Celebrating Father's Day! - Sender One Climbing

Written by Anneka Peterson

Although Dads can be often remarked on their socks with sandals and corny jokes, they can, in fact, be pretty dang cool. Here at Sender One, we want to take a moment to honor the men in our families that helped raise and guide us through the hard parts of life. How do they always seem to have the answers to, sometimes, the most difficult questions? And why are they always so good at helping us with our math homework? From financial advice, to fixing tires, dads really seem to do it all. However, they are far more capable than we could even imagine! Some even go as far to say that climbers actually make the best dads… here’s why.

Looking back, there are so many dads that have created milestones in the climbing industry. There are countless fathers who seem to continuously test the bounds of what it means to be a dad, and a climber, but here we will take a moment to just name a few.

Tom Randall, a British rock climber best known for being part of a Youtube channel called Wide Boyz, is considered to be one of the best Crack Climbers out there, alongside his partner Pete Wittaker. Tom in a BMC article stated that “Climbers make great dads because they've already spent many years putting a nappy on... it's just that it's full-strength and has a belay loop!” Comparing putting on a harness to the confusing experience of learning how to change a diaper is something that most climbers can resonate with. Tom Himself has climbed incredible routes such as Kraken, a V13 Bouldering route with a 40ft long crack roof with mono hang jams and some of the best use of core strength one could only imagine.

Climbs such as this take an incredible amount of training and preparation. In this instagram post above we see Tom and his youngest daughter on a makeshift rope swing (climbing dads do tend to make the best rope swings after all). Tom goes on to explain that while he trains around the house, his daughter picks up on what he is doing and often asks how many reps he’s done, and if she can join in too. It's incredible to think that at the young age of 5, their dad has such an influence on them. 

Becoming a father can shift your entire scope of what it means to be a climber. Alex Honnold, the man best known for his free solo of El Capitan in Yosemite and various other technical climbs, says that “‘The biggest difference,..., will have to do with how I spend my time. Having a small child seems more conducive to short bursts of intense training, which lends itself to bouldering and sport climbing’” His expression to start to wind down his training, due to the birth of his daughter shows the amazing balance and sacrifice that Honnold is willing to make for such a pivotal moment in his life – becoming a dad.  In the classic Honnold fashion, he expresses “seems like the kid will be the priority." Honnold also shows an interest in getting his child into the sport once she is able to, no surprise there really. "Using hand jammies is still free climbing, so it’s still acceptable for any child of mine. Plus, I suppose I want her hands to wind up a little less ogreish than mine." 

Personally, my own dad has had his fair share of climbing experience, TRAD no less! Only growing up with my dad as a soft mannered, extremely intelligent software engineer, I would have never guessed that he had an interest in extreme sports such as climbing. I knew of his passion for space exploration and computer parts, and even a little hiking and rollerblading, but never trad. My dad recalls, “My sophomore year of college, I transferred from Oregon State to the University of Utah in Salt Lake City (early 1980s). The U of U is situated near the foot of the Big and Little Cottonwood canyons. Both canyons are filled with a wonderland of granite climbing routes, all less than 30 minutes from the campus. When I first arrived, my cousin - mostly, I think, due to serious prodding by his mom - took me out to try bouldering. It did not go well. When I arrived, I wasn't much of an athlete, and didn't have the upper body strength to get more than a foot or two off the ground. Ironically, my cousin was a fantastic climber. He became well known in the sport, and spent his career marketing climbing gear and clothing” Specifically my dad’s cousin is now working with Black Diamond.

“As I got to know people at school, I discovered climbers everywhere. Any building on campus with bricks or stone was also covered with chalk marks. Many people in the lab I worked at were into climbing, and it wasn't long before I was joining them. They were great about teaching me climbing techniques and helping me get the proper gear. Soon I had a backpack with shoes, a harness and some carabiners, ready to go if somebody needed a climbing partner. I eventually took the "advanced rock climbing" class to finish my PE credits (my climbing friends assured me I didn't need to bother with the beginning class).

Years later, I saw my daughter have a similar experience going to college in Boulder Colorado. The mountains were right there for her, ready to go explore. And even if that was too far away, the campus athletic center had a huge climbing wall to practice on (those weren't a thing when I was in school!). It's exciting to watch her succeed in the sport and use her talents to share her enthusiasm for the sport with others.

It's incredibly inspiring to see how our dads influence us into who we are as adults. Although my dad didn't continue climbing much after college, I definitely got his “how hard can it be” gene in terms of tinkering and trying new things. Again, Thank you to all the incredible Father’s that raised us and I hope all of you have an amazing Father’s Day.

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