Touchstone Blog Archive
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
  Risk: the Good, the Safe, and the Sober
Climbers will say some odd things about the risks associated with their activities. When the topic crops up while you’re stirring goop on the camp stove, here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. We often do a bad job of assessing risk. Remember when someone in your high school got hurt in a car wreck and everyone started driving more carefully for about a week? Ever know someone who lives in an urban area with a high crime rate who refuses to go camping because it’s too dangerous? (too many Freddy and Jason movies). No matter how risky an activity is, when it becomes familiar and common place, we relax and our subjective assessment of how risky it is goes down.

2. Anecdotal evidence is notoriously unreliable at giving us an accurate picture of the real rate of occurrence. We only need to hear about a few violent crimes on the news before our estimation of the rate of violence overall begins to go up. This can even occur when the violent crime rate is going down overall.

Here are some details about rock climbing and risk from a recent British study:

- Rock climbing is safer than hang gliding. Hang gliders face a 1 in 116,000 flights risk of dying, climbers face 1 in 320,000 climbs.
- Rock climbing is safer than being pregnant. Maternal death occurs in 1 in 8,200 maternities. (How many people have had a baby but refuse to climb because it’s dangerous?)
- Rock climbing is safer than scuba diving (1/200,000 dives)
- Canoeing is safer than climbing (1/750,000 outings)

One of the common misconceptions about climbers is that they do it for the thrills. But sports psychology studies (and a few conversations with climbers) show that it is not the risk itself that climbers seek but the search for progressively harder challenges. And fortunately, with modern climbing equipment and good safety techniques, it’s a simple matter to increase the difficulty of your climbing challenges without significantly increasing the risks. If you follow a bombproof safety routine, the rope is there to catch you in a fall whether you’re on a 5.6 or a 5.12.

Still, there’s risk in every activity, including climbing. The only healthy way to pursue it is with good, safe technique and a sober assessment of the facts.


Friday, September 26, 2008
  TRS Finale at Mission Cliffs: TONIGHT!

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008
  Touchstone Members at World Championships

Four Touchstone Members on the Zero Gravity Climbing Team competed in the Youth World Championships in Sydney, Australia this past month. Josh Levin and Cicada Jenerik Podiumed. Josh had the best overall showing with a Bronze Medal in Speed and a 7th place in difficulty. Cicada also scored a Bronze in Speed and was absolutely crushing in Semifinals until her foot unexpectedly popped. She ended up 14th. Gabi Masse and Scott Cory were also in first heading into Semis but ended up 21st and 14th.

Next years Youth World Championships will be in France.

Gabi, Cicada, Scott, Josh and Scot Jenerik (coach) would like to give a huge thanks to everyone at Touchstone who supported the team by buying raffle tickets.

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Monday, September 22, 2008
  New Parking Lot in Sacramento

It was a long and arduous process, but we are finally proud to announce that Sacramento Pipeworks officially has a beautiful brand new parking lot! The gorgeous space with room for over 100 cars was christened with champagne by staff member Diane Ortega. The members who remember winters slogging through mud to get in the front door seem most excited. With a fence, lighting and landscaping soon to follow, we hope everyone enjoys our latest addition!


Friday, September 19, 2008
  No Showers at Mission Cliffs on Sept. 20th & 21st.
Showers will not be available at Mission Cliffs on the weekend of Sept. 20th & 21st. We will be sealing the floor as part of our ongoing renovation of the bathrooms.

Thanks for your understanding & patience as we near the end of our remodel.


Thursday, September 18, 2008
This summer, Kelly McFarling took time off from Mission Cliffs to lead a wilderness trip for teenagers in the Talkeetna Mountain range of Alaska. She has been working for the outdoor adventure company Moondance Adventures, for the past four summers, and has been fortunate to lead trips all over the United States. The Alaska Trip this summer consisted of a 12 day backcountry alpine section that ended by rafting out on the Chikaloon River, and then spending 6 days kayaking the Prince William Sound. She was leading a group of 16-18 year olds from all over the United States. Alaska was an amazing experience for both her and her group, and Kelly hopes to continue working with teenagers, especially in backcountry settings.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008
  Fight Cancer with CrossFit
Join CrossFit EastBay, Wounded Warrior Project and Athletes for a Cure Foundations in the “Fight Gone Bad III” a one day fund-raising workout to crush prostate cancer on Saturaday, September 27th at 11am. Five grueling exercises on one minute intervals for three rounds will test your mind and body, all in the name of a good cause. Ask your favorite CrossFit enthusiast or Max Lewin, the local CrossFit Boss for more information. Show cancer and everyone else the business side of your fitness!

