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How to Clean Your Climbing Rope

How to Clean Your Climbing Rope

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Words & Photos by Melody Yuan

I’ve had my trusted rope for two years. It’s dynamic, durable and my life depends on it.

It only seems right then, to make sure the rope’s well taken care of. While I’ve taken precaution to keep my rope on the tarp and not step on it when climbing outdoors, rinse it every few months, use a proper rope bag, and make sure it stays flaked when it’s not in use, I really only washed it for the first time two weeks ago.

My rope has journeyed up many routes and picked up dirt across different crags. My climbing friends can attest that I probably had the dirtiest rope among our regular climbing group. I used to pride myself on the fact that my rope was well used, but after belaying one day and noticing that my hands were black as night after only one climb, I decided it was time to wash it.

But how?

After talking to a few fellow climbers, reading threads and making a trip to REI, I was equipped and ready to take on the challenge.

What you need:

Tub, bucket or a sink that you don’t mind getting dirty

Rope soap (Editor's Note: Recommended. Other detergents are potentially damaging to ropes.)

Warm water

Gloves (optional)

While cleaning the rope using just warm water may be a good enough solution, I decided to use the Edelweiss Rope Wash because my rope was too dirty for just water to clean. I have also heard of climbers throwing their rope into the washing machine*, but I would encourage washing the rope by hand. Who wants all that rope dirt in the washer where your clothes go anyway?

Step 1:

I used the bathtub at home and placed my filthy rope inside. Then, I filled the tub half way with lukewarm water. Editor's note: Washing your rope may stain your bathtub! Wash at your discretion.

Step 2:

Let the water soak. I left the rope in the tub for about 5 minutes. During this time, I cleaned the inside of my rope bag.

Step 3:

Swish it around. I pulled and squeezed the rope to make sure all the sediments were coming off, and that every inch of the rope had been in the water.

Step 4:

Add rope wash. If you’re intending to use a wash, a small amount will usually suffice in getting the grittier dirt out.

Step 5:

Scrub and Swish. Pull the entire length of your rope through your hands and scrub with your fingers.

Step 6:

Drain the water, rinse the rope and then refill the tub with clean water to rinse and/or scrub the rope again. I drained and refilled the tub four times before the water started getting clear again.

Step 7:

Dry thoroughly. Flake the rope out of the tub and lay it across a water-friendly area like a towel, balcony or shower-curtain rod. In my case, I laid it across the bike rack in my garage and away from direct sunlight.

Once it’s completely dry and looking brand new again, flake the rope one more time to make sure the rope is clean, tie the ends, and put it back into your rope bag. And voila! Guaranteed that the next time you go climbing, you’ll feel great pulling out some clean rope to set up on a new route.

To ensure that your rope stays in its optimum conditions, I would suggest doing the following:

  •         Store your rope in a dry place, away from heat and direct sunlight. Exposing the rope to too much direct sun can damage the fibers and fade the colors. This includes keeping the rope in your car on a hot day.
  •         Make sure that your rope is on a tarp or something similar when you climb outdoors, since dirt and sediment can easily get onto your rope. Also, you don’t want anyone to accidentally step onto your rope.
  •         Inspect your rope as you flake it to make sure there aren’t any fuzzy areas, cuts, flat spots or weird misshapes in your rope. It’s normal for a rope to get weaker over time, especially in the event that you’ve taken a huge fall or have owned the rope for more than a year, so this inspection is important**.

* Please research and wash your rope in a washing machine at your own discretion.

**This post is a general guide to maintaining your rope. If you are uncertain about the integrity of a rope, have it inspected by a professional. Sender One is not responsible for any rope failures via use of this guide.

Why You should NEVER Climb in the Morning

Why You should NEVER Climb in the Morning

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words by Iris Ma

Note: This piece is meant to be humorous.

Climbing in the morning is such a chore. You have to wake up before the sun rises and it makes you feel more productive than you should be. The drive is forgettable without the usual vexation of traffic. Then, you get to the gym and nobody's there, except for the bright and cheery-eyed front desk crew. Your voice echoes through the empty space when you ask for tension and no one is there to watch you send your project except for your belayer. You can do laps on your favorite routes and you don’t have to wait for any to free up. If you encounter a spinner, you get to be the hero and report it to the front desk, who probably knows why you’re there to talk to them anyway. Finally, when you’re climbing outdoors, you’ve developed a habit of an early start and waking up early is no longer such a pain when you want to beat the heat and the crowds to the crag. If these aren’t enough to convince you not to climb before work, here are four more reasons why exercise in the morning sucks:

Burn more calories

Boost your EPOC (Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption) - otherwise known as oxygen debt or the “afterburn”. EPOC explains how your body can continue to burn calories long after you’ve finished your workout. So, the intensity of your workout directly correlates with the amount of EPOC benefit you receive.

