Boxing with R.J. Karsten at Diablo Rock Gym
Beginning Monday, August 3rd, retired pro-boxer R.J. Karsten will be coaching a boxing class at Diablo Rock Gym. The hour long classes on Monday and Wednesday night from 8 to 9 pm are an excellent way to get and stay fit while learning a new skill.
R. J. Karsten started boxing when he was 11 years old and quickly turned it into a full time passion. After 70 amateur fights, R.J. went pro, fighting with the heavy hitters from 2000 to 2006. He had a total of 14 pro fights, winning the 1999 California State Golden Gloves tournament, and being named the "Best Boxer" of the San Francisco Golden Gloves Tournament the same year.
R.J. retired from his career as a professional boxer and now works as a full time coach. He trains amateur fighters and will now be coaching the boxing classes at Diablo Rock Gym.
For those that want a great opportunity to work out with one of the best boxers around, come check out Diablo Rock Gym's boxing classes on Monday and Wednesday night from 8 to 9 pom.
Bridge of Opportunity: Belayers Needed
Interested in volunteering 90 minutes to belay people for charity? On Sep 18th we are helping a non-profit raise money so Foster Youth can attend college. The group is conducting a charity patterned after CBS's Amazing Race where 12 teams will compete in challenges all over the Bay Area. One of the first challenges is at Great Western Power Company, where participants have to climb to the top of the wall to retrieve their next clue. They would like 5 volunteers to belay the climbers between 9:00am - 10:30am. We would need you to be at the gym and ready to go by 9:00 – Participants are expected to arrive at 9:30. Your role is to hook the participants into their harness and belay them. That’s it.
Bridge of Opportunity, the group in charge of the race, has a scholarship to assist less advantaged young men and women who have a strong desire to attend college but, for reasons beyond their control, cannot.
They don’t expect this to last more than 1 hour. Help out the Bridge of Opportunity. If you are interested, please call Bryan @ 925-872-0806 or email him at email@example.com .
Kick off To Comp Season: The UBC with Natasha Barnes
On Tuesday, August 3rd, Berkeley Ironworks will be projecting the Unified Bouldering Championships on the big screen. The live show, which will be streaming from the Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City, will feature some of the best competition boulderers in the United States. Natasha Barnes, a San Francisco Mission local and Touchstone crusher, will be heading out to Salt Lake to compete. She'll be up against other professional climbers like Lisa Rands, Alex Puccio, and Angie Payne. She had a few tips about comp climbing- something to keep in mind for Touchstone's Bouldering Series 6 that will be coming to Ironworks on August 28th.
Usually a a month or two ahead I try to work on power endurance by doing as many problems as I can at my onsight level and repeating them. For example, I will go around the gym and do all the V5's-V6's and some of the V7's twice each until I've done all of them with very little rest in between. Basically I try to do a lot of climbing for the first few weeks. A few weeks before the competition I will start trying to onsight/redpoint the harder climbs at the gym especially those on the steeper walls. Once I've redpointed those I try to repeat them each time I come in to train. I also incorporate some supplemental training like hangboard, gymnastic rings, running, some specific weightlifting exercises (rotator cuff exercises etc. for injury prevention).
Natasha climbing at GWPC during one of the TBS comps.
What do you do for mental preparation- as far as pressure, crowds, and other distractions?
I've been doing comps for so long that I've become used to all of those things. I actually really enjoy the pressure to perform and the energy of the crowd. It isn't a distraction for me. I can remember at one of the last OR comps the announcer said over the loudspeaker something like 'If Alex Puccio doesn't onsight this problem, Alex Johnson wins!' and at some other comp something similar was said about Daniel Woods and Sean McColl. THAT would be distracting to know that one slip or one mistake will cost you the whole comp. That might be too much pressure. I don't think it's fair for the announcer to say something like that.
Natasha cranking down on plastic at a comp
What's the most important part to climb well at a comp?
Not worrying about how other people are climbing and to just do the best you can. It's really all you can do. Also, HAVE FUN! If you're not having fun then you're missing the point.
