Touchstone Blog Archive
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
  Crossfit's Weekend Warrior Series At GWPC
This Saturday, October 2nd, Great Western Power Company will hold Crossfit Unlimited and a great competition.

The Weekend Warrior Series features head to head competition in the WOD (work-out of the day) and will involve a max pull-up, a one mile run, and another activity. It may be done individually or as a team of four. The WWS is designed to allow Crossfitters to meet, compete, and hang out with other Crossfitters.

The regular Crossfit East Bay Saturday class will take place at 12:30 pm at GWPC, immediately following the event.

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  Yosemite in A Day: A Video
While giving a slideshow in Yosemite National Park for the 7th Annual Yosemite Facelift last week, Cedar Wright produced a short film about some classic Yosemite climbers including Touchstone Blogger James Lucas. If you don't know already, James is kind of a big deal. Check out the classic video.

YOSEMITE IN A DAY from Cedar Wright on Vimeo.

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  Touchstone Athlete Ethan Pringle Crushes the Nor'Easter
The Nor'easter, which ran from the 24th to the 26th of September at Loon Mountain in Lincoln New Hampshire, is a three day festival of sports, music, and conservation. Athletes from around the world showed up to crank down on the outdoor plastic comp for and a chance to climb in a Unified Bouldering Championships Pro Tour stop.

Two San Francisco climbers headed out to the comp. Natasha Barnes, taking a break from school, managed to crush her way into 5th place for women and Mission local and Touchstone athlete Ethan Pringle won the men's comp.

The competition was stiff for Ethan with the notorious powerhouse, and his old roommate, Daniel Woods at the comp. Ethan wrote about winning, "I was so happy and so surprised to have won. Daniel is just on such another level in terms of raw power. I was joking with everyone that we were all competing for second."

UBC Nor 'Easter finals problem 1 from Ethan Pringle on Vimeo.

Ethan on the first of the men's finals problems.

After topping out the second problem in finals, Ethan jumped from the top. Instead of rolling with the fall, he landed hard on his leg injuring his calf. Luckily, he was able to pull off a quick ascent of the third problem and win the comp.

John Evans photo

Petzl recently interviewed Ethan about his win at the Nor Easter and his return to hard climbing.

John Evans photo

Ethan prepared for the trip first by crushing the first TBS 6 comp at the Berkeley Ironworks and then heading out to the boulders of Erratica, near Kirkwood. Along with Gregor, Cuz, and Vitaly, Ethan toured the sporadically placed granite blocs flashing the classic Yeti V8, and then following Cuz for the third ascent of Party Animal V12. The crew then busted down to the high ball Welcome to the Future boulder problem in Tahoe and sessioned the tall face until the batteries in their headlamps started to die.

Ethan's planning on climbing at Mt. Clark for the next couple of days, hang out with friends in Las Vegas, and letting his leg heal perfectly so he can crush in the Red this fall.

Erratica 9/11 from Ethan Pringle on Vimeo.

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010
  Remember to Vote!
Please vote. Many people who have moved could be kept from voting if they don't re-register. Don't count on others to make your government! If you need to register or re-register, go to

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Friday, September 24, 2010
  5th Annual Reel Rock Film Tour
For the 3rd year in a row CRAGS (Climbing Resource Advocates for Greater Sacramento) our local Access Fund affiliate is going to sponsor a showing of Reel Rock here at Pipeworks on Saturday November 6th. Doors open at 7, film at 8. $10 at the door will include beer, snacks and a raffle.

But if you don't want to wait that long, the 5th Annual Reel Rock Film Tour will be heading to the bay area in October. With footage of Chris Sharma on his 9a+ First Round First Minute sport climb, Peter Croft and Lisa Rands getting tradical on the great alpine granite of the Hulk, Dean Potter base-soloing on Yosemite's Rostrum, Ueli Steck mixed climbing in the alpine, Cedar Wright testing choosy rock across the globe, and Daniel Woods and Paul Robinson crushing v-sick boulder problems, this will be one of the raddest climbing videos out there.

