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Climbing with kids: the paradise for climbers

climbing with the whole family

Climbing and via ferrata routes for the whole family in the Mountain Climbers’ Village Weißbach. The Naturpark community in the Salzburger Saalachtal promises close-to-nature mountain experiences for young and old alike and genuine hospitality among mountain friends.

We chose the Mountain Climbers’ Village Weißbach in the Salzburger Saalachtal for our sporty family holiday. Together with our four- and six-year-old boys we have been looking forward to our big adventure on rock for weeks. As soon as we arrive in Weißbach the unmistakable smooth rock wall in the village centre catches our eye. “Look Dad, loads of people are climbing there!” shouts my eldest enthusiastically, who can barely wait to prove his own climbing talent.

The very next morning we meet with Markus Hirnböck from the Alpinskischule. Markus greets us warmly and when we ask if our four-year-old can come  climbing too, he laughs, “But of course! Children have an innate desire to climb. I have special complete harnesses for the smallest climbers and will explain to you exactly how to put the equipment on and how to move with children on the rock and over terrain.” Our little one is excited as Markus kits him out with climbing shoes with a shock-green crocodile on them. “That’s so you bite into the rock wall with every step with them”, says the certified mountain and ski guide with a wink. The older one is also excitedly jumping around and proudly shows us the shark on his climbing shoes. First we get used to the rock through play. Still without harness and rope we scramble together up to jumping height. “This is how we learn to grip and climb”, explains Markus. Our boys master this exercise perfectly and demonstrate great skill.   

Off to the rock

At the Alpine Association Climbing Garden on the mighty rock face the time has come for all of us. After a short lesson in knot-tying and theory about belaying and rope commands we put on our harnesses, put on our helmets and are ready for the first short route. “For the first attempt Dad will climb up with you”, says Markus to our youngest son. Well-secured by the professional, I climb slowly up about ten metres next to the little one. Then we hear the command “Sit down in the harness!” Squealing with delight we dangle from the rock wall and Markus lowers us back down to the ground very gently. “Well, that’s working really well already!” The big one and Mum can do this exercise individually while Dad secures you under my supervision”, announces Markus and my eyes shine with pride as I watch how the two of them scramble effortlessly and courageously upwards along the top-rope.

After another couple of attempts it is time for the next challenge.

The “Gams Kitz” 

The second part of the course takes us to the newly-constructed children’s via ferrata “Gams Kitz“, which also begins in the Alpine Association’s Climbing Garden. This awaits us with a difficulty of A/B and a length of 180 metres.  Markus explains the procedure to us, “This via ferrata was built especially for beginners and families – especially with small children. Everyone now gets gloves as well and their own via ferrata set with two carabiners to hook onto the steel rope. I will stay with the little one and Dad will be in a team with the older one. It’s important on the via ferrata that the children are never left alone. As well as that they are secured by their adult team partner with a special safety rope.” Our little one follows him enthusiastically upwards along the steel rope and little by little we also begin the via ferrata. We scramble, climb over steps and hold onto the steel rope during traverses. The boys are especially proud of course, that they have conquered the so-called “Furchti und Angsti” traverse (Fear and Fright), without fear or fright! At the end of the via ferrata Markus announces, “We’ll take a break here and then you can sign the summit book.” 

Infected by the Climbing Virus

Back at the starting point one thing is clear to us, “We have been infected by the climbing virus!”. Laughing, Markus reveals, “That happens to most people. The children can continue on Monday and Thursday as part of our  Summer Programme  In good weather we climb on rock, if it’s bad weather we use the climbing hall in Weißbach which is always fun. Meanwhile the parents can hire a via ferrata set in the village and conquer the beginners’ via ferrata “Zahme Gams” or try a difficult via ferrata. Or sign up for a climbing course so that you can do lead climbing on routes later on because there are still very many climbing routes for all levels of abilities to explore here in the Mountain Climbers’ Village Weißbach. Safety and good equipment are the most important.” A look at the climbing brochure confirms this and laughing I say to my wife and children, “I think we are sure to become regular guests here in the  Mountain Climbers’ Village Weißbach with all these possibilities and with time we will be really great climbers.” Our eyes shining with pride and enthusiasm, we spend the rest of the day thinking excitedly about which unique climbing adventures await us here in the future.

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