Watch Natasha keep at 3:30 live on the big screen at Berkeley Ironworks then get pysched and come compete at the TOuchstone Bouldering Series later in the month. It's gonna be awesome!
Interview with Touchstone Blogger James Lucas
Touchstone Blogger and Bay area rock climber, James Lucas has been climbing for more than a decade. Beginning his climbing career as a self proclaimed "punter", James quickly progressed to a dirtbag rock jock when he moved from New England to Yosemite Valley. He's constantly on the road rock climbing and recently made an ascent of his first big wall free climb- the Westie Face of the Leaning Tower (5.13 A0). Oakland Manager Lyn Verinsky made a poignant observation, stating, "James would have sent his route months earlier if he had taken my advice about apple fritters being the best pre-send food. Instead he had to use hard work and tenacity." He took a moment from his "hard work" shamelessly self promoting and being a rock climbing "Spray lord" to talk to the Touchstone Blog. What was your recent ascent of the Wesite Face, the free variation to Yosemite Valley's Leaning West Face of the Leaning Tower like?
Well, first of all- I'd like to say that I'm kind of a big deal. If you don't know who I am then you should. I recently wrote one of the Dirtbag Diaries about being Yosemite's Next Top Idol. I'm pretty much the greatest thing to ever happen to climbing. But enough about me let's talk about you. What do you think about me?
Uhh...I think you avoided the question. How did you prepare for the route?
I am not naturally gifted in the least. My tenacity makes up for my lack of talent. I spent a couple months bouldering in Bishop, sport climbed in Sonora, and then tried the route a bunch. When I couldn't send, I took a short break, hung out in Berkeley and tried really really hard to redpoint the green 12c at Ironworks. One of the banes of my existence is my inability to climb well in the gym. I went back to Toulmne Meadows, did some hard sport climbing, then headed to the Leaning Tower. The crux for me was having enough power endurance on the 5.13 pitch. The lead cave at Ironworks really helped. I'm hoping to free El Capitan soon.
You spend most of your time traveling and rock climbing. Do you have some sort of dream career along those lines?
Absolutely! I want to be on the cover of Martha Stewart's Home Living. I spend a lot of time baking pies. I just made a cherry pie for the staff over at Ironworks and I'm planning on making a pie for Lyn Verinsky, the manager at Oakland. On rest days, I really really like making pie. Either the Martha Stewart thing or I would be really into winning the lottery. Then I could buy a really nice RV and park it below some rocks for a little bit and move it when I wanted. It'd be way more baller than my station wagon.
Touchstone Bouldering Series: Dates Announced
Touchstone Climbing will once again be hosting the Touchstone Bouldering Series this fall. During the first 5 seasons of the TBS, these comps have grown to some of the largest bouldering comps in the country. This season we will kick off the series with a special Saturday comp at Berkeley Ironworks to celebrate the gyms 10th anniversary, as well as Touchstone's 15th. The Ironworks comp/party will be from 11-5. The other 4 comps will be held on Friday evenings starting at 5pm. The finale will take place at Mission Cliffs, and we are hoping it will be held in our brand new bouldering area. Stay tuned.
All events will include a red point bouldering comp as well as refreshments, games and prizes. Points will be award for each comp with overall winners being announced after the final comp.
Wildlink Climbs at Diablo Rock Gym
On Saturday, June 27th, five students from the Environmental Studies Academy (ESA) in Martinez, CA met with WildLink (WL) Community Coordinator, Paul Martin, for a rock wall climbing session at a gym in nearby Concord, CA. Martin emailed a short write-up of the trip.
"After being equipped with harnesses, shoes, and some chalk for the whole group by the instructor, Ryan. The first exercise for the group was rope and belay orientation facilitated by Ryan. When our group proved to Ryan that we understood the safety techniques we started to explore the various features in the gym. The overall ability of the group was very impressive with certain standouts: Maddy and Jimmy – bouldering, Sophia and Jacob “Tarzan” Ford – ropes, Cheyanna…everywhere. The staff at Diablo was very accommodating, the WildLink Ambassadors were engaged and attentive while climbing. Overall, this was a great day program!"