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. Their 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. The pair won the Viewer's Choice award at the September 16th premiere and there film will be shown at all of the Reel Rock showings.

There will be three shows in the bay area and Ironworks and Mission Cliffs will be selling advanced tickets to the local shows:

Sacramento Pipeworks
November 6th

Thursday, October 7, 7:30pm
Walnut Creek: Pyramid Ale House
$12 at the door

Thursday, October 14, 7:30
Albany: Albany Twin Theater
$12 advance tickets from Berkeley Ironworks
$14 at the door

Thursday, October 28
San Francisco: Victoria Theater
$12 advance tickets from Mission Cliffs
$15 at the door

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Thursday, September 23, 2010
  Discount Yoga Classes at Pipeworks
Nothing helps the body more than stretching. Limbering the muscles and activating them in a passive form of movement will help exponentially not only with day to day activities but with climbing, cycling, and other physical activites. Sacramento Pipeworks has a great opportunity. For a very limited time Pipeworks is running a special promotion: 10 consecutive days of yoga for $10! Take as many classes as you want within 10 consecutive days.

Join the gym within 2 weeks of the date on your card, and we will give you HALF OFF the initiation fee! This is a great opportunity to check out Pipeworks yoga classes and then get involved in all the awesome classes with Touchstone.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010
  Russell Olsen: Touchstone Pooh-Bah
Russel Olsen, has been working for Touchstone for the past ten years, beginning as a sub contractor when they began building Sacramento Pipeworks. After helping to remodel Mission Cliffs, Russel joined Touchstone at the Director of Facility Operations.

Russell, along with his wife of three years Michelle and his nine month old daughter Morgan, spends as much time as he can outside, hiking and sea kayaking. He guides sea kayaking tours once a month.

Russell painting the stencils on the stack at the Oakland Gym.

He's currently finishing up the pool project in Concord. Originally the pool was used for scuba diving lessons and it was 15 feet deep in the middle and four feet on the side. He filled the pool in so it is now a 4 foot deep lap pool. The task involved a lot of research on pools, chemicals, and concrete.

Russell with his daughter

One of reason why he works for Touchstone is, "I get to do a lot of various things, and work with a lot of different people." He's done all the construction from demolishing the old San Jose gym to helping with the upcoming expansion of the Mission Cliffs bouldering area and building the new gym in Fresno.

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010
  Highline at Sacramento TBS6
The Sacramento Pipeworks version of TBS 6 went off without a hitch last Friday the 17th. This competition was its typical extraordinary blend of climbing, food, drink, prizes, games and spectacle. Over 200 people turned in scorecards, eclipsing the last bouldering series at Pipeworks by more than 40 people.

Thanks go out to Mason Daly who offered demos of Evolve climbing shoes, as well as thanks to Brian Poulson who represented CRAGS ( Climbing Resource Advocates for Greater Sacramento - an Access Fund affiliate) and worked hard signing up new members. Finally, thanks to Pipeworks member Nick Wilson for his great photography.

Those that left early missed what some considered the highlight of the night: Jerry Miszewski, owner of Balance Community slackline outfitters, set up a 25 foot highline through the middle of the main cave and effortlessly walked it like he was on flat ground. An extremely modest Jerry later admitted that he held the worlds record for highlining (312 feet) until August but his record had just been broken by his friend Andy (340 feet). He also confessed to plans of taking back the record as well as the lowline record (currently 1007 feet).

The next installment of TBS 6 will be at Great Western power Company on Friday October 22nd. See you there!

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  Mission Cliffs Expansion Delayed
It's looking more and more like the San Francisco Building Department will come up with every possible hurdle to our expansion. After incredible support in Planning and the Planning Commission, we must anticipate that this improvement will be a long uphill battle. Track us on-line, using the address 2295 Harrison, but don't hold your breath. Initially submitted and reviewed over the counter on March 23, the building department had not even re-familiarized themselves with the plans until two months after the June 24 approval by the Planning Commission. It would appear that even the 'building type' that's been used for decades of permits has to be reviewed by this building department. Don't plan for improvements at Mission Cliffs this season.

