The scoop on family indoor and outdoor climbing options
Here’s the scoop on where to sport climb as a family near Calgary, Alberta. The crags and climbing gyms you visited pre-kids might not be the ideal when bring kids along for the adventure.
If you are new to climbing and think it is something you want to check out sign up for a course at a local gym. Calgary Climbing Centre even offers a family beginners course - how cool is that! Climbing is possible and fun as a family with babies or teenagers. Take courses, learn, and stay safe.
Kids love to run wild! We love our wild kids. Indoor climbing is not a place for kids to run around, it’s too dangerous and annoying to other participants. Kids need to learn not to run under climbers and wait their turn - kids are capble of this (at times haha). You need to pass a belay test to Sport Climb at any location.
Bolder Bouldering only. Great way to introduce kids to climbing! They sometimes have “family” hours but you can go anytime. Babies can sit in car seats and cheer on parents. Teenagers can take classes or just go and try it out as a family activity.
Calgary Climbing Centre Calgary Climbing Centres (CCC) offer multiple centres in the city that are all set up different. They offer sport climbing, lead climbing, bouldering, courses, team sports, and climb parks. They offer auto belays at all locations (I believe, call and double check) which is a fun way to try sport climbing without needing someone to belay. The bouldering areas are a fun option, no need to rope up. ClimbParks are a seperate pass and sometimes require pre-booking.
University of Calgary Bouldering and sport climbing option. The sport climbing is located down a ladder (unique set up) and is not young kid friendly IMO. Possibly the cheapest climbing in Calgary at $10.50 for a day pass in 2022.
City of Calgary Southland Lesiure Centre offers bouldering and sport climbing. Not as fancy as CCC and boulder but does the job. Free introduction to belay courses which is kinda cool.
If you are reading this I assume you are already familiar with outdoor climbing and looking to introduce your kids. If you have never climbed look into an indoor or outdoor course at CCC or University of Calgary. There are other options as well for courses, these are just the places I know. I’ve including climbing resources at the bottoms so you can look up routes and areas. This is just to get you started on where to look, you’ll still have to look up exactly where the routes are. There are lots of great climbing book resources too!
Sunshine Possibly the most popular and easiest climbing crag to take any aged kids. It’s directly next to the parking, a flat area at the base (great for littles), trees for shade, there is an outhouse, garbage and you are next to a river to dip your toes in at the end of the day.
Wasootch I’d tie this location with Sunshine as extremely family friendly climbing. Requires a few minute flat hike in, lots of 5.4 - 5.6 grades, has a flat base, less trees for shade, more play room in the dry river bed.
Banff There is lots of climbing in Banff but the rock is fairly chossy (some consider it the worst rock). We like it to get away from the crowds for family climbing and it’s close to Tunnel Mountain when we camp there. We will hike to less climbed areas so the kids can be wild and we can climb. Choosing the right place for you is all about your goals, ours are usually just to enjoy the day as a group. I can’t think of any flat crags that I’d take babies, most are on a slant or really small. They work for kids that like to explore.
Lake Louise World class climbing! The best quality rock is found in the quartzite at the back of the Lake at Lake Louise. Requires a longer hike and isn’t necessarily little kid friendly to some, but to others it’s perfect. Like any locations you need to check out each crag to see what works best for you. If you are wanting to get some amazing climbing in as adults well this is…well world class and stunningly beautiful.
There are other locations to sport climb as a family too, this is just a starting point. When you are out your best resources are other families, where do they like to go?
Outdoor Climbing Apps and Website Resources