Touchstone Blog Archive
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
  The National Parks: America's Best Idea
The National Parks: America's Best Idea, a six-episode series from Ken Burns, explores the national parks from Acadia, Yosemite, Yellowstone, the Alaskan Arctic, and the Everglades of Florida. The documentary reflects the people from all aspects of the park- the scientists, the natives, the newcomers, and the politicians.

Famed Naturalist John Muir

The documentary will explore the life of John Muir, describing the help he did to make Yosemite a National Park with Theodore Roosevelt and his efforts to save Hetch Hetchy, another enormous climbing area in the Sierras.

Hetch Hetchy

The series will be shown on PBS at 8pm.

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Monday, September 28, 2009
  Cathedral Peak Trail Restoration
Cathedral Peak's Southwest Face (5.6) is one of the most popular rock climbers in the Sierras. An ascent requires a long, but beautfiul drive to Tuoulumne Meadows, followed by an hour and a half hike to the base. First climbed by John Muir in 1869, the peak now sees hundreds of ascents every from early spring to late fall. In an attempt to keep the area pristine, the Yosemite Climbing Rangers are enacting a restoration program. Check out the details of the program that Jake Whittaker, one of the new climbing rangers, wrote up.

This fall, NPS has started restoration of the base and approach/descent of Cathedral Peak. Over the last decade, the number of ascents of the peak has increased substantially. This has resulted in nearly infinite trail braiding, loss of vegetation, erosion problems, and a general look of stampeded devastation at the base of the peak.

The project has begun to establish ONE trail for approach and descent of Cathedral Peak from the Budd Creek drainage. We are all going to have to make a point of using this trail for restoration of the area to be possible. It’s possible that the chosen route isn’t the way any one person usually goes, or what any one person thinks is best, or the way any one person thinks is fastest. However, after study by numerous climbers, restoration ecologists, and trail workers, it has been chosen for its minimum impact on vegetation, its durability, and its efficiency.

For all you speed demons chucking fitness laps on Cathedral, we even timed different ways, and the chosen route is as fast as any…and will presumably be even more efficient after a bit of work. Regardless, wilderness is not a venue for competition, and we should all be willing to use the healthiest route for the place.

So…I’ll attempt to describe the route to you all, so everyone has a general idea of the plan until the trail becomes more delineated. Towards the end of the approach, after finally leaving Budd Creek for good, there has been one major fork. Although the right variation seemed to point straight at the peak, left is the better way to go. It avoids several loose talus fields and never gets as steep and difficult…it also brings you directly to the usual start of the Southeast Buttress, whereas the right fork can easily lead you too far right, if not halfway up the descent. We’ve attempted to block off the right fork and begin rehab of that end of the trail…so hopefully the left fork is already more obvious.

When descending from the peak, after scrambling down the slabs, traversing around and along the East Ridge, and popping over the saddle, please stay as close to the base of the peak as possible. Follow the fringe of the peak back to the start of the route, and hike back down the trail you approached on. Please don’t veer left at any point in an attempt to shortcut straight back to your car…this is what has caused most of the damage over the years, since someone has now headed out left at every imaginable point, creating the extremely noticeable stampede devastation effect.

A trail crew has already started working on the project, and will continue working up there for a portion of the next two summers (probably late August through October). They’re going to do the minimum amount of work, by hand, to delineate and stabilize the trail, and restore the damaged areas. They’re not going to cut any branches or damage any vegetation. The trail will not become an officially maintained trail. This is a restoration project, and a restoration and re-vegetation crew will also be working on the project to reestablish vegetation and natural conditions over the next couple summers.

A few carabiner posts will be necessary, at least at first, to keep people headed in the right direction. "Restoration Area" signs will also be necessary to block off the damaged zones. Hopefully most of these can be removed in a few years as the route becomes known and accepted, and the area starts to recover.

Thanks for reading and for helping the amazing Cathedral Peak area!