Diablo Rock Gym and the other Touchstone gyms are proud to support programs like Widlink. It's awesome to provide underserviced youths with a chance to experence a step towards the wild cliffs.
Oakland Gym Manager Wanted
Paul Barraza, the long time manager of Berkeley Ironworks, recently decided to move on from managing one of Touchstone's busiest gyms. All of us at Touchstone would like to thank Paul for his many years of service and wish him all the best as he starts a new career.
Lyn Verinsky, the current manager of Great Western Power Company, will be moving to the Berkeley location to take over for Paul. The transition will be occurring in the next month and a half.
In preparation for these changes Touchstone Climbing is currently seeking to fill a full time manager position for its Oakland location at Great Western Power Company.
The managerial duties include staff management (hiring/firing), gym scheduling, fiscal management and reporting, basic marketing, and responsibility for all customer service issues. We expect our managers to lead by example, have good judgment, and be able to make decisions that correspond with Touchstone's core values. A passion for athleticism is a must, climbing a strong plus. You must be proficient in basic computer skills, Excel and Word, and be comfortable with learning new computer systems. This position is 40 hours per week that includes some evening and weekend hours, but does provide a certain amount of flexibility.
Benefits include health care, dental care, 401K, and vacation time. Career advancement is limited, but quality of job is excellent.
Please send a cover letter and current resume to Markham Connolly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pool Construction At Diablo Rock Gym
Diablo Rock Gym will have access to a pool later this summer. Accessed through the weight room, it will be available to our members for lap swim during our normal business hours.
DRG has partnered with one of the premier swim schools in the bay area, Aquatech. Aquatech provides a wide range of swim programs.
Construction of the pool has been going on for most of the summer and will hopefully be wrapped up later this summer. They still have to re-plaster and then tile the pool. The deck still needs to be resurfaced, etc.
Stay tuned for more updates on the construction and be ready to get your morning laps in, train for a swimming competition, or just have a good time in the water at the new pool
America's Got Talent: Berkeley Climbers in Finals
Abs class teacher, Isabelle Rittberg, and Ryan "Skippy" Gaunt are contenders in America's Got Talent, a live talent show aired on NBC.. The contest involves a number of different acts with winners decided by voting from viewers. Last night, the staff at Berkeley Ironworks put the show on the big screen and a number of people got the chance to see the local climbers perform their dance routine.
Voting for the show will continue until 9 pm on Wednesday. Help the pair win. You can call 866-602-4810 or if you have ATT text the word 'vote' to the # 4810. You can vote up to 10 times. You may also vote online up to 10 times per email address. Log on to NBC.com, follow the links to vote, and enter the registration details.
Treading Lightly- How to Minimize Impact
While climbers generally are a low-impact user group of the nation's parks and private lands, they do create trash, erosion, and negatively affect the pristine climbing areas. The best way to avoid trashing all the great climbing areas in California, from Mortar Rock to Yosemite National Park, is to minimize your impact. The Access Fund recently put together a great list of how to tread lightly and keep access secured in sensitive climbing areas. Help keep climbing areas clean.
Stay on established trails – Even if the trail is not the most direct line to the base of a route or boulder, avoid the temptation to blaze your own path. Hiking off trail promotes erosion and destroys vegetation. Keep a low profile We know that route you’re working requires a lot of moxie, but yelling, swearing, screaming beta at your partner, and even playing music at the crag can seriously disrupt those around you, including the landowner. Clean up excess chalk – Chalk is a necessary part of climbing, but it also creates visual evidence of climber impact. Clean up spills and brush off tick marks after each session. Respect closures – Respecting the wildlife (e.g., nesting birds) and cultural resource (e.g., petroglyphs) closures will help ensure that they don’t turn into unreasonable closures. Visit www.status.accessfund.org for an updated list of closures and restrictions across the country. Keep tabs on your dog – Dogs at the crag can have a serious impact on climbing access due to their ability to disturb the peace of those around them, including that of the landowner. Consider leaving Fido at home. If you must bring your dog to the crag, keep it with you at all times, control its barking, and clean up after it.
