Touchstone Blog Archive
Friday, August 31, 2007
  New Managers
Current Touchstone Concord manager, Lyn Verinsky will be taking the helm at the Great Western Power Company, the seventh Touchstone gym in the greater Bay Area, when it opens this fall. Lyn has worked with the company since 2003, first as desk staff at Class 5 and Berkeley Ironworks, then as manager of Class 5 and Touchstone Concord.

An avid climber since her first time on the wall at Ironworks in 2001, Lyn has embraced the climbing lifestyle and has tried to take as many road trips as her job and 11 year old son allow. Most recent adventures include a winter trip to Hueco where, as she laughingly says, "I had an amazing time getting spanked by the powerful climbing." Fontainbleau, Yosemite Valley and Squamish top her list of favorite climbing spots, though she also has a fondness for local crag Mortar Rock.

Taking over as head honcho at Concord is long-time desk staff Andrew Descalso. Andrew was one of the first members of Touchstone Concord when it opened almost five years ago and has worked the desk since 2004. Andrew has a love of bouldering that has survived even an ankle break while climbing at the Druid Stones in 2005. His most recent climbing accomplishment was a proud send of the infamously hard Ironman Traverse in the Buttermilks this last winter. Highballs and mantels are Andrew's greatest nemeses, but he has a weakness for adorable and friendly canines. One description of Andrew can be found on the yelp website reviewing Touchstone Concord: "Andrew . . . is fabulously helpful, not to mention easy on the eyes!"

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Thursday, August 30, 2007
  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: The Bay Bridge will be closed all weekend. For more info, check here.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007
  Power Company Gets A Coat
The newest Touchstone gym, the Great Western Power Company in downtown Oakland is getting closer to being finished. We have started the final coat of texture on the walls. Unlike most of our other gyms (Mission Cliffs is the exception), we are taking the extra time to hand apply the texture. This will give the walls a unique look that will different than any other wall we have done. Patti, the retail manager, is consulting to help with the colors of the walls, and they really look great. We cannot wait to open and have everyone see the bay area's news climbing gym.

For now, you can see pictures of the walls and other construction in our online photo gallery.

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Monday, August 27, 2007
  Reel Rock Returns

The 2007 REEL ROCK Film Tour ~ Bay Area
9/8 San Francisco, Victoria Theatre, 8pm ~ Chris Sharma in person
9/26 Berkeley, Pyramid Brewery, 8pm
9/27 Berkeley, Pyramid Brewery, 8pm
10/4 Walnut Creek, Pyramid Brewery, 8pm

THE REEL ROCK Film Tour brings high-octane climbing and adventure films to enthusiastic audiences across the world. In its inaugural year of 2006, REEL ROCK packed theaters in over 50 cities from Anchorage to New York, entertained more than 10,000 people, and received rave reviews from audiences, sponsors, and local and national media.

REEL ROCK 2007 will feature King Lines -- Chris Sharma’s search for the planet’s greatest climbs -- the groundbreaking new movie from Boulder’s own Sender Films and BigUp Productions. Chris Sharma is the strongest and most famous rock climber in the world. For the past decade he has dominated his sport, and at 25 years old, the Santa Cruz, CA native is just hitting his stride. King Lines documents Sharma’s quest to be the first to climb the most difficult and outrageous rock formations around the world. A segment from Chris Sharma’s King Lines recently won an EMMY award in the category of Outstanding Photography. Sharma will make rare appearances at several of the major REEL ROCK shows in 2007.

SF: Mission Cliffs &, & at the door.
Walnut Creek: Touchstone Concord, & at the door.
Berkeley: Ironworks & at the door.

For more information, and to view the trailer, please visit:

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Friday, August 24, 2007
  Rose Helps Out in Guatemala
Berkeley Ironworks front desk staffer Rose Waters has embarked on a good-will trip to Guatemala to help out at a health clinic in the village of San Marcos de la Laguna. She started out by taking an intensive language school in the Spanish colonial city of Antigua.

