Touchstone Blog Archive
Thursday, December 31, 2009
  Dean Potter Walking the Line
Dean Potter is a noted free-soloist with ropeless ascents of Astroman (V 5.11C), A Dog's Roof (5.12b), and a number of other difficult Yosemite tedstpieces. Beyond his solos, Dean also enjoys walking high-line slacklines. A recent documentary shows him putting it on the line between the Cathedral Spires in Yosemite. Check out the footage.

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009
  Joshua Tree National Park Used as Golf Course
The LA times ran a story in September about a most unusual event. A golfer used the sand of Joshua Tree as a natural sand trap. Check out the article:

Man hurls thousands of golf balls inside national park
LA Times

A man claiming that he was paying tribute to dead golfers tossed up to 3,000 golf balls into the biggest sand trap he could find — Joshua Tree National Park.

But where 57-year-old Douglas Jones saw commemoration, park rangers saw wholesale littering. He now faces possible jail time and other sanctions.

"Sometime around 2007, our rangers began discovering large quantities of golf balls in some turnout areas of the park," said park spokesman Joe Zarki. "We were wondering what was going on here. There were also some tennis balls involved."

Rangers also found cans of fruit and vegetables left in the desert along with park literature tossed about.

"He would collect permits from backcountry permit boxes and throw them all over," Zarki said. "There was no rhyme or reason to it."

On Aug. 17, rangers finally caught up with the La Quinta man, who immediately confessed.

"He said he did it because he wanted to honor all the golfers who had died," Zarki said. "He left the cans of fruit and vegetables supposedly for the assistance of stranded hikers."

And the park permits and literature?

"He wanted to leave his mark," Zarki said.

Contrary to what rangers originally thought, Jones wasn't chipping golf balls into the desert with a club. He was hurling them from his car.

The balls, numbering between 2,000 and 3,000, were unlikely to pose a threat unless a hapless animal mistook one for an egg and tried to swallow it, Zarki said. But the cleanup was a different story.

"We estimate we spent about 373 staff hours or about $9,000 on this case," he said.

Jones was cited for littering, feeding wildlife and abandoning property. He will appear before a federal judge later this month. If found guilty, he could be fined, sent to jail or banished from the park.

Jones was unavailable for comment Thursday. He lives with his 84-year-old father, Douglas, who didn't know about the incident until a reporter called him.

"It certainly sounds strange," his father said. "He hikes out in Joshua Tree every three months or so and he golfs maybe once a week. But I don't know where he would get that many golf balls."

He did, however, note that his son works at a local golf course.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009
  Prism Glasses
When Kim Gagnon gets ready to belay and puts on her glasses, she probably gets more than a few sideways glances. Since hurting her back 4 years ago, Kim has been plagued with instant belayer's neck whenever it was her turn to give her partner a catch. That is, until she found this pair of prism glasses on a recent trip to Nice, France. The glasses are called "C U Belay Glasses", small glass prisms that are mounted to flexible eyeglass frames, allowing the belayer to look straight ahead rather than up at their climber. Thanks to the prism effect, the climber is in view the whole time! Since introducing her glasses to Pipeworks, another climber has purchased a pair - so we expect we will soon be seeing them sprout up on a number of belayers around the gym.

For all you others others plagued with belayers neck, fortunately you dont have to travel to France just for a pair of glasses, as they can now be purchased online at: Though not especially cheap (about $140, depending on exchange rate) the relief from pain that these glasses provide can be invaluable. According to just one testimonial on their website: "I've now been using the CU glasses for about 6 weeks and they are grrrrrrreat ! Really. No painful neck, no headaches, no painkilling medication needed any more!".

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Monday, December 28, 2009
  Micah Dash Memorial Choss Pile
Earlier this year, Micah and Johnny Copp went to China to climb Mount Edgar in the Minya Konka massif. The mountain is a sub-peak of 24,790-foot (7,556 meters) Mount Gongga, the highest mountain in the Sichuan Province in western China. The pair were accompanied by Wade Johnson, who planned on filming the ascent for Sender Films. An avalanche buried the team.

