Touchstone Blog Archive
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
  Senior Games
Held in Southern Utah each October since 1987, the Huntsman World Senior Games has been recognized as the premier senior athletic event in the world. Sacramento Pipeworks Bike Club member Barry Marcus entered two cycling events this year (his second Senior Games).

“I didn't win any medals this time but I was happy with my effort and had a good trip” Barry said. “The hill climb was a 5K time trial with a course that ranged from 6-8% and a short section of 10% steepness. I improved my hill climb time from 24 minutes last year to 19 minutes - good for 10th out of 13 in my division”.

The Senior Games goal has been to create an international sports event open to men and women 50 years or older, that fosters health and physical fitness becoming a way of life, not an occasional hobby. There are 22 athletic events over a two-week period, with contestants coming from as far as Russia and Australia.

“I met up at the games with Jesse De Jesus, father of Jessica De Jesus (the preeminent bay area Touchstone Bike Club organizer)”. Barry went on to say, “Jesse started the 25 mile time trial only to find his handlebars were loose so he turned around, went back to his car, tightened the bars and took off again. He figured he lost 5 minutes. Well he still finished in 1:02, good for 6th place. The winner in his division did the ride in 55 minutes. Without the loose handlebars Jesse would have been second!”

Barry ended his story with:” I finished the 37 mile road race, my second event, in guess what - 10th out of 13. It was beautiful course and I felt good the whole ride - just outclassed. There were two long climbs for a total of about 2,000' and a fast, fun descent at the end. I finished in 2:04, with the winners coming in at around 1:45 - the course record is 1:43. These old guys are awesome. There was actually one guy riding at 99 years old!”

Labels: , ,

Monday, October 30, 2006
  Farewell to Todd Skinner
As many of you have already heard, Todd Skinner was killed October 23 while descending fixed ropes on the Leaning Tower in Yosemite. Details of the accident are incomplete, but he and his partner Jim Hewitt were working on a free route on the 1,200-foot monolith. Skinner and his partner, Jim Hewitt, were rappelling the route Jesus Built My Hot Rod, and were several hundred feet above the base when the accident occurred. Apparently, Skinner went first, and suddenly fell; his rappel device and locking carabiner remained on the rope.

His 300 ascents in 26 countries included the first free ascent of the 3,600-foot Salathé Wall on El Capitan in Yosemite (with Paul Piana) and also the first free climb of a route called the Great Canadian Knife in the Cirque of the Unclimbables in Canada's Northwest.

Our thoughts and condolences go out to Todd’s family and to Jim.

A memorial fund has been established for Todd Skinner's wife and three young children. Donations may be sent here:

Skinner Memorial Fund
c/o Atlantic City Federal Credit Union
704 West Main Street
Lander, WY 82520
Phone: +1 307 332 0299

SFGate has more on this story.

Associated Press photo by Bill Hatcher.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, October 28, 2006
  Halloween at Concord
What do climbing and crazy costumes have in common? Nothing! But at Touchstone Concord, it all makes sense when you come to the Halloween night costume party and see members scaling the walls dressed up as ghouls, pumpkins and mimes. Come at 6pm for some ghoulish treats then climb until the costume contest at 8pm. We promise silly prizes for winners in the following categories: Most Outrageous, Best Duo, Best Famous Climber, Most Original Costume. We look forward to seeing you there!

Labels: , ,

Friday, October 27, 2006
  Wrist, Finger & Elbow.....Oh My!
Climbing Injury Clinic for Elbow, Wrist & Finger
Mission Cliffs

-Sunday, October 29th from 2-4pm.

Learn to identify, prevent and treat common climbing and yoga-related injuries in this FREE clinic. David Borgeson, an orthopedic physical therapist at Saint Francis Center for Sports Medicine in Corte Madera, will be presenting this clinic on elbow, wrist & finger injuries & will include: a lecture on anatomy & common injuries/pathology, exercises for prevention & rehabilitation, and time for injury screening & consultation. Space is limited to the first 20 participants. A sign-up sheet will be available at the desk.

