Touchstone Blog Archive
Friday, March 30, 2007
  Photos On Display
If you haven’t noticed, the walls behind the front desk have been changing to become a new photo gallery. Photography taken by two San Jose members, Hien Lam, a photographer by day and climber by night, and Simon Hale, San Jose’s resident Georgetown physicist, are on display. The artwork depicts various moments of a Bishop bouldering trip that occurred over New Year’s. Roughly 20 climbers composes of Touchstone San Jose Members, Staff, and local south bay boulderers made their way to the Eastside for a week-long bouldering trip. The trip was filled with hard climbing, warm campfires, toasted marshmallows, and great stories.

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Thursday, March 29, 2007
  Touchstone Cycling Does It Again
This weekend was another great weekend for the Touchstone Race Teams. Pat Ross of the Women’s Elite team won the Orosi Road Race by a huge margin. Known to be a climber’s race, the Orosi Road Race is a 60 mile course (two 30 mile laps) with 4,000 feet of climbing. On the first major climb Jane Despas (Klein Real Estate) set a hard pace. Near the top, though, Pat moved to the front of the group and after a minute or so she looked back to discover that no one was behind her. She immediately bolted to create a larger gap between her and the rest of the field. Low and behold she stayed away the next 50 miles to finish over 8 minutes in front of the others. Can you say stamina? Congratulations, Pat!

Closer to home the Cat 4 women’s team participated in the popular Berkeley Bike Club Team Time Trial set on the other side of the Berkeley Hills. The race is a 16.6 mile two person team time trial with 3 climbs and 3 fast descents. The time is based on the second rider crossing the finish line. Anne Taupier and Vanessa DeGier crossed the finish line with the winning time of 53:02. Jessica de Jesus and Lisa Stefke placed third with a time of 54:01. Ken Dick and Chris Ackerman raced together to cross the line with the 3rd best time of 47:31. Congratulations to all our Touchstone Racers for another great showing.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007
  TBS2 Comes to an End
The sixth and final competition in the Touchstone Bouldering Series 2 was held at Sacramento Pipeworks on a beautiful St. Patrick’s Day, Saturday March 17th. Over 185 competitors came from all around the bay area as well as Sacramento for the grand finale of this ever more popular series. Competition was friendly yet fierce as contestants tried to improve their standings in the overall series. Prize packages were awarded to the top five men’s and women’s finishers in each of three categories. There was plenty of pizza and refreshments after the competition, in addition to a troupe of fire dancers who wowed the crowd with their pyrotechnic prowess. Check out the series final results here or the photos in our gallery.

Watch for Touchstone Roped Series 2 (TRS2) dates coming soon!

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Monday, March 26, 2007
  Class 5 Cuts the Cord
Now you can multitask like a champ at your favorite place. Class 5 has added wireless internet allowing you to access the internet from your laptop while you are at Class 5.

We aren’t suggesting that you have to bring your work with you, but it may make it easier to sneak out of the office for a quick workout. Now you can keep in touch or do your homework between bouldering sends.

Wireless is a big plus when planning climbing trips with your partners to find out which passes are open or the beta on that big wall. Now you can do it all at Class 5.

With the addition of wireless at Class 5, this means that all Touchstone gyms are now wireless. Just another service that Touchstone provides to create a unique fitness experience.

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Friday, March 23, 2007
  We Remember
Long time member and friend of Mission Cliffs recently went missing in a diving accident this past Saturday off the northern California coast. Kawika, an underwater photographer and experienced diver, was on a solo dive trip from Eureka to Cape Mendocino and never returned. An extensive search was carried out by the Coast Guard that included aircraft, helicopters, motor lifeboats, and underwater divers. Despite many efforts to find Kawika, the search was called off at sunset on Monday.

Kawika attained an engineering degree from Harvard and a graduate degree from the School of Engineering at Stanford. Following graduate school, Kawika devoted more time to diving and underwater photography. Images from his many dives along the California Coast, Papua New Guinea, Isla del Coco and Hawaii can be viewed on his website

His family is hosting an informal gathering this Sunday, March 25, from 1 to 4 p.m. at 21 Teaberry Lane, Tiburon, Marin County, so Kawika's friends can gather in a casual manner to meet his family, share stories, poems, and photos.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Kawika and his family at this time.

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  Overheard: Thought Beta

"I was falling off of a hard series of bouldering moves and couldn't seem to make headway. My partner insisted that the problem was that I wasn't thinking about my right elbow enough. Next try, I thought about my elbow as I moved. I got the problem. We dub this technique 'thought beta.'"

