Forum
Buying gear? Please use these links to help 14ers.com:

More info...

Other ways to help...

Children, ropes and 14er safety

Info on gear, conditioning, and preparation for hiking/climbing. Gear Classifieds
User avatar
Posts: 75
Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2010 8:35 am
Location: Parker

Children, ropes and 14er safety

Postby sheller » Thu Mar 21, 2013 1:11 pm

I've got a problem I'm hoping someone could offer an answer for- or even a partial answer. :) I've got 2 boys ages 12 and 8 who enjoy climbing 14ers with me and want to tackle some of the harder ones. I'm planning to take them up Kit Carson and Wetterhorn and am extremely ify of Eolus and Sunlight. I wouldn't dream of taking them up the Bells, Little Bear, Capitol, etc until I've gone up first and truly assessed them. I have confidence in my abilities to go up these more difficult ones, but it puts it into a whole other playing field when you are climbing and worrying about your kids. Are there rope setups for these types of situations? I'm toying with possibly roping both of them up and then standing between them. I wouldn't clip in, because the last thing I would ever want to do is take them with me if I happened to fall. This approach could be used on the Avenue, or the Catwalk type scenarios. I could belay them from above for the last Class 3 climb of Wetterhorn and possibly the final climb of Kit Carson. I don't want to have to carry a bunch of heavy weight gear so I'm looking for options. Maybe webbing and a carabiner in place of a harness, since it is more of a lifeline than serious climbing. Any thoughts? Should I be worrying about other sections of the routes that I didn't mention above? I'd appreciate any advice.

Thanks,
Sam

User avatar
Posts: 184
Joined: Thu Jul 29, 2010 2:14 pm
Location: On the Edge of Sanity

Re: Children, ropes and 14er safety

Postby Exiled Michigander » Thu Mar 21, 2013 1:32 pm

Your boys are probably better at Class 3 than a lot of the people who have summitted Kit Carson and Wetterhorn, myself included!

I actually don't think you should be overly concerned with K.C. or Wetterhorn. IMHO, those peaks are both tamer than their reputations as long as conditions are good. I would probably feel okay taking my 12- and 9-year-old nephews up either of those unroped if they had several other 14ers under their belts. Probably would take them with me up Longs too. But, yeah, something like Capitol--different story. I honestly don't know how comfortable I would feel taking my nephews, let alone children if I had them, across the Knife Edge, roped or unroped. And Capitol is probably the only Class 4 14er where a rope would help. The big threat on Little Bear is rockfall, and from what I've heard the rock on the Bells is so rotten that a rope would probably do more harm than good.

This will be an interesting thread to watch, because I'm sure there are several parents with opinions out there. I thankfully don't have kids, but I'm very close to my nephews. And, even if they lived in Colorado and had summitted all the other 14ers, I don't think I'd be comfortable taking them on Capitol, Little Bear, or the Bells until they were at least 18.

By the way, most of K.C. Avenue is wide enough to drive a car across--it's not really the fear-inducing ledge it's made out to be.

User avatar
Posts: 582
Joined: Fri Aug 07, 2009 2:02 pm
Location: Golden, CO

Re: Children, ropes and 14er safety

Postby Monster5 » Thu Mar 21, 2013 1:47 pm

Short rope them or set up a hand-line through the crux sections. It requires tying in, utilizing terrain, body position, and practice. Pack up the rope and let them move freely outside of the cruxes. Wouldn't want them dragging around a rope needlessly with you in-between unsecured; that'd be far more dangerous than them going free.

Webbing/runners can be modified for use as a harness, but the Black Diamond Couloir harness is only $40 and lightly packs down to a fist.

I don't know why the Catwalk is named. The thing is plenty wide enough. The summit pitch section after that is the crux. Make sure to continue traversing left and do not ascend too early. The Avenue is pretty tame too (dry) and the summit pitch has bomber holds all over. The Wetterhorn pitch is pretty much a narrow staircase with exposure. Don't underestimate the routes, of course, but no need to lose sleep over them either. I feel I'm much more likely to injure myself on the class 2 talus approach than on the (generally solid) class 3/4 cruxes.

Edit - should add that I'd probably go with an 8mm 30 m rope for simple hand-line or short rope assistance. Super light weight and not intended for whippers, but fine for 4th class terrain.
Last edited by Monster5 on Thu Mar 21, 2013 1:57 pm, edited 2 times in total.
"The road to alpine climbing is pocked and poorly marked, ending at an unexpectedly closed gate 5 miles from the trailhead." - MP user Beckerich

User avatar
Posts: 2146
Joined: Fri Sep 25, 2009 7:47 pm
Location: Colorado Springs

Re: Children, ropes and 14er safety

Postby Dancesatmoonrise » Thu Mar 21, 2013 1:49 pm

Go up Wett and KC and see how you feel about it.

CAMP makes a harness that's an honest 4 oz. A harness made with 1" tubular webbing will weigh more. $50. Cheap, light, packs down small.

If you rope up, I would make sure you are in the system with them. If you are confident enough to take them, you must be confident enough to belay them while roped.

Although half and twin ropes are designed to be used in half and twin styles, consider that a half rope is made to take a full lead fall (the other half rope may be clipped a distance below,) and a twin rope, doubled and tied in to the middle, will allow for full-on lead use as intended (just half the length.) Both of these are lighter weight options for alpine, than taking a full 60m single rope. A good 60m single strand half weighs about 6-7 lbs, and a good single strand twin, about 5-6 lbs. The 30m ropes are even lighter. Just some options. Make sure you're comfortable with the style and know what you're doing (and especially the risks you're accepting) before settling on a technique and gear.

