Touchstone Blog Archive
Friday, October 30, 2009
  Yosemite Bouldering: First Ascent of 601
With temps in Yosemite still ideal, and the pysche high, the Bay area BetaBase crew has been crushing, establishing a slew of new problems across the Valley. Check out this video of hardman Paul Barraza, the Berkeley Ironworks manager, sending the first ascent of 601, a new V8 on the El Cap boulder.

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Thursday, October 29, 2009
  Women's Beginning Climbing Series at Mission Cliffs
Join Kristin for a 3-part Women's Beginning Climbing series on Wednesdays, November 4th, 11th & 18th. This is a great clinic for those that know how to belay but would like more climbing technique tips. Work on hand & footwork, body movement, tech drills, safety...and lots of climbing! Join a small group for three memorable classes.

Sign-up at the front desk, or call Mission Cliffs at 415 550-0515. Only $90 members and $100 non-members.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009
  CRAGS Reel Rock Film Fest at Pipeworks
CRAGS (Climbing Resource Advocates for Greater Sacramento) recently hosted the Reel Rock Film Fest at Sacramento Pipeworks as a fundraiser for their advocacy activities. The crowd was estimated at over 150 people and after all expenses, they managed to raise slightly over $1,200. Most of this will go toward hosting the Reel Rock again next year.

Of issues the group is working on, CRAGS Chairman Brian Poulson writes: "Right now, most of our energy is focused on re-opening climbing access in the Auburn State Recreation Area (ASRA). Climbing was banned in the park in 2003 when a climber died there performing a rope jumping stunt. The Auburn Quarry, located within the ASRA, is a spectacular place with about 50 established routes, and potential for over 100 more. The entire area sits just above some amazing swimming holes in the American River and for a backyard crag, is an impressive place. It is truly a tragedy that we lost climbing access to the area, though to date, CRAGS has made some progress. The Auburn City Council recently adopted a resolution drafted by CRAGS, admonishing the ASRA administration and the United States Bureau of Reclamation, to re-open the park for climbers. Both the Auburn City Council and the Mayor were whole heartedly on our side. CRAGS also drafted and adopted a climbing management plan that it submitted to the ASRA administration to guide it in its development of a updated general management plan. Aside from our efforts to improve climbing access, we also hope to continue to help bring the local climbing community together for events that promote friendship and camaraderie like the Reel Rock."

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009
  GWPC Surgical Climb-A-Thon
On November 18th at 6PM, GWPC, in partnership with the Bay Area Surgical Mission, is proud to sponsor the first ever Surgical Climb-A-Thon. What's this about? The Bay Area Surgical Mission, a group of volunteer physicians and nurses, travels each year to the Philippines to offer free surgical care to indigenous populations. The physicians who go on these missions donate their time as well as pay their own travel costs. All proceeds from the Climb-A-Thon go directly toward the purchase of medications, sutures, and bandages. $10 entry in the competition buys food and (alcoholic) beverage. Or better yet, you can get people to sponsor you per climb or at a flat rate and receive free entry into the event. Amazing prizes from Mountain Hardwear, Wrench Science, GWPC and other local businesses will be awarded to the individual who collects the most money in sponsorship as well as for the most vertical feet climbed, hardest route climbed, best nurse costume, etc. You can pick up a sponsorship packet at GWPC’s front desk. Tell a friend!

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Sunday, October 25, 2009
  GWPC Employees Caught on Security Cameras
The employees of Great Western Power Company can get a little wild. The security cameras at GWPC were installed to keep a watchful eye on the premises and the employees. On the way to perform a routine bathroom check, Ji, and Ryan busted out in a full on dance battle. Check out the footage courtesy of the security cameras.

GWPC Dance-Off Extravaganza MegaMix (Jim & Ryan) from Ryan Moon on Vimeo.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009
  Ted Lowe- Familar face of Mission Cliffs
There is a familiar face at Mission Cliffs that we won't be seeing anymore. Our long time friend Ted Lowe unexpectedly left this life last week, way too soon for any of us that knew him. Ted loved to ski, windsurf and of course, climb. In some ways this was a second home to him. Many of his valuable and lasting relationships began and grew here in the same way they have for all members, finding good company with those who love the outdoors, adventure, challenging themselves as well as encouraging others. Everyone who will remember Ted will do so fondly and may his passing encourage us all to appreciate the time we are privileged to share a little more. Climb on.

