Cragmama "Not all who wander are lost…" JRR Tolkien

Success Story: A NEW Cragmama at the NEW!

I love hearing stories about other moms and dads who aren’t afraid to get right back out there on the rock!  That’s why when I heard it through the grapevine (aka Facebook) that my friend (and new mom) Lisa Bistreich-Wolfe had just gotten back from a family trip to the New River Gorge, I had to find out more.  Turns out Lisa, her husband Richard, and 11 week old Baby T had a marvelous weekend – and she was more than happy to give me a play by play worth sharing!   Here’s what Lisa had to say when I caught up with her…

A happy Baby T ready to get out on the rocks!

How old was Baby T when you guys took the overnight plunge?
We had wanted to do a day trip  for practice, but with family in town to meet Baby T and other obligations, we just didn’t make it out before Memorial Weekend.  So we just jumped right in and our first trip out was a three-day camping trip (Good thing it worked out! 🙂 )  Baby T was 11 weeks old.

Where was the scene of the climb?
We went to the New River Gorge in West Virginia – we climbed at Sandstonia, Junkyard, and the Bridge Buttress for a good mix of sport and trad. 

How did you know Baby T was ready for an overnight in a tent?
Honestly, I don’t think we really thought about it that way. It was more that MOM AND DAD were ready to sleep in a tent.  We figured Baby T would be fine (and he was).  He is a great sleeper and was already sleeping through the night when we went on the trip.

Can you share any tips that you think made the weekend run smoothly?
A good packing list was a big help.  We didn’t want to bring more than we needed, but having a few extra items around was nice.  For example, Bumbo Seat was great for giving Baby T a place to be while we unpacked and made  camp.  My husband and I were also so grateful for the help from our friends – having extra partners was a must!  Having multiple hands around to entertain Baby T, carry gear, and climb in areas we were comfortable hiking into with a baby was a key to our success.  One tip I would have for parents is to show your appreciation for your partners by trying to ensure (as much as possible) that your partners are able to meet some of their climbing goals as well.

A happy Mommy ready to get out on the rocks!

Were there any mishaps (learning what NOT to do) type moments?
The weekend really went amazingly well! The biggest “mishap” was baby T’s diaper explosion just as we were getting ready to head out to the crag.  But a few extra minutes, a new outfit and a lot of baby wipes cured that pretty quickly and gave us a good laugh!  The one thing I’ll add next time will be a creek chair to make breastfeeding in the tent and at the crag easier (it’s much nicer to have back support!).

What was the most challenging aspect?
I think the biggest challenge was probably the added weight on the approach for an out of shape Mom and Dad!   Sandstonia was super busy on Saturday, which was somewhat of a challenge with an infant, but we were really impressed with how much support we received from the climbing community, and it was nice to see other families there as well.

What was the most rewarding aspect?
Watching Baby T experience nature was by far the most rewarding aspect. When he was awake, he was constantly looking around, awed and interested in everything. It’s so fun to watch him learn, and it felt great knowing we were exposing him to nature so early. I am looking forward to continuing sharing many more of those experiences with him.  On a personal level, it also felt great to be back on the rock and sleeping in a tent again!

Lisa following Happy Head (5.8) at the Bridge Buttress

Would you consider your weekend to be a success? Do you have plans in the near future for another weekend climbing trip?
I’d definitely consider the weekend a success, and I can’t wait to do it again!  We haven’t planned anything yet, but I’m sure we will get out again a few more times this summer.

Aside from the obvious that there was an extra little person around, how did this climbing trip feel different than pre-kiddo trips?
I did a lot less belaying and a lot more feeding at the crag -lol! Overall, I think the trip was more low key. We decided to stick with moderate climbs to ease back into leading and make sure baby T was safe and happy.  We also added in some family type activities – on Sunday we climbed only half a day, then visited the bridge overlook and spent some time down by the river. It was fun to mix it up.

What advice would you give to moms/moms to be looking to get back on the rock and/or in the tent?
As far as climbing goes, I said it before but it’s worth saying again – having some helpful friends to climb with is key!  In addition to that I would suggest to be flexible.  The first few times you got out I wouldn’t go with a tick list.  Just enjoy being out and on the rock with your family and however many (or few) climbs you get on.  For example, I toproped a climb to save time that I ordinarily would have wanted to lead since Baby T was getting hungry – the rock will still be there, but my son is growing up fast!  

As for camping, if you have an infant that sleeps in the car, I would say prepare for the impact the drive will have on your baby’s sleep schedule, especially the first night. We weren’t able to leave until 6 p.m. the Friday night of our trip and Baby T slept most of the 4 ½ hour drive there…then was wide awake when we got camp set up and were ready for bed. He did manage to fall asleep but then woke up a couple times in the night.  It wasn’t a big deal, he nursed and went right back to sleep (and didn’t wake up others) but if we could have left closer to noon so he would have been up a while before bedtime that would have been ideal.

Anything else you would like to add?
Relax, be flexible, and most importantly, have fun 🙂 

The first of many family craggin’ portraits for the Wolfe family!

For those of you with toddlers/older kids, this is probably a somewhat bittersweet walk down memory lane.  It certainly was for me – and although things are much easier now, part of me kinda misses those first few trips where everything was brand new and we were flying by the seat of our pants.  I would second (and third, and fourth, and fifth) Lisa’s advice about hooking up with solid partners that love interacting with your little one, as well as the message about being flexible, especially during the early months!  For those newbie parents out there, I hope this interview served as inspiration to get out there and enjoy some summer days on the rocks and summer nights under the stars!  Many thanks to Lisa for sharing her thoughts in this interview!  If you enjoyed reading it, leave her some comment love below…




6 Responses to “Success Story: A NEW Cragmama at the NEW!”

  1. eddy ramirez

    I miss the Bumbo days! And it always makes me smile to think that Ava and her pack-n-play were three out of the five ‘persons’ in our five person tent.


  2. Addy

    Nice to read another story! I’ve recently fallen into a “staying-at-home-is-easier” phase with my 14 month old while my husband goes out and climbs without us. Now that she’s mobile it seems harder to get her to cooperate or get any climbing in! The hardest part is definitely getting some support (from spouse or other climbers) so that it’s a fun day for everyone (a.k.a. ME!). You’ve inspired me to get back out there even though now we have a whole new set of challenges!


  3. Angela

    Yay for Lisa, Richard, and Tyler! I’m not too surprised that Tyler is a natural in the outdoors. So glad the first trip was a success. Thanks for the nice interview Erica! It’s a good trip down memory lane for me too 🙂


  4. Steve

    Looking forward to crag-sitting Baby-T! Nice interview guys.


  5. fabulous fabulous!! wish i knew about rock.climbing when our kiddos were tiny… too fun!! 🙂


  6. Lisa Bistreich-Wolfe

    Thanks for the interview Erica, it was fun! We’re looking forward to many more adventures and the challenges that come (and go) as he grows!


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“Not all who wander are lost.” —JRR TOLKIEN