Pack it out – Don’t trash the crag. Carry an extra plastic bag and pack out your own trash (yes, even climbing tape counts). Human waste counts too—do your business away from cliffs, boulders, trails, and water sources and pack it out. For AF member discounts on Restop bags, visit www.accessfund.org/memberdiscounts. Pad and tread lightly – We know you’re focused on sending that sweet boulder problem, but remember to think about the life on the ground around you. Avoid trampling or throwing crash pads on vegetation. Educate others KINDLY – If you see someone hiking off trail, blaring music, or throwing trash on the ground, kindly let them know that their actions could threaten access for everyone. In many cases people simply don’t recognize that their actions might negatively impact the environment or access to the area.
Mission Cliffs Musician- Kelly McFarling
Touchstone employees harbor an enormous amount of talent. Besides employing top rock climbers, numerous talented photographers, artists, and musicians work for the company. One excellent musician is Kelly McFarling.
Kelly McFarling, employee of Mission Cliffs and Bay Area singer songwriter, has recently finished recording her first full-length album at Hyde St Studio C in the Tenderloin of San Francisco. The album will feature 12 original tracks written between 2007-2010. The album is a contemporary folk, Americana hybrid with a singer songwriter feel. It is in the process of being mixed and mastered. It will be called "Distractable Child", after one of the tracks on the album. The album features banjo, acoustic and electric guitars, lap steel, upright bass, drums and percussion. Kelly hopes to have the release happen in August of 2010. Working with her on album artwork is longtime Mission Cliffs member Sarah Peet a destination wedding photographer.
Kelly had the pleasure of working with Scott McDowell of Hyde St studios earlier this fall for his chasing the moon podcast – A video podcast that is released every full moon featuring local artists. You can see Kelly’s chasing the moon podcast here. After working with Scott for the podcast Kelly realized she wanted to record the album at Hyde St Studio C.
Kelly gigs regularly in the Bay Area. She plays the banjo and sings with upright bass player Jonathan Kirchner of the band Con Brio, and drummer Andrew Laubacher of the band Sioux City Kid and Con Brio. She also plays with area guitarist Jon Moldover of the band Phone Sex Operators.
You can find more information about upcoming shows at Kelly’s myspace page. Stay tuned for Kelly’s own website which is being put together by High School seniors at Metropolitan Arts & Tech High School.
Check out one of Touchstone's talented musicians at one of her upcoming Bay area gigs or online.
Diablo Rock Gym Summer Block Party
This Sunday, Diablo Rock gym employees and staff members will be having a party to kick off the summer season. The gym will have a BBQ for members to bring food and vegetables to grill. The festivities will start at 6 pm and continue until 9 pm. There will be games, prizes, and a rad climbing movie shown during the party.
Take the opportunity to enjoy the summer season with some of Touchstone's coolest staff and members at Diablo Rock this weekend.
Though they may seem like the hardest working people on the planet, it's not a constant nose to the grindstone for employees at Sacramento Pipeworks. On Saturday July 10th, Pipeworks desk staff and friends got to blow off some steam after hours by taking in a Rivercats baseball game at Raley field (The Rivercats are a AAA farm team for the Oakland A's). Typical for Sacramento it was a sultry July evening, so after a short bike ride through town, everyone settled into their seats to watch the game with a frosty cold adult beverage at hand. Though the group managed to dodge several foul balls that came dangerously close, they were ultimately disappointed to see their Rivercats get creamed 11 to 0. A booming fireworks show at the end took some of the sting out of what was a very lopsided though enjoyable game.
Photographs of Tour De Nez
The Touchstone cycling team recently competed in the Tour De Nez, a professional bike race along Lake Tahoe.
Tommy Compton, a Tahoe area photographer, took photos of the race and described a little about how he became interested in cycling photography. "I fell in love with the sport of cycling back in 1978 when I started riding as a form of recovery from Ski injuries. I was lucky enough to work with two very serious cyclists: One rode on the US Track Team and another was qualifying for the US Road Team. They taught me the art of riding in a pace line, how to climb, etc. I raced in the 70s and 80s even promoted a pro criterium in my home town of Portland, Oregon. At that time there were no US cycling publications outside of Bicycling Magazine. I found myself borrowing English Cycling Journals and Italian Magazines. The images in these magazines from legendary Graham Watson transported me to the European Peleton. I was mesmerized by the images I saw of Paris-Roubaix, Paris-Nice, The Tour de France and The Giro."
