Touchstone Blog Archive
Friday, December 29, 2006
  Happy New Year
Touchstone Climbing would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year. We had an exciting 2006 at Touchstone. We saw the finale of our 1st annual Touchstone Bouldering Series, which had an amazing 440 unique competitors. The Touchstone Roped Series started with our biggest rope climbing comp ever at Mission Cliffs. There were many changes to the gyms including a complete bathroom remodel at Ironworks. 2006 was a huge year for both our men's and women's cycling teams and we are very excited for the 2007 season. The Touchstone Bike Club continued to grow and remains a favorite among members. Last year also saw the passing of Todd Skinner, Steve Karafa and Jeff Schoen, who all will be deeply missed. Touchstone's commitment to reach out to the community continued in 2006 with the Bike Corral in Sacramento, a blood drive in Concord, food and toy drives at Mission Cliffs, a climb for breast cancer research at Class 5 and a charity climb for homelessness at Ironworks.

We are looking forward to a wonderful 2007 including an exciting announcement during the first part of the year. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

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Thursday, December 28, 2006
  Demented Thursdays Indoor Cycling Class
For people who an hour and a half of spinning just isn't enough, Demented Thursdays are back! Starting in December, Berkeley Ironworks now offers two back to back spinning classes starting at 5:30pm, also known as Demented Thursdays.

If you can't make the full hours, for what ever reason, there will be a change over mid-way through the class so you can take either the first hour or second hour of the duo. All-Star cycling instructor Wendy Georges will teach the first hour and Jen Worth will lead the second.

A great idea for those who might be a bit intimidated by the idea of two hours of cycling: take the first class, and if you're feeling gassed, stop at the change over. Of course, if you're feeling good, and a little demented maybe, you can go for two.

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006
  The California International Marathon
Sacramento Pipeworks Bike Club Members complete The California International Marathon!

The California International Marathon (CIM), named “one of the world’s best small marathons” by Runners World Magazine, is an annual event boasting more than 5,000 runners and is both a Boston Marathon qualifier, and an Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier. Starting at Folsom Dam, the event weaves through outlying Sacramento area communities, passing beautiful tree-lined downtown streets, and finally finishes over 26 miles later at the historic California State Capitol building in Sacramento. The CIM attracts top athletes from all over the world in addition to local first-time marathoners.

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Friday, December 22, 2006
  Happy Holidays
We here at Touchstone wish you a happy holiday and a healthy start to 2007.

All Touchstone Gyms will be closed on Christmas and New Years Day. Regular gym hours will be in effect for all other days in December and January.


Thursday, December 21, 2006
  SJ has X-Mas Bling
Touchstone Climbing held its annual holiday party this past Saturday, December 16th, at Berkeley Ironworks. The highlight of the evening was the arrival of the Touchstone San Jose outfit. Arriving fashionably late, en masse and clad in black, the South Bay crew showed off their bling in the form of a gold chain and Touchstone logo “T”, complete with ice. When asked about their bling, the San Jose staff simply replied, “Gangsta.”

Witnesses described the San Jose group as close-knit, friendly, outgoing, and, um, colorful. One may ask, what conspired in the forming of such dynamic solidarity? Could it be the unforgiving streets of San Jose? Could it be the downtown’s Christmas in the Park or the ice skating under palm trees? Is it the thoroughfare of diversity or the bad driving of the tech geeks? Maybe it’s the burritos and orange sauce at La Vic’s?

We’ll let you decide for yourself. Come downtown to Touchstone San Jose and experience the best bouldering sessions in South Bay. The staff and members won’t let you down.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006
  Last Minute Gift Idea
The Grimper Game is the perfect holiday gift for your favorite climber. At 29.95 this tabletop game strengthens your grip as it humbles and humiliates even the most serious climber. To play this game that pits climbers' grips against each other simply line up the center marks and using your hand's gripping strength pull your opponent off sides, you can also even the odds by assigning the (presumed) stronger player a more difficult finger positioning.

