Touchstone Blog Archive
Thursday, August 27, 2009
  Route Updates on Twitter
A few months ago, Touchstone began putting route updates on a Twitter page. Easily find out what new routes and boulder problems are being put up by subscribing to Touchstone'e Twitter site. Also, check out the news feed with updates on the web site or check out the Facebook pages of the gyms.

Ironworks, Great Western Power Company, Diablo Rock Gym, Mission Cliffs, and Pipeworks

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  Yosemite Rockfall and Fires
Around noon on Wednesday, a major rock slide came off from the Royal Arches area of Yosemite National Park. The falling rocks, some of which reached microwave oven sizes, tumbled down and neared the Awahnee hotel. There were no injuries but the hotel was evacuated as a precaution and will remain empty until Friday. It is unknown what, if any, climbing routes the rock fall affected.

Dust from the afternoon rockfall obscured the view of Half Dome

The faint red line shows where the rockfall likely came from.

The Modest Bee wrote a brief story on the slide as did The New York Times

Also, Highway 120 into Yosemite Valley is currently closed due to a prescribed fire that escaped. The Big Oak Flat Road is closed from Highway 140 to Crane Flat and the Foresta road into the community of Foresta. There is no estimated time for the road to re-open. Highway 120 from Big Oak Flat entrance station is open to Crane Flat, on to Tuolumne Meadows, and Highway 395. Park firefighters are working hard to contain the blaze which has burned approximately 1,170 acres.

For more information check out NPS webpage regarding the fire.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009
  Behind the Desk with Ironworks's Todd Bartlow
Berkeley Ironworks staff member, Todd "The Bod" Bartlow just returned from a six month road trip around the US and into British Columbia. He climbed splitter cracks in Indian Creek, fought his way up the offwidths in Vedauwoo, and did some rad bouldering in Squamish.

Immediately upon his return to the Bay, he headed to Tuolumne Meadows, where he and his partner Wylie made an ascent of The Oz (5.10d) to the Gram Traverse (5.10d). This classic linkup climbs the main striking corner on Drug Dome, a stellar 5.10c finger crack pitch, and then skirts for a few pitches below the roof of the dome.

Wylie following the 5.10c finger crack.

Check out more of Todd's adventures at his blog where he chronicles his climbs including some rad ascents with other Touchstone climber Casey McTaggart.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009
  Touchstone Runners
Touchstone runners have been spotted in some very far-flung places lately.

Jean Hobler is left, wearing the Elvis glasses and Touchstone shirt.

On August 8, the anniversary of Elvis Presley's "alleged" death, Fleet Feet Chicago hosts the "Elvis is Alive 5K". Jean Hobler, a Touchstone climber, who was in Chicago for work, naturally had to run it. Jean described the race saying, "It's a very fun race (my second time running it), in large part because of the copious Elvii. That's right - people dress like Elvis: I saw mother/daughter Elvii, father/son Elvii, Elvii in red, in black, in white. Elvii with polyester and plastic hair and fabric pompadours exceeding 1 foot tall (no, I am not exaggerating). The race starts with Blue Suede Shoes ("a one for the money, a two for the show, three to get ready, now GO CAT GO!") At the end there was a beer garden and an Elvis impersonator concert! We had post-race beer and some good food, but most importantly the whole group I was with (runners and spectators) had Elvis glasses to show our support for the King."

On the other side of the continent, away from all the aspiring Elvis runners, Sacramento Pipeworks manager Vaughn Medford and his wife Kristen Venditelli (pictured above) participated in the "Common Fence Point 5 mile run" in Rhode Island. Said Kristen: "Before our trip to visit my family, we decided to commit to a 5 mile run so that we didn't back out of getting in miles while on vacation. And we are glad we did. The heat and humidity on the morning of the run was crushing. Let me say that again - CRUSHING. We joked in the car on the way that if we had not already paid our entry fees in advance, we wouldn't have made it to the start line. But once there, among fellow runners and members of the community, the excitement and adrenaline got us to the finish. The course was pretty, flat and right near the ocean. And humid. How humid could it be you may ask? It was like running in a sauna - we were DRENCHED by the end. We would have been drier had we put all our clothes on and ran around in the shower for an hour! It was a well-run event though, with a beautiful course, enthusiastic volunteers, and support from the neighbors cooling us off with their garden hoses. All-in-all, a fun way to represent Touchstone in a far away state!"