We are still very excited about the upcoming improvements, just a little disappointed at the delay by the SF Building Department.

Want all the latest news on the upcoming expansion? Follow us on Twitter @ tsclimbing

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Monday, September 20, 2010
  7th Annual Yosemite Facelift
The 7th Annual Yosemite Facelift is kicking off this week. With a series of great events like a showing of the 5th Annual Reel Rock Film Tour and slideshows by Royal Robbins, Cedar Wright, and the famous James Lucas, this year's Facelift will be off the hook!

The Yosemite Climbing Association started this program to help clean-up the park and to bring climbers together in an awesome week of great activities. At the center of the Facelift is picking up the debris that gets left behind by climbers, hikers, and other park users.

You can help out by registering at a check-in station, grabbing a trash bag, and picking up litter.

Participants must register at a check-in station in order to participate. We will provide trash bags, litter sticks and safety vests.
All volunteers receive a raffle ticket for the daily 5:00pm raffle. There are evening programs every night starting September 21st through the 26th at the East Auditorium.

Check-in stations are in the following locations;

* Yosemite Valley: In front of the Visitor Center - 8:00am to 5:00pm, 9/22-9/26
* Crane Flat: South end of Tuolumne Grove parking lot - 8:00am to 5:00pm, 9/24-9/26
* Tuolumne Meadows: Lembert Dome parking lot - 8:00am to 5:00pm, 9/24-9/26

As part of the Facelift, there will be evening entertainment at the east auditorium in Yosemite Village. At each show, beer will be provided by New Belgium Brewery, and wine will be provided by Redwood Creek. A $25 donation is requested for a signature glass that can be refilled at all the shows. Below is the schedule of events- check out that Touchstone Blogger, James Lucas will be giving a show on Friday night!

Tuesday September 21,
Brittany Griffith- First Ascent of Acopan Tepui in Venzeula
Jeff Johnson with a showing of 180 degrees South
Doors open at 7 pm

Wednesday Sept 22
Royal Robbins- 40 Years of Adventure
Kate Rutherford- My Meter of Misery
Doors open at 7 pm

Thursday Sept 23
Fifth Annual Reel Rock Film Tour
Doors open at 7 pm

Friday Sept 24
James Lucas- Yosemite's Next Top Idol
Cedar Wright- Vertical Carnival
Doors open at 7 pm

Sat Sept 25
Live Music by Dan Wilson and the Chinquapin All Stars with special Guest Jonathon McEuen
Doors open at 6 pm

Dinner Provided by DNC Parks and Resort at Yosemite Live Music by Dan Wilson and the Chinquapin All Stars
Doors open at 6 until midnight

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Friday, September 17, 2010
  Benefit Yoga Class For Instructor
Yoga instructor and Touchstone community member, Sarah Nidy-Jaeger, who teaches Saturday yoga classes at Ironworks and Tuesday and Thursday classes at Great Western Power Company, suffered a serious lost recently. Sarah gave birth to a son, Otis, early on September 12th. Moments after leaving the womb, Otis was whisked away to the natal intensive care unit due to complications with his brain activity. He passed on the next day. Her friends, family, and the Touchstone community have rallied together to support her and her partner Erik.

Her friends made a website, Otis Allen Nidy, detailing the loss and describing how people can help support the couple.

To support Sarah and her recovery, Touchstone will be holding a yoga class at Great Western Power Company on October 3rd at 1 pm. Come follow yoga instructor Dominick and do 108 Sun Salutations to help the family. This special yoga class has a suggested donation of $25.

A memorial service for Otis will be held on Saturday, September 18 at 1 pm at Regeneration Church in Oakland. 238 E 15th St, Oakland, CA 94606.

