Last days at the Bluffs

Mara working on her first 5.10a!

Some days we climbed in t-shirts and tank tops, some days, we had four layers on! 

Poor Java found an underground wasp nest... and got a taste of their medicine. He was in shock and shaking, and the kids thought that dressing him up would keep him warm...!

I love how her shadow seems to be angry... Her love-hate relationship with rock climbing!

You can see here that Karl is lead climbing and Ellie is top roping (explanations below).

Left: Ellie coming down after having climbed a 5.9. Right: Karl and Jennifer setting up the belay on top of the route.

Our beautiful, happy, wild children!

On the 8 days we were in Pentincton, we spent 6 at the Skaha Bluffs. When you have such an awesome rock climbing spot 5 minutes away, you make the best of it! In times like these, food becomes a mean to an end, and we don't want to lose anytime cooking! We lived on pastas, wraps, Vega bars, fruits, lots of snacks and water!

I know that rock climbing is an unfamiliar world to many and is perceived as an extreme sport. Like any sport, rock climbing can lead to injuries, but when practiced safely the way we do (and at the level we do it), it is a very safe sport with minimal risk, safer than many other sports (like mountain biking!). There are 3 main types of rock climbing: top roping (when you install a belay on top of the route and you are held by the rope from up top - this is the way all of us, except Karl and JF - climb for now), sport climbing (when you clip quick draws in bolts already drilled into the rock wall and clip the rope in them as you go up - this way, if you fall, you fall down to the last bolt you clipped) and trad climbing (when you climb a wall that is not bolted and put your own gear - called cams, nuts, hex, etc. - in cracks and crevises in the rock and then clip your rope to it - if you fall, you have to trust that the protection you installed will hold you!).

When you follow basic safety measures, rock climbing is safe and very enjoyable. It is a great way to work on your fear of heights. Installing top anchors (usually, on top of a route, there are two chains from which you create a belay with slings and locking carabiners - you can reach that anchor by walking up around the cliff in many places or by having someone lead the route and install a belay once he is on top), and knowing the rope tying and belaying techniques are a must before you start climbing outside. I highly recommend anybody that wants to start to take an intro class at a local rock gym. 

Rock climbing is a very rewarding full-body workout and it is an incredibly confidence building sport. You learn to trust yourself and your belayer (he/she litterally has your life in his/her hands). Looking at the route, you have to visualize your movements: a great brain exercise. It is fascinating to see how some of our kids stay calm in demanding situations and work extremely hard to get to the top. Seeing them persevere throught tears of frustation and allowing another adult to guide them back to their center when they lose their cool is very heartwarming. And it pushes us to do even better.