Cedar Wright and Nick Martino recently established a new route in Indian Creek, a favorite haunt of Micah, naming the route after him. Check out the cool video that Cedar made of the difficult sandstone route.

Back to the Roots: M.D.M.C.P. a new 5.13 in Indian Creek from Cedar Wright on Vimeo.

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Saturday, December 26, 2009
  Mission Cliffs and SF Food Bank
On December 15th, Mission Cliffs members, staff, and friends gathered at the SF Food Bank to volunteer and help feed the hungry in San Francisco. The Food Bank provides food to over 22,000 households every week, and serves 78,000 meals per day, through 400+ nonprofit partners. That night, volunteers helped package over 2,300 lbs of rice.

An astonishing 49 million Americans face food insecurity this year. Visit to learn more about how you can stop hunger.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009
  Living the Dream
Renan Ozturk, a renown dirtbag climber, made a short film about living as a climber for a day. Check out the cool footage of him climbing in Boulder Colorado.

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Monday, December 21, 2009
  Blind on the Naked Edge
Erik Weihenmayer climbed Eldorado Canyon's Naked Edge, a difficult 5.11 face and crack route in Boulder Colorado, earlier this year to help support the Access Fund. Erik is an accomplished climber despite his handicaps. He offers some great insight into climbing without sight. Check out this inspiring video.

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Saturday, December 19, 2009
  Eco Terrorist
A single hueco followed by a series of bad slopers at Castle Rock State Park, was a long term John "Yabo" Yabolonski problem until a few years ago when Santa Cruz local, Chris Sharma dispatched the first ascent of "Ecoterrorist" (V10/11). For those who need a little bit of pysche to get out after all those holiday dinners, here's a video of Scott Chandler, an Ironworks climber, hiking the problem. Check out the excellent spotting skills of Great Western Power Company's Monica.

Ecoterrorist [v10] from scott chandler on Vimeo.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009
  Yosemite Geology
On Tuesday, December 22 at 9 pm PST, a documentary titled How the Earth was made will be presented in the History channel. The show will contain a large section on the geology of Yosemite National Park and climber and geologist Bryan Law will be featured on the show.

The History channel describes the show saying, "The Sierra Nevada, North America's highest mountain range, contains one of the most awe-inspiring geological features on the planet: Yosemite Valley. Walled by sheer 3,000-foot granite cliffs and made from one of the toughest rocks on earth, it is home to the mighty El Capitan and iconic Half Dome. Yet how this extraordinary valley formed has been the subject of controversy for over 100 years. Was it carved by gigantic glaciers or a cataclysmic rifting of the Earth?"

The feature will contain some interesting footage and great information about the park's geology.

For more information about the documentary, check out the History Channel web page.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009
  Yosemite Fall Video
Becky Trefecanty, a Great Western Power Company climber and Bay area crusher, made a great compilation of Yosemite Bouldering featuring Berkeley Ironworks' manager Paul Barraza, Great Western Power Company manager Lyn Verinsky, Touchstone Retail guru Patti Phillips, and a number of other talented Bay area boulders. Check out the cool footage!

Yosemite Fall '09 (Part Two) from Becky Trafecanty on Vimeo.

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Monday, December 14, 2009
  Holiday Hours
In the spirit of the Holidays, the gyms will be having different hours. A lot of employees will be visiting family- more of them will be climbing!

Mission Cliffs
Dec 24- 6:30 Am - 7Pm
Dec 25- Closed for Christmas
Dec 31- 6:30 Am - 7 Pm
Jan 1- Closed for New Year's

Sacramento Pipeworks

Dec 24- 9 Am - 6 Pm
Dec 25- Closed for Christmas
Dec 31- 9 Am - 6 Pm
Jan 1- Closed for New Year's

Berkeley Ironworks
Dec 24 - 6am-6pm No Classes
Dec 25 - Closed for Christmas
Dec 26 - 6 am-6pm No Classes
Dec 31 - 6 am-6pm No Classes
January 1 - Closed For New Year's

Great Western Power Company
Dec 24- 6:30 Am - 6 Pm
Dec 25- Closed for Christmas
Dec 31- 6:30 Am - 6 Pm
Jan 1- Closed for New Year's

Diablo Rock Gym

Dec 24th 5:30 am - 6:00 pm
Dec 25th Closed for Christmas
Dec 26th 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
Dec 31st 5:30 am - 6:00 pm
Jan 1st Closed for New Year's
Jan 2nd 9:00 am - 6:00 pm

The East Side in the Winter.