David Borgeson is an orthopedic physical therapist at Saint Francis Memorial Hospital Center for Sports Medicine. An avid climber of 30 years and yoga practitioner trained in the Anusara and Ashtanga traditions, David has developed expertise in evaluating and treating injuries commonly seen in rock climbers and yoga enthusiasts. He has taught classes on climbing technique and injury prevention for Touchstone for the past 10 years, and incorporates yoga into his physical therapy practice.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, October 26, 2006
  Crankenstein Lived!!!
The Crankenstein Comp, held at Berkeley Ironworks on October 20th, kick-started the second season of the Touchstone Bouldering Series. 200 competitors came to enjoy free beer & pizza and 69 brand new bouldering problems.

The competition was tight but Scott Chandler and Cicada Jenerik won the Advanced Divisions. To keep things interesting we raffled off a mountain bike and a pair of climbing shoes. Zenohe Mora won the prize for best costume, dressing up as a mime. Every competitor walked away with a smile and a TBS2 T-shirt in hand.

The prize chest for the series winners is growing all the time so make sure to participate in as many competitions as you can.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, October 25, 2006
  And sometimes, they have fun without climbing
What do Touchstone’s staffers and members do when they aren’t climbing, training for climbing or thinking about climbing? This past summer a lot of them were heading out on the John Muir Trail. Stretching 211 miles from Yosemite Valley through Kings Canyon and Sequoia national parks to Mount Whitney, the JMT takes hikers through some spectacular Sierra scenery.

“The members of Touchstone have done it all,” says retail manager Patti Phillips, “Everything from 6 days to 5 1/2 weeks, ultra-light to ultra-heavy, from start to finish, or in sections over time.”

In fact, Jacki Florine, wife of board member Hans Florine, holds the women’s solo-unsupported record for the trail: six days, six hours and 53 minutes on a trip in August and September of last year.

Phillips herself hit the trail this summer with Touchstone controller and co-founder Debra Melvin. They had taken a mini-trip last year around Glacier Point and decided it was time to make a longer visit.

“It was perfectly planned around the full moon, thanks to Debra,” says Phillips. And while the pair never did venture out into the night, “it was great not to use our headlamps on our early morning departures.”

They prepared for everything, including bears and rain. Fortunately, they encountered neither. It’s always hard to go at someone else’s pace, notes Melvin. She suspects that’s why they saw a lot of solo hikers along the trail. The Touchstone duo was well matched, however.

“If Patti was impatient waiting for me at the intersections, she hid it well!” Melvin says.

Labels: , ,

Monday, October 23, 2006
  Class 5: We have our own champion up here.
Rachel Llyod:
Class 5 Core Class Instructor & Cyclo Cross Champ

After taking 2 years off from racing cyclo cross I got lured back into race for the local “Proman/Paradigm” team based out of Fairfax, CA.. So far this season, Rachel has won the first race in the Bay Area Super Prestige Series and also the first race in the Surf City Series in Santa Cruz. This Sunday, she is off the second race of the Bay Area Super Prestige Sunday the 22nd. The Following weekend, she will be racing at the Whitehill School then the second Surf City race. We’ll keep you posted. As she says, ”I’m all set to crush locally this winter.”

Rachel teaches Class 5’s Core Class Tuesday mornings at 8am. If you want to be strong – REALLY strong come take this class.

Core class 8am, free to members, $10 drop in.

Labels: ,

Friday, October 20, 2006
  Cycle Oregon
Most people can’t imagine the effort it takes to ride a bicycle for 7 days straight, in excess of 500 miles, and with an incredible 28,000 feet of climbing. This was exactly what Sacramento Pipeworks Bicycle Club members Scott Clark, Kent Gillis and Pipeworks cycling instructor Will Harris did at the recent Cycle Oregon benefit ride. It was Scott and Kent’s first time on the CO and Will’s second. Cycle Oregon was a tale of extremes: temperatures ranged from a 38 degree low to a high of 100 degrees; most days were windy and some days it rained; the longest day was 89 miles while the shortest was 49. Kent, who is slim to begin with, lost 14 lbs on the challenging ride. Kent’s remarks reflected how extreme this challenge was also. From: “Day four was my best day on a bike – ever” to “It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It was physically, mentally and emotionally tough as well”. There were nearly 2000 other participants, necessitating a traveling tent city with nightly entertainment, rest rooms, showers, and facilities to feed over 2000 people three meals a day. Aside from 3 flats and some minor knee trouble, the whole trip went by trouble free. Congratulations guys, everyone at Pipeworks is proud of you!