Win win win, no matter what 

Don’t get derailed by last minute errands, to-dos, or a late night at the office. Getting your workout done first thing in the morning ensures that nothing else gets in your way and you can stick with your training program.  

Feel rad all day long

If you’re feeling fatigued, the best antidote is more exercise. Some research suggests that morning exercise improves mental focus and abilities all day long, and has the ability reduce symptoms of depression.

Rest & digest better

Morning exercise can not only improve the length of sleep you enjoy, but also your quality of sleep by promoting deeper sleep cycles. Exercise releases a healthy dose of adrenaline which is great for waking up, but not so great in the evenings before bed. The hormones released during exercise also improve your internal digestion and system on a more consistent and regular basis.

Editor's note: Iris climbs EVERYDAY at 7AM.

With all of this being said, I hope you take my advice and never climb in the morning.

3 Reasons to Hire a Rock Climber

3 Reasons to Hire a Rock Climber

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Words and photos by Martha Jane Peters

Alex Honnold and Chris Sharma can climb for a living, but most of us have to do something else to put food on the table. And most of our employers would rather us spend more time in the office and less time rock climbing. What they don’t know is that climbing is a great way to develop the soft skills needed to succeed in the workplace. Here are 3 (of the many) reasons to hire a climber:

Climbers know that succeeding means facing your fear of failure

Recently, I saw a Facebook job listing that read “We are looking for a slightly impatient individual willing to face down their fear of failure to accomplish bold things.” If I were to apply for the position, I could probably come up with some examples of my willingness to face down fear of failure from my cubicle. But they wouldn’t be as compelling as the lessons that I’ve learned through climbing.

Every person who makes a habit of climbing has probably faced their fear of failure at one point or another. When you first start climbing, you may be afraid of being unable to finish any difficult grades. On your first day, you might not make it up anything at all. To progress, you have to be persistent and consistent. You have to be willing to walk up to the bottom of that project you’ve failed at every day for 6 weeks and give it your all one more time. Because who knows? Today may be the day you send your project, climbing or career-wise. Climbers know that the sweetest success is preceded by failure.

Climbers perform under pressure

The University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business recently pioneered a new program called The Performance Science Institute (PSI). PSI’s mission is to “teach, train, and research the science, best practices, and applied principles for high performance in any domain.”

One of the focus areas for the PSI is understanding performance under pressure. Dr. Glenn Fox, who heads the program, studies neuroscience and teaches “The Science of Peak Performance.” When asked if he could have anyone in the world come speak at USC, his response was Alex Honnold. In Fox’s mind, Honnold’s free solo ascent of El Capitan is the ultimate lesson in performance under pressure. In fact, on February 1, 2018, USC hosted Alex Honnold at a special event for business students and the public.

Climbers like Honnold develop strategies for coping under pressure that allows them to succeed in high-stress environments. It says a lot about the sport that USC’s business school is studying those strategies to share with business students and leaders.

Face your fears! Failure is not getting back up after you fall.

Face your fears! Failure is not getting back up after you fall.

Multi-Pitch in Tahquitz.

Multi-pitch in Tahquitz

Climbers plan ahead and communicate

Ok, smart climbers plan ahead and communicate. If you’re on a multi-pitch climb and your partner is going to link the last 2 pitches so that you can finish before sunset, there could be 150 feet between the two of you when he/she finishes the second pitch. You need to plan for that. What if you can’t hear them yell “off belay?” What’s the signal to start climbing?

Smart climbers plan ahead and prepare. They know about the route they’re climbing, and they’re ready for contingencies. Sometimes – in climbing and at work - you have to improvise in the moment. Solid preparation and communication are the skills you need to do that effectively.

At first glance, scaling 600 foot walls for fun doesn’t seem like good cross training for a career in investment banking or engineering. But take a look around Sender One LAX on a weeknight and the number of SpaceX t-shirts suggests otherwise. Maybe Elon Musk is on to something.


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

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