Craggin' with Kids

Photo: Nick Covington
In honor of Mother's Day, we had the chance to talk with one of the most badass moms out there, Isha. Not only is Isha an excellent mom to her daughter Piper, she is also an amazing athlete. Juggling parenting and adventure sports can seem daunting but as we found out in our interview with Isha, it is rewarding and totally worth it. Isha shares her beta for taking her daughter to the crag (including all the best snacks!). Enjoy this chat with Isha and Piper.
1. Introduce yourself! Tell us who you are, where you call home, and what is your background in rock climbing?

Hello! My name is Mommie, and my 18 month daughter Poopie, sorry Piper, live in Auburn, CA, with Daddu Nick. Since I was a baby I’ve always loved to climb trees, couches, walls, and stuff I wasn’t supposed to. I popped into Pipeworks climbing gym on a whim, met Nick, and climbing became a huge part of my life. We love climbing outside trad and sport at Yosemite, Red Rock Canyon, Joshua Tree, Lover’s Leap, Phantom Spires, Tahquitz, Emeralds, City of Rocks, Donner, Smith Rock, and have been found occasionally bouldering poorly in the gym. 

2. What is the climb that you are most proud of? What made that experience so special?

I’m proud of a lot of my climbs (just because I made it up!) but two stick out… Nutcracker, a 5-pitch 5.8 in Yosemite, because it was one of my first multi-pitches with my then boyfriend Nick and got so pumped on the liebacking I took an embarrassingly insane amount of time, and Commitment, a 3-pitch Yosemite 5.9, because it was one of my smoothest scariest leads, and my first 5.9 in Yose.

3. What is your favorite snack to eat on a big climbing day? What is your daughter’s favorite?

Oo, my favorite, snacks. I usually have a little tactical snack pack full of bars and nuts (and two beers) but my favorites are any kind of gummy (sour patch kids, Swedish fish - the kind that stick in your teeth so you can enjoy it later while belaying - fruit snacks etc). Piper’s fav would definitely be cheese crackers aka “cackoos”, she likes the little veggie shaped ones. 

4. How has climbing changed since becoming a mom?

A lot less! Mainly because I want to take her on everything, but after you prep everything for a trip with a baby, there’s no time to climb. Piper hates to nap outside, so I have a grumpy baby too. Physically, also, my pelvis will never feel the same as before I had a baby! 

5. When you bring your daughter with you climbing, what kind of extra gear do you bring and why? Does what you bring differ if you are climbing indoors vs outdoors?

Outside, unfortunately she can’t scale the walls, yet, or even do the approaches :) so we have an Osprey baby backpack with handy space underneath to put her water bottle, fresh snacks, hat, jacket, diapers, wipes, toys, spare pacifiers (because she’ll eat all the rocks), and a blanket to play on. Outside and inside climbing we usually climb with other couples so we can enjoy and take turns climbing and baby(ies)-sitting. 

6. What are your favorite parts about bringing Piper climbing with you?

I want her to enjoy being in the outdoors and see how fun rock climbing is, and even indoors, getting to see how fun, supportive and uplifting our climbing community can be.  

7. What are the biggest challenges bringing your daughter climbing?

She likes to eat dirt and rocks. 

8. What advice would you give to a new parent who is hesitant but wants to take their child climbing?

It is worth all the extra work. Our daughter getting to see the important people in her life rock climbing, having fun and enjoying life, will only empower her to do the same! 

9. Tell us about a time when you were most proud of Piper. 

As rock climber parents, we were proud of Piper when she started climbing and standing tall and proud on the tables, tall stools, and even her rocking whale and had this look on her face like… “YES! Ok what’s the next thing I can climb and conquer…” 

10. Fast forward 10 years: Imagine Piper really takes to climbing and is a kid crusher! If you could go anywhere, where would you take her on your first mother daughter climbing trip and why?

Honestly I would take her to meet all her crusher friends and parents in Yosemite to do all the Classics, and have a great time in the outdoors.

Photo: Nick Covington

Happy Mother's Day to all the adventure moms out there! Whether you take your kids to the crag with you or are aspiring to, we hope you learned something from Isha and Piper's experience. 




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