For more information stay follow their wordpress site.

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Thursday, September 16, 2010
  Great Discount on Intro to Climbing Lessons
Groupon, a website that offers all sorts of deals on great restaurants and activities in the bay, has an awesome deal today. For $25 you can get an introductory climbing lesson for two people at Mission Cliffs in San Francisco, Diablo Rock Gym in Concord, or Great Western Power Company in Oakland.

Each gym has a ton of climbing space and the lessons are taught by experienced climbers with expert knowledge on route climbing and bouldering. Learn how to tie in properly, how to belay, how to top-rope, and how to move smoothly and efficiently up the enormous walls of three of Touchstone's best gyms.

After the class, you'll get a day pass and all the necessary climbing equipment. You'll be ready to get out and climb all over the walls of the gyms!

Simply sign up at today, and get the coupon, which is valid until March 17, 2011. It's a great deal and a 57% discount.

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Monday, September 13, 2010
  Touchstone Donations From Kathmandu to Afghanistan
Touchstone supports climbing groups and organizations across the world and recently received notes from two vastly different groups that the company has supplied with gear.

A collection of rock shoes from Diablo Rock Gym were sent to the headquarters of The American Alpine Club in Golden Colorado. Dawa Steven Sherpa, the managing director of Asian Trekking and one of the world's leading young conservationists, brought the shoes back from the AAC conference to Kathmandu and the Everest Region.

Dawa Steven has constructed a climbing wall at his Asian Trekking office in Kathmandu, attracting lots of local children, and adults who have been able to put Touchstone's gear to work.

On the other side of the world, Touchstone received a note from soldiers in Afghanistan, thanking the company for shoes, harnesses, and other climbing gear.

Specialist Travis Yeagley, the Mental Health Technician for the men fighting in Afghanistan, wrote about the climbing wall the men have set. "We finally got the wall up and have been using it for the last week or so. I have about 12 problems up right now. They are all around the V2 to V4 range, which is proving difficult but doable for everyone here."

Specialist Yeagley continued his note describing the challenges that the men faced while climbing.

"There are a couple of guys that can just go straight to the top but most of them really have to struggle with the technique to be efficient enough to stay on. They are learning a lot about the technical aspects of climbing and I have really been stressing safety with them. I made a class that they all have to go through to learn about the wall, climbing, safety and spotting. I even cover flagging, stemming, drop knees, perching, toe hooks, heel hooks, grip techniques, etc. Hopefully they will assimilate smoothly and all become safe, healthy members of the climbing community."

"Thanks again for all the support. There is no way that I could have done any of this without you guys. There are a lot of people really appreciating what you guys have done for us."

Touchstone is proud to support groups across the world.

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  Ethan Pringle's Beginnings
Long time San Francisco climber, Ethan Pringle will be adding some of his experiences to the blog. Check out his write up about finding his beginnings as a Touchstone climber.

The Beginnings:

I am often asked by people at the gym, at climbing areas, "How long have you been doing this?" I usually ballpark it. I knew that I started sometime around '95-96, but I didn't know exactly when. I wanted to know when I first walked into Mission Cliffs; it changed my life.

I became increasingly obsessed with discovering when I started climbing. One day, I asked at the front desk at Mission Cliffs . "Does it say on that computer screen when I became a member?"

"Sure, hold on a sec...” They responded. “It says you became a member on September 9th, 1997."

"But that can't be right!" I shouted in their face, cutting them off. Actually, I said, "Thanks for looking that up." I was just thinking the former. There was a time when I stopped climbing for several months near the beginning, and my parents must have canceled my membership and restarted it then but I knew I became a member of MC before then.

Either way, I had given up hope of ever finding out exactly when I started climbing until one day when I was cleaning out my brother's apartment. I was sorting through a random pile of things on a bookshelf that he left behind and came across my brothers old card!

