Touchstone Blog Archive
Monday, August 30, 2010
  Awesome Comp and Anniversary Party
On Saturday, August 28th, Touchstone celebrated its 15 year anniversary by throwing an enormous party at the first of the Touchstone Bouldering Series comps.

There was carrot cake for Touchstone's 15th anniversary. There was chocolate cake for Ironworks' 10th anniversary. There was chocolate raspberry cake for the comp. And the white cake was there because it was a party! I shuffled between the options when Ironworks manager, Lyn Verinsky saw me eying the delicious desserts. "Try them all!" she said.

With a plate full of cake, I headed into the comp along with 410 other registered competitors. At least 600 people total enjoyed the party. There was a ton of fun going on.

For a number of lucky people, the best part was definitely the raffle. Over $900 dollars was raised in a raffle to support the Access Fund with a large array of great prizes. There were free shoes, ropes, crash pads, Mountain Hardwear clothes, and more. Not only were there raffle prizes but free granola was given out, cookies, and every competitor got a stylish TBS6 shirt to wear to the next comp in Sacramento.

In appreciation of the people who have stuck with Ironworks since it's beginning, Jeffery Bowling was manning the back room, where he was giving out awesome light weight camping chairs to 10 year members.

During the initial comp, the crowd got pysched by bouldering to the sounds of the Nigerian Brothers. The African folk group played a rhythmic drum beat while the competitors climbed on over 70 new problems, won free stuff, and watched the finals.

One of the coolest parts of the comp was the onsight final for men and women. With $1200 given out in cash prizes, the local talent came out and shined. Justin Alacron, a future Berkeley Ironworks desk staff member, grabbed a place on the podium. Alacron rarely comp climbs but headed to Touchstone to check out the festivities. He noted "Initially I came to the event to get a workout on the new problems, eat some food, and enjoy the party but I totally got sucked into the comp atmosphere and ended up climbing all day."

With delicious catered Thai food, awesome Pyramid Brewery beer, and four different kinds of birthday cake, the food nearly derailed the competition. "I nearly stopped climbing entirely about half-way through just so I could pig out, it was that good," said Alacron.

With a hundred people watching, announcers throwing out a move by move commentary, and lots of cameras, the finals had an air of seriousness. Mike Abell, of Flame and Flash- the Bay Area's Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender- represented his club, donning their new sleek tank tops on the big stage. He commented on the onsight final, "It was cool how they got a big comp vibe from a local comp setting."

Cicada Jenerik, a member of Zero Gravity, enjoyed the finals. "It was really nice to just hang out with people and climb, everyone got along really well and just had a really good time."

In the men's finals Ethan Pringle won first, Mike Abell placed second, and Justin Alarcon brought in third. In women's finals Natasha Barnes nabbed first place, Cicada Jenerik got second, and Ngan Nguyen crushed her way to third place.

The next of the Touchstone Bouldering Series will be at Sacramento Pipeworks on September 17th. The comps are free for members and a great opportunity to eat free food, drink beer, and enjoy a positive competitive scene.

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  First Ascent: The Series
Over the past decade, Sender Films has been working to produce some of the greatest climbing videos out there. With gripping stories about the first ropeless ascent of Half Dome, the longest BASE jump ever, and a tragic expedition to Western China, Sender Films six part series takes viewers over five continents, and a world of adventure.

"First Ascent: The Series" Trailer from Sender Films on Vimeo.

The First Ascent box set includes the six half hour films of the series, plus more than an hour of bonus footage, with outtakes, behind the scenes, making-of, trailers and additional climbing, high-lining and BASE jumping scenes. It is available on their website at Sender Films.Com. It will provide hours of entertainment for climbers who want to get out but can't beat the hot California summer sun.

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Sunday, August 29, 2010
  Help Build a Bridge of Opportunity
The competition will be fierce. Twelve different teams will be scouring the Bay area for clues. On September 18th, the competitors will come by Great Western Power Company in a charity race patterned after CBS's Amazing Race.