Matt McCormick
-- Sacramento Pipeworks

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007
  San Jose Storms the Castle
On Saturday, March 10th, approximately 20 Touchstone San Jose members ventured outside to the local South Bay bouldering spot, Castle Rock State Park, to break up the monotony of pulling on plastic with some good, old-fashioned sloper-slapping fun! Conditions were prime, as over half the group visited the park and climbed outside for the first time. Both staff and experienced members assisted the newer climbers in climbing, spotting, outdoor etiquette and the “No Trace” Ethic. At the end of the day, members got a renewed sense of bouldering’s roots, as well as the spirit of climbing and a greater sense of community.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007
  Bike Clubbers Go For A Run
As reported several months ago, 8 members of the Sacramento Pipeworks bike club formed two 4-person relay teams to complete the California International Marathon (CIM) held in Sacramento last December 2nd. Of those 8 people, 7 committed to training for the Chico Bidwell Classic Half Marathon that was held Saturday March 3rd. Injury and illness sidelined a couple runners, but 5 were left to stick it out. Rhonda Hurst ran the 5K and placed 10th in her age group, with the remaining 4 bike clubbers running the half marathon. Tina Johnston placed 5th in her age group and 97th overall; Scott Clark placed 6th in his age group, 40th overall; Kristen Venditelli placed 16th in her age group, 353rd overall and Pipeworks manager Vaughn Medford placed 23rd in his age group, 269th overall. “We plan to continue running as a group but I think we all agree that it’s time to get back on the bike – at least until this years CIM!” Medford said. Congratulations everyone!

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Monday, March 19, 2007
  A Child's Feet
Parents with growing children will be excited to hear that Touchstone has added a new Forum to their website just for you.

Kids out grow their shoes at a phenomenal rate, but now you can post online to find, swap or buy shoes. Have a perfectly good pair of size 3 shoes, but junior needs a size 4 now? Now these shoes won’t go to waste, they can be recycled back into the kid shoe stream.

As more parents get involved, everyone can potentially save a lot and still keep their kids on the walls. Click here, to check out this new forum.

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Sunday, March 18, 2007
  A Big Help for the Big Easy
Photo caption: USF Law students Andrew Salenger, Zach Hansen, Jenny Yu, Heather Thurgood, Nicole Cabalette, and Liz Hallock discussed the state of the justice system in New Orleans with The Hon. Edith Brown Clement, a Court of Appeals judge for the 5th Circuit.

Front-desk staff at Berkeley Ironworks and University of San Francisco law student Liz Hallock organized a legal aid trip to New Orleans to help Hurricane Katrina victims. The group worked with the Student Hurricane Network, which has brought hundreds of law students to the Gulf Coast to rebuild homes and work in legal aid offices. The USF students were placed with ACORN, an organization committed to rebuilding the Lower Ninth Ward. That neighborhood was destroyed in August, 2005 when the Industrial Canal levees breached, ripping homes from their foundations, and a 45-ton barge floated through the area, leveling remaining homes beneath it. The students discovered that one of the major roadblocks to recovery for the people they met was a lack of consolidated information on how to access legal help, and before they left New Orleans, they created a legal resource guide for ACORN members, designed to help residents find information on everything from applying for Road Home program benefits to finding a lawyer. The trip was also supported by the USF Law in Motion Service Program, and more information about the Student Hurricane Network and ways to help can be found at:

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Friday, March 16, 2007
  Harder they Fall

Some people say, “falling off a route.” Others prefer to say, “falling on a route.” Still others think “falling on lead” is better. But nobody wants to say, “It’s my fault I fell.”

Vaughn Medford, manager of Sacramento Pipeworks, was changing bulbs on the wall lights one day when a guy lowered off. “I overheard him tell his partner (only half jokingly) that he fell because the light was in his eyes!” Medford says.

And who can blame the mother who said she gets distracted when one of her kids starts arguing with someone below? Or worse yet, crying? “I find it hard to demonstrate cunning layback technique or raw power when that happens,” she says.

Next time you need a good excuse for taking a plunge, here are some of the best gathered by Touchstone staff over the years:

* I couldn’t do it because I’m too tall. (What’s next? “I’m too strong?”)

* It’s too hot (or cold, or humid, or dry, etc.)

* It must be a high gravity day.

* It’s too reachy.

* I left my other climbing shoe at home.

* I forgot to take my glucosamine.

* My arsenal of moves is so vast; I didn’t know which one to use.

