The evolution of Cragmama

Cragmama and Cragbaby, photo by Eric Heistand

We are thrilled to have scored an interview with Cragmama, aka Erica Lineberry, a woman who as mother to 1-year-old Canaan has continued to feed her passion for climbing both before and after Canaan’s birth. Erica has been documenting the ways she’s been successful (and not so successful) including Canaan the “Cragbaby” in her climbing pursuits on her website Cragmama.com. She recently took the time to answer some questions from us about how her climbing life has changed, and how she hopes to inspire and motivate other new mothers to remain active in their outdoor pursuits! Read on to learn more about Erica and Cragbaby!

NameErica Lineberry
Age: 30
Years climbing: 5
Favorite type of climbing: Long sport routes
Children: Just 1, Canaan (aka Cragbaby)

Cragmama climbing, photo by Manuela Eilert

Tell us about your website cragmama.com and how it has been evolving. I started a blog back in 2009 so that I’d have a place to post trip reports and other random musings about climbing and life.  During my pregnancy and Cragbaby’s early weeks my husband and I realized that we were at a stage where a lot of people give up on play, and get locked into a rut of everyday living.  I started writing more and more, hoping to provide some inspiration and motivation to others out there who wanted to remain active throughout pregnancy and beyond.  The hits on the site kept coming, and I realized that I might be onto something, so I jumped in head first to a total site redesign – and hence Cragmama.com was born!  My goal at Cragmama is to become an online resource for fellow nature enthusiasts that believe starting a family doesn’t mean the end to outdoor adventures!  Though I haven’t been a Mommy nearly long enough to qualify as an expert in the fields of wilderness, parenting, or rock climbing, through my experiences I’ve stumbled upon some good nuggets of what to do (and often what NOT to do) when it comes to kids, climbing, and the outdoors.  I figure if these ideas work for our family, odds are they might work for other families too!

Did you continue climbing while you were pregnant? YES!  Climbing played an integral part in maintaining my sanity during my pregnancy!  I climbed (both outdoors and indoors) throughout my entire pregnancy, the last time I roped up being less than 48 hours before going into labor!  I restricted myself to only toproping early on, and once my belly got big I wore a full-body harness to take pressure off of my abdomen.  I also didn’t want all that extra pregnancy flexibility to cause any injuries, so I never fought really hard to stay on.  My initial goal was to see how long I could climb 5.11’s clean, and then I figured I’d drop down to 5.10’s, and then 5.9’s, assuming that at some point climbing would become too uncomfortable to be fun.  Week by week I just kept going, dutifully logging my 5.11’s, sometimes only one per climbing session…all the way up until 38 weeks, when Cragbaby decided to show up early!  I found that my abilities to climb well were very dependent on style – I could flail on an overhanging 5.9 I’d done a hundred times, but flash a 5.11 that was vertical and more technical in nature.  I was shocked that I made it through managing to still climb relatively hard, but I attribute my smooth labor, delivery and recovery in large part to remaining active during my pregnancy.

Note: Here’s a link to a piece Erica wrote about climbing while pregnant, published by Women’s Adventure magazine.

Canaan the Cragbaby! Photo by Steve Lineberry

How long was it after Cragbaby was born before you tied into a rope again? I wanted to take a few weeks for my body to heal, but by 4 weeks post partum I was going nuts, so we hit the rock gym.  Cragbaby’s first outdoor day trip was at 6 weeks, overnighter at 10 weeks.

How has your climbing changed since Cragbaby was born? Everything has to be planned out a lot more – no more stalking the weather all week with the hubster and deciding Friday after work where we want to spend the weekend!  We have to rely a lot more on other people now, which sometimes makes for some hectic scheduling, but is also great for our social life!

How do you handle bringing Cragbaby along to the crag (day trips and overnighters)? Without a doubt the biggest key for any type of trip is extra hands on deck!  Especially now that he’s older and more mobile, someone always has to be on “C-duty.”  For day trips we try our best to coincide long car rides with nap times, and Cragbaby has always slept great in the tent, so overnighters have never been a problem (in the early months he slept longer stretches in the tent than he ever did at home!)

What have you found to be most challenging about climbing with Cragbaby? Everything takes a lot longer now.  We have easily twice as much gear to carry with us, and packing everything up takes a lot of time.  In the beginning we forgot a lot of things, but now we are pretty set with our system and I feel like we’ve gotten pretty efficient.

What is the most rewarding part of having Cragbaby along? I love the wonder that can be found in the simplest of moments – watching him gaze up with wide-eyes out of the top of the carrier at the light filtering through the trees, laughing at the horribly melodramatic faces he makes as he learns that dead leaves aren’t for lunch, or hearing the subtle giggle he makes from the inside of my rain jacket as we pack up our climbing gear during a surprise shower.

What advice would you give to new moms looking to pick up their outdoor activities? Start now, regardless of what age your kid(s) are. Don’t wait for a “better” or “easier” age to do it. Each age will have its own challenges, but also its own unique rewards. Some days it’s a lot easier to stay inside, but “easier” isn’t what memories are made of – so don’t be afraid to get out there!

Here is a video by Jan Balster telling the story of Erica, Steve, and Cragbaby Canaan. A really nice piece that shows how having a baby didn’t mean an end to the family’s active lifestyle!

Creating a Crag Baby from JB-Photo on Vimeo.

Thanks for your time, Erica! Please check out Erica’s website cragmama.com – she updates it several times a week with all sorts of goodies including trip reports and gear reviews, so it’s a great resource for those who don’t have kids, or whose kids are off and grown. No matter who you are, there’s a wealth of information to be found here! 🙂

4 replies
  1. Kathy Southern
    Kathy Southern says:

    WOW! What a great post and what an inspiring gal. I’d love to hear more from Erica and I’m defintely going to check out her Blog!
    🙂

    Reply
  2. Mama
    Mama says:

    Hi cragmama.  I’m cliffmama.  I started my cliffmama.com website back around 2000 to post pictures of climbing and of my babies.  Always thought about starting a blog or adding more climbing beta but never had the time.  Now I run a Gunks family climbing group – for climbers with kids to find other families to climb with and help each other out at the crag – it’s much more fun when kids have other kids to play with and parents have other parents to keep an eye on the kids.  We now have over 80 families on our mailing list and I’ve met so many fantastic people.  Glad to see other climbing moms getting the word out that climbing doesn’t end with motherhood.  My babies are teenagers now, and can climb harder routes than I can!  I’m very proud of them. Let me know if you ever make it out to the Gunks.  I’ll have to go check out your blog.

    Reply
    • Anonymous
      Anonymous says:

      Hey Clifmama, thanks for sharing the info.! We featured Laura, a mom of two kids that is somewhat close-ish to the Gunks last week, who I think would love to be a part of this (if she isn’t already), so if she’s not already on your list, I’ll let her know about it!

      Reply

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