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Saturday, December 12, 2009
  Holiday Gift Ideas from Mission Cliffs Climber
The holiday season is fast approaching and so is the pressure to find that loved one the perfect gift. Courtney Miyamato, a regular at Mission Cliffs, is making chalk bags for the holiday season. Using oil cloth, Miyamato sews unlined chalk buckets with velcro and buckle closures and chalk bags that are lined with loops for a belt. At $25, the bags are a great gift idea for the other Touchstone Climbers in your family. With a number of different patterns Miyamato makes the bags to order and can add pockets upon request. Miyamato also can turn stuffed animals into chalk buckets! That means you can have a dinosaur, walrus, or monkey to take bouldering with you.

To order contact Courtney Miyamato, or you can find her at Mission Cliffs, where she spends as much time as she can crimping down on the awesome boulder problems.

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Friday, December 11, 2009
  Berkeley Ironworks Clinics
This month, Berkeley Ironworks will be getting in the holiday spirit by putting on extra clinics, cause you’ve been extra good this year... There’s something for everyone, so give yourself (or a loved one) the gift of crushing a little harder after
learning from the pros!

Intro To Bouldering
Come get some serious beta from a climber who eats V9’s for breakfast. Jeremy will walk you through the basics of high stepping, hand-foot matching, and general hints to help you send your next problem with ease.

December 20th, 6-8pm

Ladies Climbing Clinic
Come learn the finer points of climbing with Sue, one of the first women to climb 5.13 in the nation. She’ll share her secrets to help improve your mad skillz with footwork, balance and movement, Sorry guys, ladies only!

December 13th, 5:30-7:30

Lead Climbing Clinic

Back by popular demand, this hands on class will introduce you to the basics and prepare you to enter the wild and crazy world of lead climbing. If you missed it last month now’s your chance!

December 13th 6-8pm

Trad Basics
Ever wonder how people climbed back in the olden days before there were nice indoor gyms?
Get a solid introduction to crack technique, gear placement, and anchors from outdoor climber extraordinaire, Todd "The Bod", all in the comfort of the indoor arena.

December 13th 3-5pm

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Thursday, December 10, 2009
  Save The Future of Climbing: Access Fund Drive
The Access Fund Membership driving is going on at all the Touchstone Gyms until December 18th. The AF is giving everyone a discounted membership rate of $25. On top of that if you sign up at a Touchstone gym before the end of this you will be entered into a raffle to win get prizes including: a free pair of La Sportiva Shoes, free month membership to Touchstone climbing gyms (3 of these will be raffled off), Vaude daypacks, and Access Fund t-shirts!.

The Access Fund has helped Climbing in numerous ways including help save Yosemite's Camp 4, and getting it into the National Historic Registry. The Access Fund in partnership with local organizations constructed a pit toilet at the Buttermilks in Bishop. The organization helped keep the State parks open, supported the Yosemite Facelift, and help organized 20 different Adopt-a-Crag's in the nation.

The Access Fund is a national advocacy organization that keeps US climbing areas open and conserves the climbing environment. Founded in 1991, the Access fund supports and represents 1.6 million climbers nationwide in all forms of climbing. For more information check out the Access Fund homepage or the Boulder Project.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009
  Mission Cliffs and SF Food Bank
Help make a difference this Holiday Season: Spend an evening with Mission Cliffs staff and your fellow climbers at the SF Food Bank. This year has been tough on us all, and organizations like the food bank need all the helping hands they can get. Who better to lend a hand than a group of climbers? Give back to our community, join a great cause, and get outta the gym for a few hours! If you'd like to volunteer, and are free on Tuesday, December 15th, email to sign up and get the info by Dec. 11th. An astonishing 49 million americans face food insecurity. Visit to learn more about how you can stop hunger.

