JC Hunter - Climbing Post-Baby

Monday, August 11, 2014

By: Beth Rodden

I first met JC at a La Sportiva photo shoot during the Outdoor Retailer tradeshow. I knew of her amazing climbing accomplishments, with a handful of 5.14's under her belt. But what struck me was how kind and down to earth she was. There was this tall, beautiful, strong woman who was an incredible climber, and mom to four kids….something you don't hear about everyday.

When I was pregnant and worried I wouldn't bounce back to climbing hard, I always remembered JC. She climbed her hardest after having four children. Prior to having kids, her hardest redpoint was 5.12a, and now she's crushing 5.14b's.

She now has four kiddos (Kaden 16, Kyler 14, Jayne 11, Olivia 9) and is an equally amazing mamma and climber! I hope you enjoy her interview and draw the same inspiration I have from her!

Tell me a little about climbing during your pregnancy? Did you avoid anything while you were pregnant?

Climbing was still very new to me when I got pregnant with my first child, and there definitely wasn't any climbing harnesses for pregnant women at the time!  I was living in Vegas and top roping the cliffs of Red Rocks up until about 6.5 months pregnant.  Basically my harness wouldn't fit anymore and I felt cumbersome so I just sort of hung out at the crag.  My first born ended up a premie and my subsequent  3 pregnancies were difficult so I pretty much did little to no exercise during pregnancy.

How was recovering from birth for you? Did your body bounce back? Or did you take some time to recover?

I feel fortunate that "bouncing back" came fairly easy for me.  I remember leaving the hospital early after only one day and grabbing some lunch and groceries with new babe before heading home.  I also never had a C-section, and after being a labor and delivery nurse, I feel really grateful I never did.  I think my biggest problem was strengthening my stomach muscles after they separated during pregnancy.  I still feel my core is a bit weak.

Tell me about getting back into climbing after pregnancy? What was your timeline?

I climbed fairly consistently for about a year after my first child, but life got busy and climbing took a hiatus for about 6 years as I had the rest of our 4 children. My husband wanted to get back in shape after our last child was born and built a bouldering wall in our basement.  We were both hooked instantly! Life became a juggling act of jobs, kids, and climbing.

What was your climbing schedule like afterwards?

My youngest child is now 9 years old and our climbing schedule has varied greatly over that time.  There were times I climbed consistently at least 3x/week and periods I would maybe get a gym session in once a week if I was lucky.  If there is one thing I have learned by incorporating climbing into my life it's that in the end none of it really matters.  I've become less goal oriented and more grateful for the little moments.  I will always love climbing, and I feel it's very important to be active, but I also love watching my kids grow and develop their own passions.

How do you balance your climbing goals with raising a kiddo at the crag?

I think the best thing about all the crag kids running around is the appreciation and love for the outdoors they get with this experience.  I have two teenage boys and climbing in not their passion, but they love hiking, camping, biking, skiing and being outside.  They are active in nature, and being raised at the crag was certainly a factor for this lifestyle.  When our kids were younger and I was projecting a route, we would climb in safe areas and have lots of other stuff to keep them busy if they didn't want to climb.  We brought bikes, chinese throwing stars, barbie castles, whatever they were in to...And most importantly, lowering off a climb to help a crying kiddo was way more important then the goal at hand.

What are the 3 best exercises that you found for getting back into climbing?

Climbing, climbing, and more climbing.  I really don't like "training".  I went through a phase of pull-ups one year but that was about it.  I don't weight lift, and running is way to much work for me so all I really did was climb.

What are the 3 best kid friendly crags that you have been to?

Each crag has it's challenges, but black and tan in Southern Utah was one of my faves. There are some pretty kid friendly crags in Maple Canyon but watch for falling rock anywhere.  Helmets are probably a good idea.  Sometimes the biggest challenge at a crag can be the "kid hater" climbers next to you.  And no, kids are not worse than dogs! Try to have a little patience.  They are the future generation of our sport.

What are your top pieces of advice for new moms wanting to get back into climbing?

I always struggled, and still do to some extent with feelings of guilt.  Sometimes as a mom it can be hard to take time for yourself when everyone around you seems to be demanding your attention.  You have to take care of yourself before you can take care of everyone else.  Climbing has been instrumental in my health and well being as a person and a mom.  My experiences as a climber have challenged me physically, mentally, and emotionally, and I wouldn't be who I am without them. I think every Mom out there would benefit from having a passion outside of family life that pushes these limits and helps them to grow.

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