-Jake Whittaker, Yosemite Climbing Ranger

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Sunday, September 27, 2009
  The Swing
During the heat of the summer, the Yosemite Valley climbers find a million different ways to fill their time. On the left side of El Capitan, in the alcove where Sea of Dreams starts, a rope is sometimes strung to the lip of the cave. The climbers then take a huge pendulum swing out of the cave. Check out the movie that was made of the swing.

The Swing from Erik Sloan on Vimeo.

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Friday, September 25, 2009
  Oakland Comp
Last Friday, over 260 people competed in the recent Touchstone Bouldering comp in Oakland. The free pizza and beer brought in mor than 40 spectators as well, who clamored into the gym to watch the boulderers crank on 58 new problems and win awesome raffle prizes from Evolv, Mtn Hardwear, 5.10, and La Sportiva.

In a moment of pure strength, Mike Abell managed to flash a V10! Gregor Peirce fought hard and won the men's advanced.

Check out more pictures at the Touchstone Gallery and watch the movie of the comp.

Men's Advanced:
1 Greg Peirce
2 Mike Abell
3 Josh Levin

Men's Intermediate
1 Dave Grote
2 Hitesh Lala
3 Wade Clark

Men's Beginner
1 Derek Steer
2 Nitish Nag
3 Ian Johnson

Women's Advanced
1 Melodie Chu
2 Halley Tollner
3 Christina Freschl

Women's Intermediate
1 Shihong Chen
2 Allie Cope
3 Alekist Quach

Women's Beginner
1 Courtney Morrison
2 Jawwei Wang
3 Sierra Dwyer-Voss

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009
  Bear Valley Bouldering Bash
Next weekend, on October 3,2009, the Northern California’s Outdoor Bouldering Competition will be happening. Located 7000 feet along Highway 4 in the Central Sierra Nevada, the event celebrates the thrills of scenic High Sierra rock climbing through competition, education and community. It doesn’t matter if you pull V10 or VO, all ages and abilities are welcome. Plus all entries provide a donation to the Access Fund.

The competition runs from 10 AM to 4 PM. A BBQ lunch is provided and over $1500 of cash and prizes will be awarded to top finishers in all divisions. Overall you can expect over 100 climbing problems, scenic views and tons of fun.

For more information please visit AdventureSportsFestival or call (209) 753-6556

Check out the video from last year.

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Monday, September 21, 2009
  Yosemite Viper
Katie Lambert, a long time local Yosemite Hardwoman, has been crushing the granite in the Valley this year. With ascents of Sacred Fire (13a), Peace (13c) and the ability to hike hard trad on a regular basis, Katie is one of the best female climbers in the Valley these days. Check out here inspiring send of Viper, a classic 5.11 crack in the Valley.

Yosemite Viper from Chris Falkenstein on Vimeo.

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Saturday, September 19, 2009
  Mission Cliffs Wins Best of Bay
More than 8,000 readers took a San Francisco Bay Guardian survey to determine the best areas restaurants, sports teams, and clubs in the Bay Area. Mission Cliffs was voted the Best Gym in the Bay Area, winning over the numerous traditional weight rooms, and Crossfit gyms. Congratulations to the staff at Mission Cliffs for keeping the gym one of the best places to hang out and work out in the city.


Mission Cliffs

2295 Harrison, SF. (415) 550-0515,

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Friday, September 18, 2009
  Yosemite Facelift
The sixth annual Yosemite Facelift will be happening from September 23-27. The Facelift is a Yosemite Climbing Association sponsored event that helps to clean-up the park after the high-use summer season.

Meet in front of the Visitor Center in Yosemite Village between 8:00 AM and 5 PM from Sept. 23-27 to pick-up trash bags and litter sticks. Then bring the trash back by 5:00 PM for sorting and weighing. Each participant will receive a raffle ticket and prizes will be raffled off every evening.

The Park entrance fee will be waived for Facelift participants.