Don’t miss out on hours of fun with this fingery game of tug-o-war.

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Monday, December 18, 2006
  TBS2 hits Concord
Touchstone Concord keeps breaking records for attendance to their bouldering competitions. With 194 competitors at the latest TBS2, December 8th, people were literally climbing the walls. Fortunately, the problems extended into the roped areas, so there was enough room for everyone. Competitors and spectators alike had a great time as usual; pizza eating, beer and soda drinking and chocolate sampling was enjoyed by all. Recently certified massage therapist and course setter extraordinaire, Brian Cork, was even on hand to rub the soreness out of tired and tight muscles.

The winner of Advanced Men at the first two TBS2 comps, Scott Chandler, had to sit this one out due to a finger injury, which made room for Simon Benkert to swoop in and take a decisive first place. Cicada Jenerick took first in women's advanced. For more comp results go to the comps page. You can also see pictures from the Concord comp in our online gallery.

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Thursday, December 14, 2006
  7x7 for Florine

Long time member, Jacqueline Florine was recently featured as one of "seven Bay Area women who have changed history—by doing what they love most." In the December issue of 7X7 magazine, Jacqueline is profiled for her climbing accomplishments. The article discusses both her solo climbs of El Cap, as well as her recent climbing of all California 14ers in an impressive nine days, 12 hours and 17 minutes.

Other women on the list include Nancy Pelosi, Fannie Mae Barnes, Frances Conley, Renel Brooks-Moon, Joanne Garvey and Carly Fiorina. You can read the whole article online at the 7X7 website.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006
  New DVD's for Christmas
Now in a Touchstone retail area near you are 4 new DVD's, perfect for
stocking stuffers:

"Best of the West"
features Boone Speed, Chris Sharma, and Nate Gold making a 2-week side trip to Hueco and sending crazy-hard problems en route to New Zealand. "The Big Game" finds the trio finally making it to New Zealand and has beautiful footage of the boulders with a lot of high adrenaline climbing. "First Ascent" is all about 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.

Dosage Volume IV follows the biggest names in sport climbing, traditional climbing, and bouldering as they make historic ascents at spectacular locations around the world. Highlights include: Tommy Caldwell freeclimbing 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; Lisa Rands on first female ascents of scary grit routes in England's Peak District; Dave Graham doing his beautiful Coup de Grace (5.14d) in Ticino, Switzerland; and Berkeley Ironworks members Randy Puro and Courtney Hemphill pulling down hard on the gorgeous granite boulders of Switzerland.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006
  The Valley in Gigapixel Glory
Check out the Valley in zoomable gigapixel glory at

If you are looking to climb a route on El Capitan or Half Dome you can scope the whole route from the comfort of your home.

Made by a consortium of digital artists, these photos are outstanding. Check out the haul bags on El Cap (if you can find them), a party topping out on Zodiac and another on the Teflon corner pitch of the Salathe.

According to Eric Hanson, one of the guys who shot this stuff they are planning on re-shooting El Cap at higher resolution and in the summer when it is covered with parties. So keep checking in on this project.

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Monday, December 11, 2006
  Injury Clinic

Climbing & Yoga Injury Clinic at Mission Cliffs
Hip and Knee Pain
Sunday, December 17th, 2-4 pm
FREE Event

Learn to prevent, identify and treat common climbing and yoga-related injuries in this FREE clinic on Sunday, December 17th from 2-4 pm. The clinic is part of a series of clinics by David Borgeson. Each clinic will focus on one joint or body area and include: 1) a lecture on anatomy and common injuries/pathology; 2) exercises for prevention and rehabilitation; and 3) time for injury screening and consultation. The December clinic will focus on Hip and Knee Pain. A sign-up sheet will be available at the front desk.

