Touchstone Blog Archive
Friday, February 29, 2008
  Yin Yang Yoga with Kate Schox at Mission Clif

THIS Sunday, March 2nd from 1pm - 3pm $20 mem/$25 non-mem

Join Kate Schox in a relaxing and energetic afternoon of Yin and Yang Yoga. Enjoy a practice of opening up dense connective tissue using long-held relaxed floor postures (Yin) followed by an active asana practice where pranic flow and circulation are directed into the muscles and superficial tissues (Yang).

An important part of the overall health of our body is the flexibility we feel not just in our muscles but in our joints as well. Muscles and blood are considered Yang while connective tissues and joints are Yin. Yang tissue most effectively responds to active, muscular movement which emphasizes strength and flexibility. Conversely, Yin tissue most effectively responds to passive and relaxed stillness, emphasizing joint health and mobility. In order to achieve balance in a world of primarily Yang yoga styles it is highly beneficial to supplement one’s Yang practice with Yin Yoga.

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Thursday, February 28, 2008
  Best Off-The-Wall Date Spot
Not only does Mission Cliffs rank as one of the best health clubs in San Francisco, they just recently won the title of Citysearch’s ‘Best Off-The-Wall Date Spot 2008’. They beat out other establishments such as Brain Wash Café, Butter, SupperClub, and Noc Noc just to name a few. “These walls have been known to bring people together “, says a MC staffer. What better way can two people learn about each other, than from climbing on a Touchstone wall?


Wednesday, February 27, 2008
  One Last Comp at Class 5

Class 5 will be hosting the next TBS3 comp on Friday, February 29th. Prepare for amazing bouldering, a DJ, food, drink, twister and a limbo contest!

Friday Februray 29th, 6-10pm
Free for Members

This will be the last comp at this location for Class 5.

On February 12, our landlord for Class 5 notified us that we have 60 days to vacate the premises. This is devastating news to all of us at Touchstone Climbing. We have been committed to providing San Rafael and all of Marin County with a high quality rock climbing facility. While we have been actively looking and will continue to look for a replacement facility in Marin, we have not at this time found a suitable building for our unique needs.

We are sad to announce that we will be closing Class 5 on March 31st, 2008. So come on down and enjoying at climbing at Class 5, have some fun and pull down hard!

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008
  Touchstone San Jose set to Close

We are sad to announce that we will be closing Touchstone San Jose on April 30th, 2008 upon the expiration of our lease.

Over the last five years, we have been excited by the enthusiasm of the San Jose bouldering community. The passion of the San Jose membership for both climbing and the gym has been inspiring. We're sorry not to be able to support this community further.


Monday, February 25, 2008
  Personal Training Special at BI
Berkeley Ironworks is now offering a Personal Training special for the rest of winter. Why should you take advantage of Personal Training at Berkeley Ironworks? Because it will give you focus / encouragement / motivation combined with fun, new exercises!

The best part is that you can sign up now and receive a full physical assessment plus two training sessions for only $129!

Contact our trainers directly:
Dawn Miller 510.367.1317

John Downey 510.333.5514

Kristin Rios 415.672.2812

Mike Andrews 510.693.3094

Max Lewin 510.910.2919

Look Good, Feel Better and Live a Healthier Life

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Friday, February 22, 2008
  DRG Gets Cool

Starting this February Diablo Rock Gym will be installing a air conditioner throughout the gym in an effort to keep the building more temperate over the summer.

This plan dates back over a year ago to the beginning of 2007 when Lyn Verinsky the new Manager of the GWPC in Oakland started this master plan. (Please forward all thanks to her).

During construction we ask for your patience in advance as some of the weight
room and other areas of the gym might be in disarray. We’re sure you won’t mind the discomfort when your chilling off during the heat of July.

Photo Caption: Stage 1: Hauling Supplies to the Roof

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008
  GWPC Magnet for Nearby Schools
One advantage to Great Western Power Company's urban location is its proximity to a number of schools. It is not uncommon on weekdays to find a group of kids experiencing their first taste of climbing on the walls of GWPC. To further Touchstone's commitment to serving underprivileged kids, GWPC provides indoor climbing experiences to kids who otherwise would never know that such an activity exists. Often these kids walk away with a great sense of accomplishment and increased confidence in their ability to face a new challenge. And as this picture attests, the staff has a great time with the kids, too!

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008
  More CrossFit at Ironworks
Starting in February, Berkeley Ironworks will be offering 3 MORE CROSSFIT CLASSES! Free for members/ $10 drop-in for non-members!