Yay! I was elated to find this little piece of ancient plastic. I knew that my brother and I both got our memberships at the same time, so there it was, finally. October 18th, 1995. The search was over! I was so happy to be in touch with my roots that I ran to the gym for a good ole' plastic session

Check out the footage I took with my head cam!

Some GoPro footage from a sesh at Mission Cliffs from Ethan Pringle on Vimeo.

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Sunday, September 12, 2010
  Markham Connolly: Cycling to Success
For the past twenty years, Markham Connolly has worked in the climbing industry. From guiding in Telluride Colorado, starting a climbing program while teaching at an international school in Indonesia, to building climbing walls in Colorado and California, Markham has worked intensively with outdoor education. In August of 1999, he left Colorado, moving to the Bay Area to help develop and manage Berkeley Ironworks. Two years later, he began his current position as Director of Operations.

I got addicted to road cycling. I moved from Telluride, where access to climbing was easy. When I moved to the Bay Area, where outdoor climbing isn't as accessible, I started looking for alternative outdoor activities. I decided to have a go at endurance sports, something I never had done before. I grew up playing team sports and had a passion for skiing and climbing for many years, but I wanted to see what I had in me to compete in individual endurance sports. I first started trail running with the purpose to do a trail marathon. I finished eighth in a trail running marathon that had over 5,000 feet of elevation. It was hard and somewhat fun but I wasn't super excited about doing another one. Then I thought I'd try an off-road triathlon. I did one of those Xterra triathlons. I hated it. Again, I was looking for another activity until I discovered road cycling. I was in search of a new mountain bike for my wife's birthday. She was a huge mountain biker in Colorado and I thought it would be something we could do together. My idea was to do some mountain bike races, but she did a 180 on me and wanted to get road bikes. She'll never forget the look I had on my face of wondering why in the hell would we want road bikes. Once I got on a road bike, it was all over.

The Connolly family.

My wife, Joelle, and I have been married for nine years. We met in Telluride, skied together, mountain biked together, started climbing together, and then we moved to the Bay Area together. We have two children. My daughter Isabelle is four years old and my son Joe will be one this month. Joelle is an art consultant that curates and manages collections for private collectors and corporations.

When Joe was born I started to taper off the cycling and change to family guy. I took a 15 month hiatus but I’m starting to get back on the bike again. I’m just training. Race season is over and my goal is to not get dropped when riding with my teammates, but I have some serious pounds to lose first. Who knows but I'm sure I'll be talked into doing some races with my buddies. (Shhhh...don't tell my wife). I definitely want to get back in shape and maintain a balance between cycling, family and work. I need to find that happy medium where I can do it all.

Isabelle on the day she learned how to ride a bike!

Isabelle's learning how to ride a bike. She’s been riding a thing called a skuut- a wooden bike without pedals that teaches a kid how to balance. She can coast without her feet and then when she wants to go faster she runs her feet, Flintstone style. She’s seen me come home with road rash and stitches from crashing my bike. It hurts but you get used to it. It’s part of the whole thing. She learned how to ride a pedal bike without training wheels over the labor day weekend. She took some diggers and had some scrapes. She got up and shook it off and kept on pedaling. She is now a true cyclist. Her mom took her on a mountain bike ride at the Albany Bulb while taking the dog for a run. Hmmmm...... road or mountain.

Markham speeding down the road.

As director of operations, I am there to support and work with all the gym managers to make sure safety standards are high and keep safety policies in check, to ensure that our staff follow our philosophy on how to treat our members and day users (not as easy as you think since we are not a policy driven company), to create new programs that are current with the times and bring diversity to the gym, something I really enjoy doing. Our goal as a business is to create new cultures and communities within our gyms like Crossfit, Spinning, Boxing, the cycling team. Yes, we sponsor a women's elite cycling team as well as men's teams. Hopefully with the swimming pool and boxing program at Concord, we will bring in a new group of folks that will create a new culture. Another important objective of Touchstone is to make our gyms accessible for kids and adults from less privileged backgrounds. We work with a lot of community groups around all our gyms. We want everyone to have a chance to experience the extraordinary world of rock climbing.

