You may be wondering, why is this single climbing chic writing a piece on family craggin’? When I started climbing a few years ago, I met this lovely climbing couple and their baby boy. A group of us climbed together for a whole season and we watched this baby boy go from a few months to being a cute toddler climbing, hiking, exploring, playing with leaves, rocks, and loving nature. He considers me ‘auntie Doris’. These precious moments were possible because many of us volunteered to help the couple get out and camp, hike and climb.
That experience touched me so much that another couple in our local gym was expecting earlier this year and I wanted to be a part of their first climbing trip post pregnancy.
Thus we went to the New River Gorge on Easter weekend. Our expectations? Have fun and hope baby Tyler can make it through the whole trip happy and comfortable. We were prepared to leave early from the trip if for whatever reason he was unhappy or uncomfortable. But it turned out Tyler is going to be quite the outdoor enthusiast. He LOVED camping, did well sleeping in a tent at night, chilled in his Bumbo while we set up for the morning, he napped at the crag, fed pretty much on schedule, flirted with a few of the girls at the crag (just kidding!), and was totally sucked up by nature. The trip was a hit and after a year break from outdoor climbing, mom and dad had their share of leads (sport and trad) and fun climbs. As a single climbing chic, I am so happy to have been a part of a precious outdoor climbing experiences like this. And if you are planning, expecting or are new parents, you TOO can enjoy family times outdoors! I have been sitting on this piece since April, here are Lisa’s words of wisdom and encouragement from one crag mama to others!
How far into your pregnancy were you able to climb? I was able to climb until the very end. In fact, I climbed a 5.10 the day before my son was due!
Do you have any indoor climbing pointers for other awesome climbing ladies newly pregnant or planning to have some day? Have fun with it and just keep climbing. If you climb consistently throughout your pregnancy, your body will stay in shape and adapt pretty well. At the very end of your pregnancy, your belly will eventually get in the way and force you to climb a little differently, but just climb what you can climb and laugh about not being able to see your feet (or foot holds!)!
Now, your sweet baby Tyler was about 2-3 months when you planned your first climbing/camping trip and the trip was a hit! What helped make this trip a hit? Great friends who were willing to help take care of the baby and carry most of the gear were definitely the key for a great first camping/climbing weekend. We couldn’t have done it without them. Other than that, just being flexible, adaptable and willing to give up a climb in order to feed, change or hold the baby is important. Remember, the climbs will still be there the next year, but your baby won’t be a baby for long so enjoy it and capture those precious moments!
What are the top things you brought that are must haves for babies at the crag and camping? Patience!! Lots of diapers, wipes and changes of clothes. I’m not sure if it was the traveling, the heat, or using disposable diapers instead of cloth (probably a combo), but we had major diaper explosions that weekend, which made for some good laughs. A sunhat, sunscreen and Bjorn (or backpack carrier if your child is older) are pretty obvious. The one extra thing we brought that was great was the Bumbo. We used it to sit him on the picnic table while we packed, unpacked, geared up and ate.
What is something you did not bring that you wish you did? A CREEK CHAIR! I think that would have been really helpful for breastfeeding in the tent. I really missed having a back. Next time I’ll bring one for the camping as well as the crag.
Any tips in helping new family craggers pick the right crag? I think most crags can be done with enough patience and planning. Definitely the easier ones (and probably best for the first time or two) have no ladders, shorter hikes and more open areas at the base of the climbs. You do have to be careful, particularly at a top roping climbing area about falling rocks. We decided to go to Junkyard that weekend (a toping roping climbing area at New River Gorge) where my husband had been knocked out with a rock a few years ago, but we were careful where we stood with the baby while there.
If you have any words of wisdom to encourage crag families, what would that be? Have patience, relax and don’t set too many expectations. I would suggest not going out with a tick list, just enjoy being outdoors with your baby and your friends and be happy with however many (or few) climbs you get on. It felt great for us to be out with our son doing something we loved. Our son loved being outside and we were just happy to be on the rock!
What it comes down to, exercise patience, be flexible, plan well, exchange tips with other crag families and HAVE FUN! And if you can, make sure to help your local gym family with sitting once in a blue moon at the crag, the climbing community is a family, old and young!
I am fortunate to have a number of friends who are awesome climbing crag mamas. For those who want more information on family cragging, I recommend following my friend Erica Lineberry’s blog www.cragmama.com. Erica, her husband Steve and beautiful son Canaan share their wonderful crag adventures via her blog. Be sure to check it out and enjoy.