She is now in San Marcos and hoping to practice her Spanish, but most of the people there speak it pretty badly if at all, since they are all indigenous and speak the Mayan language Kaqchikel. But she is using her basic Spanish to communicate while helping with prenatals, attending births, observing the naturopathic doctor, works in the garden (they grow herbs that they use for treatments in the clinic), and going around to check on the orphans that the clinic sponsors.

In the picture, Rose may look like she is shaking her fist at the little girl, but she is actually treating her for a cough, fever and malnutrition (that´s why her hair is falling out).

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Thursday, August 23, 2007
  Bike Club Rides Bodega Bay
The Sacramento Pipeworks Bike Club, always willing to travel long distances for a beautiful ride, had a camping and riding get-together one recent weekend in Bodega Bay! The club took over 2 camp sites at the Bodega Dunes Campground on Friday and Saturday night, with 12 members showing up for the festivities. Friday night’s dinner was held at a great local family–style Italian restaurant in Valley Ford, before adjourning to the campsite to rest up for the following days ride. On Saturday morning a large breakfast was served before the group departed for a long day in the saddle. One group rode a 35 mile loop that included good amounts of flatland pedaling along with more serious hill climbs, while the second group added about 25 extra miles of strenuous climbing for a 60 mile day. Both rides featured gorgeous scenery and perfect weather. While lounging around the campfire that night, the days ride was relived over drinks, along with a good amount of teasing and joking. The huge post-ride dinner, prepared by Rhonda and friends, along with s’mores prepared by Tanya sent everyone off to their tents with a full belly and a smile on their face.

Sacramento area riders who are interested in the club can be added to the email list by contacting Rhonda at:

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007
  AscenDance Project
Join us on Sunday, August 26th from 5-7pm for a dance-climb fusion workshop at Berkeley Ironworks! This seminar will be offered by AscenDance Project, a group of dancers and climbers who have decided to choreograph climbing to the rhythm of music. Isabel von Rittberg will share with you the joy of moving on the wall to beats.

Whether you simply wish to enhance your fluency when moving across the wall or desire to climb to music, this class offers new ways to explore your body awareness on the vertical plan. Concentrating on the details of your movements allows you to develop an awareness that helps you understand how your body moves most efficiently. By focusing on each movement you can isolate certain positions and accentuate them. This also helps understand and enjoy the dynamics of body transition on the

No climbing/dance experience required.
Sign up at the front desk.
$25 for members, $30 for non-members

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007
  Bear Valley Adventure Sport Festival
The Bear Valley Adventure Sports Festival is coming to the High Sierra this weekend August 25-26, 2007. This two day event celebrates the thrills of human powered recreation through competition, education and community. On the menu is rock climbing, mountain biking, road cycling and flatwater kayaking. It doesn't matter whether you regularly "pull, peddle or paddle", or simply just want to try a new outdoor sport in a safe and supportive environment, the Bear Valley Adventure Sport Festival has something for everybody, including the kids.

Highlights of the festival included:

2nd Annual Bear Valley Boulder Bash – outdoor bouldering contest for all abilities and tons of prizes – including cash! (1st Annual report)
Ebbetts Pass Century & Metric Century Ride – 101 miles & 12,800 feet of climbing
Grizzley Challenge – A serious 21 mile, 5000 feet of climbing mountain bike ride.

For more information please visit or call (209) 753-6556 ext. 1 – We love to talk about our work!

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007
  You Too Can Be A Hero
Let's face it, you aren't a superhero, but on August 23rd you have the opportunity to act like one. That's right; it's blood drive time again at Touchstone Concord. Your one pint of blood can save three lives after it has been split into plasma, patelets, and red blood cells as well as gaining you a free pint of ice cream. Touchstone Concord strongly encourages any and all able donors to sign up for a time-slot at the front desk. The drive is taking place from 4pm to 8pm on Thursday, August 23rd.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007
  Kids & Climbing
Why aren’t there more parents with kids climbing at the cliff and at the gym? In Europe, climbing is a family affair. The whole clan packs up, heads to the cliff, and makes a day of it. But here, people are surprised to see mom or dad, not just belaying the kids in a birthday party, but actually climbing together with them. Kids are naturals for the activity, and with its safer and more convenient environment, the gym is the perfect place. So here’s the beta.