User avatar
Posts: 5268
Joined: Wed May 04, 2005 10:46 am
Location: Craig

Re: Children, ropes and 14er safety

Postby Scott P » Thu Mar 21, 2013 2:38 pm

Personally, I'd wait until they are comfortable with climbing things like Wetterhorn or Kit Carson without a rope before taking them there. At least on a summer weekend, I wouldn't suggest using ropes on the standard routes of those peaks. You could be a hindrance to other climbers and ropes can cause rockfall as well, which on a popular route isn't a good idea. Personally, I do not think it would be a good idea to use a rope on the standard route of the Wetterhorn (in summer at least). Others may disagree, but that's my stance.
I'm slow and fat. Unfortunately, those are my good qualities.

User avatar
Posts: 373
Joined: Tue Aug 09, 2011 10:29 am
Location: Buena Vista

Re: Children, ropes and 14er safety

Postby GeezerClimber » Thu Mar 21, 2013 2:42 pm

Kids can generally outscramble adults so your issues may be more related to how you feel about them being exposed and how they feel as well. KC via Challenger is a good start. Barely class 3 and not very exposed at all. Longs might make an excellent 2nd step if they are up for the endurance. Eolus is not as bad as its reputation if it is dry. The catwalk is more like a boardwalk. As mentioned above, Wetterhorn is like climbing a ladder at the end but is more exposed and some people freak. Lindsey, Blanca and Ellingwood would make nice introductions as well. There are short stretches just off the main routes where yo can practice class 3 and these alternatives are generally more fun as well. Also try Sneffels if you haven't already. My guess is if you bring a rope you'll end up not using it. The kids will have a ball even as you worry yourself to death. Good luck.

Dave

User avatar
Posts: 7428
Joined: Thu Jun 08, 2006 1:23 pm
Location: Colorado Springs

Re: Children, ropes and 14er safety

Postby Jim Davies » Thu Mar 21, 2013 4:33 pm

Get them helmets.
Some people are afraid of heights. Not me, I'm afraid of white blood cells.

User avatar
Posts: 1213
Joined: Wed Jun 16, 2010 2:33 pm
Location: Crestone, CO and/or Chapel Hill, NC

Re: Children, ropes and 14er safety

Postby jdorje » Thu Mar 21, 2013 5:38 pm

The "danger" of kit carson is the 500-1000 feet elevation gain needed to regain Challenger and the notch before descending. Know your escape routes.
-Jason Dorje Short

User avatar
Posts: 2327
Joined: Sat Jul 08, 2006 7:36 pm
Location: Lakewood, CO

Re: Children, ropes and 14er safety

Postby rijaca » Thu Mar 21, 2013 6:19 pm

jdorje wrote:The "danger" of kit carson is the 500-1000 feet elevation gain needed to regain Challenger and the notch before descending. Know your escape routes.


It's 301' of elevation gain to reclimb Challenger Pt., and there are no reasonable (for young, relatively inexperienced climbers) 'escape' routes. You 'need' to return over Challenger.
"Spent a little time on the mountain
Spent a little time on the hill"

User avatar
Posts: 75
Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2010 8:35 am
Location: Parker

Re: Children, ropes and 14er safety

Postby sheller » Thu Mar 21, 2013 6:20 pm

Jim Davies wrote:Get them helmets.


The helmets just arrived in the mail today.



Thanks to all for the comments. I'm just being a worrying parent. The boys seem comfortable with the terrain and I have been taking them to a climbing wall for the past few years. I've also taken them up plenty of boulders and they are good scramblers it is just a different game when there is exposure.

User avatar
Posts: 1213
Joined: Wed Jun 16, 2010 2:33 pm
Location: Crestone, CO and/or Chapel Hill, NC

Re: Children, ropes and 14er safety

Postby jdorje » Thu Mar 21, 2013 7:09 pm

rijaca wrote:
jdorje wrote:The "danger" of kit carson is the 500-1000 feet elevation gain needed to regain Challenger and the notch before descending. Know your escape routes.


It's 301' of elevation gain to reclimb Challenger Pt., and there are no reasonable (for young, relatively inexperienced climbers) 'escape' routes. You 'need' to return over Challenger.


1000 is certainly an exaggeration, but it's a lot more than 301'. I guess 301' comes from the saddle up, but if you're following the Avenue there are hundreds of feet between the bottom of the ave and the prow saddle.

As for escape routes, you're probably right: know your lack of escape routes. The only safe descent is into Bears Playground/Spanish Creek, which has been followed safely by many people but probably takes a bit of route finding to avoid getting cliffed out. And of course it's really inconvenient.
-Jason Dorje Short

User avatar
Posts: 724
Joined: Thu Sep 28, 2006 8:46 pm
Location: Nidderdale, North Yorkshire

Re: Children, ropes and 14er safety

Postby pvnisher » Fri Mar 22, 2013 3:12 am

Ropes have the appearance for increasing safety, but in reality they are just a tool. And like any tool, when used properly, they work well. But when used improperly, they cause far more harm than good.

A rope in this type of case would greatly increase the rockfall danger on the route. Since you would be going up the route first (you wouldn't want to be in the middle), the rope would be knocking stones down on your kids' heads if the route was straight, or down on other climbers below.

Short-roping (when you carry coils in your hand) for stability and a little assurance looks easy, but requires a great deal of technique and practice to ensure your safety and for the person being short-roped. (FWIW: Short roping is NOT pulling someone up the mountain, as described in Into Thin Air.)

Similarly, setting up a hand line will require a great deal of time, possibly some gear, but definitely a lot of know-how and a compatible terrain situation. It will be a bit of a hindrance on the route and, if done improperly, could actually cause falls since they'd be relying on it to hold them.

In summary, helmets are good (but looking up and avoiding a rock is better, when possible). Going slowly and carefully is good. Feeling free to turn around is good.
Ropes, if not used in the right way, are bad.

Next

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 9 guests