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Gearing for the Outdoors: A Beginner’s Guide to Getting Outside

Gearing for the Outdoors: A Beginner’s Guide to Getting Outside

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Words and Images by Brianne Schaer
Instagram: @brianneschaer

Taking the leap from indoor to outdoor climbing is no small feat.  The gym offers a controlled environment to hone your skills and keep your body in shape.  Brightly colored holds guide you to the top of each route and cushioned floor pads protect you when you fall.  The one thing the gym cannot offer is the sense of adventure and freedom that being outside provides.

There isn't a quick and easy way to explain the transition from indoor to outdoor climbing.  The best way to start is to head to your local crag and climb!  It is important to always keep in mind that climbing, whether indoors or outdoors, is an extremely dangerous activity.  The following tips will hopefully help you as you start climbing outdoors.  Climbing, as with most things in life, is a constant learning process, and we are all learning new techniques and skills every day.

Note: I am not a professional guide for outdoor climbing.  These are tips to help transition climbers from inside a gym to the outdoors.  Please climb responsibly.

Hire a Guide

Hiring a guide is the best way to ensure that you are safe when you first start venturing outdoors.  Nothing can replace the knowledge and experience of a hired guide.  A good instructor can show you the best places to learn to climb, any specific rules or conditions of the crag, and most importantly, how to stay safe.  There are a number of well-qualified guides in Southern California.  Spend time researching a guide that will meet your needs and ensure you have a good experience on the rock.

Find Experienced Climbers

Can't afford a professional guide?  Mentorship is another great way to start climbing outside, but tread lightly when choosing a mentor.  You want to make sure they know what they are doing and are willing to help you on your journey.  Since they are dedicating their time to helping you, you should try to return the favor in other ways.  Simply offering to use your gear, or buy gas or food can go a long way.

Take Classes

Professional instruction is a great way to learn necessary climbing skills.  Sender One offers a number of great classes (at both SNA and LAX) that will teach you the basics for lead climbing and belaying, as well as various techniques useful in the outdoors, such as crack climbing.  The more you practice lead climbing and belaying in the gym, the more confident you will be to transition those skills to the outdoor world.  Other important skills to learn include rappelling, knot tying, and building anchors.

Be Aware of Dangers

There are a lot of dangers outside with the potential to kill you.  It is important to keep that in mind and always be aware of your surroundings and potential dangers.  This includes rockslides, loose holds, people above you dropping gear, and you dropping your gear on others.  Also be on the lookout for ledges or bulges that you may potentially fall on if you should take a lead fall.

Always Perform Safety Checks

Make sure that your rope and gear are in good condition before climbing, every time you climb.  Always check your partner, whether you're the climber or the belayer.

Check the Weather

The weather can make or break your outdoor climbing experience.  Of course, climbing during the rain is not advisable.  It's also not a good idea to climb a day or two after rain, and in some crags, it's not allowed because the rock is more likely to break off when it is damp or moist.  It's also important to check the wind conditions, because it is much harder to clip quickdraws, or grab small holds in the wind.

Purchase Gear

Since you climb in the gym, you probably already have your own shoes, harness, and chalk bag. If you don't, it is time to buy them. Once you start climbing outside you'll realize there is never really an end to your list of gear you need to buy. Here is a short list of the necessities for outdoor climbing: shoes, harness, chalk bag, belay device, rappel device, rope, quickdraws, locking carabiners, personal anchor, and helmet.

Do Your Research

Before heading out to the crag, make sure you have a good idea of where the crag is, how to get there, how long the approach is, what gear you need, and how harsh the grading system is.  Always keep in mind that grades outside are harder than inside, so that outdoor 5.7 may feel more like a 5.10 in the gym.

In addition to researching the crag, you can also read up on the basics of climbing in what is often referred to as the Climbing Bible.  Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills provides information on almost everything climbing-related, from tying knots and building anchors to belaying and rappelling.

Leave No Trace

This is a huge one.  No matter how much fun we have climbing, we must remember that we are using public land and should treat it as if we are guests.  Be mindful of others at the crag, whether that means asking to play your music, keeping your gear in one area, or picking up your trash.  As with hiking or any other outdoor activity, you should pack out all trash, park and camp only in designated areas, minimize noise, and stay on established trails.



