours, so we our only option was a pair of bright pink aquasocks at a convenient store. Just seconds before slipping on those gender determining articles, Baby C was “a handsome boy” as one retail associate said. I know I shouldn’t be surprised because I myself cannot pick the gender of a baby under the age of two unless they have distinguishing clothing. Who cares anyways, they are all adorable, amazing creatures who don’t care what box we out them in.

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