When: Tuesday, Dec 15th 6:00-8:00pm

Where: SF Food Bank
Contact: Donna Dunlap by Dec. 11th

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009
  Moon Bouldering Clinic

Great Western Power Company's Ryan Moon will be having a bouldering clinic this Saturday from 6-8 pm. Moon has been bouldering for a long time. He's traveled across the globe to climb and this summer he attacked the sandstone boulders of South Africa. Come learn excellent technique and how to employ all your power to crush the boulders at the Moon Bouldering Clinic. The cost is $40 per person for members. Sign up at GWPC this week!

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Monday, December 7, 2009
  Touchstone Shoe Demo
In December, from the 7th to the 11th, the Touchstone gyms will be giving members a great opportunity to check out a ton of new shoes from La Sportiva, Five Ten, and Evolve. The Demo week all in stock shoes will be 20% off! Come try on all the shoes and test them out on the great problems at the gym.

Dates and Times:

Monday December 7th – Sacramento Pipeworks 6-9pm

Tuesday December 8th – Diablo Rock Gym 6-8pm

Wednesday December 9th – Berkeley Ironworks 6-9pm

Thursday December 10th – Great Western Power Company 6-9pm

Friday December 11th – Mission Cliffs 6-9pm

Demo Shoe Models… (Subject to change on availability)

Evolve- Defy, Electra, Pontas and Optimus Prime for the demos, and possibly the new Predator

La Sportiva- Mantis, Solution, Muira VS, Speedster or Cobra

- Dragon, Team, Velcro Anasazi, Wm’s Velcro Anasazi, Moccasym

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Saturday, December 5, 2009
  Bishop Bouldering with Brian Hedrick
Brian Hedrick, aka Cuz, has been setting routes and problems at the Touchstone gyms for a number since August of 2006. The boulderer's pysched hasn't dissipated since he began setting. After long hours establishing new problems, Cuz can be found cranking out hard eliminates in the Wave at Berkeley Ironworks. When he's not busy crushing double digit V-sickness, Cuz can be found enjoying great California activities like the Gilroy Garlic Festival! Check out the video Rebecca Taggart made of him hiking the Checkerboard boulder in Bishop's Buttermilks. Keep cranking Cuz!

Untitled from rebecca taggart on Vimeo.

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Friday, December 4, 2009
  Indian Creek
The fall season in Indian Creek, out by Moab Utah, is usually amazing. The sandstone splitters are some of the best crack climbing in the US. Check out Renan Ozturk's video of Matty Segal making the first ascent of Like A Prayer 5.13- at Battle of the Bulge.

Like a Prayer from renan ozturk on Vimeo.

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009
  Pipeworks' Brian Poulsen Wins Reese Martin Award
Each year the Access Fund recognizes individuals and businesses that volunteer their time and efforts to preserve climbing access and the climbing environment. This year, for his outstanding leadership, the Access Fund's prestigious Reese Martin award was bestowed on Sacramento Pipework's own Brian Poulsen. He is Chairman and a founding member of CRAGS (Climbing Resource Advocates for Greater Sacramento) as well as the Access Fund regional coordinator for California.

According to the Access Fund: "(Brian) has spent dozens of hours working with local climbers and state land managers in an effort to reopen access to the quarry at Auburn State Recreation Area". They went on to say: "Brian has also volunteered his time to advocate for climbing access to Tuolumne Meadows at National Park Service planning meetings in Yosemite." To learn more about Brian, or to help him in his effort to keep climbing accessible for all of us, visit the CRAGS blogsite. Congratulations on your much deserved award, Brian!

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009
  Touchstone Wrestler Wins Bronze
Michael Mitchell, a Touchstone sponsored wrestler, recently took bronze at the Henri Deglane Challenge in France. Mitchell is training for the 2012 Olympics in London and climbs, mainly bouldering, at Mission Cliffs. The climbing helps his grip strength, which gives him an advantage while wrestling.

Below is a picture of Mitchell on the podium in France and if you look closely, he's wearing a Mission Cliffs shirt. Congratulations Michael and keep up the good work!

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