Climbing outside offers exciting new variables and challenges. The above points can serve as a good starting point for anyone who wants to start climbing outdoors.

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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.

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.

Winter Means SEND TEMPS for Day Trips in SoCal

Winter Means SEND TEMPS for Day Trips in SoCal

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Tomorrow marks the official start of winter! You know what that means: SEND TEMPS.  Here in sunny California, most of our climbing destinations are snow-free. Here, we'll outline some of our local day-trip spots for the weekend craggers looking to send projects all season long! This post is aimed towards newer climbers. Comment on our Facebook page if you've got any other recommendations!

NOTE: If you are new to climbing outdoors, please be sure to read all access notices, stay on posted trails, and be stewards to wherever you are climbing to keep areas open and clean for all. Click here to read Access Fund's useful outdoor etiquette guide



Joshua Tree

The hauntingly beautiful blobs of rock that pepper Joshua Tree's alien landscape are tougher on the skin than you think. If you've never been, a bit of hand salve might be a good idea to pack and climbing tape is a must if you're planning to jam your hands into the crocodile-toothed cracks.

Beta: You can squeeze out a solid day of climbing by parking in the Hidden Valley day use lot. Climb at Intersection rock or cross the road to Real Hidden Valley for some short but sweet rope climbing. Boulderers can warm up on the False Hueco Traverse (v2) before playing on the fun Roof Romp (v4).

Drive time: 2+ hrs
Guidebook: Joshua Tree Bouldering
Camping: $10+/night (Varies depending on site)




Photo by Justin Kenderes. Courtesy of Mountain Project

You can climb beachside at Point Dume, but Malibu Creek State Park is worth the long approach for a full day of climbing.

Beta: Here's Mountain Project's parking beta: "There is a $12 fee for parking within the Park, but a free alternative exists by turning right (west) on Mulholland Hwy from Las Virgenes Road and parking on either side of the highway where the Grasslands Trail cuts through the Park." For climbing, check out the Planet of the Apes wall. 

Drive time: 1hr 15 min
Guidebook: Sport Climbing in the Santa Monicas



Photo by Michael Reardon. Courtesy of Mountain Project

Photo by Michael Reardon. Courtesy of Mountain Project

Climb at Stoney Point and you're bound to run into some of the legends of old who continue to climb to this day.  It's covered in graffiti, but the climbing is fun nonetheless.

Beta: Park along the east side of Topanga Canyon blvd. then walk down to the boulders. Guidebooks are available, but Mountain Project will get you around just fine.

Drive time: 1hr 15 min




The Quarry is a dynamite blasted playground where helmets are a must (ignore the picture above). Though the rock is high quality, quarrying operations made loose little to large pieces that can come down without warning. It's private property so please respect the rules!

Beta: Parking is free and there's a long road on Sierra Ave. where climbers can leave their cars. Walk toward the obvious crag up ahead and try Tangerine Dream .10d (climbs the obvious orange streak).

Drive time: 45 minutes
Guidebook: Climber's Guide: Riverside Quarry Edition



mt rubidoux

Mt. Rubidoux is where many SoCal climbing legends messed around before most of us knew how to walk. It's got plenty of quartz-monzonite to play on before ending the day at Asahi Sushi for all-you-can-eat raw fish goodness. It might even be worth skipping Rubidoux and heading straight to Asahi.

Beta: Enter a suburban area and park along the road near the entrance. You'll be walking up a cemented incline and you'll start seeing climbable boulders soon enough. There's a bridge you can climb for the heck of it.

Drive time: 45 minutes
Guidebook: Mountain Project




Photo courtesy of Mountain Project

You don't get the best climbing here, but you do get a killer sunset. And, it's close to Sender! This beach is quite popular among folks unacquainted with outdoor etiquette so be an example and pack out your trash. Heck, maybe even pick up a bottle or two.

Beta: There's plenty of street parking available along the neighborhoods. It's a 5 minute walk down some stairs and to the right where you'll see an obvious formation. Go up and over that to a "secret" beach everyone knows about and yard down on Iron Man (v3). Come in the afternoon after the rock had time to dry out and stay for the sunset. Do NOT use a wire brush or rough bristled brush to clean holds! You'll eat into the rock and ruin it for everyone!

Drive time: 15 minutes
Guidebook: None (Topo available on Mountain Project)


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