Touchstone Blog Archive
Monday, April 30, 2007
  DJ Wokstar at Pipeworks

If you’re wondering about the dreadlocked guy who spins all the great music you hear at Pipeworks every Friday night, his name is Walker Townsend, AKA “DJ Wokstar”. 20 years ago he started spinning because he owned all the records that his friends wanted to hear, so they were constantly asking him to make mix tapes. He has been playing music professionally ever since. Walker moved from Hawaii to Sacramento 7 years ago and says he wants to play “songs that make people feel good”. Currently he plays Fultons underground in old Sacramento and has had a gig at The Blue Lamp for 4 years. Walkers favorite music genre are Reggae, Afro-Funk and Soul but he is best known for playing an array of music that is diverse enough to keep every music lover happy. He has been written up in articles for The Sacramento Bee and been featured in Spin Magazine as well. When asked why his spinning produces so much more energy in the gym than a pre-recorded CD he said “People react because they see me giving them something - putting forth an effort to make them feel good. It just makes people try to have a good time”. Aside from his interest in music, this 37 year old single father of 3 great boys is an avid climber and says that his goal is to climb Mt Everest.

To hear Walkers special blend of music, stop by the gym any Friday night after 7:30 or come to a climbing competition at Pipeworks where he will always be the one spinning tunes.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007
  New Treadmills at Class 5
Now you can run in style at Class 5 on our new Precor treadmill. You can check your heart rate while you run, and this machine has a greater range in angle for running uphill. The Impact Control System is made to be easier on the knees, legs, and back. This machine has a newer suspension system to cushion impact and control lateral motions while remaining responsive (their words). Now you can adjust the speed and incline on buttons which are “confirming user input with a satisfying click”. No more pushing a flat spot and hoping for the best.

Now you have no reason not to get running again

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007
  Manager Wins Big

Ken James, the manager of Class 5 in San Rafael, was awarded a Izzie award for Choreography for a show he created with Chris Black, The Adventures of Cunning and Guile.

Basically, the local dance scene Oscars, the Isadora Duncan Dance Awards seek to honor local dance artists and promote their visibility, primarily by acknowledging outstanding achievements within a twelve-month period of performances. Held in front of a capacity crowd at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco awards are handed out for performances, sound scores, sets and, of course, choreography.

The show which won the honors was a site specific work performed throughout the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco in 2005 and 2006. To give an idea of who was considered for this award, the Izzies cover ballet, modern dance, ethnic dance and street dance- everyone from the SF Ballet to Soul Force Hip Hop (from 2-300 dance companies).

In case you didn’t know, Ken has been choreographing and performing for over 20 years. Check out for more information.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007
  CMC and the Next Step
Ever thought of taking your climbing to the great outdoors? To get you started, you might want to consider joining a club such as the California Mountaineering Club. Touchstone Concord member Tom Cronin is the Bay Area Representative for the CMC.

The CMC started in the early 90’s after the Sierra Club stopped running trips above class 3 and Tom is their third Bay Area rep. This year Tom has scheduled a series of climbs for Northern California club members starting with smaller crags such as Phantom Spires. The climbs build in commitment through the season with Multi-day trips in later August and September. In the winter, ice climbing weekends in Lee Vining are the ticket.

Many of these trips are a little less about climbing and a lot about preparation, teamwork, and determination. If you are interested in the club, contact Tom at

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Friday, April 20, 2007
  Check Your Mileage
Runners and bikers! Always guessing how far a new route might be? Now you have a way to check out the mileage online while you are at work! This online system allows you to click through roads, turns – even short-cuts – to get the most accurate idea of the length of your route without being there. Planning alternate and new routes has never been easier.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007
  Sunny San Diego
During Northern California’s rainy season, it helps to remember that parts of the southern end of the state can stay a lot drier. That means more opportunities to get out and climb.

San Diego is one such region. Most years San Diego sees less than 10 inches of rain, and sometimes as little as six inches. And it offers a couple of thousand climbing routes, both bouldering and top roping.

It’s easy to do some scouting from your computer. For details about places, visit San Diego Rock. You’ll find more free guides in PDF format, plus descriptions of individual climbing areas ranging from the popular to the obscure. Most popular by far is Mission Gorge, also credited as the oldest climbing site in the area. It’s in Mission Trails Regional Park and features more than 180 routes.

The San Diego Rock site also tells you which areas have been closed or otherwise should be avoided. Links will take you to free topos at other sites. There’s also a set of San Diego-specific topos at

Another source for detailed information, often with photos, is Go straight to the San Diego section and see what other climbers have to say about specific routes.

Don’t forget to check in with the Access Fund for news and alerts. Late last year the Access Fund reported that housing development was threatening access to the popular Santee Boulders area. While efforts are being made to get the city of San Diego to set aside the area containing the boulders, the bureaucracy is proving tough to navigate. You may want to visit the site while you can. On the other hand, the Access Fund reports that the Magnolia Boulders nearby are now under the control of the state Fish & Game Department.