On Wednesday Evening 7:00-10:00 PM Peter Croft will be giving a slide show at the East Auditorium

On Thursday Evening 7:00-10:00 PM There will be a showing of the Reel Rock Film Tour at the East Auditorium

On Friday Evening 7:00-10:00 PM There will be a Stonemaster's Show followed by a book signing with John Long and Dean Fidelman at the East Auditorium

On Saturday Evening 5:00-9:00 PM There will be music played in front of the Visitor Center with local band the Mother Hips

On Sunday from 8:00 AM- 12:00 AM There will be a Facelift reception with food, drinks, and music by the Johnathon Evans Band at the East Auditorium

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Thursday, September 17, 2009
  Reel Rock Film Tour
Beginning on the 23rd of September, the fourth annual Reel Rock Film Tour will be hitting the Bay Area. There will be gear giveaways, appearances by top climbers, and fundraising for non-profit organizations.

The Tour will also show some of the best films in the industry with the premiere of Progression, the latest film from the filmmakers at Big Up Productions. The exciting new series First Ascent will be showed as well as the With footage of Chris Sharma sending the world's hardest sport route Jumo Love (5.15b), Tommy Caldwell pushing it hard and free in Yosemite on El Capitan, and local Bay Area Boulderer, Kevin Jorgenson pushing the highball limits on the Buttermilks forty-five foot Ambrosia, the show will undoubtably be one of the best outdoor events of the year. Tickets will be available at Berkeley Ironworks for the Albany Theater show and at Mission Cliffs for the Victoria Theater show.

Kevin Jorgenson on Ambrosia

Reel Rock Tour Dates:
Walnut Creek
Wednesday September 23rd, 8:00PM
Pyramid Alehouse
1410 Locust Street
$12 at the door

San Francisco
Friday September 25, 8:00PM
Victoria Theater
2961 16th Street
$12 Advance tickets at Mission Cliffs
$15 at the door

Thursday, October 1, 8:00PM
Albany Theater
1115 Solano Ave
$12 Advance tickets at Berkeley Ironworks
$15 at the door

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009
  Mexico Gear Drive
In April, Sacramento Pipeworks foreman and former Mexico climbing champion, Andres Mueller headed south to Mexico city to help a youth climbing program. Thanks to the generous donations of a number of Touchstone members, Andres brought 5 ropes, 6 backpacks, 25 harnesses, 53 chalkbags, 94 pairs of shoes, a number of carabiners, 10 belay devices a headlamp, and a helmet.

The gear drive helped the kids, who have ample pysch, a lot of local climbing, but a lack of necessary equipment, get a chance to enjoy the great rock of Mexico and develop into rock climbers. Below are a number of pictures that Andres brought back from his trip.

Thanks again to all the members who generously offered their support and got these kids out on the rocks!

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Sunday, September 13, 2009
  Pipeworks Staff Hits the Bull's Eye
For a recent after hours teambuilding activity, Sacramento Pipeworks staff, with a nod toward the new and untried, chose to test their hand at the indoor shooting range. Not surprisingly, this was the first time most had handled a firearm. The night began with the group putting a dent in the fish population at an all-you-can-eat sushi bar, after which they reassembled at The Gun Room, a safe, well-controlled indoor shooting range in Elk Grove. A gun owning staff member provided artillery that ranged from a .22 caliber pistol and .22 rifle through 9mm, .40 caliber and .45 caliber pistols. After being issued the mandatory eye and ear protection, everyone listened to the safety instructions along with tips on proper loading techniques and range etiquette. One and all were taken aback by the amount of noise and recoil the weapons produced, but after getting over the surprise were able to start punching holes in the targets. Though begun with some trepidation, surprisingly, in the end everyone had fun trying something new!
-Vaugh Medford

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Thursday, September 10, 2009
  New Organic Crashpads
"Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add but when there is nothing left to take away." Antonie De Saint-Exupery

Winning the Editor's Choice award from Climbing Magazine, Organic Crashpads describes this quote perfectly. A one inch sheet of closed cell foam enclosed within one and two inches of open cell foam creates a perfect combination of both durability and shock absorption.

