Rock Climbing Schools For Kids

Introducing Wee Ones to an Adult-sized Challenge
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Rock climbing is a newly-popular sport that either grab kids or leave them cold. Let's examine what kids can learn from synthetic rock"walls," when they're ready to advance to the great outdoors, and how families can participate in this sport together.

The Chelsea Piers Sports Complex (212-336-6500), one of the first in New York with an indoor climbing wall, offers rock climbing classes to ages 4 and up. How do their students get started? Says Field House Manager K.J. Frazier, "To integrate kids from our many different preschool programs, we like to bring them up on The Wall together." Assisting kids to climb 30' in the air, demonstrating harnesses and safety knots, and teaching techniques such as rapelling and belaying are all part of an ongoing program. Frazier says that halfway through the 17-week session, some children will even advance to the 50' wall at the Piers' Gymnastics Center.

Comments noted teacher Jon Ross, founder of High Angle Adventures, "Climbing walls are a double-edged sword. The indoor environment doesn't have the sense of intimidation that the outdoors has, which is great. But some kids who've had experience indoors think they can grab a rope and go out climbing on their own. Lots of adults make that mistake, too." Frazier agrees, "You can learn the basics in 20 minutes, but families should never try it outdoors without a professional guide, unless the parents are skilled rock climbers."

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 3 Dec 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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