How many limits do we put or do we think kids have? In the mountain, but not only there, I think it is all related to what us adults transmit to them (say fear for example), in addition to their obvious physiological limits of course. If I think about outdoor activities, I have always given my daughters the chance to try everything on the kids playground, under the shocked eyes of grandparents and other parents.
I’m a Mountain Guide, and of course I love the mountain and so climbing, I’ve always taken my daughters to the Cinque Torri (the best outdoor climbing gym in the Dolomites, just 20 minutes drive from Cortina) whenever they’ve wanted to, every now and then I had to force them to get inside the car and go outside. One time we got to the “kids tower”, right next to the Torre Inglese (English Tower), they were not very keen to climb anything, it was a bit cold and we just headed back to the car.
When there is the passion, a new world opens up in front of you. I’ve taken and guided lots of children to climb the Cinque Torri, I managed to take Bianca (my older girl) to the top of the Quarta Bassa when she was 5, the little Francesca right on top of Torre Quarta Alta (after some training on the Torre Quarta Bassa and Torre Inglese) few months before she turned 4,and believe me, it was pretty unbelievable. No other teams where around, we made our way up step by step with no rush. It was great.
Last summer I took Claudia (8) and her father and we climbed the super exposed arete of the Thumb on the Cinque Dita, Sassolungo. It’s a beautiful 8 pitch climb, one of the most amazing line graded 3+ around the Dolomites. So she passed the test, so we went for a real journey, with an early start, a good hour of approach to the base of the wall, a quite good number of pitches to climb 350 meter up, luckily with a nice hut very close to the summit.
I’ve climbed the arete of the Thumb many times, the Gluck route on Torre Firenze was also my first time. It’s a beautiful route! It’s fun, with lots of easy terrain, which makes it perfect for little climbers; it gets as hard as a IV+ in some spots, it’s never tiring and all the belay spots are very comfortable. On both climbs we also passed over some other rope teams, most of them were staring eyes wide open at Claudia smiling and making her own way up the route with no big deal.
Don’t think we didn’t hear any complaints or whining, “how much further” or “Daddy, I’m hungry” were part of the deal, as much as the joy in her eyes when she was having fun and we finally got to the top.