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Thursday, September 9, 2010
  Touchstone Bouldering Series 6: Iron Works Video
Check out the sweet video that was made during the first Touchstone bouldering comp of the season and get pysched for the next of the Touchstone Bouldering Series comps at Sacramento Pipeworks on September 17th.

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  Cycle to Support Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program
Attention Touchstone Cyclists and those that love/tolerate them. Touchstone wants to give you $150. There are only two catches. One, you have to ride your bicycle for a few hours on the happy, sunny roads of Sonoma County and then eat, drink and carouse to your heart's content. Two, you have to give the money we give you to BORP (Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program). Don't worry, you'll want to. Read on.

As many of you know, Touchstone is a long time supporter of BORP. Based in Berkeley and serving the larger Bay Area, BORP provides sports and other outdoor recreation opportunities for people with physical disabilities, especially kids. It's a pioneering organization, one that Touchstone is proud to be a part of. Each year, BORP puts on a truly wonderful cycling fundraiser called the Revolution or the REV. The routes are great; the food is great; the wine is great; the massages are great; the people are great; and the cause is great.

This year the REV is on Saturday October 16 at Trentadue Winery in Geyserville. Touchstone wants to see as many club and race team riders out there as possible. It's time to rally. Yes, you have to raise a minimum of $350 to participate. But remember, as a Touchstone Cyclist, Touchstone will contribute $150 in your name toward your fundraising goal. So all you really have to raise is $200. That's easy. But don't just shoot for the minimum. You are a cyclist darn it; dig deep. Plus, the more you raise the more you receive in the way of goodies. And even better, the more you raise the more BORP can help athletes just like you get out and experience what we all take for granted.

So what do you say, in or out? To learn more about BORP and register for the Rev 2010 go to: BORP

Be sure to select TOUCHSTONE CLIMBING as your team.

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Tuesday, September 7, 2010
  SpiderDan Climbs Again
Dan Goodwin, 54, also known as SpiderDan, made an ascent of the outside of the Millennium building in down town San Francisco on Monday afternoon. Goodwin climbed the 58 story residential building with suction cups, beginning his climb around 2:15 and reaching the summit around 5:30 pm. During his ascent, residents opened their windows and offered him water. At the top, he was taken into police custody and cited for trespassing and public nuisance before being released.

Goodwin has made a number of sky scraper ascents including the Sears Tower and John Hancock building in Chicago, and the World Trade Center in New York.

Goodwin wrote an account of his climb and his reasons behind it on his website He stated, "The reason for my scaling of the Millennium Tower today is twofold. One is to call attention to our nation’s continued vulnerability to attacks of terrorism upon our skyscrapers. Everyday, thousands of people in our country spend time in high-rise buildings above the seventh floor and beyond the reach of fire ladders. Though developers would like us to believe otherwise, these people are susceptible to being trapped like the people at the World Trade Center on 9/11.

My other reason is to increase public awareness of cancer. Despite my survival, cancer remains a top killer on the planet. My hope is, if a survivor of a Stage Four diagnosis can be seen continuing with their life, no matter how bizarre, others will gain inspiration and together we can find a cure for cancer."

Dan is a long time Touchstone member and is best known for his "Fly off Maneuver" while soloing a route at Mickey's Beach.

The Examiner and a number of other papers wrote about his climb.

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Friday, September 3, 2010
  Labor Day Hours
Touchstone Gyms will be open for Labor Day, September 6th, but many of the gyms will be on weekend hours. There will be no fitness classes on Monday. Normal hours will resume on Tuesday.

Berkeley Ironworks: 9am to 8 pm

Great Western Power Company: 10 am to 6 pm

Diablo Rock Gym: 9 am to 6 pm

Mission Cliffs: 9 am to 7 pm

Sacramento Pipeworks 9 am to 6 pm

Have a great long weekend!

