Touchstone Blog Archive
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
  Win Tickets to Wanderlust
Wanderlust is a new kind of festival that is being launched this summer at Squaw Valley on July 24-26, 2009 in Lake Tahoe, CA. The three-day event will bring together the world’s leading yoga teachers and the best performers in rock & roll, all in a setting of breathtaking natural beauty. Confirmed artists include Michael Franti & Spearhead, Andrew Bird, Spoon, Gillian Welch and many others. Yoga teachers include John Friend, Shiva Rea, Duncan Wong, Sianna Sherman, Elena Brower, Rusty Wells, Janet Stone, Doug Swenson and many others. More information about the festival (including performers, yoga instructors, ticketing and much more) can be found at

And as a member of Touchstone Climbing you can win free tickets to the event. Click here for a chance to win free tickets.

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  Access Fund: Help Save California State Parks
On Friday we told you about a rally out in Walnut Creek to help save California's State Parks. Today we have note from the Access Fund on how you can get further involved in this very important struggle to keep our State Parks open.

Immediate action is needed to help save climbing in California’s State Parks from drastic budget cuts that threaten closure!

Faced with a multi-billion dollar state budget deficit, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is pushing a plan to close 220 of the California’s 279 parks, despite reports that show the park system more than pays for itself by generating tourism dollars. 75 million people visit California state parks each year, spending almost $60 apiece on their trips, both inside and outside the parks. For every dollar that funds the parks, $2.35 is returned to the state's General Fund through economic activities in the communities surrounding the parks. Nonetheless, California’s state parks, including many climbing areas, are on the chopping block.

Threatened climbing areas include Mt. Diablo, Mt. Tamalpais, Castle Rock, Castle Crags, Mt. San Juacinto, Stinson (Mickey's) Beach, Patrick's Point, Mt. St. Helena, Emerald Bay, Point Dune, Malibu Creek, Lake Perris, and Stonewall Creek.

Your help is needed to convince CA legislators that they should prioritize budget funding for valuable State Parks. If California’s State Parks are important to you—especially those that contain climbing areas—then write your state representatives and urge them to support a budget that doesn’t deprive your State Park lands and its users.

It is easier than ever to take action from the Access Fund Action Center. It only takes 30 seconds to submit a letter and have your voice heard!


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Friday, June 26, 2009
  Save Our State Parks

As the California budget crisis worsens, budget cuts are starting to have a big impact on many of the programs that we as Californians hold dear. One of these is our State Parks and Andrew Descalso, the manager at Diablo Rock Gym is doing something about it. He and his friends have organized a rally to help focus attention to the very real possibility of us loosing many of our State Parks.

Awareness Rally
June 26th 7:00-8:30pm
Downtown Walnut Creek
Corner of Olympic & Locust

Come on down and wear as little as possible Speedos & Bikini’s...we need to draw some attention to the matter. Body paint or write your favorite park all over yourself. Those fully dressed, come down to support and watch. (Have a bike? Bring it and ride around the block, please follow all the laws and wear a helmet)

"Even if you are not planning to visit a park soon, the governor's short-sighted proposal will impact you and every California resident. It is the very definition of "penny-wise, pound foolish".

Consider the facts:

FACT: The General Fund budget that state parks receive account for less than 1/10 of one percent of the entire state budget.

FACT: Last year alone, there were over 80 million visitors to state parks – and all indications are that this year was going to be even higher.

FACT: For every dollar that funds the parks, $2.35 is returned to the state's General Fund through economic activities in the communities surrounding the parks.

That means eliminating all funding for state parks could actually result in the state losing over $350 million dollars in revenue.

For the financial well-being of our state, we must oppose this reckless plan. We have had the displeasure of notifying you of threats to our parks in the past. But this is the worst threat to park system in its 150 year history."

Please visit to send a letter to the Governor and your local representative, it only takes a minute.

There is also have a facebook invite page.

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  DRG's June Artist of the Month Lilly Russo

Lily started making mosaics as a child using the scraps from her mother's stained glass window projects. An entrepreneur at an early age, she turned her passion into a business specializing in mosaic furniture. Lily studied painting at the University of Illinois and graduated with a B.A. in International Studies, with a concentration on Human Rights in Latin America. She has lived abroad in Ecuador and Australia and is inspired by the intricate patterns of indigenous designs. She enjoys making beautifully decorative and brightly colored art, and also doing largescale custom mosaic installation to make unique living spaces. In addition to making mosaics, Lily enjoys rock climbing, yoga, and adventure traveling. Her latest creative venture is learning to be a tattoo artist at Skindalous Tattoo!

