Multipitching as a family
I think sometimes as moms we over think and mentally try to prepare for every possible contingency. This is good but also can be limiting. After acknowledging this happening in my own life , I decided I was going to say yes to overwhelming scary things. This has served me well and given me some incredible experiences I would have missed if I was scared off by the difficulty. So, in Spring 2017 I said yes to something crazy. Looking back, I still wonder what I was thinking LOL.
I climbed a multipitch climb with my husband, and our then 10-year-old and 4-year-old. A multipitch is where instead of climbing up and coming back to the ground, you and your partner keep going up higher and higher with belay stations between the pitches. I climbed the West Slabs on Mount Olympus in Utah. This is a 10 pitch 1660’ foot climb. It’s rated very easy and well within my kids climbing ability so why not? What could go wrong?
An hour of hiking up the approach, I underestimated the snowy couloir. Let me start with I am not a fan of snow. I forgot my micro spikes but we were so close so we decided to forge on anyway. Slipping and sliding up a scary incline there were several four-letter words and lots of back tracking but we made it.
As we got to the base of the climb, we all tied in. I anchored baby girl into me so I could help her along the climb. She climbed for about 20 minutes, about one pitch in and she was exhausted. Of course, she was, she was 4. I immediately was questioning my sanity. What in the world was I thinking? Once we were on the wall there really wasn’t an option to turn back easily. Fortunately, I planned for her to get tired, just not so soon into the climb and brought a Beco Toddler soft carrier. I made her keep her climbing helmet and harness on and put her on my back, still anchored into me. Then we climbed, and climbed. It was hard climbing with an extra 42lbs on my back. We were already a few hours into this. There was no turning back. On we climbed me and a chatty little toddler over my shoulder. It was actually fun hearing her little observations as we crept up the wall.
Not too long after, she fell asleep and we ran into new problems. Apparently, the movement was relaxing 😊 While she was awake my biggest struggle was maintaining balance and telling her not to throw her weight suddenly to one side. Once asleep she was floppy dead weight shifting all over the place and making it hard for me to maintain balance and continue upward. While several hundred feet off the ground, I decided my best course of action was to take her helmet off and use the head rest sling that came with the toddler carrier. This anchored her in one place and fixed the problem. Although now I’m THAT mom, climbing with a helmet, with a toddler on her back without a helmet. Great. LOL
Baby girl slept for about 2/3 of the climb, meanwhile I’m climbing and grumbling under my breath to myself asking WTH I thought I was doing. All the sudden she wakes up and she must have heard my grumbling. Her first words all super excited to me were: “I know mommy we can put a pink helicopter on your list to fly us up.” Seriously how cute is this girl?
I actually climbed more relaxed and better while she was awake. Several times she would request out of the carrier and to climb and I obliged knowing it was short-lived. Right as we were reaching the top out, she decided she was climbing those last 20 feet by herself. All the major photo opps ensue with little lady minus a climbing helmet since I’m mom of the year HAHAHA. I was already imagining all the peeps comments that have no idea and honestly what a bummer I even had that thought at such a joyous moment. I think the world needs a little less judgment and nicer people.
Topping out was incredible and thrilling and we were so proud of ourselves. It was short lived, since we realized it took way longer than we expected and we still had to rappel down twice, down climb, carefully get down the snowy couloir, and then hike another hour out... all hopefully before sundown. So, my little lady got to climb her first multipitch and rappel for the first time all in the same day. Yeah like REI says she is a force of nature.
My husband is like a mountain goat so he took baby girl for the down climb portion while I cleaned up the ropes and went behind them. It wasn’t glamorous. I got a MAJOR hole in the butt of my pants. Basically, I was down climbing with my bare butt in the wind. You don’t see this happening in the pretty pictures you see on social media LMAO.
I was feeling like a major bad ass adventure mama at this point. I was riding the high of completing this crazy adventure. Little did I realize that I was celebrating a little soon. I caught up too my little adventure family just in time to meet my old nemesis, the snowy couloir. Once again, the hubs guided the kids down the snow since he is the mountain goat and I kept slipping and sliding down behind them. On a good day hiking I am slow. Put me hundreds of feet up on slippery snow on a steep incline and I am apparently a snail. I could not maintain my balance. I kept falling and imagining sliding to my death. It was a nightmare.
Remember that giant hole in my butt of my pants? All the sliding on the snow had made it bigger. My entire butt was being exposed to the cold sharp snow every time I fell and slid, which was a ton. I was swearing repeatedly. Eventually the hubs came back for me. He had made it past the snow and had the little ones wait together. He took my backpack and held my hand. Definitely not feeling so bad ass anymore, I was feeling much more humbled. Once we met up with the kids my amazing husband not only continued carrying my daughter but also my backpack. Yeah, he is pretty hardcore. We decided he would hike on and my son and I would hike at our pace behind them. My legs were complete jelly at this point. I could barely walk. We were 12 hours into this adventure and still an hour away from the car.
I was exhausted and honestly the weakest of my family. I don’t do well without real meals and snack just weren’t cutting it. It was amazing to see my son step up and help guide me down the steep talus field. I was so proud of him. Raising my kids in the outdoors definitely gave the confidence he needed to help his mama. At one point it was so bad, I was worried I may collapse. I didn’t want to scare him so I instructed him calmly on what to do if that happened since it is now dark and just the two of us. I reassured him it was unlikely but better to be prepared in case as we were still out of cell range and it was just us two at this point. Then my knight in shining headlamp of a husband came back for me. He helped us back to the car. Round-trip this was a 13-hour day. We were all exhausted and starving.
I was definitely hurting for a few days. After my poor welted butt healed and my sore muscles went away, I was able to be impressed with our feat… only to be offended a week later when I looked up at the West Slabs to see all the snow had melted. WTF?! One week!!! How much simpler this would’ve been without snow. Ugh.