At 9:30 am, the participants will climb up the walls in the gym, snatch a clue from the top, and then quickly head out to their next challenge. It'll be a great adventure is for a good cause. That's where we need help from local climbers. The non-profit organizing the race to help raise money for college scholarships for Foster Youth needs a few volunteers to help belay the climbers from 9:00 am to 10:30 am.

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 one hour. Help out the Bridge of Opportunity. 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. If you are interested, please call Bryan @ 925-872-0806 or email him at .

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Thursday, August 26, 2010
  Raffle at Touchstone Anniversary Party
This Saturday, August 28, Berkeley Ironworks will be holding the first of the Touchstone Bouldering Series 6 Comps. In addition to celebrating Ironworks 10th year anniversary, Touchstone will be celebrating its 15th. There will be an awesome anniversary party held at Ironworks during the comp with live music, food, and a great opportunity to crush new problems from 11-5 pm.

There will be a huge raffle with a ton of great prizes. Tickets will be $1 and all proceeds will go to the Access Fund. It will be a perfect opportunity to win a $150 5.10 gift certificate, a Mammut Rope, Scarpa Shoes, Moon Packs, a pair of Evolve Shoes, a Black Diamond Satellite Pad, a Black Diamond Chalkpot, a number of great Mountain Hardwear products, and Access Fund water bottles.

Additionally, every raffle prize will come with either a Tuolumne Bouldering guide or the Bay Area Top Rope guide (until we are out of them).

Come out on Saturday for a great chance to win a number of prizes, help support the Access Fund, and hang out at Touchstone's Anniversary party and climbing comp!

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010
  Ascendance on NBC Live
On Tuesday, August 24th, Touchstone abs class teacher, Isabelle Rittberg, and Ryan "Skippy" Gaunt were contenders in America's Got Talent, a live talent show aired on NBC. The contest involved a number of different acts with winners decided by voting from viewers.

The pair performed their routing called Ascendance by dancing over a vertical to overhanging artificial climbing wall. Isabelle took a moment to talk about Ascendance, the Berkeley based dance company, and their involvement with climbing.

How did Ascendance start?

I was driving through Utah's stunning Virgin River Gorge on my way from California to Montana, when the early evening sunlight was reflecting on the red sandstone cliffs surrounding me. Infatuated with the melodies of Thomas Otten, grasping onto the steering wheel with my forehead glued against the windshield, I was enjoying imaginary bodies dancing on the immense vertical terrain around me. For the first time, I felt the immediate connection of my strong passions for climbing, music and dance. It became my mission to convey the magnificence, grace and fluidity of a climber's delicate and strong movement. In 2005 I moved to the bay area and lived in my van for several months before I found a somewhat affordable warehouse space where I could build my first climbing wall. The wall filled my whole space and I basically was able to get out of bed and climb my wall all the way over to my kitchen. A few climbers got excited and started experimenting with creating movement routines on this wall and my first performance was in that space with 30 people crammed in my living room as they watched us dance on the wall 3 ft away :)

How does rock climbing affect Ascendance? How did they affect each other?

A climber's body moves through different positions when traveling across the wall. Technical movements like drop-knees, heel-hooks, toe-hooks, dynos, lock-offs, straight-arm hangs, high-steps etc. help climbers move with ease and grace. Using their strength most efficiently they seem to be smooth and rapid without effort. This is where I see the dance. It’s beautiful and captivating to watch a technically strong climber.

When rock climbing, it is the continuous flow of movements that generate in me a strong mental focus that allow me to gracefully overcome gravity. My vision of climbers executing technical and powerful movements to music was clear and strong when I first had the vision. Execution though is a bit harder: training for AscenDance definitely take a toll on our strength and endurance left for climbing. However, cross training is possible and often we find that balance. That’s what the dancing actually makes us strong climbers because our endurance is crazy strong and our core as well. It’s only right before a show that we have to climb less and focus more on rehearsals. During that time I often just do finger board work outs so that I don’t lose my finger strength. That way when we get back to it, it doesn’t really take that much time to be back in climbing shape. For me, AscenDance has allowed me to also become a more creative climber with a great flexibility in my mind and body. When you get used to hanging off your toes you start becoming much more creative in finding resting positions etc.