Check out more of Lilly's work at

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Thursday, June 25, 2009
  TBS5 Dates Announced
Get out your chalk buckets, the Touchstone Bouldering Series is coming back this summer. The TBS is returning for it's fifth season starting at Mission Cliffs in July and continue through the finale in November at Berkeley Ironworks. You can see all the dates below and you can get more details on the TBS page.

July 24th Mission Cliffs
August 21st Diablo Rock Gym
September 18th GWPC
October 16th Sacramento Pipeworks
Nov 13th Berkeley Ironworks

As always, these comps are FREE to all Touchstone members. They all include Free Food, Free Beer & Soda, Free T-shirt & of course, lots of climbing.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009
  Grab the White Courage, it is Fly Off time!!!!
Look what we found on YouTube. This is a vintage climbing video of one of our members, Dan Goodwin performing some maneuvers out at Mickey's Beach.

Now it is your turn. You can now try to preform your very own Fly Off. Look for the 'White Courage' route in Mission Cliffs and preform your very own Fly Off in the designated spot.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009
  EVEREST Exhibition in San Francisco

Check out a special exhibition of aerial photographs of Mount Everest on Saturday, June 27 from 4-6pm and a special walk through and talk by the photographer on Saturday July, 11 @ 5:00pm. These are a really special set of photographs as he is the only photographer to have secured the fly-over rights to the entire range.

Baer Ridgway Exhibitions is pleased to present EVEREST, a selection of Mount Everest aerial photographs taken in late 1983 by William Thompson on assignment for National Geographic Magazine. These photographs represent the first and only complete aerial imagery ever taken of Mount Everest. These images were created in the cauldron of ongoing geopolitical intrigue. To overfly Tibet required a delicate and difficult navigation of the political, social and religious landscapes of China, India, Tibet and Nepal. This was accomplished through ten years of building partnerships and personal ties through the efforts of the Boston Museum of Science and the National Geographic Society.

The sublime beauty of these images illuminates that while this is some of the most perilous terrain on the planet it is also some of the most architecturally beautiful. The peril exists not only for the mountaineer who climbs these peaks but also for the photographer (and pilots) as the process of making these images at extreme altitudes was enormously dangerous.

These images represent a fresh and rare view of the border between emerging superpowers and their often vulnerable smaller neighbors. In this geopolitical scenario, each player has greatly varying perspectives, histories and agendas. It is this composite and comparison of the unflinching beauty, danger and immensity of the natural world within such a politically contested landscape that makes these photographs so compelling.

Thompson holds a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Oregon, where he wrote his dissertation on Visual Learning and the process of making visual value judgments. He received his BA in Cultural Anthropology with a minor in Painting from the University of California at Santa Barbara. Thompson worked as a photographer with National Geographic for 12 years covering such stories as the extinction of the world's elephants, Bhutan's people and geography, the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal, and Alaska's powerful unrelenting wilderness.

More information and images can be viewed on our website:

BRX is located at 172 Minna (between 3rd and New Montgomery) in downtown San Francisco, next to the SFMOMA. The gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11:00am to 6:00pm.

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  How a Climbing Rope is Made
A few weeks ago we posted a video on how a carabiner is made. Today we continue with that theme with an interesting video on how a climbing rope is made. Enjoy.

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Friday, June 19, 2009
  Zumba Comes to Mission Cliffs: TONIGHT

Join Marie on Friday, June 19th from 8-9pm at Mission Cliffs.

Zumba fuses hypnotic Latin rhythms & easy to follow moves to create a dynamic fitness program that will blow you away. Zumba fanatics archive long term benefits while experiencing an absolute blast in one exhilarating hour of caloric-burning, body-energizing, awe-inspiring movements meant to engage & captivate for life! The routines feature interval training sessions where fast & slow rhythms, & resistance training are combined to tone & sculpt your body while burning fat. Add some Latin flavor & international zest into the mix & you've got Zumba.

This is a free event for members.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009
  Mustard Seed School Gets Noticed

Visit for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Recently a community group that we see at Sacramento Pipeworks on a regular basis, Mustard Seed School, was featured both on the national NBC Nightly News and on the Today Show.

Teacher Madelyn Hall writes: "I just wanted to forward a link to both the Nightly News and Today Show which had Pipeworks footage. (Pipeworks) is such an important part of their experience at school, I am really glad it got included. The other day I was thinking about all that has happened since the beginning of the school year. The kids were so scared to come down from a climb that they would cling to the wall with fear, and now they rappel down like pros and pretend they are on a swat team. It makes such a big difference to them to be able to trust in a world where they have to second guess everything. Thank you again for a wonderful year. We truly enjoyed the time spent at Pipeworks!"