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, October 19, 2006
  Chocolate Tasting
Berkeley Ironworks will be hosting a Charles Chocolates Tasting on Thrusday, October 26th, from 5-7 pm. Charles Chocolates, a local chocolatier based in Emeryville will be at Ironworks sampling their line of gourmet chocolate bars. You might have noticed the chocolates at the front desk; we have been selling them for a number of months now. Join us to try flavors like Caramelized Crisped Rice, Mocha Java, Hazelnut and Candied Orange Peel. If you’re craving a chocolate fix, you can always find these delicious chocolate bars at the front desk.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, October 18, 2006
On October 20th, Ironworks will host the first competition of the Touchstone Bouldering Series - Season 2. The series of 6 bouldering competitions is held at each Touchstone facility. Participants may compete in as many comps as they like, and their top 4 scores will count towards their series standings.

Or you can come just to our comp and enjoy FREE pizza & beer (or sodas). But that's not all, DJ STONE FLY will be here to mix some great tunes and help your psyche while you climb on all ALL NEW boulder problems. At the end of the night, we will be raffling off a few prizes, including a mountain bike! Sound like fun? Come and see.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, October 17, 2006
  What We Like
Touchstone Concord staff have favorites in the retail area. Here Scott Chandler and Andrew Descalso share their top picks.

Scott says:
The Petzl stainless steel thermos will surely become your most used and dependable crag companion ever. While sleek and stylish, it is also extremely durable and will keep your beverage of choice piping hot for hours on end. It sports a cap that doubles as a cup and for easy one-handed operation just press the red button to open and close the valve. Whether on your way to the crag or in-between attempts on your latest project, the Petzl thermos will be there for you, dishing out the heat you need.

Andrew says:
One pair of jeans, in three different colors describes my normal cold season wardrobe of Prana’s Drifter Jeans. For me, they are fashionable enough to wear out at night so I don’t get hassled by my many girlfriends, even though “I bought them at the climbing gym.” The jeans are an agile and comfortable pant to climb in, especially for colder outdoor sessions or the relaxed Friday night plastic-pulling social hour.

Further proof that I, as a man, will never understand women’s fashion was given when I saw designs and writing on the inside of the new women’s t-shirts in our retail shop. These shirts from Mission Playground all sport inspiring phrases, such as: “Live with Passion” (on the front of this Kelly green 100% organic cotton t-shirt). Despite my confusion over seeing art on the INSIDE of a shirt, I appreciate the message stating that their non-profit organization funds the outdoors I love. Flip their shirt inside out today to find out what Mission Playground is all about.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, October 16, 2006
  4th Annual All-Club Ride & BBQ Report
70 riders from the greater Touchstone Cycling Club Community geared up for a hot, late summer day in Tilden Park in Berkeley. Levels 1 and 2 rode one tough ride, the "McEwen Loop," which gets the heart pumping and legs screaming up its heavy hill interval profile (max grade on McEwen Rd. might be 15%): the bulk of the climbing happens in the last 27 miles. The finale is a stinger up South Park with the final 250 ft or so at +/-15% grade to the picnic site. Ouch. Level 3 riders did the classic "Three Bears Loop" and avoided the South Park Sting by enjoying the windy roads of Wildcat Canyon and Grizzly Peak where they were rewarded with a fun, super fast descent down South Park. All in all, not so bad despite a handful of flats, including one person going through four tubes, a blown side wall and a broken derailleur. The last of the riders came in safe and sound, around 3:30pm – just in time to savor Kent's Puerto Rican BBQ and an ice cold beer. Yum!

Big thanks to all the leaders—Markham, Dave, Jess, Brian, Gary, Andrea, Ileana and Robin—for looking out for the riders and making it a safe and fun day!

Labels: , ,

Thursday, October 12, 2006
  Taking the Lead - pt. 2
A clear head helps you take the lead
Part two about how to improve at lead climbing

Lead climbing is a mental challenge as well as a physical challenge. When we lead, we think more about falling, about the distance between bolts, about hazards on the wall below, and all the things that never bother us when a rope is attached to the top of the climb. Whether it’s conscious fear or just a vague feeling of unease at the back of your mind, it takes its toll: You grip everything a little bit more, you climb with less confidence, and after a while you're worn out on what should be easy moves.

