adventure Archives - Sender One Climbing
Sender Stories: Mt. Kenya – A Fast Intro to Multi-Pitch Climbing

Sender Stories: Mt. Kenya – A Fast Intro to Multi-Pitch Climbing

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We all have stories to tell and we want to hear and share them with everyone! Sender Stories is now dedicated to our members and community to share your experiences and of course, Share Our Passions, Find Creative Beta, Learn from our Projects and Send Them, See from Other People's Perspective, and Climb Together! Sender One embraces personal experiences being told within our community and encourage all to share!

Words and Pictures by Amy Huang

"My name is Amy and I have climbed at Sender One LAX since the beginning of 2017. My passion for rock climbing started when I took a Wilderness Travel Course (WTC) and climbed peak of 4377 ft. in Joshua Tree. It was then that I fell in love with rock climbing.

On December 28, 2018 I decided to rock climb up to Nelion (17,027 ft.) and Bation (17,057 ft.), peaks on Mt. Kenya. Mt. Kenya was ideal because it was the second highest peak in Africa at 17,057 ft and it required rope climbing to get to the summits.  I could have easily done rock-climbing peaks in the U.S. but I wanted an international adventure. I spent a total of 7 days hiking in Kenya.  

One of my practice grounds was Sender One LAX.  Since I have done top roping consistently for about 2 years, I decided to try lead climbing.  I took the lead climbing class at Sender One and became lead certified. Lead climbing at Sender helped me become more confident in my rock climbing abilities.

I did not know that the approach to Mt. Kenya’s rock climbing would take 2 hours from the Austrian Hut (15,700ft) on clumps of loose talus.  Nor did I know that I would be wearing my La Sportiva snow boots, which acted like “death traps” for my feet. I was told that when I got up to the second highest peak, Nelion, we would have to down-climb and cross a glacier field and use our ice axes and crampons, to get to Batian, the higher peak.  Unfortunately these snow boots were the only ones that fit my crampons. My snow boots however, were not ideal on rock as it made it very slippery. The only other shoes I carried in my pack were my climbing shoes. My snow boots made me feel like I was hauling 2 additional pounds on each leg.  

At 5AM, on December 28, 2018 after an early breakfast, we began the approach to the base of the mountain.  When we got to the start of our climb, it was 7AM. I was a bit cold changing into my climbing shoes. As I put my snow boots into my pack, I realized that they took up the majority of my 40-liter pack.  My water bladder was frozen, but luckily, I had about a liter of hot water stored in a thermos. My guide would be on lead setting up the cams and the bolts while I belayed him from below. Looking at the rock, the hand and footholds looked straightforward, I actually thought it could be possible to free-solo Mt. Kenya.   Little did I know that there were some tricky sections where I would fall. After my guide would set the route, I would tie myself in and climb up the rope and clean what he had done while he belayed me from above.  

Sometimes I had a difficult time understanding my guide so I had to have him repeat whether to “take” as there was one point he had been afraid of falling, and when he was all done setting up the route, I had to confirm with him that it was ready for me to climb.  The grade ranged from 5.4-5.8, and there were times I had to traverse to the side or down climb.      

When we had done the first 3 pitches, my guide asked me for the time.  I responded with 9:10AM.  He was concerned that we would not have the time to climb either peak. I frowned, as I did not want to fail. Determined, and probably a big mistake, I climbed faster only to fall 10 ft., flip upside down and hit my back against the rock.  Luckily, I was wearing my helmet, which protected me from concussing, and my pack cushioned my back from getting severely hurt. I decided to shed my layers so I wouldn't overheat. Since I could not fit my extra layers in my pack, I had to leave it on one of the pitches. I thought maybe it would not get too cold and the only thing I could fit in my pack was a thick long sleeved-shirt. At the time, I was only wearing one layer of pants and one shirt.      

My guide was surprised that I was able to get through the difficult sections in a reasonable amount of time. So he said Nelion was possible to summit, but not Batian which involved rappelling down, crossing the glacier and 5 more pitches.  So happily, we left our ice axes and crampons on another pitch since we would not be using them.  

