Berkeley Iron Works
If you're open to indoor climbing, Berkeley Ironworks offers babysitting a few days each week. It's definitely safer than keeping your little one at the bottom of the crag and possibly defenseless against falling rocks. Alternately, bring a third adult outdoors, either a babysitter or another climber who's up for alternating climbing, belaying, and baby watching/protecting.
Honestly, we didn't take our kid outdoors until he was 7 or 8, and at first only with a 3rd adult present. He's just too spacy and oblivious to his surroundings, any younger than that he would have walked off the cliff without noticing!
You don't have to be 14 to climb at Ironworks! I've been taking my child there and other Touchstone gyms, especially Diablo Rock Gym in Concord, to climb since he was 4 and I've seen other kids as young as 2 climbing there. A responsible adult (that's the 14+ requirement you saw) needs to take the belay class and go with the child to basically manage the rope while he climbs. Diablo has "kids belay" on the weekends where staff will belay the kids if you can't or won't learn how yourself.
Berkeley has some outdoor climbing areas, too, both for bouldering (shorter rocks maybe 10 feet high, no ropes) and top roping (higher walls that need a rope for safety). Start in a gym, though, or take a class before hunting out those areas so you understand how to be safe. Have fun!
Berkeley Ironworks has a 14 yr limit for belaying, but not for climbing. We've brought our 3 year old climbing there. You would need to get certified to belay her.
I'm not sure who told you kids can't climb at Berkeley Ironworks (or their sister gym, Great Western Power Company in uptown Oakland) - I see kids climbing there all the time! 14 might be the age limit for being dropped off on your own to climb & for belaying another person (e.g. keeping them from falling). Either you can belay your child there, or you can sign up for a private lesson for them.
We take our 4 and 6 year olds to Iron Works all the time. They love it. There's also Great Western in Oakland and Bladium in Alameda.
I'm not sure what you are referring to when you say kids have to be 14 but I've been taking my son and his friends to Berkeley Ironworks (and the other Touchstone gyms) since he was a toddler and he is 10 now. If you are an experienced climber, taking your child there to climb is no problem at all. I think the only age restriction is on kids belaying, but I can't imagine you were planning to have your 5 yr old belay anyone.
Archived Q&A and Reviews
Re: Family Sports
Hi - Have you thought about a climbing wall? Berkeley Iron works takes them at 5. Both my kids love it. Good luck! Jodie
Re: Cool birthday party ideas for 11-y-o
Just an idea -- for my 33rd birthday we held a party at the Berkeley Iron Works, an indoor climbing gym. They had two instructors on hand to ''spot'' climbers, we brought in some pizzas and cake/ice cream. It was really a lot of fun, and I think an 11-year-old would think it was pretty cool, too! Stacey
Re: rockclimbing class for 6-year-old
Berkeley Ironworks in Emeryville offers climbing classes for kids (boys and girls). A good friend recommends it highly, and I plan on taking my daughter there soon to check it out. Alison
I am curious to know about teens' experiences at the rock climbing gym called Ironworks (near 7th/Ashby). I've been climbing since high school, and recently got my husband hooked, but I'm not sure whether it would be a good place to recommend to middle or high school students. Any info to share? Krysten
my son is 14 almost 15 and he just finished a one week climbing camp at ironworks. he is going back for their after school program. he was the oldest at camp and will probably be one of the oldest at the after school program. their programs seem to be geered toward younger kids. i have suggested that they have a teen program, but who knows. my son loves climbing at ironworks and is ok about being older. the cost of the programs seem a better way to go than being a member since he will always have someone to belay him in the program, but not if he goes alone. hope this helps, nina
Iron Works -- excellent place for teens. My younger daughter lerned to rock climb there at the age of 13 -- she loved it. Very well managed; kids have lots of fun. I highly recommend it. Debra
From our experience Berkeley Ironworks is approriate for climbers of all ages. I've taken our 8- and 13-year olds climbing there several times. Many parents bring along their non-climbing younger children, even in strollers. I believe that high schoolers can pass the belay test. Probably best to do top-rope belay only; the bouldering walls get a bit crowded. Lorin
Re: rockclimbing classes
My 12 year old son and several friends (including girls) did a one week rock-climbing class at Berkeley Ironworks earlier this summer- new place near the old Whole Earth Access at Ashby and 7th. They have ongoing year round programs with skilled teachers. They did some field outings as well and had good equipment and supervision. If you like the place, they also have memberships for both the gym and climbing walls. Have fun.
Berkeley Iron Works just off of Sixth Street is a great place for teens. It's one block north of Ashby, next door to Any Mountain.
Parent of Climber