Where do you see Ascendance going in the future?

I have NO CLUE right now. Crazy, hugh? But life can really be like that, you just have to ride the wave. We may end up in Vegas in which case I would be super psyched because I LOVE the climbing down there and being able to do what I love full time (dance and climb) would be a dream come true :)

What's the creative process of choreographing a dance like?

It can be beautiful and also exasperating. For me the inspiration always comes from music. I grew up playing the piano; I was surrounded by music since the day I was born. I would fall asleep on the top of the stairs listening to my brother play late at night. I was introduced to dance later in life, and then finally in college I started climbing. Music is was inspired me to begin AscenDance and so the process remains the same: I am literally moved my music and that’s where it all begins. There can be days that I am in the studio alone or with other dancers and the movement sequences just flow together, things connect, it all makes sense. There are times we stare at the wall and wait for it to tell us what to do :) those are the challenging times. Often I will have visions of sequences in my head. When I get to the studio I communicate these to my dancers and they are able to translate them in their own individual style. I love that process. I also really enjoy working with Skippy. On good days we can go in and bust out a whole peace in a day if we want. That obviously doesn’t happen all the time. I still love spending time on the wall alone. It brings me back to my essence and the pure vision I had. It allows me to tap into something deep and simple. It allows me to feel, rather than to judge or feel judged because nobody is giving feed-back, nobody is watching, not evening myself. Creating solos can be so beautiful for that reason. It’s your pick of music, your interpretation, your pace and your schedule.

How do you train for your dancing?

Pull-ups, Core Strength, lots of work on the pull up bar and ultimately training on our climbing wall (campusing, one-arm hanging and swinging, double toe-hooks, dynos, etc.) Often it’ just trying out completely new movement and seeing what needs to happen in order to execute. Skippy is definitely the trail-blazer on that.

Is there anything you'd like to add?

THANK YOU for all the support. The climbing community has been so supportive and excited for us and we really feel that love and appreciation so much. It’s so nice to come home to that after an exhausting week with in Hollywood

You can vote for the Berkeley climbers and dancers ten times online at the NBC America's Got Talent Website.

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  Aquatech and Diablo Rock Gym Open House
Sunday, August 29, from noon to 3pm, Diablo Rock Gym and Aquatech will be having an open house show off the pool construction. Drinks and refreshments will be served.

Diablo Rock Gym will have access to the 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.

The pool is indoor and will be heated. Visit Aquatech during office hours to check in, register register for programs, ask questions, change schedules or find out specifics for events and clinics. Stop by and check out the status of the pool and the construction.

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Sunday, August 22, 2010
  Special Anniversary Gift For Members
Touchstone climbing gym will be celebrating their 15 year anniversary on August 28th at a grand comp and party at Berkeley Ironworks. In appreciation of the members that have stuck with Touchstone since the opening of Ironworks, 10 years ago, we will be giving away commemorative custom designed Alite Camping Chairs.

The chairs, which retail for over $60 and will have a special Touchstone 15 Year Anniversary design, will be given to 10 year members at the comp/party and then a week later at Mission Cliffs and Ironworks to those that couldn't attend. Weighing a mere 18 oz., the Monarch Butterfly Chair is light enough to take to any crag, hiking adventure, or just to curl up in the back yard. Available in three different colors, the chairs are not only super comfy, and light weight, but they also pack down to the size of a San Francisco burrito!

Touchstone greatly appreciates the members who have stuck with Ironworks since it's beginnings and is excited to have an opportunity to give something back. Supplies are limited, members may not be able to get their favorite color. Stop by the comp/party to pick up your anniversary gift!

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Thursday, August 19, 2010
  Nigerian Brothers Playing at Touchstone Comp and Anniversary Party!
This Saturday, August 28, the Nigerian Brothers will be playing during the first of the Touchstone Bouldering Series Comps.

The Nigerian brothers, led by Nigerian master musician, Ken Okulolo, have deep roots in African folk and highlife music. Their beats will be played from noon to three pm and will be a great background for the people who want to crank during the first of the Touchstone Bouldering Series comps.