We arrived at the summit of Nelion peak at 4:30PM.  Nearby, there was the Howell Hut where some people bivouac or spend the night before they continue to Batian. At that moment, I only had a thick long-sleeved shirt from my pack. 

The nightmare began as we started to rappel down 18 pitches while shivering violently as it had gotten really cold.  I asked my guide where my jacket and warm clothes were and he replied they were at pitch #9. We had a system where he would rappel down first, and then I would anchor myself and then set my belay device for rappelling. I consciously told myself that I had to make sure that I was doing things right since there was no one to check me once my guide was gone.  

As I rappelled down, I felt like dead weight as I was tired banging into the walls going down.  The scary part was that although we had our headlamps on, it was getting difficult to see clearly at night. I was crying because I was so cold, and my guide begrudgingly gave me his windbreaker to wear that reeked of cigarette smoke.  

Twice, we had gotten the rope stuck on the rock, and we had to pull down.  The scary part was that we could not see where the rope was caught and we had to trust that we could get the rope un-caught.  I used the bulk of my weight to pull the rope down, as I had run out of strength. We had finally gotten to the pitch with my warm coat but after putting it on, I was still a bit cold but I could not put my thermal pants on as my snow boots were tightly fastened and I had no energy to take them off.  

When we had finished rappelling, I was spent.  I could not walk in a straight line with my snow-boots and had to glissade down on the sand and rocks. I could no longer carry my heavy pack. My guide went to get my team to help carry my pack and guide me back to the hut, which was 2 hours away.  I waited for 3 hours in the cold and prayed that I would be alive the next morning as I pictured freezing to death. Around 3AM, my team got me and gave me warm water to drink. They brought my regular hiking shoes, and hiking poles so I could walk easily, while carrying my heavy pack. In the end, I gave them a big tip, and was grateful that I could get back to the hut and rest. I also felt very proud to have done this multi-pitch climb. I was also touched by the kindness of my team to come get me in the early morning. I was grateful to be warm again.

When I returned, I was ready to tell people at Sender One about my experience and encouraged them to take their rock climbing to a new level. I would like to encourage more foreigners to utilize reputable African guides because they really need the money. Since I paid an affordable rate with an African Company, I was able to tip their workers more.  For example, my cook was touched that I gave him a $140 tip as he could now spend more time with his family. I felt like my African guides gave me a wonderful experience, and I wanted to show them my gratitude by giving them a generous tip for their services."

BS Combo: Baldy to Sender

BS Combo: Baldy to Sender

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words by Iris Ma, photos by Iris Ma, Shin NImura, Richard Graham

There those who climb, and there are those who hike, but rarely do you find folks that love to combine these two activities together and actually have a blast in both arenas. When I met Shin at Sender One, whom I call Shin-sama or “Lord Shin” , I quickly discovered his passion for hiking. I learned that he and a handful of friends were part of an offbeat club. A club of people who successfully partake in the BS Combo.

The BS Combo was created by Shin and his friend Richard when they were training to summit Mount Whitney via the East Buttress from the Whitney Portal Trailhead in a single day. Generally this strenuous classic is broken up over two days, and involves a hike in and a long multi-pitch climb to the summit. To simulate this effort, the BS Combo was born, which involves a hike to the summit of Mount Baldy (B) and then climbing laps Sender One (S).

So, over Easter weekend, Shin-sama had gathered his herd of masochists for another BS Combo. We would meet at the Baldy Visitor Center at 7:00 a.m., take the Bear Canyon Trail, gain 6,000 feet of elevation to the summit, then head to Sender One to complete 20 routes - the equivalent of 1,000 vertical feet.

When I arrived at 6:45 a.m., Shin was already parked in front of the Visitor Center chatting away with the locals. When Jozef and Richard arrived, I reported that Scott would either join in later, or not at all, so we headed off around 7:15 a.m.

From the start, Jozef sprinted out past the group and we would only see glimpses of him from afar until we reached the summit. It seemed he had more energy and eagerness to push his limits than the rest of us and would maintain his pace to reach the summit within 3 hours. Very impressive for someone who doesn't even hike! As Shin would say, "I don't like suffering." While there is a degree of fun to suffering, I decided to take a steadier pace, knowing my legs were already giving me signs that I should have taken the day off within the first mile. I made a mental note to suggest we start an hour earlier in the future as I felt the heat rising on the switchbacks.

