The Kenyan Climber Issue #02

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kenyan climber THE








DEC 2020 ISSUE 02

PHOTOS: Cover: Nyamzy Giati & Duncan Kiema at Fischer's Cliffs - Hell's Gate // 2,3: Nyamzy Giati racking up for crack climbing at Fischer's Cliffs - Hell's Gate // 4,5: Climbing Life Kenya Climbing Life Kenya's Entry Session for Beginners - Baboon Cliff, Lukenya // 8,9: Participants at Climbing Life Kenya's Entry Session for Beginners - Baboon Cliff, Lukenya // 10,11: Nyamzy Gi Lukenya // 12,13: Hetal Shah mountain climbing at the Himalayas, rock climbing at Hell's Gate and scuba diving // 14: Ivy Nduta at Baboon Cliff, Lukenya // 17: Peter Naituli at Hells Gate; O Gate // 18,19: Rémi Samyn on Sang Neuf, 9a. - France // 19: Rémi Samyn, Liz Ndindi, Nyamzy Giati in action as 'We Train Together' // 20,21: Climbing at the reconstructed mck wall. All photo Poppy Miyonga, Samuel Gichuki, John Glassberg/ Louder than Eleven, Fred Labreveux

bouldering meet at Lukenya // 7: Participants at ati & Inna Treise atop Arthur's Horror - Main Wall, Old Moses Camp Fire; Emily Harrington on Golden o credits: Climbing Life Kenya, Others: Hetal Shah,

karibu In this second issue of The Kenyan Climber we explore the local participation gap in rock climbing activities in Kenya and the new opportunities created to address hindrances to local participation. We catch up with the amazing Hetal Shah who shares with us on conquering mountains, rock climbing and her relationship with outdoors. Rémi Samyn equips us with the basics needed to progress in climbing as We Train Together. We also shine the spotlight on news from the climbing world as we let you in on one of the ways Climbing Life Kenya is paying tribute to the interconnectedness of Kenya's rock climbing's past, present and future. Happy reading! 06 exploring the participation gap in rock climbing in Kenya. 08 new opportunity for Kenyans to get started in rock climbing! 12

Hetal Shah on conquering mountains, rock climbing and the outdoors.


from the local and global climbing world.


we train together with Rémi Samyn.


a tribute to Kenyan rock climbing's past, present and future.

Climbing Life Kenya is because we are. Pamoja,


the kenyan climber 03

hadithi, hadithi? Hadithi hadithi?

Shine the light on me and make it bright. I have a story to tell. You gather to hear my story. Urging me to transcend through time and pass along my identity, my history. And yet here I stand. Silent. You gather to hear my story. For my struggles and successes, you say, make me a fitting jedi warrior. And yet here I stand. Still. My silence shouts. My stillness rumbles. Why can’t you hear me? My story, rich and complex drowned by the dog whistles and the eggshells on this stage you have set for me. Not trusted to tell my own story, I stand. Ignored. Silenced. Erased. Unseen. You are not ready to listen. Oh, the lies that bind us. I will stand silent still; telling my story as I live it ‘til you are ready to listen and say, Hadithi njoo!


Words by @climbnatured inspired by the “Gatekeepers and the Function of Distraction” article on

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storytelling On Friday, Dec 11, 2020 Climbing Life Kenya's founder, Liz Ndindi, joined Chelsea Murphy as a panellist at Climbers of Color's A Seat At The Table: Future of BIPOC Storytelling where they explored the power of

shaping narratives through storytelling and the future of black women storytelling.


