It’s been a year and a half since we started our kids climbing classes, and we are impressed with the tenacity of these local youths.  Many kids are coming back for class after class,  and now understand the fundamentals of outdoor climbing.   This season we introduced the Teen Climbing Club, which delved more deeply into the subject of rock climbing.

We run the classes on Fridays from 1-4 pm.   We are vendors for Valiant and Inspire charter schools.  At $40 per class, many local families can now introduce climbing to their kids.  Hiring a climbing guide in the park typically costs $200-$300.

One of the themes we try to reinforce is the concept of Leave No Trace.  We pick up trash when we see it, and we are conscious of not stepping on plants.

One afternoon the kids noticed a beaten down plant slumped over next to the climb we were on.  Other climbers had probably trampled it.  It was barely alive.  The kids gathered stones and made a circle to protect the little bush.  Then we found some extra water and the kids watered the thirsty plant. Way to go kids!

A proud moment for us and for the parents was when 7, 6, and even 5 year olds climbed 70-80 foot tall climbs on the last day of the fall session.  It was the culmination of a lot of work to learn unnatural techniques while battling fear and survival instincts.  The kids climbed with confidence and grace learned from practicing their skills over the course of many weeks.

Todd Gordon, legendary local climber, was one of our guides that day.  He said afterward “I’ve never seen such little climbers so knowledgeable about climbing as these kids.  They tie their knots, do safety checks and use the verbal commands as well as a lot of adult climbers!  They really know their stuff!”

The Teen Climbing Club tackled challenges of their own on the last day.  First an 85′ tall 5.10b crack climb.  After succeeding on so many climbs in previous classes, they attacked the challenge.  It tested them all to their limits, and then they lowered off.  Only one climber made it to the top.  Then they rappelled off an 85′ sheer vertical wall.  It was a gut wrenching thrill none of them are likely to forget!

We are totally impressed with this group of youth climbers!  We are super excited to continue working with them and we welcome others to join us!   Kids Climbing Classes and Teen Climbing Club start up again on January 11th.

If you are interested in reading more about plant restoration in Joshua Tree National Park, please check out this article:  Plant restoration.