CrossFit Schedule - Starting February:
WED: 5pm, 6pm
SAT: 11am-12:30pm
SUN: 11am, 12 noon

This program delivers a fitness that is, by design, broad, general, and inclusive. The specialty of this program is not specializing. Combat, survival, many sports, and life reward this kind of total body fitness.


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Monday, February 18, 2008
  TBS3 Rocked the House at MC
Mission Cliffs hosted the largest comp of the series with over 250 competitors participating at the TBS3 comp on Friday, February 8th. Incredible bouldering problems were set in the bouldering area, in addition to a number of problems that were set downstairs on the main floor. Be sure to check out the results page at

Highlights of the evening included guest DJ’s Tony and Keith, bouldering the party room table, and the consumption of over 60 XL Pizzas! Whoa!
Big thanks to everyone for your continued support for this growing series.

Let’s continue to break new records! Two more comps to go, we will see you at Class 5 on Friday, February 29th from 6-10pm.

Check out our photos Touchstone Gallery. More to come….

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Friday, February 15, 2008
  Plant to Play

A new climbing gym has opened at 520 20th St. in downtown Oakland, turning an old power plant into a new place for nearby residents to play, climb, work out and socialize without having to get in a car and drive somewhere.

On the outside, the Great Western Power Company gym preserves the classic 1924 architecture with its stone arch and 150-foot stack. Inside, it has 11,000 square feet of climbing terrain, with cool geometric features of the walls highlighted in a variety of colors.

For an area seeing a lot of new condos, shops and restaurants, the gym adds to the character of the neighborhood and helps the community. Already several nearby schools have brought kids to climb at Great Western on a weekly basis. Many of them had never had the opportunity to see rock climbing before. Great Western also quickly became a magnet for parties and corporate events.

“The structure is perfect for our use,” says general manager Lyn Verinsky. “It has a great, industrial feel.”

One Oakland resident who comes to Great Western Power Company is novelist Leonard Chang.

“I live less than a mile away, within walking distance. It’s really nice to have this new gym open up right near me,” he said. “What’s nice about the gym is I meet a whole bunch of people from all walks of life outside my usual profession, the writers and critics, and I’ve met a nice community of climbing friends.”

He appreciates the fact that the gym is open late.

“One of the problems downtown is that there is a lot going on during the day, but at night and on the weekends to some extent it’s harder to attract people down there,” he said. “So this sort of thing, revitalizing older buildings, it’s more than just commercialization of downtown Oakland.”

Visit for classes, hours, directions, and other gym information.

To see the inside during the wall construction phase, go to the photo album posted at

This is a summary of the press release announcing the opening of the Great Western Power Company. A copy of the full release can be downloaded here.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008
  Kickboxing Studio Opens in Sacramento

Pipeworks will now be offering cardio kickboxing classes on Tuesdays at 5:30 inside our newly remodeled studio. This beautiful new space, situated beneath the yoga room, features a specially designed shock absorbing hardwood floor, along with lots of glass and exposed brick. Starting Tuesday February 19th, local teaching dynamo Jenny Stark will lead you through her special form of tough aerobic kickboxing workout. Come prepared to sweat!

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Monday, February 11, 2008
  Chop! Chop! Send!
Climbing a hand or finger crack well is about as close as you’ll ever get to performing magic as a climber. When non-climbers see it, they’re just stunned. How can a person go right up that wall using nothing more than that little crack!

The idea is that you use your hands and feet to mechanically lock your limbs to the crack. For a hand crack, imagine you’re standing next to the crack doing that cute little Miss America wave with your hand. Find a spot that a bit wider than your hand and slot it in. Thumbs up sometimes, other times thumbs down, depending on the situation.

Once it’s in there, fish it around, forward and back, up and down a bit until you find a nice constriction to wiggle it into. The way you make it wedge tight is by rolling your thumb inward you palm to make your hand fatter across the profile. This expansion is what’ll allow you lock your hand in there like it’s caught in a vice.

For upward progress, you do the same thing with the other hand. And you manage to twist your toes and jam them into parts of the crack kind of the same way. Then you push/pull up with three limbs while you remove and reposition your low hand and foot to a higher spot.

Lather, rinse, and repeat as necessary.