In Part 1 we discussed the mental challenge, along with tips for getting in the right frame of mind. But muscles still count. Mind and body work together, so here are some ways for your body to help your mind.

First, remember to rest on the route. It’s more important when leading than at any other time. Even if you are climbing at optimal efficiency, leading takes longer and you have to exert yourself more. You have to stop at every bolt, shift around, find a comfortable stance, and then hang by one arm long enough to clip.

When you do clip, don’t always use the same arm. Spread the load from arm to arm so you don't get to the top with one arm complete trashed. Get into the most efficient, comfortable stance possible. Tense leaders clip from bent arms and wear themselves out. Instead, hang low on a straight arm, letting your legs carry the weight.

Also, get your clipping down cold, so you don't fumble getting the rope into the carabiner. Every extra second here leaves less strength in your arms for the most difficult parts of the climb. Don’t wait until you are on a climb to get both arms used to clipping. Hang a draw someplace handy and practice clipping it. First use your right hand, clipping from the left and the right. Then use your left hand, clipping from the left and from the right. Some climbers will hang some practice gear on the rear-view mirror in the car and put a rope in the front seat. That way they can clip while they are stuck in traffic. (But keep your eyes on the road when you start moving again.)

The final tip is partly mental, but mostly physical: Use some strategy. Break the route down into pieces. There should be obvious, easier places to clip from. Climb quickly between these and the rests. Don't hesitate in the hardest part, especially when you know what you need to do. Make the clip and then climb with confidence.

When you pull it off and lead a challenging route -- and do it with some psychological composure instead of whimpering for your mommy -- nothing feels better. All you can think of when you are done, ironically, is getting back to those great moments between bolts when you were cranking hard moves.

Those are the moments climbers live for.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, October 11, 2006
  Ask The Doctor
On Thursday, October 12th from 6-8pm at Mission Cliffs, Dr. Rachman Chung will be answering questions and providing advice regarding musculoskeletal health, injury recovery, and general healthy well-being.

For anyone who has heard something in their body pop, tear, or squish - or for those who wish to prevent such common maladies - this informational session is just what the doctor ordered.

Dr. Chung (DC, ART, CMT) graduated from Palmer College of Chiropractic West, cum laude. He is a former extreme sports athlete and knows from personal experience what it is like to suffer from chronic injury and the level of commitment necessary to fully recover. He is fully certified in Active Release Technique and is currenty pursuing a post-graduate degree in Chiropractic Neurology through the Carrick Institute. He is also certified in Zen Shiatsu. His examination and treatment methods combine principles of postural analysis, orthopedic, neurological and musculoskeletal tests, gentle touch, adjustments of the spine and extremities, and progressive rehabilitation.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, October 10, 2006
  Taking the Lead - pt. 1
A clear head helps you take the lead
The first of two articles about how to improve at lead climbing

Lead climbing is a challenge that goes beyond physical obstacles. You may know that you can do the moves, you may already have climbed a grade easily on top rope, but somehow when you lead it's inexplicably hard. You fall off pumped - with swollen, overworked muscles.

The problem is less about muscles, however, and more about what’s in your head. When we lead, we are understandably anxious about falling, about the distance between bolts, about unexpectedly hazards on the wall below. Sometimes you aren’t even conscious of the fear. It's just a vague feeling of unease at the back of your mind. It takes practice to recognize it, much less eliminate it.

That fear takes its toll however: You grip everything a little bit more, you're less willing to take risks, you don't flow through the moves. As you move up the route, all those little things accumulate and bring on a crisis. Suddenly you're worn out on what should be easy moves. But the problem started way back when you were tying in.

There are two things you can do: train your mind and train your body.

Let’s start with the purely mental aspects.

First, you simply need to lead a lot. The more time you spend doing it, the more comfortable you get with it. You develop good habits. Eventually it becomes second nature. Ensure you know the principles of safe lead climbing, have an attentive lead belayer, and that your early attempts to lead have been closely observed by an experienced lead climber. Then when you are at the gym or at the cliff, don't pass up an opportunity to lead, even if the top-rope is already up. If you are outside, pull the rope and lead it for yourself. If you are inside, lead it if it's allowed.

