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August 25, 2011
In my experience most kids love to climb stuff. When I was growing up in Georgia it was trees. We had some absolutely huge hardwood trees on our property. I don't remember what they were, but they dwarfed the 2 story houses in the neighborhood. On one of them the trunk must have been 10 feet around, the bark smooth and gray and the limbs were thick and comforting, You could easily climb what seemed like 50 feet up and lay there in the crook of a limb on a sweet summer afternoon and almost doze off in the warm breeze. I have no idea what it was in my upbringing that left me with an almost complete lack of the fear of heights, but needless to say it has stood me in good stead through my years as a climber.
Much of the guiding I've done over the summers has been with families. Sometimes mom, dad and the kids, sometimes just one parent with one or more in tow, sometimes multiple families - every possible combination. What's been interesting to me is the total variation in how children feel about being up high. I've climbed with teenagers who were fearless and ones who were afraid, 10 year olds who were nervous but conquered their fear, 5 year olds who went up multiple pitches and a 6 year old, sobbing and in tears, who almost wouldn't allow herself to be lowered off a 1 pitch climb at Echo Roof - but who climbed it again 15 minutes later!
When he was younger, my son would climb on anything. He used to climb all over our 2-story deck, even dangling off the outside. He skied off the roof of my office! I've got pictures of him up on the Whitehorse slabs, on a variety of local boulders, even up in a tree at the tourist overlook on Cathedra! At 6 he climbed the first 2 pitches of Beginner's Route on Whitehorse with my wife and myself. Then the next summer he decided; "I'm afraid of heights!" He announced this to all around one summer day out at Lost Ledge on Carpet Slabber, a whopping 5.3. To our knowledge nothing in his life had changed, but from that day on he simply wouldn't climb.
The other day I was at Echo Roof with a mother and her 3 kids of assorted ages: 13, 9 and 6. The youngest, a tiny girl, was the first to climb. She went right for the top and allowed herself to be lowered with no fuss. The middle one had no problem with the climbing, but was pretty nervous about being lowered. Contrastingly, the oldest was quite nervous about he actual climbing. Several times on each climb, he asked his mother if he could come down, to which she replied with a firm NO. That said, he really enjoyed being lowered, never held onto the rope and even did some jumping and bouncing on the rope on a slabby area, something that neither of the others would even try. Who would have thought?
Having experienced massive wailing and thrashing of limbs of my then 7 year old half-way up Beginner's, with screams and protestations echoing across the slabs, culminating with a passer-by coming over to enquire "Is everything OK up there?", I do have a couple of, hardly profound, thoughts on this. Mainly that all kids are different and that they can and will change. In my kiddo's case, maybe he will work through his fears, maybe not - only time will answer that question. From working with lots of other kids I do know it's not all that unusual, even coming from a family of climbers. Regardless, I have no intention of pushing on him about it, but I'd sure love a belay partner on those beautiful fall afternoons when the wife is working. Maybe we'll try again when he's a teenager… [grin]
A couple of folks made fun of my statement about winter being on the way. While an exaggeration, over the past couple of weeks it really has seemed as if the season has changed. It has become noticeably cooler, especially at night. The days are now noticeably shorter and everyone has been commenting on how early it's getting dark now. Riding the mountain bike out in the hinterlands I have been seeing more and more red and orange tinges on the swamp maples. I also noted that the lows on Mt. Washington a day or so ago were in the low-mid 30's! Maybe I just notice because I'm outside so much.
Sure winter isn't "just around the corner, but things are definitely changing. It's only a little over a week away from Labor Day Weekend and from a Valley local standpoint, summer is almost over. Enjoy it while you can.
Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, 40, has become the first woman to reach all 14 Himalayan summits above 8,000m (26,000 ft) without using bottled oxygen.
La Sportiva will sponsor the third annual Cliff Run to benefit Kismet Rock Foundation on September 18, 2011 at 10:00 AM at Echo Lake State Park in North Conway, NH.
To register for the five-mile Cliff Run, please fill out and return the registration form, or visit http://www.active.com for online registration. Registration costs $20.00 before race day, or $25.00 the day of the race.
Kismet Rock Foundation is a non-profit that serves economically underprivileged students who might otherwise ‘fall through the cracks’ of their highly stressed public school systems. By developing their potential, Kismet prepares students to contribute to their communities and their culture throughout their lives.
Minimal bugs has made for a particularly nice late summer climbing season.
Join us and hopefully LIKE us on Facebook. I'll try and post some interesting pix every Thursday and the latest Ice Report in the season, tho certainly not the whole Report. Here's where you can check it out:
Up on one of the Mount Washington Valley's finest crags and want to know what that climb you're looking at is? Or maybe you're on your way up from Boston and want to check out the Ice Report for your upcoming weekend plans. Or more likely, you're at work just want to daydream about your next adventure. Well if you have a smart phone handy, you can get to NEClimbs from anywhere you have cell service. While it doesn't offer every single feature of the site and it's not an "app", in mobile form, it does do a whole lot and is very useful. Here is the live link to the mobile version of NEClimbs:
Check it out and if you have issues on your specific phone, please feel free to let me know.
Join us and LIKE us on Facebook. I'll try and post some interesting pix every Thursday and the latest Ice Report in the season, tho certainly not the whole Report. Here's where you can check it out:
Have fun and climb safe,
The White Mountain Report
North Conway, New Hampshire
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