Touchstone Blog Archive
Thursday, August 31, 2006
  TRS at Ironworks
A hundred competitors came to climb at the Touchstone Roped Series competition at Berkeley Ironworks on August 25th. A good time was had by all. Local microbrewery Bison Brewing provided us with tasty organic beer and the gym bought pizza for all the competitors. Climbing vendors such as Mountain Hardware, Black Diamond, Five Ten, La Sportiva (and many more) donated tons of prizes. In fact, everybody who turned in a scorecard got a prize!

Dustin Park won the Men's advanced category by flashing a 5.12c, getting to the second box of the 5.13a on his first try, and doing the 5.13c second try. Cicada Jenerik won the Women's advanced category by flashing the 5.13c, 5.12c and getting to the second box of the 5.13a on her second try! She showed the boys a thing or two about climbing and garnered enough points to tie with the Men's advanced winner Dustin Park.

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006
  Labor Day Hours
This monday, all Touchstone gyms will be open and operating on weekend hours. Standard weekend rates will apply for all gyms. Please contact your local gym to find out the exact hours of operation and pricing.

REMINDER: East bound span of the Bay Bridge will be closed all weekend. For more info, check here.

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006
  Nose in a Day
Congratulations to two MC members who climb the Nose on El Cap in one day. Members, Jonny Kwong and Blair Haffly started the route at 2am and topped out at 6:45pm, which turned out to be 16 hours and 45 minutes of climbing on the famed walled.

Jonny recalls the following highlights of their adventure. “Fixating upon the Vastness above, my mind reels away. Infinite and crisp are her radiant freckles. Her cheekbone highlighted by a milky blush. Her brilliance contrasted only by a neighbor’s imposing darkness. I flick on my headlamp and the Vastness above is lost. Blair and I are at the base of El Cap’s the Nose. It was a mere four weeks ago we conceived the idea to climb this route in a single day. And now we’re here.

Adeptly, we work independently. I flake the rope, tie in, and change my shoes. Blair sets his belay anchor, ties in, and puts me on belay. I check the time. It’s just before 2 a.m. “On belay.” “Belay on.” I lead into a calmly lit world. The jams and holds are mostly familiar. A sense of urgency and calmness flutter within me. Some time later I get up to the first anchor. “Off belay!” The calmness scatters. “Off!” I pull up the rope until it’s taught. A moment later, “Line fixed!” I continue up twenty feet stopping short of the crux of the pitch. I flick off my headlamp and wait. At once, the Vastness reappears. I peer off to the East and see Half Dome accented by a deep blue. I close my eyes for a moment. “Belay’s on!” Blair has jugged up to the first anchor and I go on. We continue the climb in the same manner. Soon, headlamps are no longer needed. I periodically glance down to see El Cap’s shadow continuing to grow over the shrinking trees and the Valley floor.

Across the way, the Cathedral formations transform with the change in light and view. I lead up to the base of the Great Roof. Blair then takes over. He steadily and comfortably seems to climb, while I find myself drifting to sleep at the belays. At last, when I did not think I could stave off sleep any longer, Blair tops out. “Off belay! Rope Fixed!” I soon meet Blair. We look at the time. It’s 6:45 p.m. We both grin. Our goal is realized.”

In addition to accomplishing is goal of the Nose in a day, Jonny just completed the NE ridge of Mt. Williamson, the 2nd highest 14ner in California in 22 hours. Not to mention, posing for a recent Patagonia photo shoot.