The thread through shoulder straps are height adjustable, and were according to Climbing Magazine, "The most comfortable we tested."

"The Ironworks crew and I climbed a number of Yosemite highballs with some of the Organic Crashpads. I fell pretty far but I've never landed so comfortably."
Yosemite climber and notorious gravity ball James Lucas

These great Organic Pads will be available at many Touchstone gyms. The multi-color pads will be retailing for $215 with members receiving 10% off!

Weight: 9lbs 8 oz
Open Dimensions: 48x36x4in
Closed Dimensions: 24x36x8in

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  Pilates Class
This Friday, 9/11, from 5-5:55pm Alison will be holding a Pilates class at Mission Cliffs.

Alison is a llifelong athlete and avid climber who first discovered Pilates in 2006 when when a series of back injuries left her in pain and unable to participate fully in the activities she loved. Pilates helped her to strengthen and stabilize her core, which led to a happier life and, as an added benefit, a much improved climbing ability. Desiring to spread this discovery to her peers, Alison completed her teacher training in 2008 at the EHS Pilates Institute where she trained with several outstanding instructors, including Ellie Herman. Alison believes strongly in the benefits of Pilates and loves to challenge students of all levels to increase their overall strength and level of fitness. Her classes draw on Pilates concepts, and emphasize core strength, balance and flexibility.

Class Description:
Core the Pilates Way is a challenging and fast-paced core conditioning class. This hour of exercise draws inspiration from the Pilates Method and will not only strengthen the core muscle groups of your body, but will also improve your balance and flexibility on the climbing wall and in your other athletic pursuits. The class combines high numbers of reps with very little rest between exercises to ensure that you will sweat and work every minute! Many exercises include modifications for those who are struggling, or those who want an increased challenge, so everyone is welcome, no matter what your level of fitness. You will notice a positive difference in your core strength if you attend consistently for a couple of months!

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Monday, September 7, 2009
  Rocklands Video
With the return of a number of Touchstone climbers from an epic trip to South Africa's Rocklands, there's been a lot of excitement about the awesome sandstone. Check out this Black Diamond video of Nalle Hukkataival crushing it.

ROCKLANDS: Black Diamond Climber Nalle Hukkataival visits South Africa's famed boulders from Black Diamond Equipment on Vimeo.

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Saturday, September 5, 2009
  Touchstone Zero Gravity- World's and Raffle Results
The Touchstone Zero Gravity team returned from the Youth World Championships in France with a strong performance. The team was able to make it to the comp thanks to the generation donations of many Touchstone members who supported the team's raffle. Scott Jenerik described the comp saying, "The comp was amazing and the kids performed very well against the strongest field I've seen at a Youth World Championships. The French also put on an incredible show with over 7000 spectators, spotlights, jumbotron, etc. etc. The kids said that it made climbing look like a huge legitimate sport."

The Zero Gravity team performed well in the Sport competition with Joshua Levin placing 17, Cicada Jenerik 18, Hannnah Le 21, Scott Cory 21, and Eric Sanchez 48.

In the speed climbing competition Joshua Levin placed 4, Charlie Andrews placed 23, and Scott Cory placed 34.

The 2009 Touchstone Zero Gravity team was the strongest we've ever had.
IFSC World Youth Championships, Sport: Five Competitors, Four Semi Finalists
IFSC World Youth Championships, Speed: Three Competitors, One Finalists
USAC 2009 Sport Season: 14 Competitors, Seven made the USA Youth National Team
USAC SCS National Championships: Second Place
USAC SCS Division 1 Champions
USAC SCS Northern California Regional Champions
USAC ABS National Championships: Third Place
USAC ABS Northern California Regional Champions

The raffle was a huge success and offset much of the cost of traveling and competing in Europe. Below is a list of raffle winners.