David Borgeson is an orthopedic physical therapist at Saint Francis Memorial Hospital Center for Sports Medicine - Corte Madera office. David integrates his background in physical therapy and epidemiology by emphasizing health promotion and injury prevention in his clinical practice. 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.

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Friday, December 8, 2006
  Toy Drive
Mission Cliffs
Third Annual Holiday Toy Drive

This holiday season you can help underprivileged families in our community by donating a new, unwrapped toy (requested value of $10 or more) to the front desk staff at Mission Cliffs. For every gift that we receive, we would like to extend our appreciation by giving you a coupon for a free day pass to Mission Cliffs.

So please help us spread some holiday joy, and drop off your gift by Monday, December 18th and collect your free coupon.

Happy Holidays from the staff at Mission Cliffs.

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Thursday, December 7, 2006
  And there is Chocolate!!

Charles Chocolate Tasting at Touchstone Concord's TBS2

In December, a new food item will be in stock at Touchstone Concord: premium chocolate bars and chocolate covered almonds from Emeryville-based chocolatier, Charles Chocolate. Available in several delectable flavors such as Mocha Java and Carmelized Rice Crispy, they shouldn't be missed. If you are a little hesitant about the sticker price of $3.75/bar, come by the free tasting taking place December 8 from 7:30pm to 9:30pm during the TBS2 comp. All the flavors will be on hand to try out. Find out which is your favorite!

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Wednesday, December 6, 2006
  TBS2 in Concord
If you missed last season's Touchstone Bouldering Series competition at Concord, don't be a fool twice. This is your chance to crank on easy, intermediate and difficult boulder problems, eat some *free* pizza, drink a little *free* beer or soda and get an awesome TBS2 t-shirt.

When: December 8 from 6pm to 10pm
Where: Touchstone Concord
Who: All Touchstone Members & non-members
What: TBS2: The best bouldering comp around
Cost: FREE to members! $10 for non-members

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  Pub on Wheels

From the Touchstone Bike Club:

The holidays are upon us and for that, this Saturday's ride will kick off a new tradition, the Holiday Tailgate "Pub on Wheels" Party TM. This week's Level 1/2 Leaders (Scott and Arthur) invite you to a post-ride gathering of fresh brews & other non-alcoholic beverages to raise a glass to another great year of riding in the Sports Basement parking lot. RSVP by Thursday, Dec. 7, to

All rides will start/end at the Presidio Sports Basement Parking Lot at 9:15am. ALL RIDERS (Levels 1, 2 & 3) are welcome, we just ask that you RSVP. Rain or 30% chance of rain or greater will (sadly) cancel the ride. Please visit for "Stinson Beach, CA" for weather.

Dec. 9 – Marin
Levels 1/2 Ride - Stinson Bolinas-Fairfax Loop (All riders should be self-sufficient)
55 miles; 4,250' vertical climbing (detour likely due to Hwy 1 closures)
Leaders: Scott Herring and Arthur Combs (Level 1/2)

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Tuesday, December 5, 2006
  Unsung Heros
New Area Developers:
The Unsung Heroes of the Climbing Community

Ever wonder where new routes and new climbing areas outside come from? Who finds them? Who does the trail building work? Who bolts them? Who establishes access with land owners?

All over the country there are a handful of dedicated, creative, and hard-working individuals who have invested time, money and energy into establishing routes and climbing areas for the rest of us. And they're largely under-appreciated. Over the years, climbers craving adventure, new routes, and wanting to make their contribution to climbing history, have gone out searching for new rock. Armed with aerial photographs, topo maps, rumors, or a well-seasoned sixth sense about where rocks outcrop, they have taken to the back roads and bushwhacked across unknown territory to find that elusive perfect piece of rock.

One out of a hundred times, they find something good. Even more rarely, they find a gem in the rough like Owen's River Gorge outside of Bishop, or Rifle Canyon in Colorado. Then they set about identifying and climbing the likely lines of ascent. Usually the easier and obvious lines go first. Then as word gets out and others start to check out the new find, more and more lines get filled in or boulder problems get done.

