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Bouldering: How to start climbing with kids without lots of equipment

Posted by Anna.
First Published Apr 2015; updated May 2023.

Ever wanted to start climbing with your kids, but you don't have all the gear or experience? Why not give bouldering a try? Read Anna's story...

Are you looking for new ways to get out with your kids? Ever thought of trying bouldering? Read Anna's story...

Anna and Kids

Anna and Kids

I'm a mum of two girls, Aimee who is six and Tiana who is 4.

I recently took up bouldering as a hobby. I love the adrenalin kick, and it's been a really fun form of exercise for me. I'm still very much a beginner, but that's one of the things I love about it. It's a challenge.

A bouldering mum

A bouldering mum

Bouldering is a form of rock climbing, but as you don't use ropes and things it's not about going too high, it's usually a maximum of about 8ft walls in indoor centres. It's more about moving on and across the rock, and the same applies if you're doing it outside.

I started by doing an introduction course at my local indoor centre, which I do recommend people do to get the necessary skills, training and safety precautions. After a few practice sessions there I was talking to an instructor, and as I'm new to the area, she said I've got some rocks in the village that I live in. It's a place I'd walked at many times, but I was never really looking for rocks. Usually, it was a case of the girls and me spotting for birds or flowers and walking up the big hill.

Climbing across the rockface

Climbing across the rockface

So, one sunny day after picking the girls up from school we went for a walk there to go and spot the rocks. Initially, I thought I was just going to look for them and come back without the kids to have a go and see what they are like. However, once they spotted them, they wanted to be up there climbing them too.

My oldest was off up the rock face like a rocket

I informed them of a few safety things to be aware of and let them have a go. My oldest was off up the rock face like a rocket. She was climbing the wall like she'd been doing it for years. My youngest was a little more nervous and as she's only four I managed to find her a nice little bit of rock that she could climb up but still be within arms reach so that if she got stuck, I could help get her down.

they still wanted to climb more

We all took turns climbing while the others would spot for us, letting us know about good hand or footholds. We ended up spending about 2 hours there, and they still wanted to climb more.

Building Confidence

Building Confidence

It's now a hobby that isn't just mine, but something we can do together out and about enjoying nature and the world around us.

I think it's a great hobby for kids, as long as they can listen and follow instructions to keep them safe. Which is why I think it's important for the parent to go and learn those things first to pass on to their children. But I've found that climbing has helped my kids gain confidence as well as develop problem-solving, communication and probably a whole load of other skills.

It's fun, it's a challenge, and it's a way to get outside and enjoy nature as no other way can.

Want to know more about bouldering?

Here are some links if you want to read more about taking up bouldering.