You can check out more of Tommy's work at his website- Alpenglow
Profile of a First Ascensionist: Tom Addison
A climber with over thirty years of experience, Tom Addison is a veteran of the rock. When he's not busy working as a lobbyist for clean air in Sacramento, he spends his time crushing the lead routes in the caves at Berkeley Ironworks, training for his weekends of first ascents. Addison is one of the most prolific first ascensionist in the Sierras with over one thousand new routes in places like Sonora Pass and Owens River Gorge. Not only has he helped develop new cliffs but he's also worked with landowners in access sensitive areas, like Sonora, to make sure that climbers can continue to climb there. Addison took a few moments to talk to the Touchstone blog about his first ascents and his climbing.
The Wide of Frankenstein 5.11+ Sonora Pass Photos by Jerry Dodrill
How did you get started?
It was something I tried and I immediately knew I wanted to do. I learned to lead in college at the Gunks, and somehow survived that apprenticeship with some luck and lots of wise mentors.
What areas have you established first ascents? How many first ascents have you done?
I’ve put up new routes in at least 17 states, all over the country from the East Coast to the West Coast. A few places where I’ve been overly enthusiastic include Farley Ledges (MA), Owls Head (NH), City of Rocks (ID), the Superstitions (AZ), and around California. I’ve established over 1,000 new pitches, but I lost count a long time ago. Hopefully I’ll have added another 2 or three in the next week.
The witty Addison cracking a smile.
What motivates you to establish routes and areas?
I’ve always loved climbing, particularly at beautiful places off the beaten path. And figuring out if a piece of rock is climbable is a lot of fun. But you have to be a little bit demented to like putting up routes.
What's your greatest first ascent experience?
For me, it’s the partnerships and friendships and camaraderie. That stays with you much longer than the memory of the moves or the sequences.
Hung Frankenstein 5.12a Sonora Pass
What's your access work like? Why is being concerned about climbing areas important?
I started working on access issues when I lived and was climbing in New England in the mid-80’s. Armando Menocal, Al Rubin, and Paul Minault are all climbers who’ve done tremendous things for all of us with their access work, and I really respect what they’ve accomplished. I’ve had the opportunity to climb in some amazing places, and I’d like for us all to be able to keep doing that. We tend to get worked up as climbers about some pretty inconsequential stuff, but none of that matters if we can’t even touch the rock.
Yoga For Climbers
On Sunday, July 11th from 6-8 pm, Rebecca Mayne will be hosting a workshop on Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation in Yoga. The workshop will focus on how to strengthen and release tension in commonly injured joints and muscles to help prevent injury due to weakness, imbalanced strength, or tightness.
Focus will be on shoulders, knees, ankles, fingers, and the lower and upper back. You’ll leave understanding how to practice Vinyasa yoga in a way that is nurturing for your body and beneficial to your climbing!
Rebecca Mayne is a yoga instructor and climber who just moved back to the bay area from Boulder, CO. To find out more, visit www.rebeccamayneyoga.com
COST: $30 Non-BI Members; $25 Members; Preregister with a Friend for $5 off!
Pipeworks Bike Club Annual Scavenger Hunt
On Sunday, fifteen Sacramento Pipeworks bike club members, got together to compete in the annual 4th of July scavenger hunt. Put together by club member and extraordinarily skilled organizer Scott Clark, the event is the highlight of the summer riding season. Five teams of three people were given one hour and forty-five minutes to ride around downtown/midtown Sacramento getting photos of random items on a list of fifty six possibilities.
Items ranged from common (Aquarium, Bed, Bell, Candy dispenser, Coat of Arms, First aid kit) to vague (Center of Attention, Claustrophobia, Not so neighborly, Oh-Snap!). A pot luck food competition, with riders voting for their favorite food, rounded out the day.