* Please join us on November 8th (7:30-10:00 pm) at Mission Cliffs to celebrate his life.

-Scott Sawyer

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009
  Yosemite Rocktober
The fall temps have descended upon Yosemite Valley. Today was beautiful, crisp, and perfect for bouldering around the South Side of the Valley. For those who aren't pysched to boulder already, check out this video of Touchstone tough stuff, Natasha Barnes, crushing Do-bop, a sweet V7 crack by the Cathedral rocks.

Natasha on "Do-bop" [v7] from scott chandler on Vimeo.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009
  New Sport Climbing Book from Rock & Ice Editor Andrew Bisharat
Andrew Bisharat, a Senior Editor at Rock & Ice magazine, is releasing a stellar new book on Sport Climbing. The book, Sport Climbing: From Toprope to Redpoint Techniques for Climbing Success, will be available later this month through The Mountaineers Book and can easily be found on The book will cover free climbing technique, gear safety, how to lead, better onsighting, better redpointing, and more. Check out the cool video that climbing videographer Mike Call made of Andrew, Emily Harrington, Sam Elias and a few friends sport climbing in Rifle, Colorado.

Sport Climbing- From Toprope to Redpoint from Mike Call on Vimeo.

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Monday, October 19, 2009
  Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival
Access Fund Brings Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival to Berkeley, California

Boulder, Colorado, October 14th, 2009 — The Access Fund, the national advocacy organization that keeps U.S. climbing areas open and conserves the climbing environment, is set to host the Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival in Berkeley, California, on Thursday, November 12th, 2009. The Wild & Scenic Film Festival is a night of inspiring environmental films and a celebration of the environment, complete with a lively pre-party, live music, beer and an auction. The party and film festival will be held at the Clif Bar and Company Headquarters located at 1610 Fifth Street in Berkeley (entrance is through the parking lot on Fourth Street). Festivities kick off at 5 p.m., with film screenings beginning at 7 p.m.

Drinks, live music, and the films themselves will drive the celebration of a festival for activists, by activists, created with the aim of sharing new ideas. In hosting the Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival, the Access Fund intends to inspire fellow activists to learn, experience, explore, and celebrate the natural and wild worlds through the power of film and thought.

Participants will learn from inspiring environmental films surrounding hard-hitting topics including bioengineering, water issues, wilderness preservation, citizen activism, and more. With added excitement highlighting the adrenalin of kayaking the world’s wildest rivers, climbing the highest peaks, and trekking across the globe, these films will explore the critical issues facing our environment today. Leading environmental activists, outdoor professionals, filmmakers, and celebrities will be in attendance, joining conversations and celebrating alongside the audience.

Tickets are available now for $10.To purchase, and for a sneak peek of the evening’s activities and more information, visit: The Wild &Scenic Film Festival is supported by Clif Bar, Osprey, Patagonia, Tom’s of Maine, and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

About the Access Fund
Founded in 1991, the Access Fund is the national advocacy organization that keeps climbing areas open and conserves the climbing environment. The Access Fund supports and represents over 1.6 million climbers nationwide in all forms of climbing: rock climbing, ice climbing, mountaineering, and bouldering. Five core programs support the mission on national and local levels: climbing management policy, stewardship and conservation, local support and mobilization, land acquisition and protection, and education. For more information, visit

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Friday, October 16, 2009
  DRG Yoga Series
Diablo Rock Gym will be holding two new Yoga classes in the next few weeks. The first, on Saturday, October 24th, from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM, will be with Angie. She will be teaching Yoga for the lower back.

Voted “Best Yoga Teacher of the East Bay” by Diablo Magazine in 2007, Angie has taught classes, clinics and workshops in the area for nearly eight years. Her training includes 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 is one of the staff teachers at Yogaworks and Renaissance Club Sport. She also offers private, individualized instruction.

The class is free for members and $24 for non members. Please sign up at the front desk or call 925-602-1000

The second Yoga class will be a beginner's series with Sarah Pascual. The four classes will be held on Mondays in November(2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd) from 7:00 - 8:15 pm. Please register in advance with the front desk. The $20 charge for members includes all 4 classes.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009
  GWPC Comp video

GWPC - TBS5 from Becky Trafecanty on Vimeo.

Great Western Power Company boulderer, Becky Trafecanty made this awesome video with the help of the GWPC staff. The Touchstone Bouldering Series really is this rad. Check out Becky's video!

