Nacho and I climbed Castle Peak together for the first time nearly 4 years ago. He had been asking me to take him camping in the snow and had been saying he wanted to climb a mountain (Mt Shasta! no less). To get him started I decided to take him to Castle Peak and climb it in two days.
I have to admit that back then I had very little experience camping in the winter, but had done it enough times to feel confident taking him along. That said, I didn’t know what to expect, we didn’t have any specialized winter equipment, just our 3 season tent and regular camping gear, we even had to rent our snowshoes! Thankfully winters in California are fairly mild and weather forecasts are pretty accurate, so it was easy to pick a day with good weather and warm temperatures.
Despite that I wasn’t sure Nacho would be able to do this. He was only 8 at the time and he had never been at that altitude. He was a good hiker, but as we ascended the weight of the snowshoes and the thinning air was taking a toll on him. He had trouble breathing and was about to give up several times. We took many breaks, I encouraged him, and little by little the summit kept getting closer until we finally made it.
We were both ecstatic. I couldn’t be more proud and he felt like he had conquered the impossible.
Fast forward to 2019. Nacho and I have been on many more winter adventures, but Maia has never enjoyed the snow very much, in fact, she would complain at the mere mention of it. However, she’s always known that when she turns 8 she would come with me to climb Castle Peak like her brother did.
And today, despite of her fears she did remarkably well. She carried a heavy pack, we burrowed in our tent for the night, and she climbed all the way up without practically any complaint. I have to admit we had much better equipment this time, but more importantly, I felt much more confident and had high expectations. Having an older brother to keep up with is turning her into a really strong climber. She probably felt that if he could do it, why wouldn’t she?