Thanks again,
Madelyn Hall
4th-5th Grade Teacher

April 12: A dramatic rise in the number of homeless families is placing new
importance on an innovative program that offers aid to children caught in
desperate situations. NBC’s Chris Jansing reports. (Nightly News)

and similar footage on the Today Show

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009
  Touchstone ZERO GRAVITY Division 1 Team Champions!

Touchstone's Zero Gravity Youth Climbing Team crushed at the USA Climbing Division 1 Championships, held at Touchstone's Pipeworks in Sacramento, the weekend of June 13 and 14. The Division 1 Championships incorporates the top youth climbers from Northern California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Utah, Montana and Wyoming. Zero Gravity won the Team award over past National team Champions Vertical World, from Seattle, and 29 other teams.

Of the 17 competitors that Zero Gravity took to the competition, they had 4 Div1 Champions (sport), 3 Div1 Champions (speed), 9 podium finishes (sport), 5 podium finishes (speed).

Scott Cory, Division 1 Champion Sport, Division 1 Champion Speed
Joshua Levin, Division 1 Champion Sport, Division 1 Champion Speed
Cicada Jenerik, Division 1 Champion Sport, Division 1 Champion Speed
Sera Busse, Division 1 Champion Sport, Third Speed
Eric Sanchez, Third Sport, Division 1 Champion Speed
Gabrielle Strandberg, Second Sport, Second Speed
Gregor Pierce, Second Sport, Fourth Speed
Charlie Andrews, Second Sport, Fourth Speed
Hannah Le, Second Sport, Fourteenth Speed
Troy Gibb, Sixth Sport, Eleventh Speed
Nicolas Bradley, Sixth Sport, Eighth Speed
Kevin Ott, Eighth Sport, Ninth Speed
Silas Burger, Ninth Sport, Thirteenth Speed
Jorden Vogel, Thirteenth Sport, Seventh Speed
Tesea Thornton, Seventeenth Sport, Fourteenth Speed
Alexa Nazarian, Twelfth Sport
Cody Gibb, Twelfth Speed
Scot Jenerik, Division 1 Team Champions Coach

Also at the Regional Championships held in May, Touchstone's Zero Gravity became the Northern California Regional Champions for the Fourth straight year.

Next are the USAC National Championships which will be held in July in Salt Lake City. For more information about USA Climbing go to

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009
  Mission High School visits Mission Cliffs

A group of teenagers from all over the city (Bayview, Hunter’s Point, Portrero Hill, Mission, the Sunset, and Richmond Districts) visits a climbing wall for the first time. After learning to tie their figure 8 knots in class, they got to put their newfound skills to the challenge. Most were reluctant to climb, being afraid of heights, but with the help of some belayers and desk staff Sherry, the students were thoroughly enjoying themselves by the end of the day. Here are what some students had to say about their experience.

Alejandro says, “I overcame my fear of heights and had a great time doing it.”

“I also learned that someone’s always there to catch you.” –Jesvy

Edgardo says he has already recommended it to his mother.

“The experience really leveled the playing field for the students. Some students who have never had a chance to shine in the classroom, finally got a chance to do so while climbing” says Mr. Lau.

This unique experience would not have been possible without the charitable contributions of Mission Cliffs, which is dedicated to giving back to the community.

“As teens would say ‘I had a popping time, and this is not my last time going.’” -Mikesha

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009
  Lightning Safety for Climbers: Stay Safe

Tis the season for some impressive summer storms, and we all know that alongside massive thunder, those summer storms can bring about some extremely impressive, and extremely deadly lightning strikes. As climbers, anytime we climb outdoors in a storm, we are in jeopardy. The good news is there are things we can do to reduce our risk of getting struck.

As always, check out the full article for some more in-depth analysis and reasoning, but now for brevity's sake, here are the top 8 tips for avoiding that summer lightning while climbing this year:

  1. Check the weather forecast before going out.
  2. Do your climbing in the morning before it storms.
  3. Be prepared to change or abandon your climbing plans.
  4. Pay attention to atmospheric changes.
  5. Get off high places before a storm arrives.
  6. Learn to recognize thunderstorms that produce lightning.
  7. Use thunder to determine how far a storm is from you.
  8. Follow the 30-30 Rule.
There you have it! The 30-30 rule just means if the time between when you see lightning and hear the thunder is under 30 seconds, seek shelter. Wait 30 minutes from the last bolt of lightning before you safely go out again.

Stay Safe this year!

(image via

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Monday, June 1, 2009
  Birth of a Carabiner
Ever wonder how some of the climbing gear that you trust with your life is made? Well has posted an interesting article on how Black Diamond makes their carabiners. They not only describe the process but also include lots of pictures and even a few videos, including the one below.

And if you are not really interested in how a carabiner is made, watch the video below just for some super funky Herbie Hancock.

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