We took the kids climbing today for the first time. Fiona, who had patiently watched the 'big kids' through all their rappelling at Homeschoolers Family Camp without complaint, got it into her head that she would be climbing today. We set up a top-rope on a short easy face, and up she went. The photo takes it all delightfully out of context -- she could be three hundred feet up Half Dome for all you can tell, but in actual fact she's only about 5 feet off the ground. The gear, though, it's all about the gear. The kids' harness, cinched as tight as it can go and still not small enough, but heck, she wasn't going much beyond where we could actually reach her. The regulation rock-climbing helmet. The purple top-rope with its double figure-of-eight knot and two carabiners. The jerry-rigged (pink!) chest harness. Oh yeah, she was thrilled. And when we lowered her off the rock face, she sat back in her harness in that wonderful relaxed rappel position that the older kids had learned at camp. "I knew, because I watched the other kids at the camp," she said. "So I sat down in my harness, and you didn't even have to tell me."
The bigger kids were happy too. The sun was blisteringly hot, and we were climbing with the sun shining full force on the west-facing rock -- next time we'll go earlier. But they still hung in patiently waiting for their turns and were enthusiastic about the experience. Due to unfamiliarity with the area, we settled on a small, conservative climb right beside the main trail. But everyone got at least a couple of climbs in, amidst lots of trading of harnesses, shoes and helmets.
Afterwards, a sandy beach and the refreshing glacier-fed lake was just a few short blocks away. Ahhh!