At about 8:40 a.m., I heard a steady trot behind me and thought it was Richard, but to my surprise, I saw his signature smile, reflective sunglasses and floppy hat. "I thought we were training! What's up with this lazy pace, Iris Ma?" chirped Scott.

I've lost count the times Scott would appear out of nowhere in the mountains. I don't think I will ever get tired of that happening. Scott easily passed each of us to reach the summit first. He lamented about taking 2 hr 22 mins but hung out with the group for a bit before heading down. I too was beginning to feel chilled and quickly put on the jacket Jozef lent to Scott to keep warm.

We got back to our cars, and prepared for part two of the BS combo.I made it to Sender One in the afternoon, and I set up in the workout area. I waited a while for Jozef and Richard to arrive. Jozef had taken much longer to descend, perhaps due to the energy he used earlier in the day. But now, they were both refueled with freshly squeezed carrot juice and ready to climb. And so we did.

Jozef offered rules for Richard and I. We would each climb one route, and alternate belaying so that the climber would have a rest before it was their turn. This rule would soon be broken by rule-maker Jozef as we made it to lap 6, as he found it extremely difficult to simply sit still. While Richard and I climbed routes of varying difficulty, Jozef stuck to his rule of climbing routes 11b and above. By lap 16, we were starting to fade, both mentally or physically. However, we kept pushing through, and Shin-sama’s band of goats finished out another successful BS combo.

Some tips from Shin-sama for future BS Combo enthusiasts:
- Pace yourself
- Hydrate the day before and be sure to bring enough water on the hike
- Start early to avoid the heat
- Drink a gallon of carrot juice while driving from the trail head to Sender One
- Yoga helps. Try doing up to 3 hours everyday
- Treat yourself to a decent snack to enjoy at the summit
- Keep your sunglasses and belongings where you can recover them if misplaced

Best Rock Climbing Spots in Los Angeles

Best Rock Climbing Spots in Los Angeles

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The Top 5 Rock Climbing Spots in Los Angeles

Los Angeles has a lot going for it: a great food scene, plenty of live entertainment, near perfect weather year round. But at Sender One Climbing, we’re pretty certain that rock climbing in Los Angeles is one of the best ways to really understand and appreciate all that this wonderful city has to offer. Find out where our 5 favorite Los Angeles rock climbing spots are below!

1. Stony Point

Stoney Point

Stony Point is one of the many iconic climbing locations found throughout Los Angeles and is notable for its nearly 130 bouldering problems that climbers can enjoy. Located in the Santa Susana Mountains, Stony Point is perfect for those that know how to climb outside safely and enjoy beautiful scenery. Climbers of different abilities will be able to easily find challenging routes for bouldering and top rope climbing.

 2. Malibu Creek Canyon

Malibu Creek Traverse - Photo by RachelATC via Mountain Project

Although traversing to routes at Malibu Creek Canyon can be technically challenging, the bouldering and top rope opportunities are some of the most sought after in Los Angeles. Enjoy a leisurely hike into the Santa Monica Mountains and explore the countless bouldering problems and 100+ bolted climbs ranging from 5.5-5.14, all on steep pocketed volcanic rock. Plus, there are tons great locations to hike, swim, and mountain bike nearby!

 3. Echo Cliffs

Echo Cliffs - Photo by Kimberly Kay via Mountain Project

With over 200 routes available for climbers of every skill level, Echo Cliffs is one of our favorite spots to  enjoy a day outdoors. This beautiful sunny destination is sought after because of its particularly long routes, several of which require over 60-meters of rope in order to top rope. Plus, all Echo Cliff routes are bolt protected and the diverse rock faces range from pockets and holds on vertical faces to overhanging rock.

 4. Point Dume

Point Dume - Photo by Tozankyaku via Mountain Project

If you haven’t been climbing in Point Dume, what are you waiting for? This stunning location offers both a west facing wall and a south facing wall with routes for beginner and intermediate climbers. Point Dume is an excellent spot to practice technique and hone skill, with routes ranging from 5.6-5.10. Did we mention that it’s located along the beach in Malibu?