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Monday, August 28, 2006
  Bicycle Club Success Story
Rhonda Hurst, a Pipeworks member since 2003 says of Touchstone’s Sacramento club: “The gym is in a good location; it’s not fancy like other gyms with mirrors everywhere” and “it has a good feel to it, a good vibe”. Initially too intimidated to take a standard weeknight spin class, her interest in cycling began with a private Saturday morning class offered by Pipeworks personal trainer Laurie Dakin. After that, Rhonda became a regular at the Tuesday / Thursday performance cycling classes and shortly set a personal goal of 5 indoor cycling nights a week for 1 month. Before long she discovered she was comfortable with the routine, so after the month passed she just kept going. In a little while her initial fear was forgotten and she eventually learned the value of rest days and cut spinning back to 2-3 days a week. Soon looking for an even bigger challenge, Rhonda found herself buying a road bike and a week after her new purchase she showed up to ride with the Pipeworks bike club. Rhonda developed rapidly as a road rider and promptly became one of the most consistent riders in the club. She started bike commuting to work during The Million Mile Challenge in May and still makes the 40 mile round trip at least once a week. When Rhonda began riding with the Pipeworks bike club, another rider asked if she ever thought about riding a century (100 miles in a day), and she replied “Oh no I couldn’t do that – maybe next year”. To her own surprise, less than 3 months later Rhonda found herself completing her first 100 mile day! Since taking up cycling in March of 2006, she has completed a Century, participated in 5 organized rides, lost more than 40 pounds and lowered her cholesterol count by an astonishing 65 points! Congratulations Rhonda, you are a true success story!

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Friday, August 25, 2006
  A Weekend Getaway
Berkeley Ironworks regulars Ed Kolodziej and partner Vivian Peng climb in the gym consistently enough to keep in shape. That fitness came in handy when they decided at the last minute to climb the North Arête of Bear Creek Spire (5.8) to celebrate Ed’s birthday. After the obligatory stop at Schat’s bakery in Bishop for their jalapeño cheese bread, they made it to the trail head (10,200ft) and hiked up to Dade Lake (11,600ft). They reached the base (12,400ft) Saturday morning and managed to top out (13,713ft) at 5pm and make it back to tent by 9pm. “It felt good being able to lead on that rock.” They hiked out Sunday, drove to the mobile station (a great place to eat in Lee Vining), and gorged themselves. They hit a lot of traffic on the way home but still managed to get home before 8pm. It was a good weekend.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006
  Women Only
Sacramento Pipeworks is proud to offer a Women Only Technique Clinic in August! In this Woman-centered general skills clinic, staff member Anna Tortosa focuses on techniques and information that will make the grade you are climbing easier. This is a great class both for females new to climbing or seasoned climbers alike. Anna, a 4 year climbing veteran, will address footwork, resting, finding the most efficient way to do hard sequences, and a handful of other elements that are specific to the woman climber. This clinic is on Wednesday August 30th at 6:30 and costs only $25 for members. If enough Women show up in support, it may become a regular monthly offering!

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Monday, August 21, 2006
  Be A Hero
Did you know that every 3 seconds someone needs blood and that just 1 pint of donated blood can help save as many as 3 lives? Blood is in short supply during summer and winter vacation months, so we are urging all Touchstone members and friends to show up at Touchstone Concord on August 24th to participate in our 1st Annual Blood Drive.

If you are wondering who can participate, anyone who is in good health, is at least 17 years old, and weighs at least 110 pounds may donate blood every 56 days. It only takes 10 minutes to draw the blood, but expect the whole process to take 45 minutes, including time to rest and eat cookies! You can also check here for more information on requirements to donate.

All blood donors will receive a coupon for a pint of free ice cream, a free day pass to use for themselves or give to a friend, as well as be entered into a raffle to win some great prizes! Those folks who call ahead to reserve a spot will have priority on the night of the drive so please call (925) 602-1000 and sign up to save a life!

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Friday, August 18, 2006
  Stay Out

Northern CA Access Issues

According to the Access Fund, this summer the Easter Sierra Climbers Coaltion put out the word to avoid Clarks Canyon, an area near Bishop. Staying away will let hawks and eagles nest in peace on the spectular cliffs of “Area 13.” The birds need their space (at least a city block’s worth) so the itty bitty chicks are not stressed by the sight and sound of nearby climbers.

The good news is, it’s probably ok to climb there as of August 1st! Please direct any questions to the Eastern Sierra Climbers Coalition.

Each summer the face of Lover's Leap Rock in the Eldorado National Forest is closed from late April 21 through September. Climbing elsewhere will let falcons raise healthy young.