* And our all-time favorite from a climber who shall remain anonymous: “It was during a dreadful period of my life but I was climbing like a fiend. I had a bad habit of chewing Redman tobacco because of my hillbilly climbing partner from Tennessee. I didn't usually climb while chewing because I didn't want to spit all over the rock. I was in the middle of the first pitch not realizing that I had this big chaw in my mouth until I had to spit. All of a sudden I had this head rush and I started gagging on the juice. At the exact moment of spitting the whole chaw out, my body flung back as if a torpedo hit me and I took a huge whipper off a No. 1 camelot. I didn't get any sympathy from my partners who were laughing hysterically.”

Oh, the name of this very easy warm-up route? Chewbacca.

FEEBACK: What is the best excuse you've heard? Send it to us and it might show up on our next Top 10 list.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007
  Bishop Guide
NEW! The town of Bishop, in eastern California, is a boulderer’s paradise, one of the few places in the world where a high concentration of world-class bouldering combines with magnificent scenery, convenient amenities, and near-perfect weather.

The new Bishop Bouldering guide details more than 2000 problems at this internationally popular climbing destination, providing complete coverage of the Buttermilk Country (including outlying areas like Dales Camp and the Pollen Grains), The Happy and Sad Boulders, The Druid Stones, Rock Creek and The Sherwin Plateau (north toward Mammoth).

This beautiful guide book at $36 will make your next bouldering trip a trip to remember so pick one up today!

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007
  Thursday Night Social
Starting March 15th:

Touchstone San Jose will be hosting a social to give members an opportunity to get together, interact, play climbing games, share training tips, meet new friends, and have a great session! Socials will be facilitated by a staff member and held every other Thursday night at 8PM. Check the calender for dates. Contact the Front Desk for more details.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007
  TBS2 Finale: This Saturday!!
The grand finale of this year’s very popular TBS will be held in Sacramento on St. Patrick’s Day, Saturday March 17th from 10am to 4pm. The last in the series of 6 events is expected to draw well in excess of 200 people from all over the bay area as well as the Sacramento Valley. All abilities are welcome, with problems ranging from V-0 through V-11. There will be a hefty amount of prizes, t-shirts, pizza, beer and refreshments. In addition there will be a troupe of fire dancers to entertain everyone after the competition! Entry is free for Touchstone members and $10 for non-members.

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Monday, March 12, 2007
  Oakland Update
Now that the space is cleared out and the keys are in our hands, we at Touchstone are very excited about the potential for an amazing climbing gym. Over the next several weeks we will be finalizing the layout of the main climbing and bouldering areas, but first some demolition and reinforcement of the building are required in order to meet updated building standards.

Look for new photos on our website as we will be posting the progress of this exciting project periodically. Also, be sure to keep an eye on the Touchstone blog for information on tours of the new space. We look forward to seeing you there.

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Friday, March 9, 2007
  San Jose Staff Helping in Mexico
During the last week of February, San Jose staff member, Paul Spitzmueller, who also teaches at Bellarmine College Preparatory went to Guaymas, Mexico with eleven high school students to volunteer his time to a community in need of support. The trip had a few goals in mind that included an immersion experience into Mexican culture, accompaniment with the people they serve, and finally, to understand their context in the setting of global poverty. Both the school and the trip aimed to move students into a space that challenged their traditional ways of thinking.

The days consisted of working with a Franciscan community in the morning, fulfilling certain projects that needed to be complete (ie. community clean up jobs, interacting with the youth, etc…). This year, they returned to a house covered in tasteless graffiti. They scraped the paint off, re-painted the surface, and replaced them with student-painted murals of Mother Theresa and Jesus. As a side note, they've found from past experiences that walls with murals (typically with a Christian theme) are respected and valued much more by the community and tend to be preserved better than blank walls that are seen as empty canvases. The students who did not work on the mural planted a garden. In the afternoon, they served food at the soup kitchen and listened to the stories of the local homeless. For many of the students, this was their first time hearing Spanish spoken exclusively at meals, providing a good challenge and opportunity to deal with their comfort zones. During the evenings, they went to a local boys and girls club to play with you kids that ranged from 7-12. This club is the only kind in town, started by an American 14 years ago, it serves as a social outlet for kids to go and play safely with others as soon as school lets out. It's an effective way to keep them off of the streets where they are exposed to drugs and violence.

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Wednesday, March 7, 2007
  4–Part Pilates Workshop
4–part Pilates workshop on Saturdays at Mission Cliffs - 2pm.

Beginning Saturday, March 10th & continuing every Saturday thru March, Mission Cliffs is offering a 4-part workshop where you will learn the basic principles of pilates: Breathing, Centering, Concentration, Control, Precision and Efficiency of Movement. Students will learn and apply these principles to each Pilates exercise using the Beginner Mat System. These four workouts will provide you with a solid understanding of the Pilates methods and you’ll never want to go back to ’ab crunches’ again! Free Member event. It is recommended that students attend all 4 classes.