Number one mistake? Some adult trying to talk (or worse, yell) the kid through every move. But no one learns to climb by listening to the backseat climber on the ground, and no one enjoys it more because someone was blathering on about where your left hand needs to be and all. Net net: except for the occasional ‘great job!’ or ‘wow, look at you!’, ‘rents really must shut up.

Two, don’t push them too hard. Let them go as high as they want (or don’t want), and then let them down when they want down. They’ll warm up to it and develop more courage with familiarity and practice.

Three, make it into a game. Their favorite cartoon character is stranded at the top of the wall and needs to be rescued (Dora the Explorer and her friend Diego are perfect for this), or maybe you can put a prize on the top hold, or have them ring a bell suspended from the top.

Four, adapt, adapt, adapt. You won’t have the big blocks of uninterrupted workout time to yourself that you once did when the kids weren’t around. But if you give them their turns, and if you are prepared to scrap the outing on an occasional bad day, or take advantage of the opportunity when the kids are cooperating, you can still get all the workout you need albeit at a different rate and in a different format.

Five, when you’ve got kids to share it with, bouldering is nearly the perfect form of climbing. You’re close to the ground. You can supervise them closely. Attempts on your boulder problem only take a few seconds. They can easily jump in. And you’ll get sick finger power.

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Monday, August 13, 2007
  A New Face in San Jose
If you’ve been around Touchstone Concord, you’ll probably notice a familiar face behind the desk at Touchstone San Jose. Staff member, Monica Aranda, is a self-proclaimed climbing addict. With about 5 years of climbing experience, she mostly boulders but welcomes both top-roping and leading as well. In addition to climbing, she has taken her passion of photography down to the San Jose, where she will be pursuing a degree in photojournalism at San Jose State University.

Touchstone San Jose welcomes Monica into the South Bay’s best bouldering community!

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Friday, August 10, 2007
  The Lost Coast
Class 5 desk staffers Julia MacKenzie and Jamie Phillips and some friends hiked the Lost Coast and climbed at Lost Rocks (different but suspiciously similar sounding).

Three days of hiking and a million miles later—OK, with some sightseeing and hanging out, they made it out alive and went climbing.

Lost Rocks is beach bouldering at the mouth of the Klamath River. Tons of tall boulders with small pebbly landings – Great problems. I believe “Awesome” was the verdict. A few days at Lost Rocks and we made them come home and show us pictures.

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Thursday, August 9, 2007
  SF to Host TRS2
TRS season 2 continues at Mission Cliffs this Friday, August 10 from 6-10pm. This red point roped comp will be the fourth comp in the series where points will be awarded. Overall winners of the series will be announced at the final comp in October at the Great Western Power Company in Oakland. Join us for this festive, friendly and relaxed member comp! This is an event not to be missed. Free for members and only $10 for non-members.

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Wednesday, August 8, 2007
  Trible Trouble Head to the Front
This coming August 10th and 11th, three members of San Jose’s bouldering community, Citahbria “Tofu” Richards (aka Tobi), Lilly “LilBit” Nguyen, and staff member Michael Abell, will be competing in the Mammut-EMS Bouldering Championships and Citizens’ Comp at The Front Climbing Club in Salt Lake City, Utah. Formerly known as Send Fest, the Mammut-EMS Bouldering Championships and Citizens’ Comp draws in some of the best climbers from across the nation to compete for a $5,000 cash prize.

