Touchstone Blog Archive
Thursday, December 27, 2007
  TBS Hits Sac
The third of seven stops for Touchstones Bouldering Series 3 was a big hit for boulderers of all abilities. Boasting over 60 problems ranging from V-0 to V-11, TBS 3 was held at Sacramento Pipeworks on Friday December 14th, with more than 125 people in attendance. Andres, who doubles as Pipeworks head route setter by day, played DJ - keeping energy high and the crowd in the groove. Pictures can be seen in the online gallery.

Results are posted on our competitions page:

Sideshows included a brilliant slack line competition that produced eye-popping tricks, as well as a donut eating contest that made the crowd roar! See you all at Great Western Power Company on January 11th as TBS3 will continue into the new year.

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Monday, December 24, 2007
  Spare Change
Giving to the American Safe Climbing Association

Members at Class 5 have donated over $210 this year in spare change to replace old and dangerous bolts and anchors. Dropping spare change into the plastic bucket near the register really adds up!

The American Safe Climbing Association works to return classic climbing routes to their original danger level by replacing deteriorating old fixed anchors, usually bolts, with modern camouflaged gear.

They have replaced over 4000 old bolts to date in Yosemite and many other areas throughout the U.S., mostly in the western states.

Class 5’s donations will replace from 20 – 40 bolts and anchors. That little bit of extra change will help make climbing a little bit safer. Thanks Class 5 members who have been so generous since every little bit helps.

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Friday, December 21, 2007
  Happy Holidays from Touchstone Climbing
Just a reminder, our gyms will close early on Christmas Eve and be closed Christmas day. The same is true for New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.

Happy Holidays
from everyone at


Thursday, December 20, 2007
Electronic Waste Drive
Touchstone Concord
December 19th –January 2nd

Want to help out the Earth this Holiday season? Drop off your old electronics between now and January 2nd (please view the guidelines below) at Touchstone Concord and receive one FREE guest pass (1 per person). Scrounge around your home and office and clean out that garage of yours to bring in the New Year by helping out the planet.

“TDR Electronic Recycling LLC is a Northern California electronic waste management company and recycles all materials in accordance to government-regulated standards. All the materials we process are logged and tracked starting from the collection point to the end-of-life process. Certified compliant by The California Integrated Waste Management Board under SB 50 for universal waste and CRT collection.

We accept all computer hardware and electronics, including cpu computers, monitors, television sets, networking equipment, personal electronics, industrial equipment, test equipment, wires, stereos, speakers, keyboards, mice, cell phones, home phones, office phones, remote controls, radio equipment, LCD displays, laptops, wires, some metals, personal electronics, VCR, speakers, and more. Computer hardware and electronic equipment is accepted regardless of vintage or working condition. Customer’s privacy is protected; all drives are individually erased and destroyed.”

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007
  Food Drive in Concord
Touchstone Concord wants to reach out this December. Help someone out this holiday season by making a nonperishable food donation at Touchstone Concord. Donation barrels are located at the front desk. Needed items are iron rich cereal, 100% fruit juice, canned fruit (in juice), dry beans, canned vegetables and tomato products, enriched rice, powdered milk, canned meat and fish, enriched pasta and peanut butter (plastic container). Please donate nonperishable food items, (no glass containers please). We thank you in advance.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007
  Leo & Hilary

Class 5 manager Ken James and his wife Cynthia recently completed the adoption processes for their first child. In November, Ken and Cynthia traveled to Guatemala to bring home Leo, who was born 9 months ago. All of us at Touchstone wish Ken, Cynthia and Leo all the best as they start their new family.

While Leo has only been in the country for a few weeks, he is already being schmoozed by major presidential candidates. While Ken and Cynthia were visiting family in Iowa, Hillary Clinton happened by the café they were eating breakfast in. Leo seems to be leaning toward Hillary in this photo, though his political leanings won’t matter much for another 17 years.

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Monday, December 17, 2007
  Newbie Initiation
Are you climbing with someone who’s not as accomplished at it as you are, or a complete beginner? There are several things you can do to make it a much better experience for them.

There’s a powerful temptation to be a backseat climber and give them running instructions on every move.

Encouragement is one thing, but this kind of unnecessary bossing can be really aggravating and distracting. They’ve got eyes and can see the holds. And learning to climb is more of a physical, kinesthetic experience than a cognitive one where you learn by consciously following directions.

New climbers have got to acquire a sense of feel about needing to get that foot up to get stable, or moving onto straight arms. And they’ve already got so much going on that your instructions just confuse things more. To help you initiative newbies in a kinder, gentler way, here is a handy chart:

Another newbie mistake is to succumb to the pressure to get too wrapped up in the grades. There’s nothing wrong with doing 5.6s. Recall that you started there too. And even a highly accomplished 5.12 climber can learn something from them. One person’s struggle with a 5.8 crux can be just as hard, subjectively, and just as rewarding when they get it, as the hot shot’s battle with a 5.12d crux.

If you’re climbing with beginners, and you want them to love the activity and find it rewarding like you do, then you can do a lot with your attitude, your comments, and your approach to make it clear that ultimately the grades aren’t what’s most important about climbing. Most people rapidly move through the grades in their first 6 months or year and then the progress slows when they get to 5.10s. That’s normal, and beginners shouldn’t have false expectations about moving right on into 11s, 12s, and 13s that way.

The phenomenal climbers in the magazines are the exceptions. Most of us take a year or two to become solid in 10s, and then take 10 years or more to get into 12s.