 5. Sender One Climbing LAX

While we love the great outdoors, heading up the coast to Malibu or making your way into the Santa Monica Mountains isn’t always an option. At Sender One Climbing LAX, we make things simple so you’re able to get in and get climbing without any hassle. Practice and improve your technique on our state-of-the-art bouldering problems and top rope routes, or take a lead climbing class before you take your climbing outside.

 Visit Sender One Today

Rock climbing in Los Angeles is extremely popular for a reason, and we encourage you to get out there and explore all of the incredible climbing the city has to offer. Learn more about rock climbing at our Sender One LAX location and explore the many benefits of our indoor climbing gym here.

3 Days, 3 Nights in the Desert: New Jack City | Part III

3 Days, 3 Nights in the Desert: New Jack City | Part III

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Words and photos by Don Burton

Read Part II Here

After packing up the next morning, Vall and I drove our cars to the East Canyon parking area where there are a lot of different walls. Todd had to be back in Big Bear so he left the night before. I wanted to check out one of the most popular walls, Raven Rocks. As we approached we saw a lot of climbers, which reminded me it was Saturday. We had been spoiled with seeing only a handful of climbers the past two days. There were ropes hanging everywhere! We found an open route named Custom Tailored. It was a fun climb with lots of holds and nice sequences. After Vall’s turn, we decided to leave my rope after asking other climbers if they wanted to top rope it. Being an introvert, this was a nice segue for me to ask to climb on other people’s ropes, which everyone said yes. It was awesome to see everyone sharing ropes and providing beta on different routes. (Note: If climbing on another climber’s rope, make sure their anchor is safe. If you have any questions about safety, do not climb on other’s gear). We eventually gravitated towards a group that had three ropes set up. They welcomed us to climb with them. They lived in Orange County and climb at Sender One Santa Ana. The Sender One community bands together!

Don Burton with a fantastic review of his trip to New Jack City.

Raven Rocks was very clean compared to the other walls we climbed so it was nice not to be dodging any falling rocks. It even gave me the confidence to flail two thirds of the way up a tough 5.11b route on top rope, but the route I had really had my eye on to climb before I left was the classic, Route 66. It is a sustained and thoughtful 5.9. There were quick draws on all of the bolts but no anchor built so I was hoping someone else would finish the route so I could top rope it. Vall left around 3 pm but I planned to stay until dark and I still had hopes of climbing Route 66. After climbing a couple of other routes I finally worked up the nerve to climb it on lead. As I made my way towards the last bolt I realized I had reached the crux. I paused to figure out the sequence to the anchors. After trying a few moves and hanging in between, I decided to step far left on the thin ledge I had been standing on and then match my feet. This would put me in position to work my way up a short crack to the anchors. As I jammed my hands and feet into the crack, I tried to recall all of the Wide Boyz YouTube videos on crack climbing technique. Point your thumb towards your pinky, rotate you leg to wedge your foot… it was working! Before I knew it I reached the chains. It was really satisfying to top out and finish my trip on a high note.

As I was packing up, my new friends (Arturo, Christina, and Sarionne) asked if I wanted to eat dinner with them at a Vietnamese Restaurant in Victorville as they were leaving soon. “Sounds good,” I said. It turned out to be an even better way to finish my trip.

Quick Tips:

  • Bring toilet paper as the restrooms have been known to be empty.
  • No running water so bring plenty for all of your needs.
  • There are no trash bins so bring trash bags and pack out everything.
  • Check the weather before heading out. Temperatures can fluctuate drastically.
  • New Jack City Sport Climbing Guide by Jordan Robbins can be found on Amazon.