Second, lead routes that are well within your comfort level, especially when you are warming up. Get on routes that you know well, and that you can lead with ease. This gets your thoughts into a good groove. You are telling your stressed-out nervous system, "this isn't so bad." You are establishing confident, strong, relaxed associations with leading and with climbing. If you haven’t developed much confidence yet, fake it. Make your body act like it is strong, comfortable, and relaxed. Act this way long and often enough, and somehow it becomes true. Psychological research has shown that forcing yourself to smile, for example, even when you don't feel like it, actually has a neurological affect on you that makes you feel better.

Confidence and relaxation on a route work the same way. If you have spent enough time doing easy routines that you know well, and developing good mental habits, your body and mind will slip into that familiar groove, even when the route might have completely stressed you out or sent you falling off otherwise.

It's a cliché, but if you focus too much on negative thoughts, you are sure to make the anxiety worse and guarantee a bad time on a route. If you fill your head with thoughts of the dangers, the run-out between bolts, how tired your arms feel, or how hard the route is, they’ll take over your body as well. Pessimistic predictions will fulfill themselves. Repeat affirmations to yourself. Laugh, smile, keep busy (when you are not climbing), or whatever else you can find that works for you.

Being a good lead isn’t entirely mental, however. In Part 2, we’ll look at a few physical tips to keep you at the top of your game.

Labels: ,

Friday, October 6, 2006
  Kids of Climbing
Dakota Schwartz is one of Touchstone Concord's rising star youth climbers. Having recently taken first place in the Intermediate Category at the Concord Rope Competition in September, it should be no surprise to see her photo in the 2007 Kids of Climbing calendar. A great photo of Dakota bouldering in an area near Santa Barbara can be found by flipping to June. The quote from Dakota expresses how many of us feel about climbing: "Climbing is like a state of mind - where I am happy, focused and flowing right along doing what I love." It's a privilege for Touchstone Concord to be a place where kids and adults alike can discover their love for our awesome sport. And it's a huge pleasure to see our members take center stage as inspirations for the climbing community as a whole. Congratulations Dakota!

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, October 5, 2006
  Islands of the SF Bay
Class 5 now features photos from James Martin’s and Michael Lee’s new book Islands of the SF Bay. These two Class 5 members, photographers and now book designers created a beautiful book celebrating the Bay Area. They worked with many authors and photographers to put this together.

In their words: An analogue of this great Bay -- this volume lacks one voice and instead speaks with many. Paired with James’ unique and brilliant eye, this work is aimed at keeping you desiring to turn the page, while also inviting you to read the rich stories in the text and captions. Stories of the Bay, there are many, and we hope this volume encourages you to visit and revere the island histories and ecologies presented on the next few pages....

Come to Class 5 check out some great photos of the nature around you.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, October 3, 2006
  Yoga with Raven
Berkeley Ironworks is proud to offer morning yoga with Raven Nemeroff. Starting October 4th, Raven will be teaching yoga on Wednesday mornings from 7:30-9:00am. Get a good start on the day by attending her invigorating class.

Raven Nemeroff has been a student of yoga since 1997, and received her teaching certification from Integral Yoga Institute in February of 2003. She teaches an accessible yet challenging form of Hatha yoga, appropriate for beginners and seasoned practitioners alike. In her classes there is an emphasis on non-competition and working at your own pace. Each practice will include instruction on proper alignment techniques, pranayama, and brief meditation. Her students tell her they appreciate her clear instructions and ability to convey the teachings of Hatha yoga with humor and kindness.

Labels: , ,

Monday, October 2, 2006
  Reel Rock Film Tour Hits the Bay Area
Big Up Productions and Sender Films have teamed up with Windstopper® to produce the first-ever nationwide rock climbing film tour. On October 3-5, the 2006 REEL ROCK Film Tour comes to Walnut Creek, Berkeley, and San Francisco.