local Kenyans' participation in rock climbing AN E X P L O R ATORY STUDY

Premise of the Study There are different schools of thought on local participation in rock climbing in Kenya. One point of view contends that there is a misconception that locals are not interested in climbing. It argues that locals are in fact unseen and disregarded due to lack of access to rock climbing activities and structural exclusion from active participation which leads to an aversion to rock climbing even before they get a chance to try it. Another perspective asserts that rock climbing is a lifestyle local Kenyans do not subscribe to by virtue of their background whilst others contend that rock climbing in Kenya has a rich history spanning over 100 years and therefore no problems exist as they have not seen or experienced any. If there is no problem and rock climbing in Kenya is an open and welcoming activity in which everyone can participate, why then in an African-majority country with numerous rock climbing destinations and with a history spanning over a century do we have few Kenyans being aware of rock climbing's existence or even participating in the sport? Why is there a near-absence of local African rock climbers in documented Kenyan rock climbing history? Are there circumstances, systems, structures, or conditions which exclude locals in rock climbing? Or are Kenyans simply disinterested in the sport? This thought-provoking study sought to explore local Kenyans' participation in rock climbing by better understanding if any barriers to such participation exist. The premise of this study is that getting more insight on local Kenyans' participation in rock climbing activities from a local perspective will help focus on solutions that address the root barriers to participation and enable meaningful action towards changing the conditions which keep most local Kenyans from experiencing rock climbing or even knowing of its existence.

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In April 2020, Climbing Life Kenya undertook a study on the factors affecting participation by local Kenyans in rock climbing activities. This exploratory study includes a survey of novice and seasoned Kenyan rock climbers from varying backgrounds and review of existing literature on the subjects of inclusion and participation in rock climbing. The study provides an original assessment of a previously undocumented subject and will serve as a significant catalyst in promoting recreational and competitive modern-day rock climbing in Kenya and Africa at large. Involving the local population in rock climbing is a critical step towards the continued growth of rock climbing in Kenya. Findings on factors hindering such participation will be instrumental in developing an environment that engenders local participation whilst contributing to Kenya’s rock climbing body of knowledge

In the Study

from a local perspective.

The Factors Affecting Local Kenyans' Participation in Rock Climbing study presents data gathered from the participants on the barriers to local participation and recommendations to addressing the identified

The study on Factors Affecting Local Kenyans'

barriers, as well as the status of the rock climbing scene in Kenya around

Participation in Rock Climbing begins by

issues of inclusivity, awareness, growth and action,

reviewing the local participant profile in terms

Barriers to Participation

of age, family/ relationship status, and frequency of rock climbing. It also establishes how the participants got into rock climbing,


their preference in rock climbing style and the


reasons why they would recommend rock climbing to others. The study also interrogates


I wish it was. Characteristics: It is what it has always


been - exclusive. There is a lot of elitism and classism

the participants on the status of the rock climbing scene in Kenya. Further, the study collates data on the key

that make it inaccessible to a lot of Kenyans. Why:


Climbing areas are not accessible if you don’t have a



therefore in an ecosystem where there is not a lot of

as ranked by the participants as well as the

training opportunities, I default on climbing with


people I know. (People whose skill I trust from

the noted barriers. Read more on Factors Affecting Local Kenyans' Participation in Rock Climbing at

car, gear, and right skills. It is also a type of activity with potentially low risk and high consequence and

barriers to local participation in rock climbing recommendations given on how to address

I like the climbing in Kenya but it is not as vibrant as

watching their safety standards). 0

Cost of gear

Inaccessibility of gear

Cost of rock climbing Inaccessibility of gear/ gear/ equipment equipment needed

Very Relevant

For more on Factors Affecting Local


Kenyans' Participation in Rock Climbing

Not Relevant


the kenyan climber 07


In October 2020,

entry into rock climbing sessions

rock climbing. Th


"A totally new outdoor experience today for me and the boys courtesy of Climbing Life Kenya with a jarringly sweet and memorable introduction to rock climbing. I got to confront my fear of falling from heights by overcoming it with the adventurer spirit that rock climbing brings. The young men are instinctive natural climbers and we had a great time enjoying a newly found outdoor fun and sporting activity unlike any other. Rock climbing is a physically demanding, nerve racking, emotionally exciting and mentally challenging sports unlike any other. My biggest regret is that I never discovered this amazing outdoor fun sooner - a must experience that I’d strongly recommend for all the funloving people looking for outdoor experience." A. KALEBI

"... I had the privilege to volunteer in a ‘Rock Climbing for Beginners’ event organised by Climbing Life Kenya and was astounded by the impact that this organisation is having on people’s lives – and the barriers that these trailblazing women are breaking to make the path a bit easier for Kenyan women and girls who choose to follow this path." CAROL