The Access Fund specifies that “the closure includes being upon or within 30 feet of the face of the Lover's Leap Rock, or within 30 feet of the top edge of Lover's Leap Rock, from the Bookmark route on the east to the Hourglass route on the west. For updates throughout the season or to learn more visit the National Forest Service website.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006
  Sad News
Touchstone Climbing learned Monday, that Steve Karafa passed away in a car accident this past weekend. All of us at Touchstone would like to extend our condolences to Steve's family, friends and his longtime significant other, Sarah. Prior to working for Acopa Rock Shoes, Steve was the retail manager for Touchstone. During his time with us, Steve developed a great rapport with many of us and with vendors throughout the industry. We are very sad to see him leave this world so unexpectedly.

There is a thread going over at wishing condolences to Steve's family. If you knew Steve and would like to read what others are saying, or would like to leave your own thoughts, please visit supertopo's forum.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006
  San Jose Staff Sendfest
Touchstone San Jose staff, Michael Abell, traveled to Salt Lake City to compete at The Front gym in the annual Sendfest bouldering competition, August 11th. Mike qualified, cruising in at 34th place of 50 select bouldering hardmen; and brought home the silver at 2nd place with 17960 points in the Citizens Comp Men's Open category. Great job Mike, way to climb with your soul!

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Monday, August 14, 2006
  Good Job: Off to Alaska
During the month of July, Mission Cliffs staff member, Jacob Harrington participated in a two week Outward Bound mountaineering course in Alaska. Mission Cliff’s manager Donna Dunlap as a recognition bonus gave the course to Jacob. The course took place on the Harding Ice Field located in the Kenai Fjords National Park.

Jacob was joined by ten other college age participants from across the U.S. The duration of the trip was spent learning techniques such as roped glacial travel, snow camping, crevasse rescue and ice climbing. The trip also included numerous ascents of technical peaks, solo assignments and a service project.

Some of the biggest challenges the group faced weren’t even from the course, but were environmental. Learning to adapt to near 24hrs of daylight was difficult, as well as the storm that enveloped the region for the later half of the class. “Despite near zero visibility, and rain coming in sideways, we were still out there climbing and exploring. We were practically living in a cloud for a week!” recalls Jacob.

His most memorable experience came when he was lowered 30’ into a crevasse and was able to ice climb out on untouched glassy ice. Outward Bound teaches not only the acquisition of technical skills but of personal understanding as well. “I walked away from this course with a changed perspective on what things I feel are important in my life. Often when one gets wrapped up in the trappings of life, it’s important to have experiences like this to look back upon.”


Thursday, August 10, 2006
  Going to Bat
Who’s been going to bat for us on climbing access and resource management issues -- lobbying the National Park Service in Washington, DC, for example, regarding how climbing environments are managed and maintained in national parks?

The Access Fund, which represents over 1.6 million climbers nationwide.

The group represents climbers of all types: Rock Climbing, Ice Climbing, Mountaineering, and Bouldering. Touchstone has long supported the Access Fund because of its commitment to keeping climbing areas open and conserving the climbing environment.

In 2006, the organization has articulated the responsible climbers’ perspective as a proposal to sell off massive quantities of US Forest Service lands, some of which contain climbing resources, gains momentum. And, in the last few months, it has made the responsible climbers’ case to the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service and US Forest Service in Washington, DC regarding fixed anchors in areas such as Yosemite Valley (CA), the Black Canyon of the Gunnison (CO), the Sawtooth Mountains (ID), and Linville Gorge (NC).

Nearly 85 cents of every membership dollar funds projects and services that conserve climbing access, protect the climbing environment, and minimize impacts and restrictions across the U.S.

Regional coordinators are the Access Fund's principal liaisons to local areas and represent climbers' interests on both public and private lands. Regional coordinators facilitate the efforts to keep climbing areas open at the local level. The Access Fund contact for the northern California territory is Alison Walker.

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Wednesday, August 9, 2006
  1st Street Bouldering Competition
Boulderers and spectators were treated, once again, to another spectacular competition at Touchstone's bouldering-only gym, Touchstone San Jose. 88 competitors touched down on forty new problems, live music by DJ Max, pizza and beer, prizes and a raffle, in a crowded, but very friendly atmosphere. Boasting the highest bouldering walls of all the Touchstone gyms, the comp problems were expectedly challenging and fun.