Ascendance on America's Got Talent: Las Vegas
Ascendance members and Berkeley climbers, Ryan "Skippy" Gaunt and Isabel Rittberg will be displaying their talent on America's Got Talent on NBC. The show was recorded in Las Vegas and will be aired Tuesday and Wednesday Night at 9 pm.
This is the second stage in the America's Got Talent Competition. The pair did well in the first step, moving from Portland Oregon to Las Vegas. If they pass this round, they will be performing live in Hollywood and have a chance at a million dollar prize. Good luck to the Ascendance climbers!
Touchstone Running Club Spring and Summer Success
The Touchtone Running Club has had an active and successful spring and early summer with members participating in all sorts of events and racking up some impressive results.
Power house TR Club member, Carol Baker recently clinched the prestigious Ruth Anderson Cup. This series of three races is sponsored by Lake Merrit Joggers and Striders (LMJS) and is named after the pioneering ultra runner, Ruth Anderson. In order to win the Ruth Anderson Cup, a runner must be (1) female; (2) at least age 50; (3) the runner with the fastest total time over the course of three grueling East Bay races which include: the Tilden Tough Ten, the Lake Chabot Trail Challenge (half marathon) and the Dick Houston Memorial X-C Woodminster Race (9 miles). Carol met and exceeded the test on all counts and with her final victory at Woodminster on June 20th, took home the Cup.
In Carol’s own words: “The races were great. Tilden Tough ten was the easiest as I am very familiar with that course. It was cold and windy as heck that day but that was OK. Touchstone had people on bikes all through race route to provide support which was awesome as I knew them all (Wendy organized that!) Lake Chabot ½ marathon was tough, long, and humid that day so it was hardest. Big hills for sure. Woodminster was intimidating but only two harsh hills (one mile long called the Woodmonster), weather was nice, and was not as hard as I thought it wouldbe.”
Needless to say the Touchstone Running Club is extremely proud of Carol!
From Left to Right: Touchstone Runners Deb Georges, Judy "Doc" Martin, Carol Baker, Tom Harrington
In addition to Carol’s wonderful accomplishment, here are a few notable mentions:
Susan Abrahamson PRs in the Oakland Marathon.
Nicole Churchill, Tom Harrington, Laura Walpert, Phil Yip all complete their first marathon in Oakland.
Deborah Georges, recently returning to the running scene, places 4th women overall at Bear Creek Half Marathon (Briones Park).
Wendy Georges competes in her 6th Ruth Anderson Ultra Marathon and wins her age group and sets a new 50 mile course record.
Judy Martin PRs on Tilden Tough Ten and finishes second in her age group.
Pat Ross finishes 3 women overall and 1st in her age group at the Oakland Running
Festival Twilight 5K- Marc Trotz finishes his first 50 mile ultra marathon at the American River 50 Mile Endurance Run.
Marc Trotz trotting along
The Touchstone Runinning Club consists of running enthusiast, many of whom spin at BIW and compete in various running events. Marc Trotz is the coordinator of the club and can be reached at email@example.com for further information. The next club run (known as Trotting With Trotz) is Sunday, July 18, 2010. Meet at the intersection of Spruce and Grizzly Peak (in Berkeley) at 9:00 am for an approximately 2 hour recreational run in Tilden Park (mix of trail and road). Runners are invited back to Marc’s house for brunch following. If planning to join the run, RSVP to Marc via email.
BBQ at Berkeley Ironworks
Saturday night, June 26, Outside the Berkeley Ironworks gym, a group of Touchstone staff and members got together for one of the first BBQs of the summer. Hosted by hardman boulderer, Jeremy Ho, the BBQ featured lots of sausages, chicken, and grilled vegetables. In between the bouts of eating, Chuck Fryberger's new climbing video CORE was projected on the side of the building across the street.
Andrew Descalo, another Touchstone staff member, brought a fine delicacy- agave, which was put on the grill. The food was great although Touchstone blogger James Lucas responded to Andrew's addition by saying, "House plants should not be grilled Andrew." Luckily, there was plenty of chicken to feed the dirtbag climber and make him forget about the agave.
There will undoubtedly be more movies and BBQs at Berkeley Ironworks and the rest of the Touchstone Gyms. Check out events on the Calendar's at the front desks.