"As a first timer, I was very skeptical because I've heard stories of people falling and dying during rock climbing expeditions. When I got to the site I was already making excuses to not do the climbs. However, the belayers really encouraged me and guided me in the tricky areas of the climb. There's a satisfactory feeling one gets when they reach at the top of the climb which they really helped me achieve. We were even given basic training on how to do rock climbing and understand the jargon used with rock climbers. I'd definitely want to climb again with Climbing Life Kenya." ABDALLA

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Climbing Life Kenya launched entry level rock climbing sessions as part of our efforts to create opportunities for Kenyans to connect

ng. This opportunity was specially designed and created to make it easier for novice climbers to get into rock climbing. Visit for details on the upcoming climbs and join us at the crag! "It was an exhilarating, scary and extremely rewarding experience. I really enjoyed the opportunity to not only learn basics of rock climbing, but to problem solve and engage my mind, emotions and body during the climb. Really Loved it!

"I had such a lovely time as well. The planning of the event was very well done, the team was super friendly and encouraging and knew their stuff and equally even impressed that the team had a lot of females which is super cool. Verena and I are planning for the next one, (crossing my fingers that I'll still be around) but I had a really great time!"

The team was A1, always pushing and encouraging climbers to push through, it helps that they are really passionate and knowledgeable which made it easier to relax and enjoy the climb. I am currently recommending this to everyone I know 😃 ."


"I had a fantastic time climbing at Lukenya with Climbing Life Kenya. We spent our Saturday on Baboon Cliff, trying some beginner rock climbing routes. The instructors were clearly passionate and knowledge about the sport, and we were able to both push ourselves while also enjoying being out on the rock. What makes rock climbing special to me is that you have to truly connect with the rock. The placement of your foot and the way your fingers follow the handhold all forms itself to the rock that is created here in nature. To progress through a climbing route is like progressing in life. Sometimes you stumble. Sometimes you fall. Sometimes you ace it. And sometimes you just don’t know what to do next. But like life, it is not about where you end up. Whether or not you find yourself at the peak of whatever route is possible, it’s about how much you enjoy getting there, what lessons you learn about yourself along the way and what special people you surround yourself with, who can help you get to the right place. Rock climbing with Climbing Life Kenya is a unique and joyful experience, that I can recommend to anyone who is interested in being close to nature and great people." DAVID

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ROPE: "organic thing that transmits subtle messages of intent and disposition between two climbers. It is an extension of the tactile senses, a psychological bond."

conquering mountains We caught up with HETAL SHAH for an interview on conquering mountains, rock climbing and her relationship with outdoors.

How would you describe your relationship with the outdoors?

Spiritual What has been your favourite adventure/ expedition so far?

That's a difficult question! Himalayas is probably at the top of the list. The crossing of crevasses, ice climbing, the culture of the mountain, meeting Everest summiteers... a lot of it stood out but again, my heart also lies in Mt. Kenya, and the climbing/trekking/views it's got to offer. So for me, no expedition is really comparable.

If you could travel anywhere or climb

What challenges have you faced in


anything, here would you want to

your outdoor life? How did you overcome them?

Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, and Rocky Mountains, US

Finances and good company. Then I realized that I will meet new people only if I join groups for any outdoor activities. And so I made new friends! I overcame the finance issue as soon as I got a job, which

What do you do when you’re not climbing?

I'm an investment banker by profession

was fairly early in my life.

and also a co-founder of an adventure

Are there issues surrounding the

specialises mainly in outdoor activities.

company (Bootstrap Adventures) that

outdoors in Kenyan that you are passionate about?

Pollution and deforestation are the biggest issues. Going on a trail, it is very disheartening to see that people still throw litter around. Everyone knows the impact yet they are so ignorant! And deforestation is heart breaking too! It has affected the temperatures, the air we breathe, the weather, among other things. When and how did you start rock climbing?

I started climbing about 4 years ago when a friend requested to join in and try it out!

“Going on a trail, it is very disheartening to see that people still throw litter around. Everyone knows the impact yet they are so ignorant!" Achievements?

Summitted Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt Meru, Rwenzori Mountains, Ol Donyo Lengai, Mt. Kenya - Lenana, attempted Batian, and various other mountains in Kenya. Reached Everest Base Camp, summited Island Peak (6,189m) - Himalayas

Where do you normally climb?

Cycled from Nairobi to Mombasa, and I climb at Hell's Gate National Park.