While the beats are being played, food and refreshments will be served as the comp marks the 10th anniversary of Berkeley Ironworks and Touchstone's 15th. There will be all kinds of great food supplied by Andy & Cindy's Thai. Not only will there be free samples of great bars like Kind Bars, and Clif Bar but Guyaki Organic Yerba Mate, and Bear Naked Granola will be providing food as well. For vegan athletes, and those who want a gluten free option, there will be food for them as well. For those that don't like any of those terrific options, there will be a lot of BIRTHDAY CAKE!

The standard seventy problems will be set by the Touchstone team of route setters. There will be approximately: 10 V0's, 10 V1's, 10 V2's, 10 V3's, 10 V4's, 8 V5's, 6 V6's, 4 V7's, 3 V8's, 2 V9's 1 V10, 1 V11 as well as an onsight final with three problems for the top five men and women. For those who want some great beta on how to prepare better for a comp, check out Natasha Barnes' comments in a brief interview with the Touchstone Blog.

Come by from 11-5 pm to check out the comp and then see the onsight final at the end. Also there will be a rad raffle with a number of great prizes and all proceeds going to the Access Fund. A list of the prizes is coming soon.

Stop by Ironworks for Touchstones amazing anniversary party!

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010
  Touchstone 15h Anniversary and Bouldering Comp
Touchstone Climbing will once again be hosting the Touchstone Bouldering Series this fall. This season, we will kick off the series with a special Saturday comp at Berkeley Ironworks to celebrate the gym's 10th anniversary, as well as Touchstone's 15th. The Ironworks comp/party will be from 11-5 this Saturday the 28st of August.

Andy & Cindy's Thai will be providing the food. There will be a ton of curries, chicken skewers, etc. There will be vegan and gluten free food for the vegan athletes who want to stay fueled and still crush. Kind Bars, Guyaki Organic Yerba Mate, Bear Naked Granola, Clif Bar and more will be there giving out free samples. A raffle will be held with all of the proceeds from the $1 tickets going to the Access Fund. With great prizes from Mt. Hardwear and Touchstone, the raffle will be awesome. There will be an onsight final with the top 5 competitors from the men's and women's advanced categories receiving CASH PRIZES!

These comps are FREE for Touchstone Members

You can see pictures from the previous TBS season now in our online photo gallery.

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Monday, August 16, 2010
  Tuolumne Bouldering: Summer Destination
Most places in California bake over the summer. Bishop scorches, hitting the triple digits. Yosemite is not much different. Tuolumne Meadows, with its 8000 foot elevation, can be a cool get away from the summer heat. Besides being one of the most beautiful places in the Sierras, Tuolumne also boasts some classic boulder problems. From the highballs at the knob boulders like Texas Radio (v3) to the long Steelfingers Traverse (v8) to the moderates of Kitty Dome, there is a great collection of problems.

Lucho Rivera on a "newly" discovered boulder just off the road.

Charlie Barrett, a Santa Rosa native, made a recent ascent of the testpiece problem, Thunderbird, at Puppy Dome in the Meadows. Check out the awesome footage that Chris Falkenstein shot of the ascent.

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Friday, August 13, 2010
  Austrailian Climbing with Ethan Pringle
San Francisco climber, Ethan Pringle, recently returned from a six week climbing trip to Australia, where he cranked out a number of hard sport routes. He had an injured shoulder for over a year and he was able to crank out some of his hardest climbs since his injury. One of the cool things he discovered was using a head camera to document his climbing. While climbing at the Taipan wall, he had the chance to borrow Johnathon Thesanga's GoPro head cam and take some still shots.

Check out the stills that he took.

Ethan also took some time to feed some of the local wildlife. You can read more about his exploits at his blog.

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Thursday, August 12, 2010
  Craig McClenahan: An Interview with Touchstone's Head Route Setter
"What do climber's use for birth control?" head route setter Craig McClenahan asked the Touchstone Blog. "Their personalities."

