LAS CRUCES, N.M. When Adlore Lou Addy Hamling still was in her mothers belly, she made 15 treks up mountains and rock faces. Now that shes 4 years old, she has climbed more times than she can remember.
When I learned how, its the best thing in the universe at least to me, said the 4-year-old.
When Addy climbs, she uses harnesses, ropes, a helmet and the smallest rock-climbing shoes available which still are a few sizes too big for her feet. Shes climbed the Black Hills in South Dakota, Red Rocks Canyon in Nevada, Joshua Tree in California and the local Organ and Franklin mountains. One of the more fun climbs has been up Levatron, a 300-foot climb in South Dakotas Black Hills, she said.
The hardest was Patience, she said about an 80-foot rock face that proved to be the most difficult to overcome.
Some of these hikes can be a bit scary, but Im brave, Addy said.
The reward for climbing such arduous heights and the most fun is rappelling down or being lowered from the top by her parents.
Addys passion for climbing started in the womb. Her mother, Becky, started climbing after she moved to Las Cruces 11 years ago.
There was nothing here to do, so we started climbing, she said. I like spending time with my husband and Addy.
Every summer, the Hamling family packs the Daddy Van for a two-month climbing vacation to Arizona, California, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, South Dakota, Colorado and back to New Mexico.
At first, after Addy was born, it was hard to go hiking, but they took her on road trips when she was just 6 weeks old. Baby sitters were always needed, but they have three sets of grandparents: Peggy and Tom, Janis and Joe in Oregon and NaiNai and Daddy Les in New Mexico who are always more than happy to take care of Addy. There also are good climbing friends in South Dakota who dont mind letting the Hamling couple take long hikes by themselves.
Addy started learning how to wait patiently at the bottom of a rock while her parents climbed and it wasnt long before she started climbing after them. She was 2 years old when she started climbing at Chloride Canyon, west of Truth or Consequences, N.M.
The family also goes hiking and backpacking closer to home; recently, they went camping at White Sands National Monument.
For Thanksgiving break, they camped at Cochise Stronghold National Monument in Arizona and baked their turkey underground. They also plan to take their spring break at Red Rocks Canyon.
Becky and Josh Hamling are both teachers, so they have regular holidays and summer breaks to camp and climb all over the western part of the country.
Coming from Oregon, Becky Hamling says she gets to experience nature on another level, with all the clear blue and sunny skies 98 percent of the year. When there is a sunny day back home, everyone has the idea to go hike, climb and hang out at the park, which leaves little privacy or sense of exploration, she said.
Now that Addy is older, the Hamlings plan to go backpacking and camping even more. Last year, the backpacking got a little bit too cold for the then-3-year-old.
Mom, Im really trying to be tough, but its too cold, Becky said, quoting her daughter.
Addy says she would like to be a firefighter, but plans could change two years ago, she wanted to be a pilot librarian, so she could put good books on airplanes. She noticed a lack of those in her last flight experience.
One thing is sure, though: She will still be climbing.