Analogous to the three Musketeers, Tobi, Lilly, and Mike are often taken as an inseparable unit. Recently, the they took a trip to Squamish, B.C. to boulder, and quickly dispensed of classic lines such as Squamish Days, Cutting Edge, Superfly, and Sloppy Poppy, as well as harder and more striking lines such as Worm World, Tatonka, and Sesame Street. The trio of San Jose climbers are psyched to take their renewed motivation, strength, and energy indoors to do well and have fun at the comp.

The South Bay wishes Tobi, Lilly, and Mike all the best in their travels and competition in Utah!

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Monday, August 6, 2007
  1/2 Marathon Finisher
Carolyn Link, a Mission Cliffs staff member, recently completed the San Francisco half marathon in 2:04:35. “I had hoped to finish in under 2 hours, but a foot injury delayed my training for a bit. I did better than I expected and think I can make it in under 2 hours on the next one,” said Carolyn. “I was ahead on the 2 hour pace runner the whole way, but a bad cramp in my right calf slowed me down around mile 11 and she kept inching ahead of me! My legs just wouldn’t go any faster!” Carolyn might be limping around Mission Cliffs for the next couple days as that right calf is still very sore, but she is eager to run another half marathon sometime soon. Asked if she’d ever consider a full marathon, Carolyn said, “Maybe someday, but I don’t really have the patience for training. And with the way I felt crossing the finish line I can’t imagine running one more step, let alone another 13!”

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Friday, August 3, 2007
  Help Wanted
Did you know that Touchstone Climbing has a help wanted page? You can see the current positions that Touchstone has available on this page. We are always looking for quality staff for a variety of positions at our various locations. Currently, Touchstone Concord is looking for a full-time front desk employee. We are also looking for a part-time IT person to help maintain our computer systems. There are always new positions opening up, so if you are looking for a job, be sure to check here often.

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Thursday, August 2, 2007

What if you sped your climbing up to a flat out sprint, included parking garages among your climbing terrains, eliminated any ropes, and added a bunch of gymnastic moves like flips, somersaults, spins, and leaps?

Sound completely nuts?

Not at all. You’d simply be doing parkour, or free running, the latest craze out of France.

Imagine doing skateboard half pipe stunts without the skateboard and without the half pipe.

It’s part martial arts, part climbing, part gymnastics, with a hip hop urban sense of style.

Remember that feeling of unbounded joy and energy you had when you were a kid swinging around on the monkey bars? You’ve tapped into that that when climbing is going well.

The guys doing parkour have clearly found a way into the same zone.

The goal of parkour is to carve a fluid, fast, gymnastic line through space using fences, railings, retaining walls, and rooftops.

If you are a climber, you’ll recognize some of the moves like mantels, dynos, and smears.

But what’s really refreshing about parkour is how enthusiasts revel in fast physical movement —just running and jumping with endless variations. These guys look like adults, but have the sheer joy of a 10 year old bursting out of them.

Parkour practitioners worldwide take their inspiration from the sport’s founder, David Belle. Do a search on YouTube or Google video for “David Belle,” “parkour,” or “Sebastien Foucan.” (Foucan is the athlete who does the amazing parkour chase scene at the beginning of the recent James Bond movie Casino Royale).

At the very least you’ll be entertained. And you just might have to have a go at one of the beginner moves – or even start climbing a little differently.

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Wednesday, August 1, 2007
  Ayurvedic Lifestyle Consultant
We would like to congratulate Touchstone San Jose’s Yoga instructor, Tara Robertson, for completing her training and certification to become an Ayurvedic Lifestyle Consultant. Ayurvedic medicine is an ancient system of health care originating from India. Rooted in the terms, āyus, meaning “life” or “life principle, and “veda”, meaning knowledge or a system of knowledge, “Ayurveda” roughly translates to the “knowledge of life”. Thus, Ayurvedic practitioners utilize their knowledge of the body, herbal medicine, and of therapeutic measures to improve and maintain the mental, physical, social, and spiritual components central in having a healthy lifestyle.

We wish Tara well in her pursuit of helping others towards healthy living.

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