Craig, whose biting wit and charm grows irresistibly on people, has been climbing over thirty-five years, since the mid-seventies, when he started at the local crags of Mount Diablo. For the past 15 years, since early 1996, Craig has worked for Touchstone Climbing Gyms as the head route setter, enjoying the flexibility of his position and working for the Melvins, the family owners of Touchstone.

When he's not busy setting new routes at the gym, or crushing 5.13+ in Sonora, he works for the Dodge Ridge Race team, skiing three days a week from December through April. He skis with his wife Erica, who he's been with for 16 years, and his daughter Kaylee. The eleven year old Kaylee races, and placed fourth for her age group in the Central Series. She's top 60 for California. He also spends time as a "grand-dude", hanging with his grandson Berkeley and his daughter from a previous marriage, Avery.

What's the appeal of rock climbing for you?
I suppose being in nature, with friends and family. But also it's instant Zen, to redpoint hard you have to turn off the external and internal dialogue, perform the beta, perfectly; there is nothing else. And I think we are all doing battle with the awkward 5th grader that resides deep inside us all, we are constantly trying to prove that is our past.

Craig climbing The Even More Fabulouser Jackalope (v7)

What are the challenges of route setting?
Keeping five gyms on a 10 week rotation, while maintaining quality. That's 563 routes and 518 boulder problems, we receive NO complaints. Also I have 12 employee's, so managing a crew of egomaniacal, teenagers (age range of 21 to 44 years old) presents its challenges.

What are your goals/vision with the route setting in the gym?
I always try to make my routes safe and fun, it's going to be in the gym for 10 weeks. It's going to be someone's project, and another person's lap route, and someone's warm-up. So it has to be something you are psyched to get on repeatedly.

Craig started skiing at Dodge Ridge with his brothers and friends in 1971. He skiis with his family at Dodge Ridge still but also makes trips all over the central Sierra to Sugar Bowl, Northstar, Bear Valley, Badger Pass, Mammoth and more. Here's a picture of young Kaylee tearing it up during a slalom race.

How will you be setting for the upcoming comp series?
Our standard 70 problems (10 V0's, 10 V1's, 10 V2's, 10 V3's, 10 V4's, 8 V5's, 6 V6's, 4 V7's, 3 V8's, 2 V9's 1 V10, 1 V11 approx.), possibly an Onsight Final, 3 Problems for the top five Men and Women.

Is there anything else you'd like to mention on the blog?
NEVER alter the rock. Follow your heart. Never stop trying, don't listen to the haters.

Craig crushing the Triple Cracks (v7) in his local area of Sonora

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010
  Offwidth Climbing Goes Horrendously Wrong
Offwidth climbing is notoriously difficult. In Squamish, one of the most sought after test-pieces is a route known as Boogie Til You Puke. Jason Kruk, a Canadian local, went after the route after a night of serious partying. His ascent turned into a full-on epic when he got his knee stuck in the crack. Luckily, his friend Cedar Wright was there to help him out until things went even worse for the stuck climber. Check out this hilarious video of the ascent.

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Monday, August 9, 2010
  Touchstone Represents At Squamish Days
Great Western Power Company front desk funny man, Ryan Moon sprinted across a wet log, carrying a 34 kilogram, eight-metre-long standard rigging choker. When he cleared the pond, he jumped across two enormous logs, tied the choker to a pole, then he dashed back to the start, trying his best to finish before his intimidating competitor, former Touchstone employee Jeff Cheng.

Climbers across the world folk every summer to the granite mecca of Squamish, British Columbia, a small town just across the Canadian border. Most climbers head there for the sloping granite boulders, the big trad lines on the Chief, and the sport climbing at Chekamus but this year a couple of Touchstone climbers found a new reason to head to the great north-Squamish Days.

Squamish Days started over fifty years ago as a one day loggers competition. The games have expanded into a three day competition at the end of July. With events like the chockerman's race, a standing block chop, and axe throwing, the games are a perfect event for tough guys like Ryan and Jeff to test themselves on rest days.