REEL ROCK features two groundbreaking new climbing films by the top producers in the industry: Dosage Volume IV, by Josh Lowell, and First Ascent, by Peter Mortimer. Events are being held in September and October 2006 at roughly 60 venues of all sizes across the United States, with additional tours in Canada and Europe. Reel Rock shows are high-energy events for climbers and mountain enthusiasts to get excited about, incorporating gear give-aways, athlete appearances and signings, fundraising for The Access Fund and local causes, and DVD sales.

This three-day event takes place at:
The Walnut Creek Pyramid Brewery -- October 3rd at 8pm; advanced tickets are available at Ironworks Climbing Gym.
The Berkeley Pyramid Brewery -- October 4th at 8pm; advanced tickets are available at Ironworks Climbing Gym.
San Francisco’s Victoria Theater -- October 5th at 7pm; advanced tickets are available at Mission Cliffs Climbing Gym.

Advanced tickets for all venues are $10, or $12 the day of the show. Climbers Tommy Caldwell, Beth Rodden and Klem Loskot will be in attendance. For movie trailers and tour info visit:

About the Films:

First Ascent

The latest and greatest release from Sender Films ( and director/producer Peter Mortimer, creators of the multi-award winning Return2Sender and Front Range Freaks.

First Ascent features today’s top rock climbers as they lay siege to steep faces and soaring alpine walls in pursuit of climbing’s pinnacle achievement – the First Ascent. Mortimer brings us on this globe-trotting journey to capture the hopes, fears, and truly radical feats of men and women on climbing’s cutting edge.

The film takes us from high Himalayan peaks to deep water soloing on the coast of Thailand, and from the sobering heights of the Black Canyon to Timmy “Urban Ape” O’Neill’s monkey business on the buildings of Hollywood. A preview segment from First Ascent premiered in January, 2006 at the Alpinist Film Festival in Jackson, WY to a capacity audience of 900 members and won the festival’s Grand Prize and People’s Choice Award.

Dosage Vol 4
Big Up's Dosage series is the definitive annual portrait of climbing's state-of-the-art. Volume IV follows the biggest names in sport climbing, trad climbing, and bouldering as they make historic ascents at spectacular locations around the world. Highlights include: Tommy Caldwell's marathon El Capitan linkup, free climbing both The Nose (5.14a) and Freerider (5.12d) in under 24 hours; Chris Sharma's first ascent of Dreamcatcher (5.14d) in Squamish, BC; Dave Graham's first ascent of Coup De Grace (5.15a) in Ticino, Switzerland; Lisa Rands’ first female ascents of scary grit routes in England's Peak District; Sharma and Graham opening a new level of hard bouldering in Hueco Tanks, Texas; and much more.

Director Josh Lowell is a leading creator of climbing films. His company, Big Up Productions (, has released seven films, including the top-selling titles in the industry. Lowell has worked extensively with the legendary climber Chris Sharma for years. His Dosage Volume II was the winner of six international film festival awards and was featured in Sports Illustrated and National Public Radio.

REEL ROCK TOUR Film Sponsors:
Petzl, Climbing Magazine, Mountain Gear, Montbell, La Sportiva, Prana, Osprey, Nikwax, and Entreprises

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

This is the old Touchstone Blog. This is no longer active. Please visit our new blog at

March 2006 / April 2006 / May 2006 / June 2006 / July 2006 / August 2006 / September 2006 / October 2006 / November 2006 / December 2006 / January 2007 / February 2007 / March 2007 / April 2007 / May 2007 / June 2007 / July 2007 / August 2007 / September 2007 / October 2007 / November 2007 / December 2007 / January 2008 / February 2008 / March 2008 / April 2008 / May 2008 / June 2008 / July 2008 / August 2008 / September 2008 / October 2008 / November 2008 / December 2008 / January 2009 / February 2009 / March 2009 / April 2009 / May 2009 / June 2009 / July 2009 / August 2009 / September 2009 / October 2009 / November 2009 / December 2009 / January 2010 / February 2010 / March 2010 / April 2010 / May 2010 / June 2010 / July 2010 / August 2010 / September 2010 / October 2010 / November 2010 / December 2010 / January 2011 / February 2011 / March 2011 / April 2011 / May 2011 / June 2011 / July 2011 / August 2011 / September 2011 / October 2011 / November 2011 / December 2011 / January 2012 /

Powered by Blogger

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]