Now you know what Jimmy Hendrix was talking about in Voodoo Chile when he sang, “standing next to a mountain. . . chop it down with the edge of my hand.” He could climb 5.13 cracks, you know.
Friday, February 8, 2008
  Pipeworks Logo Photos Wanted

If you have a photo of yourself doing something fun in a Sacramento Pipeworks logo shirt or hat, then we want that picture! Leave your picture (no larger than 5x7 with your name printed on the back) at the Pipeworks front desk and we will post it. The photo board will feature snapshots of members wearing Pipeworks or Touchstone logo gear on top of Mt Whitney, Shasta, Half Dome, on the crux of your hardest outdoor climb, snowshoeing in Tahoe, at the end of a 10K run or 100 mile bike ride – anywhere your adventurous life takes you!

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Wednesday, February 6, 2008
  A New Logo

A few months ago we announced that we were excited to be changing the name of Touchstone Concord to Diablo Rock Gym. Today we are extremely excited to unveil the new logo for the Diablo Rock Gym.

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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

If we’re really honest, dyno-ing is pretty useless as climbing skills go. On routes, making an all out dive at a hold is bad style—almost as bad as using your knees.

But climbers have found a few rare spots where the route just isn’t going to go unless you crouch down and just blast off. Boulderers have found more opportunities.

And, inevitably, when a bouldering session gets going in full force in the gym, someone usually starts trying big dynos. Usually it’s teen age boys or girls trying to impress each other. Still, there’s some good clean fun to the had here.

A little segment of the bouldering population has elevated dynos to Olympic levels. Some of them have actually been training and working hard just to get better at dynos, and maybe not even at the expense of their other more important climbing skills. So check out this amazing video of Sergii Topishko (Ukraine) tying the world record of 2 meters, 70 centimeters (almost 9 feet!) at a dyno comp in 2007.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1. BLAST OFF!


Monday, February 4, 2008
  Bouldering in Vacaville

Seriously. Situated about 30 miles west of Sacramento, and about 60 miles east of the Bay Area on I-80, there’s an outcropping of boulders scattered across a ridge just north of the freeway near the Nut Tree Exit.

“But the bouldering’s crap, right?”

No, actually it’s not. It’s not a world class area, and there aren’t thousands of problems. But it’ll definitely keep you busy for an afternoon or two.

The boulders are high on some hills that overlook the whole central valley. On a clear day you’ll be able to see Mt. Diablo in Walnut Creek, and the snow on the Sierras to the east.

And, despite the boulders’ being in the middle of some of Vacaville’s outlying neighborhoods, the setting is surprisingly pastoral and pleasant. The city of Vacaville has designated the whole area an open space park. There are cattle grazing there in the spring, summer, and fall. And the hills are peppered with beautiful, classic California oaks that look too archetypal to be real. You’ll think you’re in a California Plein Air painting.

Macro beta:
- Coming from the Bay Area on I-80, get off on the Nut Tree Parkway exit in Vacaville and take the first left at Allison Dr.
- OR, coming from Sacramento, take the East Monte Vista Drive exit, go left on Monte Vista, and then go right when you hit Allison Drive.

Micro beta:

- Follow Allison Drive until it reaches Browns Valley Parkway, go left.
- Go on Browns Valley Parkway, then turn left on Wrentham Drive (You’ll be able to see boulders up on the hill to the left behind the subdivision).
- Then turn left on Woodcrest. About a block up on the right, you’ll see a gap between the houses and a steep gravel path cutting diagonally up the hillside into the Open Space Park.
- Park on the right (be considerate of the neighbors), grab your stuff and head up the trail.

About a quarter mile or so up the trail, when it crests are starts to head back down hill, they’ll be a cattle gate on the right and an obvious path winding north up the hill towards the crest and scattered boulders. Hop the fence at the gate, being careful not to damage it—it’s there to keep the cattle in, not keep people out. And follow the trail up the hill. The boulders are scatter along this trail and across the next few hills to the north and west. Bring a spotter—some of the landings tilt down and away and you’ll roll all the way down to Fairfield without a catch.

The rock’s a bit chossy in spots, but it’s been cleaned up by climbers and you’ll find some steep and slabby terrain ranging from V0 up. Poke around and enjoy yourself.


Friday, February 1, 2008
  CrossFit also comes to GWPC

Offered at the Great Western Power Co. Thursday and Friday evenings at 6pm, CrossFit classes promise an intense workout in a 60 minute session. Want to know more about CrossFit? Check out the website at CrossFit East Bay for a sample of past classes at Ironworks. People of all fitness levels are invited to try out this new class! The first class will meet in the fitness room. Subsequent classes may meet on the roof, weather permitting. Contact the front desk with questions.

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