Raising the World’s Next Adventurers

The dust swirls around our Xterra as we negotiate the last few miles of dirt road. Hwy 191 is up ahead, marking our last leg back into Moab. The kids sit sleepily in the back, giving Chris and I time to talk:

She was bored. Bored! She told me she wanted to climb and not just hang at the bottom anymore.

getting ready to climb

I noticed it too. I am bummed for my daughter that she couldn’t climb due to the technical/dangerous approach to the routes. But more than that, I realize we were moving into new territory as a family. And just like that Sunshine Wall descends in our review mirror along with all our climbing days “as we knew them.”

This happens every once in a while. You reach some milestone that significantly changes the flow of your day, like:

  • Your kid learning to buckle their own seatbelt. Praise the Lord!
  • Your oldest child reading books to their younger siblings.
  • Or your oldest no longer being content to play in the dirt, but rather wanting to be doing what Mom and Dad are doing, like climbing.

Our kids climb with us, sometimes. Most the time they climb for 10 minutes and then they’d rather play. Their crag times are defined by playing in the dirt, scrambling on the boulders and making outdoor forts. And we are cool with that. It means more climbing for us.

playing in the dirt

But I’ll be honest. For the last few years the climbing has been about us. Sure, we want to pass on our love for the outdoors. But we don’t climb because of that. We climb because we love to!

Now our daughter wants to climb. Great, right? But I see the writing on the wall. Less climbing for me.

As the road spun away under our wheels all I could think about was me. The “climb time” I’ll lose because now we have another climber in the mix. And one who can’t quite belay yet…

Later, as I put her to bed, she asks,

Mom, can I read the climbing book before bed?

An hour later I find her still awake, studying routes.

Mom, I think we should head down to Wall Street tomorrow. There are a ton of fun routes down there!

Isn’t this the goal?!

To share our passions with our kids, so that they in turn might learn to love what we love?!

The prickly part is this: When they are babies and toddlers it takes more effort to get out on adventures. More preparation, more gear, less expectations. But then they grow up a little and it takes something worse.

Death to what you want.

Yes, in sharing what you want them to love, you also have to give a piece of it up.

And so we did the next day… We climbed only one route, a classic on Wall Street known as Seibernetics.

girl climbing Seibernetics, Potash Road, Moab girl climbing on Potash Road, Southern Utah


We even took a break to take our mountain-biking-obsessed-boy on a short ride.

faher and son bike ride in Moab, UT Mountain Biking with kids in Moab, UT

But we got to see our kids blossom in ways I hadn’t expected. My girl not only wants to climb, but we are seeing a shift in the way she is approaching climbing as well. She no longer approaches the rock like a toddler, just grasping to make it up and come down when she is sick of it. Rather, she is studying the rock. She is looking for footholds, she is playing with body position. She is solving the “route” in her mind. She is learning to be a real climber.

And one day she’ll be “rope gun,” leading up routes we only hope to flail at on top rope. And it is a journey I am excited to be a part of.

Beautiful Fall day climbing on Potash Road Toddler getting ready to climb



4 comments on “Raising the World’s Next Adventurers
  1. Love this. She looks like a really big girl on the rock!

    I was thinking about you guys this weekend. We bought the Fraggle harness because of your review, and we’ve been taking it to the crag with our kiddos all summer. So far, there has been little-to-no interest in climbing from any of our little ones. But on Sunday the oldest (at 4.5 years) put on the harness and scrambled her way up the slab! We were all shocked, and actually unprepared for the moment. Nobody had mentioned how to lower to her, because we figured we’d just grab her feet. We hadn’t tied the rope to the back of the harness because nobody thought she would actually climb. So… uh, big mistake underestimating the 4 year old! And, poor thing, it resulted in a pretty painful lowering experience for about 3 feet until Dad solo’d up to grab her.

    Next time we’ll be more prepared. But yeah, that first climb is a watershed experience, and makes you realize how different everything could be. I imagine that feeling will happen over and over again for rest of our lives as parents. 🙂

    • I agree. And you never know when they will climb! Somedays they have no interest in a route they’ve donee my times before! I guess always be prepared but not expecting it? 🙂

  2. My husband and I used to climb; 7 years into parenting and we’re just getting back at it. We are definitely rusty, but are excited and passionate about learning more and sharing it with our kids. I love reading your blog for inspiration!

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