Putting up new routes or new boulder problems requires creativity, courage, perseverance, and stubbornness. Lots of routes, like the Nose on El Cap, defy attempt after attempt until someone with vision manages to top out. Many times the hard, cutting edge routes, like Scott Franklin's Scarface at Smith Rock in Oregon, require a new approach to training and radical innovations in climbing style or equipment. And many of those innovations cause controversy.

When Ron Kauk started putting up bolts on rappel on a few select routes in Yosemite in the 1980s, he was helping to push the whole sport into a new era. He was also alienating lots of more traditionally minded climbers who insist bolts should be set only on the ascent. Others have argued that it doesn’t matter whether the bolts go in on the way up or the way down.

Then there is the impact on the environment to consider. “Cleaning off” routes in order to make them safe and pleasant to climb often means clearing brush and trees where a route starts, breaking off loose rock to get to the solid parts, drilling bolt holes, and more. Sometimes these efforts mean making permanent changes to the rock. Setting a new route means striking a balance between altering the environment and creating new opportunities for climbers.

Chris Sharma's stunning routes all over the world have set the standards for difficulty for years. Since they were as hard or harder than any other routes in the world, he had no one to look to for a precedent or to break the ground. He had to find the resources -- the physical strength and the mental fortitude -- entirely within himself in order to do the route. And for every famous route like Mandala, or Realization, there are a hundred failed projects that remain unclimbed.

So on your next climbing trip, take time to read the first ascent credits in the guidebook, and reflect on the hours of hard work, the trail building, the negotiations with land managers, the expensive bolts, and the other thankless work that someone did to establish those climbs.

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Monday, December 4, 2006
  Concord Staff Trip
The Touchstone Concord staff had a great day bouldering in Yosemite Valley on their November 18th staff retreat. The weather couldn't have been better: cool and sunny. A few highlights of the trip: new staff member, Monica Aranda, sent the classic Cocaine Corner; Scott Chandler put to rest his nemesis, Thriller; first time boulderer, Grace Ragsdale, surprised herself by mastering some tricky slab problems.

After a full day of climbing, everyone took their tired muscles and shredded skin to the Lodge cafeteria where folks rewarded themselves with large amounts of fried food and chocolate cake. Andrew Descalso proved himself to be the most impressive eater of the bunch, easily downing a large mayonnaise packet to win a bottle of $2 Chuck. It was a fitting ending to a fun day.

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Friday, December 1, 2006
  TBS2 in SJ

Over 125 climbers and mobs of spectators were treated to another amazing competition at Touchstone San Jose on Friday, November 17th. The gym was completely reset with brand new boulder problems compliments by vinyl beats spun by DJ Max. Members and non-members competed in another virtually perfect event put on by the South Bay outfit. The vibe was super friendly, upbeat, and very laid back. Strangers became fast friends as competitors, staff, and spectators spotted and fixed pads for each other in an extremely conscientious and supportive atmosphere. As the time ticked away, competitors were treated to dark beer and greasy pizza! Downtown onlookers were thoroughly impressed and entertained; and many returned the following day to try bouldering for the first time. Thank you San Jose for your wonderful energy and support!

Congratulations to 1st place finishers:

Womens Beginner: Lilly Nguyen 15060 points
Womens Intermediate: Becky Trafecanty 22140 points
Womens Advanced: Tiffany Hensley 30000 points
Mens Beginner: Jacob Reiban 15280 points
Mens Intermediate: Daniel Weeks 29060
Mens Advanced: Scott Chandler 41280 points

For full results and a list of all our upcoming comp, please visit our comps page. You can see the current TBS2 standings on the results page. Also, check out the event photos in the gallery

Be sure to check out the next TBS 2 Comp at Touchstone Concord on December 8th!

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