Jeff managed to pull ahead of Ryan with a time of 0:42:07 to Moon's 0:51:68 because Ryan fell into the water while running across the log. Their times are recording on the Squamish days results site. Ryan did manage to nearly qualify in the axe throwing competition, hitting close to the bulls eye twice, before missing the target entirely on his third try.

After their logger competitions, the pair joined the rest of the loggers in Kokanne drinking trouble. Besides their logging games activities, the pair pulled off a number of rad boulder problem ascents. Ryan Moon fired the highball test-piece This Monkey's Gone to Heaven and Jeff scrunched up to send Swank Stretch and a number of other classics.

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Saturday, August 7, 2010
  Bay Area Contribution to the Reel Rock Film
Bay Area climbers Will Wolcott and Bryon Wolter, along with some friends from Santa Barbara, put together a hilarious film for the Reel Rock Filmmaking Competition. The two minute film depicts the trials of being a Top Rope Tough Guy. Will commented on the film, "We wanted to capture the side of climbing that everybody does but nobody talks about...we wanted to capture the true essence of toproping." The two spent a lot of time putting the film together with Will acting as director and Bryon working the camera and editing.

Two winners will be selected from the group of videos by votes from climbers and internet lurkers. The voting ends on September 10th and the two winners will be announced at the Reel Rock premiere in Boulder, Colorado on September 16. Winners will receive prize packages from our sponsors, and their films will screen in over 100 locations across the world.

Support the local climber/fimmakers by voting for Will and Bryon's classic take on the "true essence of toproping" and then check out the other eight entries at the Reel Rock Film Making Competition website.

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Thursday, August 5, 2010
  Brothers on The Rise Come to GWPC
For the past two years, Brothers on the Rise has brought middle school boys to the Great Western Power Company's downtown Oakland gym. Brothers on the Rise is a youth group with a goal of helping to empower young men to "achieve individual success, develop healthy relationships and contribute to a more just and equitable society through gender-responsive programs that engage males personally and professionally in social service and social change."

For many of the kids, this was their first experience rock climbing. They all got to boulder on the rad problems in the cave, and they tried their hands at toproping on the tall walls of the gym. They had a blast and are all excited to come back later in their summer program.

Touchstone is a proud supporter of groups like Brothers on The Rise and appreciates them coming to the gym for their team building exercises.

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010
  Recovering From Injury: Christine Zalecki
Bruce Lee once said, "Fall down seven times, get up eight." Christine Zalecki knows the value of these words.

Over a Joshua Tree Thanksgiving in 2005, Christine, a long time trad climber, was leading the Book of Changes (5.10d) in the Big Horn Mating Grotto. At the top a broken hold had made the crux much harder than she knew. She fell. Her gear pulled, and she decked from about 55 feet, breaking her neck and seriously injuring her wrist. She continued the climbing lifestyle. In June 2009, while deep water soloing in Mallorca, she pulled a loose hold off the wall. She fell 45 feet sideways into the water, nearly losing her ankle when she hit a ledge on the way down. She has continued to pursue her passion despite a fused neck and a fused ankle, climbing on the Incredible Hulk in the Sierras, clipping bolts in Utah, and heading regularly to Yosemite National Park. Christine offered the Touchstone Blog a bit of insight about her accidents, how to recover from injuries, and how to come back strong.

Christine during her trip to Mallorca.

What helped motivate you to climb again?

I don't think I lost the motivation to climb. As I was floating in the water (After falling in Mallorca) with a detached foot, waiting for a rescue, I swore I'd never climb again. But once I was on crutches and in a cast, it wasn't long before I was toproping in the gym with my cast on. What can I say? It's just too damn fun to give up.

Were you scared to climb again?

I still cannot lead trad climbs. I've tried, but my body just starts shaking, even on really easy climbs that I could free solo. Sport climbing isn't a problem and I'll take big falls, but if there's a little a ledge below me I get really scared, even if there's no way I could hit it. But I'm still pretty bold -- more so than many people who've never had an accident.

Christine in the hospital after her near fatal fall in Joshua Tree. Luckily, she was wearing a helmet, which probably saved her life.

How did these accidents change your perception of rock climbing?