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Monday, August 24, 2009
  Free Yoga Clinic for Climbers at DRG
On Saturday August 29, from 1:00 to 3:00 PM, Angie Norwood, M.Ed. will be providing a free Yoga clinic. Voted “Best Yoga Teacher of the East Bay” by Diablo Magazine in 2007, Angie works as one of the staff members at Yogaworks and Renaissance Club
Sport. With over eight years of experience teaching clinics and classes, as well as dual certification in Yogaworks method and Mark Horner’s Hatha Yoga teacher training program, and an additional 700- hour Structural Yoga Therapy certificate with blessings to practice this unique form of therapy from its founder, Mukunda Stiles, Angie can provide awesome instruction.

Discover more power in your core, strength in your legs, flexibility in your hips and fluidity in your movements. This 2-hour clinic is designed with the climber in mind, but can benefit anyone who wants to increase strength and flexibility. The clinic will include a brief discussion of how increasing flexibility can increase strength, a solid practice sequence, and a portion dedicated to opening the upper back, chest and shoulders. The clinic will conclude with a guided relaxation exercise, with time for questions and answers. Please take advantage of the expertise of one of the East Bay’s finest yoga instructors!

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Thursday, August 20, 2009
  New Tuolumne Guidebook
For those that can't get enough of the High-Sierra Heavens, Supertopo publishing just released an updated edition of the Tuolumne Guidebook. Written by Marin Native Chris McNamara and Berkeley local Steve Roper, the book acts as an informative and great guide to 250 routes on the beautiful granite domes. Complete with rack beta, and guides to a wide range of climbs predominately in the 5.6 to 10a range, the book is a valuable resource for all aspiring Yosemite trad masters. The book is available at the Touchstone gyms.

James Lucas and John Schmid On the Lamb a 500 foot 5.9 horizontal traverse across Lamb Dome photo by Mikey Schaeffer

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009
  First Free Ascent in the Bugaboos
Recently, Will Stanhope, Jason Kruk, and Matt Segal headed to the Bugaboo Mountain Range in Canada where they pulled off a couple of inspiring first free ascents. On the Central Howser Tower, the men pulled off a 5.12+ variation to the existing aid route Chocolate Fudge Brownie (VI 5.9 A2). They then headed to Snowpatch Spire where they made an ascent of Sendero Norte, a 5.12+ route up the east face.

Dougald McDonald wrote an excellent report on the men's ascent at Climbing.Com and Jason Kruk detailed his account of the trip at his blog.

Here's a cool video that Jason put together showing the trip's exploits:

Central Howser Tower Freeclimbing from Jason Kruk on Vimeo.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009
  Video Footage of Bachar-Yerian
Two months ago, young rock-jock Hayden Kennedy escaped the heat of Yosemite and headed went up to Medlicott Dome in Tuoulumne to try the notoriously runout Bachar-Yerian (5.11c R/X) with the infamous Ivo Ninov. John Bachar and Dave Yerian established the route in impeccable style, drilling the bolts on lead from the ground-up. Bachar hung off little hooks placed precariously on the knobs while he hand drilled. He then ran it out for enormous distances before placing another bolt. The route remains one of the most coveted test-pieces in Yosemite.

Hayden made short work of the heady knob climb, dancing his way up the black streaked knobs and keeping his fear in control. This Black Diamond video shows some of Hayden's jedi skills in action.

Hayden Kennedy on the Bachar/Yerian (5.11c R/X) from Black Diamond Equipment on Vimeo.

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Monday, August 17, 2009
  TBS5 At DRG This Friday
This Friday evening, 6pm on August 21, 2009, the second of the Touchstone Bouldering Comps will be held at Diablo Rock Gym. Join hundreds of other Touchstone members to participate in one of the Bay area's best climbing events. There will be tons of new problems, t-shirts for competitors, great beer, and plenty of fun.

Also: From Wednesday to the start of the comp the bouldering will be closed.

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Friday, August 14, 2009
  Team Gravity Fundraiser Raffle
The Zero Gravity Climbing Team is currently hosting a raffle, at Mission Cliffs, to help send 6 of their athletes to compete in the Youth World Championships in Velance, France. Tickets are $1 each, or if you buy $5 you get 1 free, $10 is 3 free, etc. The drawing will be held on Saturday at Mission Cliffs, but you don't need to be present to win.

The Touchstone kids that will be competing are; Cicada Jenerik, Scott Cory, Josh Levin, Eric Sanchez, Hannah Le, Charlie Andrews, and their coach Scot Jenerik will be going as well. The competition will be the last week of August.

The prizes include awesome Madrock gear, t-shirts, a rope, and other rad stuff.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009
  Kike Arnal: Ironworks Artist of the Month
Kike Arnal, a long time climber whose photography career has stemmed from his climbing adventures and excursions in his native Nenezuela, has joien with Tarek Milleron, an ecologist who specialized in tropical tree seeds and and seedlings. The two worked together to photograph, encourage, and teach indigenous people of the Caura River Basin, a section of Venezuela's Amazon Basin, to use traditional and sustainable methods in harvesting native forest palm fruit trees. Arnal, a regular contributor to The New York Times, Outside, Newsweek, and Mother Jones, has his photographs displayed at the Ironworks Gym.