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Tuesday, March 6, 2007
  Training Tip: Stay aerobic for longer, stronger workouts
Do you know your anaerobic threshold?

Depending on your fitness level, your body's systems are able to process the waste byproducts of exercise and replenish your muscles for more work. You cross the anaerobic threshold when you exceed your body's capacity to keep up with the load and waste products like lactic acid accumulate and the muscles cannot be replenished.

Aerobic activity is relatively low level activity that can be sustained for long periods because your body's systems can successfully resupply the muscles with oxygen. Anaerobic activity is high intensity activity that cannot be sustained for long periods because your body's systems cannot resupply the muscles with the necessary oxygen.

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Monday, March 5, 2007
  Touchstone Memebers at ABS Nationals

Touchstone Concord and Team Fuego members Gregor Peirce, Gabe Matson, Evan Cronin and Wes Mirgalio traveled to Timonium, Maryland to compete in the ABS 8 National Championships that took place February 16-18. All four boys train with Coach Yuki Uemora for Team Fuego and were excited to be heading to their first National-level competition. Scott Cory and Troy Gibb, also from Touchstone Concord, attended the event with their team, Zero Gravity.

Despite this being Gregor's first on-site format competition, he took first in his division, Youth B (14-15 year olds), a truly impressive accomplishment. The rest of the Touchstone crew also did well, with Gabe and Evan taking 19th and 29th respectively in Youth A. Wes placed 23rd in the Juniors' division and Troy took 7th in Youth B. Scott Cory fought through an ankle injury sustained in the qualifying round and still managed to place 8th in Youth A.

Gregor climbed perfectly in the qualifying round, flashing all four problems. He continued his streak of great climbing in the finals, flashing the first problem and getting the 2nd high point on problems number two and three. Troy reached the high point on problem number 3 and came within a hair of making it a 1-2 finish in their category.

On the female side, Dakota Schwartz, competing in the Youth C category, took 14th place. This category was won by Mission Cliffs Member Cicada Jenerik. All in all, a great performance by everyone from Touchstone Concord! We look forward to following these strong, young climbers in their future adventures.

You can also read more about these climbers in the Monday edition of the Contra Costa Times or online here.

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Friday, March 2, 2007
  Touchstone Cycling Teams off to Great Start
Wow! The Touchstone Climbing Race teams have started the 2007 season with a bang. Let’s start at the highest level. The Touchstone Women’s Elite team have won Northern California’s first two major road races. Maria Monica, one of our fine climbers, won the Pine Flat Road Race, a race for climbers in the Sierra foothills near Fresno. Jill McLaughlin, one of our fine sprinters, easily powered through to win the sprint at the Snelling Road Race. Well Done!

The Touchstone Men’s Master’s team have had similar success. John Ormsby, our power master, sprinted for 2nd place in front of a huge field at the Early Bird Criterium. Scott Herring, another power boy, etched by Eric Hoffman, a Mission Cliffs member, at the finish line of the ever so popular Snelling Road Race. As Eric came to the line, Scott snuck by him with a photo finish win. It was a pretty exciting finish.

The newly formed Category 4 Touchstone Women’s Team has started their first racing season with two wins at the Early Bird Crits. Vanessa DeGier in both races darted from mid pack to sprint for easy 1st place finishes. Amy Padula, came 4th at the Pine Flat Road Race.

Congratulations to all the Touchstone Climbing Cycling Teams to a great start. For more information, please visit the bike club page.

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Thursday, March 1, 2007
  The Great Western Power Co.
Touchstone Climbing is thrilled to announce that we have signed a lease on a building in downtown Oakland. The Great Western Power Company is located in central Oakland, near BART and with quick access to the freeway. At over 45 feet tall, this building promises to provide some exciting new terrain to the Bay Area climbing community. We also plan to offer a large bouldering area with a variety of terrain. With over 10,000 square feet of space, there is still plenty of room for a great fitness area and rooms for yoga and other great programs. This gym will offer everything you have come to expect from a Touchstone facility.

The current tenants are in the process of moving out and we will soon start construction. Keep an eye on the news blog for updates as this project progresses. We have also posted a few more pictures in the online gallery and will continue to add more as the building process begins. At this point we are hoping for an open date in late 2007.

As soon as we start construction of the climbing structure, we will begin to host regular Friday night tours. Until then, we ask that you please respect the current tenant and the initial construction crews, and refrain from stopping by the building.

Stay tuned...

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