The reality of how dangerous it is is much more salient for me now than it was before. Things I wouldn't have thought twice about before -- like getting on a climb with a really sketchy first clip or that has obvious big ground fall potential -- I stop and think about and maybe even back off. I don't avoid runouts, big falls, or sketchy climbs altogether, but I definitely stop and think about what I'm doing more carefully. Also, I have thought A LOT about what it was like for the friends who were with me for both of my accidents: my belayer for JTree, and my friend who sat with me on the water for an hour while I screamed and bled in Mallorca. I think about how terrible it was for them, and also how awful I would feel if I were on the other side of the rope -- so consequently I've become pretty obsessive about checking knots, anchor setups, etc. so that I don't do anything stupid that could lead to someone else's injury.

Christine crushing the great sport climbs at Owen's River Gorge

What was the hardest part of recovering?

The worst thing about my first fall (in Joshua Tree) was reading what all the people on Supertopo had to say about it. Someone posted the accident report, and what followed was a ridiculously long thread of armchair analysis and misinformation from posers who weren't there. It took me a couple hours and a couple glasses of wine (drunk through a straw because of my neck) to read the whole thing.

What's the best advice you can give to someone recovering from an accident?

Don't read Supertopo.

Christine is just one of the members of Touchstone who have faced serious physical adversity and come back strong. Her tenacity and dedication is inspiring.

For those that want to learn more, Touchstone offers a number of different workshops on climber injuries, how to prevent them, and how to recovery. Keep an eye on the newsletter, calendar, and this blog for further information.

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010
  Best of The Bay: Mission Cliffs and Berkeley Ironworks
It is well known that the Touchstone Gyms are some of the nicest places around California to climb, work out, and socialize at. Recently, the San Francisco Bay Guardian rated Mission Cliffs the best gym in the bay area. With it's easy location on Harrison, the 50 foot lead wall, 14,000 sq. ft. of climbing Terrain, 2,000 sq. ft. of bouldering, the free weight section, the extensive aerobic machines, and the awesome classes, Mission Cliffs is easily the best San Francisco Gym and also one of Touchstone's most popular ones.

Also, Berkeley Ironworks was noted in the East Bay Express's annual online magazine. Ironworks' social scene was recognized as an ideal place to find a climbing partner, hang out with friends, and have a good time in an awesome climbing environment with a lot of rad people. Check it out on page 102 of the online magazine.

Congratulations to both gyms for being the best of the bay.

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Sunday, August 1, 2010
  Interview with Senior Manager Jeffery Bowling
Jeffery Bowling, one of the senior management team members of Touchstone, began working for the gym over a decade ago when the company was just one small gym in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission. Hired as a data entry person, he found himself in a harness belaying kid’s birthday parties within hours of taking the job. Since his first year in 1996 at Mission Cliffs, he has performed nearly every job at Touchstone from route setting to managing Mission Cliffs to his current job as the Director of Marketing and IT.

I’ve been married for five years
in August. We met at a Phish Show in Chicago in 2003. We spent three weeks together traveling around seeing Phish shows. When Phish broke up in 2004, I proposed at their last Vermont show so we could spend more time together. For our anniversary, we’re seeing Phish at the Greek theater then traveling to Colorado and Indiana.

Holly and I up in the mountains in Banff, Alberta. We've spent a lot of time traveling, especially in the northeast- we've seen a lot of Phish shows there.

One of the marketing challenges
is taking the uniqueness of the gym and sharing that. We have a really strong, great community, and we’re trying to convey that message. One of the things that we found out early on was that grassroots efforts work well- like all of the comps. Members get excited because of the bouldering and rope series and they bring in their friends.

A lot of things grow organically at Touchstone and we take it from there- finding the best way to utilize the resources we have. The Mission Cliffs Facebook page was actually started by some members and we’ve used it to help promote the community.

My wife, Holly, and I are the San Francisco team leaders for HeadCount. HeadCount is an organization that works with bands to register voters at rock concerts.

Stayed tuned for more interviews with the rest of the Touchstone Management Team.

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