DeKUT Directorate of Student Welfare

Better Life through Technology

DeKUT Challenge Course

The next time you happen to visit DeKUT, insist on having a guided activity at the DeKUT Challenge Course (DCC). Your first challenge would of course be to find out where the DCC is located. The course is built on a 5 acre plot of land laying between Nyandarua Hostel and the BCW and behind the New Freedom Hall. The first landmarks that shall capture your attention are the 40ft Climbing wall and the steel cables that run across the tallest trees which can easily be mistaken for power cables. Then, you get to encounter a stair cased foot entrance after which you have a choice between stepping into the gorgeous lawns using steps or the more preferred wild bridge.
Find out where the Outdoor Instructor is…another challenge. Look around and if you are curious enough, you will soon discover that the challenge elements are designed to host 3 challenge levels, namely:

          1. Low ropes
          2. Mid-range rope
          3. High ropes

(1) Low ropes & initiatives
This includes low-height elements that are guaranteed to rock and shake every sinew and nerve in your body. There are both individual and team challenges. The teams shall need to plan and strategize before undertaking any of the team challenges. Some of the elements in this category employ the use of portable props that could be set up at the time and place of need and later to be retrieved. Under this category, a few elements have come up, among them: Mohawk Walk, Wild log, Atom transfer, gold transfer, spider’s web and A-frame.

(2) Mid-range ropes
These elements are constructed at least 5-10ft above the ground. The climber needs the team around to spot them just in case they tripped or fell off. Spotting exercises before climbing on this category of elements are useful to instill trust in the team. Some of the elements under this category include: - Trust fall, Wild bridge, Chicken-wire crossing & Slack-line.

(3) High ropes
These activities are mostly “Challenge by Choice”. The individual is suspended above 30ft in the air using special cables, pulleys, carabineers, slings, belay-devices and kern-mantle ropes and then required to perform certain maneuvers. Each section houses a different challenge element. While the facilitator checks and instructs the climber on how to manage the equipment, the team supports the climber emotionally to find safe and efficient ways of accomplishing the set tasks. One of the most important aspects of the high ropes is the presence of sound belay devices, impeccable belay systems and well experienced belayers or facilitators that hold and manage the other end of the rope that harnesses the climber.

Some of the finished elements under this category include: the commando crawl, Climbing and Abseil wall, and chuck a hunk.

In general, all the elements and activities at the DCC are outdoor based pursuits designed to cultivate certain aspects and ingredients of good leadership, among them:-

                          • Cooperation
                          • Trust
                          • Communication
                          • Problem solving
                          • Judgment and decision making
                          • Perseverance
                          • Fun!

Do not attempt to use any of the challenge elements without the direct permission and supervision of the Outdoor Instructor. If you need to have a lasting impression of the DCC, following are some of the Must-Try activities.

(1) Climbing / abseil wall.
This is a wooden structure 10 meters wide and towering at 40ft by the canopies of 2 trees which literally anchor it from either end. It is fitted with exotic rocks that serve as climbing holds that are distributed haphazardly on the wall surface to simulate a typical vertical rock-face on a mountain. Then, 6ft above the highest point on the wall is a 12mm-thick steel cable clamped across the 2 trees which serves as the belay cable, whereby, a 100% sheer-reduction 30KN pulley is mounted. A Kernmantle rope is mounted onto the pulley where one end is tied onto the climber using a carbine (Karabiner) and a special climbing knot (Figure “8” follow through) that is in turn tied onto the climber’s seat-harness. The other end finds its way through a frictional belay device (Tuba) mounted with a Karabiner onto the belayer’s seat-harness.
The climber uses the hand holds and the foot-rests to find her/his way up the wall, choosing the most convenient path on the vertical wall. Some of the rock-holds are not quite generous in terms of space so, correct foot placement and the strength of the climber’s finger-grip are critical. Upon reaching the top of the wall, the climber is required to use their own belay devices on a self-belay adrenaline-getting mission down to the bottom of the wall which is known as abseiling or Rock Rappel

Climbing abseil wall. 2

(2) Tree Climbing and abseil

This element forms the basis of basic rock-climbing and rappel techniques. The climber is belayed from the ground all the way to the tree canopies to have a bird’s-eye view of us, the fellow earthlings! The climber can then descend the tree by self-belay (Rappel) or the belayer on the groung could safely take them down.

