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A Belay Mom's Guide To Sending The Warmup At The Teens' Crags

By Anne Smith


Thanks to Covid and limiting driving to our family pod, my role as sport support parent was extended a bonus year. This extra time (and the fact Connor is now full belay weight) has fully cemented my expertise in how the average climber can weather the implicit "ma'am"s and embrace projecting the warmups at 5.14 crags.

Set expectations! The easiest climbs will be all-time grease fests due to traffic and recall that the climbers who actually belong here have no idea about sub 13 ratings. The routes will be short or off to side and are generally the least inspiring lines at the cliff. Appreciate your kid's thoughtfulness, and pretend you don't notice that he couldn't be bothered to lace up his approach shoes, in pre-clipping any bolts for you on your project.

But you can still have a lot of fun *and* cash in belay points for rest day forays to actual age-appropriate crags.

A few proud (and not so proud) sends!

The Hurricave: Baby Joe 12a (2021), Over The Transom 11d (early 2020)

My presence was particularly awkward here as the window between everyone quickly firing these as their warmups and then hopping on again (as they are the starts of many longer harder routes) was short to non-existent. For Baby Joe -- when the actual climbers say "there's a little bit of a boulder at the end of that route" expect you will need many goes, beta from an expert, and actual good conditions to send. For OtT, stay away as a first route if you have bad shoulders. Had I not decided to repeat it 14 months ago, might not have spent the first six months of quarantine unable to even attempt a pull-up.

The Cathedral: Raising Cain 12b

Multiple lessons here. First -- while actual sends at the crag are rare, there's still lots of cheering. On the red point go, sync your crux with the hardwoman next to you crushing her burn and simply pretend they're cheering for you -- got me to the chains on this one. Secondly, pick this one as it's off to the side rather than the uber greasy Speaking In Tongues which is ALWAYS booked and slicker than glass. Finally, when the old guidebook says 12b, the new guidebook 12 a/b, and Mountain Project 12a, delete your MP account, regardless of your personal opinion.

Wailing Wall: Wandering Wanda 11d (onsight)

Lesson -- you can successfully fake it sometimes! People who didn't know me assumed I was a crag-appropriate climber warming up and asked what I was there to work on. (You just saw it.)

Gold Coast/Solarium, Buddha Hole 11d

The top rope only days. Only included since I have a picture. When you're the mom there are normally almost one picture a year of you but only if remember to hand someone your phone and beg so you can later spray on social media.

Pipedream Cave, Maple, Wake and Bake 11d

This was a few years back with pre-belay weight Connor. Fortunately, he had a much larger, belay weight friend along. I wanted to get back in the habit of leading so it was disconcerting when the friend announced "I'm not really good at lead belaying" as I quested off. Decided to put C on the backup belay but he decided all was good and wandered off to get the snapshot. Eventually the kids have to belay if you're going to get after it; this was the first step down this path. Otherwise, remember that no climb is ever too easy for a key knee bar.

Compound, Maple, One Percent 11d

Short and off to the side but actually a pretty good route! First done in the toprope only days, which already felt like a victory way back when, and still fun to red point later.

Jailhouse, Cuckoo's Nest, 11d and Lobotomy, 12a

Re-projecting routes that were once dialed and easy is about as fun as it sounds until you get over it. But worth re-iterating that you should never take the ratings (some call Lobotomy 11c) from climbers who've done the routes hundreds of time. And -- even if you've done a route on and off for thirty years you can always find easier and more enjoyable beta (Cuckoo's)

I will miss the 5.14 crags and the positive energy there, and may even need to keep one or two on my list for the "next easiest" rigs. But for the most part -- off to the moderates!


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