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Sunday, October 11, 2009
  Daniel Arnold's Early Days in the Range of Light
Early Days in the Range of Light follows climber Daniel Arnold as he retraces the footsteps of his climbing forefathers and provides us with a firsthand account as he follows the most adventurous climbs of John Muir, Clarence King, and many others. Arnold takes us back to the early days of climbing when mountaineers conquered the Sierra Nevada with only limited supplies. In the spirit of his predecessors, he carried only rudimentary equipment—no ropes, harnesses, or specialized climbing shoes—and experienced the mountains in a completely new and freeing way. On October 29, at 7 PM at Berkeley Ironworks, Daniel Arnold will be coming to Berkeley Ironworks to promote his book.

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Friday, October 9, 2009
  1/2 off Initiation Fees for October!
Tell your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers: if they sign up in October at any Touchstone gym, they will receive 50% off their initiation fee. Remember, members have full use of the gym, all the climbing, fitness classes, yoga and more. The beginner climbing class is included with membership, so there are no excuses not to join. Rumor has it, this is an El Nino year . . . get ahead of the bad winter weather and join Touchstone!

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Thursday, October 8, 2009
  Monkey Man
There a thousand different ways to climb. In India, a man has developed his own style of climbing by fusing free-soloing, buildering, and parkour. Check out the Indian "Monkey King"'s cool moves. For a clip of the video with commentary check out the other You-tube Video.

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009
  1st Anniversary of Hans Florine Nose Speed Record
Last year, Hans Florine made a blindingly fast ascent of The Nose of El Capitan with Yuji Hirayama. The pair topped out the 2,000 foot granite monolith in less time than it takes to drive to the base from the Bay. As part of the anniversary of this world record, Hans Florine is hosting a benefit for the Yosemite Institute and Yosemite Association by having a multi-media presentation, raffle, and auction at Extreme Pizza in Walnut Creek on October 14, 2009 at 6 Pm. Join Hans and other Bay area climbers celebrate this significant feat and help out YI and the Yosemite Association. For more information check out Han's page describing the raffle prizes and auction.

Hans and Yuji in El Cap Meadow

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009
  Yosemite Rockfall in Curry Village
On September 29, between 5 and 7 a.m., approximately 150 tons of rock in a 55 cubic meter area fell from the area around Staircase Falls in Yosemite's Curry Village. The rockfall created a massive amount of debris but luckily didn't spread beyond the talus slope so there were no injuries or damage to the employee housing areas located just below the fall zone. For more information check out the article in theMerced Sun.

The rock fall has created some instability around the Circuit Breaker boulder problem and the feature known as "The Couch." Discretion is advised when venturing towards these areas.

A photo from the base of Washinton's Column looking across at the rock fall.

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Monday, October 5, 2009
  Free Sailing in the Berkeley Marina

On October 18, 2009, the OCSC Sailing club will be providing a free two hour sailing experience at the Berkeley Marina. This two hour sail is free for Touchstone Ironworks members and will provide a great glimpse into the sport of sailing. The first sail of the day will launch at 10 AM and continue until 4 PM.

Call 510.843.4200 or email to sign up today!

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Friday, October 2, 2009
  New Mission Cliffs Floor
For the past few weeks, we have been refurbishing our floors, and the project is finally finished! The process involved a series of grinds and diamond polishes, leaving us with a beautiful new shine. No chemicals, epoxies or sealers were applied; the concrete was simply sanded like a piece of wood. We’d like to thank Richard Southard of Concrete Engravers and his diligent crew, for all the late nights and weekends they put in to get the job done. Enjoy!

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Thursday, October 1, 2009
  Sacramento Pipeworks Bike Club Camp Out

On a recent unseasonably warm weekend, the Sacramento Pipeworks bike club held their annual Bodega Dunes ride and camp-out. 16 people showed up armed with sleeping bags, a strong desire to ride and as usual with this club, a ton of food and drink. The easy ride was around 35 miles, including the gorgeous Coleman Valley Road, while the hard ride covered over 55 miles and ascended the imposing Marshall Grade Road (over 10% climb). Dinner was a hours long affair and saying that no one went to bed hungry would be an understatement! If an event like this appeals to you, or even if you'd prefer a ride closer to home, check our online message board under the "cycling" or "ride schedules" tab.
-Vaughn Medford

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