Check out an article by Tarek Milleron on building a dugout in the Amazon.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009
  Tyrus Bachar Living Trust Fund
Recently, climbing legend, John Bachar passed away. He left behind a fourteen year old son, Tyrus. In memory of John and in an effort to help his son, a number of famous climbers, climber manufacturers, and friends came together and donated a long list of goods up for auction in support of the Tyrus Bachar Living Trust Fund.

Check out the eBay auction site

Some of the items include:

Rab Latok Alpine Jacket - Large / color red
Yosemite by Alexander Huber, Signed by Author
PETZL Nomad 9.8mm x 60m Climbing Rope, Dry
Petzl GriGri - brand new
Trango Cinch belay device - new
Petzl Tikka Plus 2 headlamp - new
Galen Rowell's Vision Signed by Galen Rowell
The Naked Mountain by Signed by Reinhold Messner
La Sportiva Muira Climbing Shoe - any size
La Sportiva Testorrosa Climbing Shoe - any size
Acopa Climbing Shoes - any model, any size
Bluewater Ropes Enduro 11mm by 50meter - blue
Yates Shield Climbing Harness signed by Ammon McNeely
Nicros Pump Rocks
Prana One female outfit value up to $120
Prana One male outfit value up to $120
Leki Thermolite Aergon Antishock Trekking Poles
Sterling Marathon Pro 10.1 x 60 meter rope - new
Evolv Climbing or Approch Shoes - any model, any size
Mountain Khakis - gift certificate for any pants
Black Diamond Apollo Lantern
Black Diamond Boa Climbing Pack
Wild Country Syncro Harness size Regular
Wild Country Helium 10cm Quickdraw - 5 pack
DMM Maverick Harness size small, new
Tuolumne Bouldering Signed by Famous Climbers
Yosemite Big Walls Signed by Famous Climbers
Organic Briefcase Bouldering Pad, new
Osprey Mutant 38 Backpack - black - new
Osprey Variant 52 Backpack
Petzl Elios Climbing Helmet - new, white, size 2
Petzl Adjama Harness - new, size medium
Crypto Child Womens Tank Top signed by Jason Kehl
Crypto Child Mens T Shirt signed by Jason Kehl
To Be Brave: My Life - signed by author Royal Robbins
Yosemite Valley Free Climbs signed collectors edition
Zion Climbing SuperTopo signed collectors edition
PMI Spire Climbing dry rope 10.2mm x 60m - ne

For more information check out Chris Macnamara's Supertopo page.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009
  Eddie Connell- Friend, and Fellow Climber

Last week Eddie Connell passed away. He was a climber, DRG member, previous belay staffer, and most importantly a fantastic friend and all around great guy. He always had a smile on his face, especially when he was climbing, and took to the sport naturally, quickly becoming a fixture in the gym. More determined than most, he would spend hours on end trying the same route over and over again, whipping off the prow, falling closer and closer to the end…until he sent. His passion was so strong it was contagious. If you came in mid-day Eddie and his friends would be the only few in the gym, but his excitement and good nature would fill the entire building. They even went so far as to dub themselves, “Team Heel Hook,” making cut-off shirts with their own logo for our bouldering competition.

Eddie, thank you for all the good times, you will be missed.

-Andrew Descalo

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Monday, August 10, 2009
  Mission Cliffs Comp Photos

Over a hundred great photos of the Mission Cliffs Climbing Comp, TBS5, have been posted over at the website. Check them out on the Touchstone website by clicking on the BETA pull down bar and choosing Gallery or by clicking on this link:

Mission Cliffs Photos:

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Friday, August 7, 2009
  Climbing Injuries
Researchers at the Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus Ohio reported that more than 40,000 people sought treatment in U.S. emergency rooms from 1990 to 2007 for fractures, sprains and other ailments related to rock-climbing -- a 63 percent increase during that time.

The majority of these injuries, 70%, were related to falls with the distance of the fall correlating to the severity of the injury. Often times rock climbing injuries are finger related- popped tendons and pulleys, or are due to overuse- elbow tendinitis.

For more information check out the original article.

On August 11th, there will be a great opportunity to learn more about sports related and specifically, climbing related injuries. From 6:30-8:30 pm, get help and ask questions with Rachman Chung, DC, ART, and CMT at Mission Cliffs.

