Family rock-climbing schools in the West

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of August 7-13, 1997
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Family rock-climbing schools in the West

Family rock-climbing schools in the West
Question: My son wants to go rock climbing in Colorado for his 12th birthday. Are there any groups for a family of novices? We'd like a little more excitement than a trail, but we're not experienced climbers. Point us in the right direction.

Diane Miller
Chicago, IL
[email protected]

Adventure Adviser: By rock climbing, I'm assuming you mean roped-in and harnessed. If this is what you're looking for, try Paragon Guides in Vail.

The company custom-designs family climbing outings and often has kids as young as 5 and 6 scrambling up their routes. The daily routine goes something like this: They pick you up at your Vail hotel around 8 a.m. and drive you about 15 miles out to Camp Hale, the famous Rocky Mountain training grounds for WWII's Tenth Mountain Division.

Here they'll suit everyone up with the requisite harness, ropes, and other gear, and start teaching. If you've never heard of a caribiner, they'll explain to you the function of a caribiner. If you're way beyond Rock Climbing 101, they'll set the pace to match your abilities.

After a few good hours, they'll prepare lunch for you and let you relax a bit, before you have to climb again at 4 p.m. After a good six or seven hours, they'll drive you back to Vail and drop you off at your hotel.

The company will do as many days as your family can handle, but the $390-per-day (for three people) price tag is a bit steep. Call 970-926-5299 for more information. Another company to research is the Colorado Mountain School in Estes Park (970-586-5758).

If your son doesn't have his heart set on Colorado and wants to do some serious rock climbing, you may want to consider the Sylvan Rocks Climbing School in South Dakota's Black Hills. It offers a five-day climbing immersion course for families and costs approximately $300 per person for a family of four. Lodgings are not included, but the staff will help you find a campground or hotel in nearby Hill City. Call 605-574-2425.

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