FILED IN: Safety - Social Issues

Mom faces criticism for rock climbing with toddler

Menna Pritchard and daughter Ffion

A mother is facing backlash after posting a photo on Facebook showing her rock climbing with her 2-year-old daughter on her back.

Menna Pritchard, 26, has been routinely taking her daughter, Ffion, on outdoor trips since the toddler was 4 months old, reports BBC News, but mostly for hill walking with Ffion in a sling.

“I’ve only climbed with her on my back a couple of times,” said Pritchard. “I [just] started climbing in earnest just over a year ago.”

But it was a snapshot from one of those few climbs that drew attention — it shows Pritchard clinging to a rock face with Ffion in a carrier on her back, and while Pritchard and her climbing partner are wearing helmets, the toddler is not.

Pritchard defended her action, saying that the location of the climb, Three Cliffs, “is a beach location and very safe.”

“The route I was climbing with Ffion, there was no risk of any rock fall, I knew 100% it was safe,” she added.

The rock climbing mom defended herself to critical commenters on the photo, responding, “I was top-roping which means if you fall you don’t fall any further than where you came off… It is the safest form of climbing you can do.”

The head of leisure safety at the UK’s Royal Society for the Prevention of Accident, Peter Cornall, said that while ideally Ffion should have been wearing a helmet, he defended Pritchard, telling the Daily Mail that looking at the photograph it appeared to be “a simple straight forward short climb” and if there were any issues the mother and her child “could be lowered off easily by the belayer.”

He said the benefits outweighed the risk, adding, “Outdoor and adventurous activities are a great way of learning about safety and getting children involved at an early age will improve their understanding of hazard and risk later in life.”

Pritchard, who is a full-time student pursuing a degree in outdoor education, said, “Some people would say I’m taking more risks than are necessary, but I am very conscious of safety and I would never do anything with Ffion that I thought would put her in danger.”