Examples of helpful encouragement:
Yes! You can get it! Good job! Nice work!

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Thursday, December 13, 2007
  Conan's Wheel of Pain
Remember when Conan (Arnold) was trudging around that wheel of pain, getting bigger and bigger muscles, just thinking about the day he’d get his vengeance on Thulsa Doom for killing his mom?

Everybody’s got to spend their time on the wheel.

You won’t get better at climbing unless you spend some serious hours trudging away up and down those routes.

Just remember Conan’s 3 Noble Truths to keep you going: “To crush you enemies, see them run before you, and hear the lamentations of their women.”

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007
  Holiday Toy Drive

Mission Cliffs
Fourth Annual
Holiday Toy Drive 2007

It’s better to give, and then receive!

This holiday season you can help underprivileged families in our community by donating a new, unwrapped toy (requested value of $10 or more) to our 4th annual holiday toy drive.

To show our appreciation, we will give you a coupon for a free day pass to Mission Cliffs. You can keep it for yourself, or give it to a friend.

Spread some holiday joy by dropping off your gift to the front desk staff by Wednesday, December 19th.

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Monday, December 10, 2007
  The Nose: Really Really Fast
CHALK TALK about the Huber's Speed Record Ascentof THE NOSE, in 2:45:45. QnA on ways to improve.

December 18th 6pm PST

Hans Florine was able to hang out with the Hubers over a beer in June 2006 while they were working on the record. He also chatted with the Hubers, again over a beer, in SF after they got the record this past October 2007. In this webinar, Hans will talk about the way the Hubers tackled the route and go pitch by pitch how his attempts at the record went after talking to them. (Hans got a good go of 5:26 in November.)

Hans is joined by NIAD experts to go over the Huber's ascent and discuss strategies for improvement. Hans will also be inviting some Climbing Manufacturer experts to join in on the session.

Hans will take between 20 to 40 minutes to go over just how the Huber's climbed the route, how Yuji and Hans climbed the route (previous record of 2:48), how Hans just last month climbed it with Mark Melvin, and will discuss tools strategies and more. Then we'll open it up for a panel of experts to suggest things and YOUR input or questions. Maybe you have insight on a strategy on how better to go through the King Swing or you know of a tool we are not using that would help us move more effectively/faster through the route. Just listen or contribute. Recording from the webinar will be available afterwards.

Join Hans for this live Webinar on December 18th at 6pm, sign up now here:

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Friday, December 7, 2007
  Climbing & You Tube
The winter season is upon us and you may find yourself stuck inside more than you want. If you have already had a good climbing session that day but you're too tired to continue check out YouTube to get your fix of free climbing videos. There are thousands of videos to watch, some funny, some weird, and many about climbing. Search the site using keywords like climbing, bouldering, bishop, Sharma, and even Touchstone Climbing.

In honor of the Touchstone Bouldering Series that is currently taking place, here is a video from The Bouldering Bonanza at Touchstone Concord that was held July 29th, 2005. You can thank Casey Brunt for the cinematography being he made the film.

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Thursday, December 6, 2007
  Fall Ninja
Any dude can fall off a wall, right? Yeah, but there are better and worse ways to do it.

Even in the gym with 12 inches of gymnastics foam under you, an extra bouldering pad, and an attentive spotter, it’s not uncommon for a falling boulderer to hit wrong and break a wrist or an ankle. To avoid disaster and being laid up on crutches or in a cast for 6 weeks, everyone needs to take some time to get better at falling well.

When you come off the wall up high, you’re going to have a lot of kinetic energy by the time you hit the ground. All that force needs to go somewhere. What you want is for it to get dispersed as much as possible and for all of your joints and limbs to take the least direct shock of it that you can manage.

One thing you can do is let your body fully collapse like an accordion when your feet hit the pad. Fold up your knees, your hips, and your back and make them loose as you hit the floor. This will help spread the impact over your whole body and keep a single part like your lower leg from absorbing more than it has to.

The fall you’re expecting rarely hurts you. Think about that move on your redpoint project where you are trying to smear off a tiny smeary foothold – you know you may not make it and transition from climbing to falling the moment you slip.

It’s when something unexpected happens that people get hurt. A foothold spins, and suddenly you’re sprawled on the floor with the wind knocked out of you, and your spotter apologizing.

One way to save your wrists and ankles, which are really vulnerable in these surprise falls, is to learn to hit the mat or pad (or cold hard ground) and roll in one continuous motion like the martial arts experts do. If you reach straight out and try to arrest your fall with your hand, your arm is going to take a tremendous dynamic load. If you can hit, bend the arm, shift your weight away and over the arm and go into a roll onto your shoulder, you can divert all this bone breaking energy into movement and spread it around. Get friends with martial arts or gymnastics training to coach you a bit. Go on, be a falling ninja.

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Monday, December 3, 2007
  Yoga Workshop
Yoga Workshop with Eleni Gekas
Mission Cliffs

Behind the Yoga Poses:
a workshop geared towards experiencing all aspects of yoga

Saturday, December 8th from 1-3pm
Free Member Event

Ever wonder what's behind all of the postures of yoga? Have you left a yoga class feeling like there was something else going on? Come learn about the 8 limbs of Yoga according to the Sutras of Patanjali, the father of yoga. We will explore the ancient texts, practice how they relate to the physical postures, and learn simple breathing and meditation techniques that will take away any edge that might develop during the holiday season. We will also explore some relaxing restorative poses. Sign up with at Eleni at, Limited to the first 15 students to sign up with Eleni. Free to members ($25 for non-members)

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