It’s been a year and a half since we introduced our kids climbing classes, and we are impressed with the tenacity of these local youths. Most of the original kids are still coming to classes, and they understand the fundamentals of outdoor climbing. This season we introduced the Teen Climbing Club, which delved more deeply into the subject of rock climbing.
The classes are held on Fridays from 1-4 pm and attract mostly homeschooling families and a few vacationers. 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 that grew next to the climb we were on. Other climbers had probably trampled it. The plant 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. We want to instill in the youth a sense of stewardship for the land because they will inherit it.
Another 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.
Todd Gordon, legendary local climber, was one of our guides that day. He said afterward “I’ve never seen such little climbers tie their knots and do safety checks and use the verbal commands as well as this group. They really know their stuff!”
The Teen Climbing Club faced 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! And we are super excited to continue working with them and welcome others to join us! Classes 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.