Mark Fox (Asana Crash Pad), Carling Memenes (Madrock Shoes), Grahm
Balantyne (Madrock Shoes), Mark Saladino (Madrock Shoes), Kelly
McFarling (Jetboil), Traci Boyle (Metolius Hangboard), Jill Roberts
(Evolv Shoes), Jay Bordeleau (Evolv Shoes), Justin Stimmler, Ron
Aurtaur, Seneca, Gabby Strandberg, Mary Malec, Aaron Stutz, Melissa
Hung, Kees Breulex, Brian Zeitler, Chris Kasey, Alekist Quach, Shawn
Brick, Michael McCormick, Andrew Descalso, Roger Erickson. Cindy
Potter, Sarah Escosa, Robert DeCristofesi, Steve Bruce, Tessa Swigart,
Andrew Kent, Esteban Alrear, Scott Minneman, Tomer Maymon, Alex
Goldhammer, Esther Fishman, Devin Carraway, Matt Bingham, Gabriel Kra,
David, Emma, Gina Clemens, Catlin Flanagon, Andre Mansour, , Wess
Ashwood, Skyler Woodward, Max Rosenblum, Mark o Brien, Jim Porter,
Michael Shrevs, Jay Bordelean, Tonny Kelly, Alan Calac, Shaun King,
John Hess, Abhijit Das, Maia Bhtner, Aaron Fagerstron, Bosco So, Steve
Cancaster, Ruben Negrete, Peter Mattsson, Tyler Kuhn

Thanks to everyone who contributed to the Touchstone Zero Gravity raffle!

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Thursday, September 3, 2009
  Labor Day Escape
With the road closure to Yosemite, and the definite crowds heading to Tahoe, one of the great climbing escapes this Labor Day weekend will definitely be the Lover's Leap area. With dozens of moderate (5.6-5.9) three-four pitch traditional routes, the Leap offers a great escape from the city. The majority of the routes climb the steep east wall of the Leap, following direct aesthetic cracks-like The Line 5.9, or wandering slightly through a series of awesome granite cracks and dikes like on the 5.7 Bear's Reach.

If the camping is already full, and there are too many people at the Leap, Sugarloaf offers another excellent cragging destination. Just a few miles west of the Leap, the impeccable granite at Sugarloaf holds some excellent 5.10 face climbs and hard crack routes. For more information check out the Supertopo South Lake Tahoe guide book.

The Fracture, an excellent 10d crack, is outlined in red.

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  Yosemite Fires Update
Firefighters in Yosemite National Park have made significant progress towards containing the the wildfire that began as a prescribed burn and has destroyed over 7,000 acres. With an estimated containment rate of 70%, NPS anticipates the blaze to be fully contained by Thursday, September 10. Currently, Highway 120 from Crane Flat to White Wolf is closed and Big Oak Flat is also closed. Tuolumne Meadows is only accessible from the east gate and Yosemite Valley is only accessible through the Highway 140 and 41 entrances. All road closures will remain in affect through Labor Day weekend.

The fires have caused a significant amount of smoke in the Valley.

View from Ahwahanee Meadow

View from Turtleback Dome

Find further updates on the fire here.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009
  Diablo Rock Comp Results
The crowds packed in Diablo Rock gym for the comp last Friday night. Over two hundred climbers and spectators gathered together to crush over fifty new boulder problems. Gregor Pierce won the comp by nabbing the top five most difficult climbs in the first hour and fifteen minutes. Gregor then climbed the rest of the fifty-nine new problems rounding off an excellent evening of bouldering. In an equally impressive effort, Nick Erikson, devoured some great pie winning the pie eating contest. Congratulations to both competitors and the hundreds of climbers who came out and helped polish off two kegs and fifty-five pizzas. TBS5 at the DRG was an awesome!

Pictures of the comp can be found at the Touchstone Gallery.

Scores for the comp can be found at the score site.

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  Congratulations to DRG Staff Member
Morgan Laney, a long time Touchstone Climber and Diablo Rock Gym staff member, married her fiance, James 'Cade' Peirce last Saturday. Morgan will be moving on from her position at DRG and into her happy future. Congratulations to the happy couple.

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