And be aware that the U.S. Forest Service is considering some seasonal closures within the Cleveland National Forest to protect the Golden Eagles and the Prairie Falcon.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007
  TRS Returns for Season 2!!!

Here we go again!! Touchstone Climbing is excited to announce that the Touchstone Roped Series has returned. This will be a series of six Roped Climbing comps that will be held on Friday evenings, one at six of the Touchstone locations. All events will include a red point roped comp as well as refreshments, games and prizes. Points will be awarded for each comp with overall winners being announced after the final comp. The first event will be held at Touchstone Concord on May 11th. There will be a comp each month for the following six months, with the finale coming in October held at what will be the newly opened Great Western Power Company in Oakland. For more info visit the TRS page.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007
  AcroYoga at Ironworks
Berkeley Ironworks will be hosting an AcroYoga Workshop on Sunday April 22nd from 10:30am-1:30pm. The workshop is $30 for members and $40 for non-members.

In this AcroYoga workshop, you will learn to "Fly" and melt into the depths of supported Partner Yoga. We will explore what's possible with two and more bodies balancing with our friend Gravity. Come alone, or bring a partner... No Yoga experience necessary, only a desire to experience the unknown...!
Wanna go up? Let's Fly!

Taught by Veteran instructor Tyler Ryan Blank. Please go to the front desk and sign up early to reserve your spot!

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Monday, April 16, 2007
  Free Fiesta
Touchstone Concord Climbing & Fitness today announced an initiative to support Concord Mayor, Mark Peterson, in challenging Concord residents to get in better shape. In the battle against the terrible state of fitness in which many of us find ourselves, Touchstone Concord is offering locals a free weekend of family fun while trying out a great new workout.

Taking place April 21 & 22, Touchstone Concord will be hosting free climbing lessons, free day passes, free gear rental, free fitness class demos, free fitness advice, a free raffle, free barbecue and other fun free events all in an attempt to get people excited to get fit. Plus, Touchstone members will receive one free raffle ticket for every friend they bring to try out the facility. This event is open to people of all
ages and fitness levels.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007
  Elektra on Sale

On sale at Berkeley Ironworks and Mission Cliffs the ELEKTRA combines the benefit of a comfortable multi-purpose shoe and the convenience of a velcro performance shoe. With the feel of a sensitive slipper, the ELEKTRA will smear on any slick sloper or stick on overhanging faces while being comfortable enough to wear on long multi-pitch routes or gym marathon-training sessions. Narrow, low profile foot climbers and women climbers of all abilities and styles will truly appreciate this shoe. The ELEKTRA is a must-have for every climber who wants a comfortable shoe that fits and performs superbly out of the box.

The Elektra can easily be transferred to any Touchstone location.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007
  Staff on Holiday
Longtime Ironworks climber and staff member Jeffrey Kosoff recently returned from Central America. Jeffrey has earned his dive master certification, the first professional level certification in the PADI diving system. Jeffrey studied at the Bay Islands College of Diving on the English speaking, former pirate hideaway, Utila, in the Gulf of Honduras. After completing his course of study Jeffrey traveled north through Guatemala and southern Belize en route to Glover's Atoll. This remote reef complex lies far offshore untainted by large scale commercial fishing and industry and has been designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Some of the best diving in the Caribbean is found here, its outer walls characterized by steep drop offs, excellent visibility and large pelagic animals. If you have any questions regarding travel to the region, its natural history, or the region's diving Jeffrey will be happy to answer them.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007
  Las Vegas Isn't a Gamble for Climbers

The Las Vegas area, famous for its glitz and gambling, also offers some of the greatest rock climbing in the world. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, covering nearly 200,000 acres only a few miles west of town, has a couple of thousand climbing routes, mostly on sandstone. You can spend anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of days on a route. There’s plenty of bouldering too.

Bolting is legal in some areas and illegal in others, so get to know the area before you start out. The federal Bureau of Land Management has its own guidebook to the area, but there are others on the market.

Remember where sandstone gets its name. Even the best of it can get crumbly, especially when it’s wet.

Boulderers also should take to heart the name of Boulder City to the southeast of Las Vegas. That’s the nearest town to Keyhole Canyon, where the annual Keyhole Classic Bouldering Competition is held in the fall.

Then there’s Arrow Canyon, a limestone slot canyon about an hour north of Las Vegas near the Desert National Wildlife Refuge. In addition to a range of grades from 5.8 to 5.12, it also features a couple of caves.

You don’t even have to leave town to find sport climbing. In Lone Mountain Park there’s a spot called Urban Crag. It’s limestone too, and recommended by the Bureau of Land Management as an alternative when the sandstone at Red Rock is wet.

Here are a few things to remember if you go:

* Even in the relatively gentle spring and fall, this is still the Mojave Desert. Take plenty of water with you. Also remember that Sandstone gets weak when it gets wet, so don’t climb for the first day or two after a rainstorm. The bigger the storm, the longer you should wait.