 

3 Days, 3 Nights in the Desert: New Jack City | Part II

3 Days, 3 Nights in the Desert: New Jack City | Part II

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Words and photos by Don Burton

Read Part I Here

We both decided to head to bed early because it was getting quite cold even with the fire. The next morning while eating breakfast Todd checked the weather and saw that the low temperature for nearby Barstow was 22 degrees Fahrenheit! As we shivered over our breakfasts, I suggested we pack up and move to a site that was in the sun. Todd said he was thinking the same thing. We moved over to site 4 which is right next to the White Face wall so we decided to get in a few pitches before Vall showed up. We started with the far right route named White Flight, rated at 5.7. “Great beginning lead route,” said the guidebook. I thought it would be a fun way for me to start the day. Wrong! About three fourths of the way up I was stumped. I didn’t see any good holds and it was too early to take a fall, well at least for me. Even up to that point I never really felt secure so I tucked my tail between my legs and down climbed just below the fourth bolt. “Take!” “Lower.” It wasn’t like any other 5.7 I had climbed outside before. Todd tied in and started climbing. I sure hoped he would finish it so he could clean my quick draws. I didn’t want to leave any gear on such an easy route. When he was finished he said it

Vall and Todd scrambling down from Cliffs of Insanity.

was definitely not rated correctly and suspected some holds had pulled off making it much more difficult of a climb. Phew, I thought I would have to update my Mountain Project profile to “Leads 5.5 Sport.” We climbed the neighboring route, which was fun and seemed to be appropriately graded. Afterwards we headed back to camp to eat lunch and wait for Vall.

Once Vall arrived we quickly hopped in my car and headed to the trailhead that leads to the Cliffs of Insanity wall. It is one of the few areas that require any sort of approach. Still, it only took about 15 minutes to reach with the help of the recently published New Jack City guidebook by Jordan Robbins. This is a really thorough guidebook with an overview, approach directions and even coordinates for each wall. There are also short descriptions of each route along with the number of bolts and the type of anchors plus plenty of pictures.

Cruisin'!

Once at the base of Cliffs on Insanity you need to scramble up a short distance to reach the belay station. I was most excited to climb this wall because it has the longest routes in New Jack City at 120 feet high. Two of the routes, Inconceivable and Uncle Funs Basement have mid-point anchors if you want to climb it in two pitches. This is especially nice if you wanted to practice multi pitch climbing. Note: It is necessary to climb it in two pitches if you are using a 60m rope though. Todd led first and made it to the mid point ledge fairly quickly but soon after he started to slow down. He said a lot of the holds seemed suspect and as he steadily made his way up pebbles periodically fell towards Vall and I. It wasn’t surprising though because this wall isn’t very popular so it is not as clean as some of the others. As he reached the last bolt, he only had one quick draw left. He paused for a bit and I could see him getting a little gripped and I imagined pumped too. He had a few options at this point. One, he could continue climbing to the top and rappel down which meant there wouldn’t be a top rope anchor for me to climb if that's what I wanted to do, which I did. Two, I could have lowered him and he could have back cleaned two more quick draws to build an anchor. Three, he could bail and lower off his highest quick draw and clean the rest on the way down. Todd opted to bail, which I don’t blame him. It is unfortunate he didn’t have a bail biner and ended up having to leave a quick draw behind. On his was down, he built an anchor at the mid-point bolts so Vall and I could do a couple of short pitches. Vall even cleaned her first sport anchor, which Todd had taught her how to do earlier.

Don leading Cupid’s Fever on the Valentine Wall.

With only about 1.5 hours of daylight left we decided to head back to camp and check out some more routes next to our site. We decided on Valentine Wall, which had a couple of 5.8’s. I decided to lead Cupid’s Fever, which had a tough start for the grade. It was kind of thin until I reached the fourth bolt, then it was pretty easy the rest of the way to the anchors. Next it was Vall’s turn. She cruised up the route, which to me was really impressive because she had 1.5” long painted nails! The sun was setting so it was time to get back to camp for dinner. Vall had a subway sandwich, Todd had cold spaghetti and I pulled out a rib eye steak. What can I say? I backpack a lot so when I car camp I like to splurge a little. As my steak was sizzling away, Todd shouted and pointed to the horizon. There was an amazing glowing streak across the sky.

Space X Launch

Growing up in Southern California you see this type of thing every so often. We figured it was a missile launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base but we later found out it was SpaceX’s Falcon rocket launch. Thanks to the much warmer night, we spent more time catching up around the campfire before heading to bed.

Part III Here!

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