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Thursday, September 2, 2010
  Pipeworks Safety Poster Contest
Over the summer, Sacramento Pipeworks team coach and summer camp head counselor Rob Trelford wanted to get his young charges involved in an art project with relevance to climbing, so he hit upon the idea of a safety poster contest.

Rob said, "More than anything, I needed an art project that the kids would be interested in, so I thought why not make it about safety since we spend so much time teaching them how important safety is."

The kids came up with a diverse range of subjects that clearly showed they were paying attention to safety. Among the best were:

"Watch out for route setters"
"Dont run in the gym"
"Dont climb above your head without a crash pad or spotter"
"Always put safety first"
"Dont skip clips"

If all of us adults were to heed this surprisingly sage advice from children so young, the gym would be a much safer place.

Wednesday climbing team member Ryan Porter took first place with his "Always check your knot!" poster. Congratulations Ryan, you win a $20 Pipeworks gift certificate!

Remember to stay safe in the climbing gym!

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Wednesday, September 1, 2010
  How To Redpoint Better: Shaking Out the Nerves
John shook as he climbed into the crux of the granite route. The two small cams at his feet were more than ample protection. He had the moves well rehearsed from toproping the route a number of times. Still, he looked like an autumn leaf. As he moved off a hand jam and to the horizontal jug on Snowshed Wall's Panic In Detroit (5.12b/c), he whipped.

"I'm just shaky. Maybe I had too much coffee this morning," John said as he dangled twenty feet below the crux.

John pulled back on and smoothly climbed the rest of the route. I suspected that it wasn't the caffeine's fault he had fallen.

Rock climbing is scary. From climbing to the top of the climbing gym wall for the first time, to trying to redpoint a difficult route in Tahoe, climbing remains intimidating. It doesn't matter the difficulty, rock climbing can wreck your nerves which makes the climbing that much harder. Here's some tips on how to redpoint, to climb a little bit better., and maintain composure.

Breathe: This seems intuitive but a lot of people hold their breathe while climbing. I have a number of pictures of myself trying super hard on a boulder problem or route with a red face from not exhaling. It's important to inhale before moving and then exhale when executing a difficult move or sequence. A lot of athletes grunt when they exhale, giving a Bruce Lee "Da!" when they do something difficult. Giving a little shout or exhaling sharply helps and will make your reach go a little further.

Jens Holsten regaining his composure on Silver Bullet (5.12b/c) at Tuoulumne's Private Property Cliff

Relax: Last summer, I watched one of the best female trad climbers in the world send a difficult 5.11 crack in Index Washington while crying. She fought though the tears in part because, although she was scared and emotionally distraught, she was relaxed while climbing. Grabbing holds too hard is one of the biggest reasons people pump out. Their forearms fill with lactic acid from trying so hard. Relax your face. This sounds silly but a smooth face actually helps. Your body is more relaxed and it works more efficiently in this state.

Slow your heart rate: Consciously thinking about how fast your heart is beating and then trying to slow it down will help enormously. Some sport climbers have been known to wear heart rate monitors. While going to this extreme isn't necessary, next time you are trying a difficult route in the gym, stop for a moment and think about how hard your heart is beating. A slower heart rate will pump blood more efficiently and will help you move more smoothly.

John Schmid climbing smoothly at the Grotto in Sonora.

Have fun!: It's easy to get wrapped up in climbing a hard route but the most important part of climbing well is having fun while doing it. Natasha Barnes made a solid point when asked about what the most important aspect to doing well while comp climbing, performing under high pressure. "If you're not having fun then you're missing the point." Enjoy the experience and redpointing will come that much easier.

On his next try, John moved into the crux of the route. He placed the two small cams, breathed and then exhaled, grunting as he hit the hold. He moved solidly into the top crux of the route, relaxing his muscles, and only straining as much as necessary. At the top, he turned and looked out, remarking, "It is a really nice day." He clipped the anchors, making a successful ascent of the difficult crack route in a large part because he was calmer.

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