For further information about specific rock climbing injuries check out One Move Too Many...How to Understand the Injuries and Overuse Syndromes of Rock Climbing an excellent book on the topic.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
  Ironworks Women's Climbing Clinic
Saturday evening, August 8th from 7-9pm, long time Touchstone climbers and veteran boulderers and rope climbers, Seneca and Julia will be leading a women's clinic. The clinic will focus on increasing rope and lead climbing skills in a friendly and inviting environment. For the last hour, the ladies will have the gym to themselves! For more details inquire at the front desk of the Ironworks gym.

Seneca crimping hard on the boulders of Bishop

Julia sending at the Sunny & Steep Wall in Red Rocks Nevada

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009
  Interview with Allen Steck
Allen Steck, a Berkeley climber and Ironworks regular, is perhaps most famous for his intimidating and classic first ascent of the Steck-Salathe on Yosemite's Sentinel rock. Steck helped pioneer the Golden Age of Yosemite climbing establishing numerous Yosemite test-piece routes.

Along with another bay are climber, Steve Roper, Steck wrote Fifty Classic Climbs of North America and won the prestigious American Alpine Club' Literary Award. Below is a copy of an interview that the AAC made during their 1995 meeting. Check out this great interview footage from the archives of the internet.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009
  Pipeworks Bike Club Rides Shasta Super Century

Recently three of Sacramento Pipeworks bike club's strongest, most intrepid members (Dan Weintraub, Nicole Dolney and Will Harris) rode the grueling Shasta Century. Though not as well known as the notorious Death Ride, Shasta is actually tougher – this Super Century features 16,500' of climbing over 135 miles as well as being a lot prettier, and a better first ride for those who are new to hilly, mega-century rides.

Will writes: "We got underway at 6AM, but 3.2 miles in, the bolt that held my saddle snapped. Nicole and Dan continued while I turned around, hoping to track down the right type of bolt sooner then later. Fortunately, the guy working bike tech support owned the bike shop in town. He drove back to the start, got the bolt from me, drove to his shop, and got back to me w/ a matching bolt. I was back on my bike after about 1.25 hours. I rode up the second climb, went down it, saw Dan and Nicole approaching, and so did it again w/them.

The weather was great--partly cloudy, a smattering of rain (just enough to cool you off), and light winds. Support was first rate, participants all really cool, mellow. And the ride finishes with a 14 mile descent that literally takes you to the place where the whole thing started--truly a great way to end it. The last climb is a long bitch, but with that finish, it makes it a memory pretty quick.
This is a great ride and there are all sorts of options for distances and elevation gains. It truly had a great vibe."

Dan added: "Yes, the ride ends with a 14-mile descent down a steady 6 percent grade. So what, exactly, immediately precedes that wonderful descent? Hint: I was wimpering and near tears at the top.

Actually, the Shasta Century is a fantastic event, with ride options to fit everyone's tastes. We should definitely bring a big Pipeworks group next year."

For more information on the Pipeworks bike club check out the Touchstone Bike Club site and the Touchstone Men's Race team blog.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
  South Africa Bouldering
A strong crew of Bay area and Sacramento climbers flew across the Atlantic and down to the southern part of Africa to Rocklands. The 33 hours of numbing travel to South Africa brought Berkeley Ironworks manager Paul Baraza and Great Western Power Co. Manager Lyn Verinsky to some of the best bouldering in the world.

Randy Puro on Solaur Power (v10)

They are staying in a small cottage on a farm north of Clan William in the Cedarburg Range. A place where Paul thought the "electricity was added as an afterthought in the 1980's."

They have adjusted well so far to the foreign environment, despite having some trouble driving on the "wrong" side of the road. Paul aptly stated, "The oncoming headlights coming at us on the right side prompted panic a number of times!"

Lyn way off the ground on Creaking Heights (V4)

The climbing in Rocklands is mostly hard sandstone and features everything from tiny crimps to big slopers to enormous jugs. Lyn noted, "I'm finding the Rocklands to remind me a lot of both Colorado and Utah with very similar rock formations, canyons and peaks." The areas are highly spread out making it necessary to drive between the boulders.

Lyn and Paul have both been crushing. Paul has sent hard classics like Pinotage (v10) and Gliding through the Waves with Dolphins (v11) while Lyn has hiked Petit Hueco (v8) and a number of other awesome testpieces.

Lyn working the moves on her project Caroline (v10)

Here's a video of former Ironworks employee Katie Brown on Petit Hueco. Lyn also fired this problem just a few weeks ago.

See more videos like this at Rock Climbing at

Paul wrote more about his adventures at his blog and there is a good collection of the Bay area blogs on a Rocklands article at Climbing Narc.

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