* There’s a lot of Native American rock art in the area. Don’t climb within 100 feet of it.

* It’s a popular place, so the routes nearest the access roads are likely to get crowded on a nice day.

* Last but not least: when you’re done climbing, you don’t have to travel far for food and entertainment!

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Monday, April 9, 2007
  Touchstone Concord Sendfest in Bishop

Concord members, Andrew Descalso, Gregor Peirce and Scott Cory, took a week off from school and work to go on a road trip to Bishop, with some spectacular results. Making clear once again that Touchstone is home to many a strongman, Gregor and Scott polished off several difficult Bishop problems such as Beefy-Gecko v11, Evilution (lip) v10, and Acid Wash v10.

Although Andrew wasn't able to send his project, Ironman Traverse, despite great beta from climbing master, Scott Fry, he did learn a lesson about the importance of securely attaching crashpads to the roof rack of his car. As Andrew describes it, "While cruising below the posted limit along 395 I caught a glimpse in my mirror of a huge black Metolious tri-fold pad taking flight behind the car, gracefully landing in the middle of the freeway. A quick 180 and a few tight knots later the pads were secure and we were back on track with another story to be told."

For more pictures and stories from their trip, check out Andrew's blog at and Scott & Gregor's scorecards on

Photo: Gregor making short work of Action Jackson (v10) in the Happies.

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Thursday, April 5, 2007
  "Fight for a Cure" a Great Success
Touchstone gyms aren't just a great place to work out; they are also a great place to help out a worthy cause. Recently, Touchstone Concord helped out St. Jude's Children's Hospital and cancer research center by holding a fundraiser in February. All told, Touchstone Concord members donated and gathered $1327, to help this great cause. Members raised money by getting sponsored for routes climbed and hours spent working out. Additionally, many opened their hearts by opening their pocket books. If you have a group that is interested in having a fund raiser at Touchstone Concord, please contact the manager.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2007
  WANTED: A great spot
When you want to push yourself to do harder problems in the bouldering area, find a friend who knows how to give a sweet spot. It will help you mentally -- when you want to stab for that last high hold to get the redpoint -- and physically, by heading off sore ankles and other minor mishaps that can happen indoors.

Boulderers who fall in a controlled way also have the best chance of receiving help from good spotters. A good spotter will be close enough to grab the climber's hips and guide them to the floor, but far enough away to avoid being squashed.

A good spotter will also scoot a pad underneath a climber as she moves, plus will slow and guide her fall onto a mat so that the climber doesn't injure a wrist, twist an ankle, or hit her head.

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Tuesday, April 3, 2007
  Guadalupe Returns
Mission Cliffs hosted a climbing event for course setter Kent Schmitz’s 5th grade class from Guadalupe Elementary on March 15th. There were over 30 students that participated in a two hour climbing session at the gym.

“The students learn so much about themselves when they go climbing”, says Kent. “They learn that all they need to do is try in order to succeed, and then they understand that nothing can stop them. It’s a great self-confidence building activity”, he adds.

Most of the students never had an opportunity to climb before. They were a little hesitant at first, but afterwards they knew that they can overcome many of there fears.

In a letter received by Willie, he writes "I learned how to rock climb. I learned it’s ok to be scared. I learned that I will not die rock climbing in the jim, but the best part is eating lunch and watching Mr. Schmitz climb."
Another student, Richard recalls, "my favorite parts is when I fall because when you fall it feels like you are flying like a bird. My other favorite part is when you make it to the top and come down. I like to kick off the rock because it is so fun. I do not know why."

Christine writes, "Rock climbing isn’t as easy as I thought it would’ve been. Okay now I’m not scared of heights going to Mission Cliffs. I like challenging myself. Rock climbing is the best way to challenge myself into not being afraid of heights. I would call myself bad at rock climbing. I want to be better at rock climbing, but I can’t do anything about it now."

Jacky writes, "I learned how to tie a double figure eight knot and a safety knot. Well I learned the double figure eight knot and the safety knot at class but I actually forgot. I also learned not to stick my hand in the thing where you put your rope in or else when you fall, your finger gets ripped out of your hand, but I don’t believe that’s true."

This is our 7th session working with one of Mr. Schmitz’s class and we truly enjoy seeing the kids grow within the short two hour climbing session. This experience will be embedded with the students for a very long time.

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Monday, April 2, 2007
  Peer Counselors Get A Turn

Touchstone Concord was pleased to host a group of 27 teenagers from Mt.
Diablo High School for an afternoon of rock climbing. The group was
invited at the behest of the Concord Police Department who used the
event as an opportunity to thank the students for volunteering their
time as peer counselors and mediators on campus. Since climbing
promotes teamwork and cooperation, the police department felt that a day
climbing at Touchstone Concord was the perfect activity. A great time
was had by all and most everyone left with tired forearms and a desire
to try climbing again.

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