Guidebook for Rock-Climbing Families

Climbing routes and much more make this book an excellent resource for climbers of all ages

My husband is a former rock climber, so we have shelves full of climbing guidebooks. I don’t ever look at them, because they are way out of my universe. When he and I first met and he enthused about climbing, I took a one-day class and learned very, very basic climbing and rappelling. I enjoyed it enough to wish that I had learned to climb when I was younger — much younger. Tristan Hechtel, now just graduated from high school here in Boulder, is one lucky young climber who did start when he was very young. He probably can’t even remember when he didn’t go climbing with his mother. Sibylle Hechtel’s engaging new book, Fun Climbs Colorado: Best Family Climbing Vacations, is based on her first-hand experiences.

I don’t have a young child anymore, but if I did, I’d want this book because it includes not only well-researched and achievable routes but also other useful information for any family trip. The climbing information is very clear and includes everything I imagine parents would want to know: How easy each climbing area is to reach. What the approach is like. Type of rock. What gear that is needed. The recommended age range. Camping options. Whether there is cell service. Whether dogs are permitted. Even (should an emergency arise) the location of the nearest hospital. I also like her assessment of the pros and cons of each climbing area. These might include ease or difficulty of the approach; accessibility; crowds; convenient camping or not.

And of course, there is detailed information on each climbing route, including grade rating (a standard numerical system), plus key spots along the route described, numbered and keyed to a photograph. She also gives one to five stars to routes in the book. One star means “not that great, included for completeness” to five stars for routes she deems “absolutely fantastic climb, worth doing several times.”

For any vacationing family, the additional travel tips are great — perhaps if the weather is not conducive for family climbing, in case youngsters want a break from climbing, to accommodate any non-climbers in the family or as add-ons while a family is in the vicinity of a recommended climbing area. Hechtel has scouted out where to buy groceries and supplies if camping, hotels/motels if not camping, restaurants and “What Else Can We Do That’s Fun?”

Clear maps, excellent graphics and comprehensive contact information for all resources make this an invaluable guide for climbing families — and, come to think of it, also for climbers without kids who want more peripheral details than most climbing guidebooks include. Fun Climbs Colorado: Best Family Climbing Vacations sells for $22, 15 percent of which is donated to the Access Fund, national advocacy organization for climbers and the preservation of climbing sites.

One thought on “Guidebook for Rock-Climbing Families”

  1. I don’t know Sibylle, but I believe that I briefly met her father Richard once, in the mid-1970s, on a climbing trip to Pinnacles National Monument. Never having been there before, my partner and I were attempting to get our bearings, and he graciously offered advice and information.

    An interesting coincidence, I think. It’s really a small world.


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