Tree Climbing and abseil

Parvine (a first year student) hangs on the technical belaying skills of Olgar & Edith (Rope wizard) to climb up and down a 35ft tall tree

(3) Commando crawl

This element is not for the faint-hearted. It employs the use of 2 trees spaced at 52 meters from each other and connected with a 12mm steel-cable that is suspended at 35ft above the ground. The cable slightly slacks in the middle to yield a syncline, a pre-calculated design meant to minimize stress on the anchoring trees especially during weather changes. The participant dons their harnesses and climbs the first tree to find a waiting pulley, the only means of transport across the 52m, 10 sec journey across the 2 trees and all this at 35ft above the ground. The frictional and gravitational resistances and the variable angle of sag all control the distance travelled along the steel cable, ergo, the climber finds him/herself about 10m away from the intended destination. Now, that’s some useful physics. The only way to get to the destination would be to turn around and crawl horizontally under the cable and towards your destination. The loss of a few calories and the resultant panting and sweating are the small prices to pay!  


(4) Simulated camping and back packing

This section is a preserve of the popular Climb to Educate program, First-year students in IToHM who are taking units in mountaineering and other outdoor pursuits and any person planning to do an outdoor camping excursion in the future. The participants learn practical tent-pitching skills, campsite choice, organization and management. Before our DeKUT students and staff embark on extended-day expedition to Mt. Kenya, they come here to learn outdoor cooking, outfitting of climbing gear, back-packing, Wilderness First-Aid, team-working and expedition behavior among other techniques. That puts the potential climbers and campers at an advantaged position when they set foot on the various wild- campsites and trails of Mt. Kenya.

Simulated camping and back packing

(5) Acid river traverse

This set-up involves static tree stumps that are raised 1-1.5ft above the ground. The stumps are distributed unevenly and each one of them has a slot or two that are squarely cut to accommodate one end of a beam. The distances between the stumps are determined. All together there are 6 spaces to be covered using only 3 beams, needless to say that some spaces are equidistant and thus shall require the same beam. A team of 8-10 sets of from one of the platforms, headed for the next. They are equipped with 3 beams of varying lengths that need to be fitted exactly onto each of the slots on the stamps. A rope may have to be provided for supporting the beams.


The travelers always have to be suspended on the beams, platforms or stumps lest they could burn from falling into the acid river.

They ought to use no more than the equipment provided.

After consulting among themselves, the team has only 8 minutes move across the ”acid river”

None of the provided equipment should make contact with the “Acid river”

Acid river traverseAcid river traverse 2

(6) TP shuffle

This is a simple element that uses a Telephone Post to teach a lot of life skills. Ask a group of 12-15 participants to ride the stationary log whichever position they wish. Once everyone is on board, no one should step down until the end of the game.


The group needs to rearrange themselves in order of height, starting with the shortest on the right hand side, to the tallest.


Do not step out of the log in the process. Other tighter requirements to the challenge could be:-

                  • Blindfolding a few members of the group
                  • No talking during the process

TP Shuffle challengepng

Gladwell Chege, facilitating the TP Shuffle challenge.

The following illustrations include some of the other most popular play elements:-

(7) Wild log

Wild log

(8) The Mohawk Walk

Mohawk Walk

(9) The Slackline

The Slackline

(10) A-Frame

Students have to recall and utilize several dynamics in physics before they can navigate gravity and set the A-Frame and its occupant in locomotion.

A Frame

Evening fitness exercises-

This fitness program has attracted immense participation from students. We meet 3 days a week at the Challenge Course grounds 5.00 -7.00pm for jogging, aerobics, team-play and bonding initiatives

Mwai Kennedy

Outdoor Instructor