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008
  Rowan Gets His Lung Transplant

As many of you know, Rowan Jimenez, former Touchstone employee, parent, rock climber, and musician was diagnosed with a rare disease called scleroderma about six years ago. We just heard from Chris Bloch that Rowan received a lung transplant on Monday morning. Here is the update from Chris:

Today Rowan is alive and well, and recovering from lung transplant surgery! Last night around 8pm, he got the call from UCSF that a suitable donor had become available, and he needed to be there in two hours. Arriving around 9:30pm with Heather, his brother Juan, and yours truly, he began the long wait for surgery. While we thought he would go right in, they needed to do a lot of prep work, and we ended up saying our goodbyes around 3:30am. It turned out, the surgery started at 5:19am and lasted about 7 hours. He had no complications at all. In fact the doctors said the surgery was "routine," as if there is a routine lung transplant...He is now resting in the intensive cardiac care unit at UCSF medical center. He is sedated and they probably won't wake him up until tomorrow sometime. They said he could be up and walking around tomorrow evening! Sorry, no visitors until he gets out of the ICU. I will keep you posted as to when he can have visitors.

Thanks to everyone who has helped out thus far, we have raised over $30k just from Facebook, Rowan's blog site, email, and word of mouth!! We still have a long way to go, as Rowan now faces a lengthy recovery.

The Full Lung Capacity comp is looking good, with well over $10k in prizes coming in, and it now will be even more fun as we will be celebrating the fact Rowan has his Full Lung Capacity!!
Hope to see you all at the comp on November 1st. Please buy a t-shirt, check the blog, and send good vibes Rowan's way as he gets well!

We will be posting more info on the Full Lung Capacity comp that will be held at Berkeley Ironworks on November 1st.

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Friday, September 12, 2008
  CrossFit: The Best View in Town

With the gorgeous weather we've been having lately, it might be hard to get to the gym to work out. But now there's a perfect solution to wanting to work out AND be outside: CrossFit at GWPC. Now taking place on the roof, CrossFit offers the best of both worlds, a booty kicking workout and your daily vitamin D allotment.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008
  Bakesale @ Ironworks
Berkeley Ironworks member, local kitchen wizard and climber, Tianna, will be stopping by Tuesday night, Sept 16th from 7-10pm. She’ll be selling baked treats, with a portion of the proceeds going to a breast cancer research fund. Eat your way to a brighter, cancer-free future, or just fuel up for a night of climbing with some good grub.

Interested in joining the delicious effort on a producer front? Talk to Casey at the front desk.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008
  Touchstone Kleen Kanteens
You've heard the news: plastic water bottles have been found to leach trace amounts of bisphenol-A (BPA), a chemical that has been shown to disrupt normal hormone function leading to a myriad of health problems in mice. If you've been thinking of kicking your Nalgene to the curb (the recycling curb, that is), now is the perfect time. In your friendly, neighborhood Touchstone gym, you will find two sizes of of the 100% stainless Steel Kleen Kanteens priced to sell at $15.50 for 27 oz. or $22.50 for 40 oz. Who doesn't want a clean, BPA-free and odor free glug of h20 that's better for your health and better for the environment than those ubiquitous plastic water bottles?

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008
  Mystery Comp

On Friday September 5th, Berkeley Ironworks hosted an informal 'Mystery Comp'. But just what exactly is a mystery comp? Well, there were 49 new boulder problems in the wave, but no grades - hence the mystery. To make things even more interesting, the points were distributed randomly! So the strategy was to find the easiest climb for the points and ask other people how hard things were.

Justin Ghan solved the mystery in the men's division and Emily Engie won the women's division. Stay tuned for other random and fun events at Berkeley Ironworks in the future.

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Friday, September 5, 2008
  CPR Class for a Good Cause

Oakland fire fighter Sean Gillis will be teaching his third CPR / First Aid class @ Berkeley Ironworks on September 21st from 2-8pm. This class is open to all in the community for only the suggested donation of $50 (or what ever you can afford). All the proceeds from the classes go to the Oakland Firefighters Random Acts Charity. So far, some of the money raised by Sean has gone to help a family in Nicaragua. Sadly her husband went crazy, cut off her hands and fled. Leaving her to care for her family of four with no way to get a job. The random acts charity has stepped in to help with short-term food relief and enabling her to get prosthesis.

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Thursday, September 4, 2008
  Successful Blood Drive at DRG
August 21st was not just any ordinary Thursday, it was the DRG's annual blood drive. Touchstone sends a big thanks to those members at the DRG who braved the needle to donated blood. 23 donors in all came out to give 14 units of blood which was enough to save 42 lives. Way to go everyone!

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Tuesday, September 2, 2008
  Yosemite Facelift Coming Soon
Yosemite Facelift is a five-day volunteer clean-up of Yosemite National Park. Volunteers meet a the booth in front of the Yosemite Visitor Center each day after 8:00am to sign up and receive cleaning supplies. Trash is brought back before 5:00 pm for weighing and sorting recyclables. Each participant receives a raffle ticket for each day they participate.

There will be a raffle at 5:00 pm every day at the booth except for Sunday's raffle, which will be at a thank you reception at the East Auditorium. The reception will include the raffle, free drinks, food and live music with the Jonathan McEuen Band.

This event is organized by the Yosemite Climbing Association, a non-profit dedicated to preserving Yosemite's climbing history. You can find more info at:

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