Thanks go out to the setting crew: Craig McClenahan (Touchstone Head Route Setter), Al Liu (San Jose Manager), Art Balaoro and Michaell Abell (San Jose Staff). And thanks go out to the rest of the San Jose Staff, and all the boulderers who showed up knowing they were in for another gem of a competition in downtown San Jose.

Congrats to 1st place winners:
Mens Open: Kevin Boehm
Mens Advanced: Jessie Palomino
Womens Advanced: Becky Trafecanty
Mens Intermediate: Kevin Woldhagen
Womens Intermediate: Denise Castromayor
Mens Beginner: Jon Montoya
Womens Beginner: Alexis Greensberg

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Tuesday, August 8, 2006
  A Class 5 engagement!

Class 5’s Meg McCloskey is engaged!

Meg and Pam DeLuca are going to the chapel and they’re gonna get married!

When you see her next, offer your congratulations and be sure to admire the sparkly rock on her finger!

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Monday, August 7, 2006
  Bear Valley Boulder Bash
The “1st Annual Bear Valley Boulder Bash” is coming to the High Sierra this August 18-20, 2006. This unique festival blends the thrills of outdoor rock climbing through education, competition and celebration. It doesn’t matter if you are new to outdoor rock climbing or have scaled the cliffs for years, the Bear Valley Boulder Bash has something for everyone, including kids. The centerpiece of the weekend is an outdoor bouldering competition with cash prizes on Saturday afternoon. Afterwards celebrate and unwind at the BaseCamp Lodge in Bear Valley with an organic dinner buffet, slideshow and live music. To learn more about the festival events, schedules and prices please visit the MAS website or give us a call (209) 753-6556 ext. 1.

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Friday, August 4, 2006
  Ironman from Space?
Can You See the Ironman Traverse from Space?

Can you identify the picture on the right?

Maybe, if you can zoom in close enough using Google Earth.

Google Earth streams the world over wired and wireless networks enabling users to virtually go anywhere on the planet and see places in photographic detail. This is not like any map you have ever seen. This is a 3D model of the real world, based on real satellite images combined with maps, guides to restaurants, hotels, entertainment, businesses and more. You can zoom from space to street level instantly and then pan or jump from place to place, city to city, even country to country.

Closer to home, if you enter “Grotto Rock Park, Berkeley, CA” you will zoom to Indian Rock on Google Earth.

Enter “Chalk Bluff Road, Bishop, CA” for a virtual visit to the Happy Boulders.

Even Berkeley Iron Works shows up on Google Earth (hey, whose beater is that in the parking lot?).

Yosemite also shows up (check out El Cap, and Curry Village), but not in high resolution. The highest resolution imagery is for climbing areas that are in or very near urban areas. So you’ll still have to go in person to hunt for new lines.

As for the picture, it is Curry Village from above Glacier Point Apron.

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Thursday, August 3, 2006
  A San Jose Wedding
Congratulations to San Jose staff Roscoe Roatch and member Alia Nicole Bechtold! Roscoe proposed to Nikki at Rainbow Falls in the Eastern Sierra on July 6th. The happy couple are to be wed at the spectacular Cliffs of Moher in Ireland on September 28th, 2006. Congratulations Roscoe and Nikki!

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Wednesday, August 2, 2006
  End of Summer Sale
Starting TODAY at your friendly, neighborhood Touchstone gym, you’ll find 30% off selected clothing from Patagonia, Mountain Hardwear, Prana, Sickle and more. Choose from a great assortment of shorts, shirts, tanks and pants for men and women. Now’s your chance to pick up that awesome shirt for your next climbing trip! Don’t miss out on the great savings – check out the sale today!

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Tuesday, August 1, 2006
  Obsessed with The Nose
Hans Florine will be speaking at the REI in Berkeley on Tuesday evening at 7pm, August 1st. It is a free show. The title of the show is "Obsessed with The Nose." NO, - it's not about plastic surgery.The presentation will be a few nifty ice breaker stories and then focusing head on into that old un-original, best in the world, route, The Nose. From Hans' failures to ascend it, to his slowest and fastest ascents, his worst time up and his best time up. Yes, lots of pictures and video of the old granite grey.

Hans has a new multi-media product on "how to" climb The Nose. You can find out about the CD set here at Han's website or stop by REI and pick up a copy.

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