Nanyuki to Moyale, and various other rides.

Do you have any specific climbing

Completed various half marathons

goals for 2021?

including Lewa, Mt Kilimanjaro and Mara Marathon.

To summit Batian peak of Mt Kenya.

Participated in various triathlons. Certified scuba diver. the kenyan climber 13


CLIMB . PARTNER . VOLUNTEER . +254 (0) 758 823 838 .


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climb-with-us WHAT WE'VE BEEN UPTO

Visit and join us at upcoming events or email us at for your custom rock climbing excursion.

Entry Sessions for Beginners

Family Rock Climbing Excursions

We Train Together

Private Rock Climbing Excursions

Women Uprising Trad & Top Rope Anchor Setting Training

Building Community

Climbing Advocacy Conference

Rock Climbing Destination Excursions


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in case you missed it From the Local Scene Peter Naituli was selected for

The Climbing Initiative's Ambassador Program which highlights and supports individuals who are using rock climbing as a means to invest © POPPY MIYONGA

in their communities.

Bluesky Climbing Gym reopened their doors on 2nd November

2020 with a new look and all new climbing routes and boulder problems for climbers to get back and enjoy safely.


Emily Harrington Becomes the First Woman to Free Climb El Capitan’s Golden Gate in a day NOV 04, 2020 In 21 hours, 13 minutes, and 51 seconds, Harrington climbed up the 3,000-foot Golden Gate line, becoming the first woman to achieve this feat and the fourth woman ever to free-climb El Capitan in a

Old Moses Camp kitchen and

day, on any route. SOURCE: OUTSIDEONLINE.COM

porters block on Mt. Kenya burnt down in the 4th of December 2020. Nobody was harmed. © SAMUEL GICHUKI

Lukenya Access Fee revised by the Mountain Club of Kenya

for Kenyan citizens who now get to pay KES 200 from the usual KES 400 for daily membership until December 31st 2020.

From the Climbing World

Climbing Advocacy Conference by Access Fund and The Climbing Initiative NOV 14-15, 2020 The first international Climbing Advocacy Conference brought together 650 registrants from 36 countries to discuss matters on climbing advocacy and accessibility. Climbing Life Kenya was represented by Liz Ndindi who was a panellist at the conference.



Sport Climbing Officially in Paris 2024 Olympics DEC 07, 2020 The International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board officially confirmed the inclusion of Sport Climbing in the 2024 Olympic Games programme scheduled to take place in Paris, France from July 26


to August 11, 2024. SOURCE: IFSC-CLIMBING.ORG the kenyan climber 17

From a member of the French climbing team in 2000s, Rémi Samyn, an international IFSC route setter, served as the National coach for the French climbing team for 10 years. He is also a sports and physical trainer and was a finalist Ninja Warrior in 2019. In 2020, Rémi finally decided to test new training methods which led him to do his first 8c boulder problem and his first 9a route within 6 months! This culminated in On s’Entraîne Ensemble, a training program that equips participants with the basics needed to progress in their climbing. Climbing Life Kenya collaborated with Rémi Samyn to bring the English version of On s’Entraîne Ensemble - We Train Together - to Kenyan climbers and other seeking to increase their climbing levels and capabilities.

we train together

We Train Together is a 6-month training program through which Rémi shares his 25 years of training experience for free with the hope that “it can be a good inspiration for climbers who dream to start a new project to increase their climbing level”. The idea is to engage climbers in a regular training pace by focusing on one training cycle every month. The exercises are adaptable so anyone can take on this training program, whatever their climbing level and/or preference may be! See detailed program information on

You can contact Rémi directly with your questions on the training program via or


the mck wall In








reconstructed the climbing wall which originally graced the old Mountain Club of Kenya Clubhouse at Wilson Airport after the wall was demolished on 13th July 2019. Taking care to preserve the original boards and holds, Climbing Life Kenya ensured that the climbing wall continues to serve more generations. This historic climbing wall is a tribute to the interconnectedness of rock climbing's past, present and future.

DISCOVER AMAZING DEALS Quality sports and outdoor wear at APACHE SPORTS WEAR, located at The Kenya Hockey Union Sports Shop City Park Stadium - Nairobi. Call 0720 877 116 or 0742 321 256

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