Touchstone Blog Archive
Sunday, October 31, 2010
  GWPC TBS 6 Photos
On October 22nd, Touchstone had its third bouldering comp of the year at Great Western Power Company. The Touchstone Bouldering Series is currently in its 6th year and the comps keep getting better. With free food and beer, an awesome selection of new boulder problems, and a great environment to climb in, the Touchstone comps are unbelievably fun.

Currently Halley Tollner, Camille Kerr, and Cicadia Jenerik are in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd respectively for women's advanced.Hitesh Lala, Matthew Bingham, and Scott Cory hold the top three places for men's advanced.

Bay area photographer and rock climber John Vallejo took some great pictures of the event which can be seen on his gallery site.

The next comp will be at Diablo Rock Gym on November 12th, 2010 in Concord. Come out for a great time climbing and hanging out!

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Friday, October 29, 2010
  On the Road with Ethan Pringle
Touchstone athlete and rad rock jock, sent an update about his whereabouts recently. After winning the Nor' Easter climbing comp, Ethan flew to Las Vegas, where Tungsten, Ethan’s brand new Element was waiting for him.

Ethan and Tungsten

He ventured to the sandstone outside of the casino lights and climbed in Red Rocks on the 5 mile loop with Jessie Martinez, a 22 year old Mission Cliffs climber who did her first lead climb in the sport bolted Black Corridor.

Jessie at the Black Corridor

Ethan’s leg was injured taking a large fall at the comp and when it healed, he made some trips to the 8,000 foot limestone crag of Mt. Charleston. “The high altitude (around 8,000 feet) and the bouldery and pumpy nature of the routes make it a perfect place to train and get strong, and the relatively short approach made it easy for me to hike up there,” said Pringle, who began climbing there at the age of 12.

Ethan climbing in Vegas

Ethan attempted Hasta La Vista (5.14c) at Mt. Charleston’s the Hood but didn’t have enough time to send the route that was redpointed by French uber-frau Liv Sansov for one of the hardest female ever. Leaving behind the project, Ethan made his way to meet friends at the Red River Gorge in Kentucky. “The rock here just seems to be formed for climbing. There are obvious lines of pockets and huecos and edges up striking overhangs that make your arms swell with blood and your head dizzy from the ridiculously steep angle. As always in an area like this with so many good routes, another phrase comes to mind- too much rock, not enough time!”

Most of Ethan’s time has been spent trying to nab the second ascent of the Golden Ticket on the Chocolate Factory wall. At 5.14c/d, the route features hard crimpy moves on a steep wall. The temps in the Red have been too warm for serious efforts and Ethan has had to bide his time exploring the wonders of Kentucky while the weather cools another 20 degrees.

The Golden Ticket at the Chocolate Factory

Derek Powell, a San Francisco climber, and Ethan recently checked out one of the great wonders of the Southeast- Beattyville, “Home of the Woolly Worm Festival.” Ethan described the scene there saying it was full of “morbidly obese people stuffing their faces with funnel cake and burgers, evangelical sounding dudes on megaphones trying to sell us kitchen knives, and booth after booth hocking useless chochkees and canned, pickled things and honey.” After stuffing his face with funnel cake, he checked out some of the Wooly Worms on their race track.

The Woolly Barn

For his stay, Ethan has been sharing a cabin with other San Francisco climbers Karl Augilar, Audrey Bodisco, Louise (Wheezy), Ross Broughton, Mick Pets, Stephanie Ko, and Debbie Wallach. Ethan added that the bay area crew is crushing. He exclaimed, “415 Represent! It’s a take over. Be afraid.”

The Red

Also taking over the area, there are more climbers at Miguel’s, the classic pizzeria at the Red, then ever. Ethan noted the change stating, “Now there are twice as many cars there on the weeknights than there were during the week five years ago! It’s a zoo… but that’s the price an area pays when the climbing is this good and the media swarms… All you can do is respect the land, try to be quiet and pick up some trash on your way out.”

Ethan will be killin it at the Red through the fall season and hoped the same for all the bay area climbers. “Stay safe people. May temps be in the low 50s, and may your fall projects succumb to your death grips! Al muerte!”

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010
  Rocktober In Yosemite
Conditions were excellent in Yosemite today. The rock dried out from the rain and the cold crisp weather was awesome. While some Touchstone staff members have been busy getting benighted on the Sentinel, other bay area climbers have been hitting the boulders around the Valley. Check out the video that Touchstone hardman Scott Chandler made of some classic Yosemite climbs.

Rocktober 2010 from scott chandler on Vimeo.

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Monday, October 25, 2010
  Marchus Field Trip to Diablo Rock Gym
Recently, Floyd Marchus Counseling and Education Program headed to Diablo Rock Gym. The middle and secondary school students, who are in the program for their special education needs, were brought in as an extension of their Life Skills curriculum and PE. The students learned a number of skills through their trip to the climbing gym.

Through the belay test and belay duty, the students learned awareness, personal responsibility, and having supportive, helpful attitudes. Belaying also taught the students trust and to be trustworthy. The physical challenges of the sport helped each student as the gym challenges people at any ability level. The equality of the challenge of climbing fostered a feeling of community. Everyone was challenged whether they completed a difficult move or climbed to the top of the wall. The fears of height and failure involved in climbing encouraged the students to get over their fears and take “just one more step.” The Marchus field trip was a great experience for the students. They got an awesome chance to learn a lot about themselves, their peers, and grow within the program. We hope to see them again at Diablo Rock!


Thursday, October 21, 2010
  How to Epic: A Climbing Trip to Indian Creek
At the beginning of October, two Touchstone climbers, Shannon Moore- an aeronautical engineer, and her man-friend, John Vallejo, packed their two dogs, Buster and Peanut, into their Ford Explorer and headed east for a two week climbing trip. They planned to attend a wedding in Colorado for a couple days and then climb the rest of the trip. The bay area climbers were psyched to escape their jobs for a bit and do some climbing outside.

Shannon's hands all taped up and ready to crush.

They lost acceleration before they even got to Boulder. A bad alternator in their Explorer began the start of their troubles and their car lost speed randomly in Colorado. Not to be discouraged, the pair coaxed their rig to the wedding, spent an extra day in Boulder replacing the alternator, and then headed towards Utah to finally start climbing. They arrived in Indian Creek, the crack mecca located outside of Moab, to rain, lightning, and thunder. The weather cast an ominous cloud over their already epic trip.

There wasn't much sunshine on the trip
“Rock! Rock! Rock!” John screamed across the sandstone cliffs. A large block threatened to cut his rope and crush Shannon and the dogs. On Wednesday, October 6, John had dislodged a block from the crack below his feet on an unknown 5.10 route on the right side of the Cat Wall. The 100 pound sandstone block ripped out of the wall, snagged on the rope for a second, and then crashed into the base of the route. The rock impacted a mere 3 feet from Peanut and then ricocheted towards where Shannon had run to avoid the rockfall. The shrapnel passed in the 4 feet between Shannon and Buster. The rock fall nearly killed her and the dogs but miraculously, no one was hurt. Shannon and John were both shaken. Peanut slept through the whole thing. John cleaned the route and the two quickly headed back to camp for beers. Climbing was not without its perils and the trip had definitely reached epic proportions.

Peanut napped through the excitement.

For a moment though, there was bliss. The next three days were amazing. The weather was splitter for the couple and the climbing in the creek was awesome. On the fourth day, Shannon racked a half dozen big pieces and started up the namesake route at the 4 x 4 Wall (5.11).

Shannon practicing her fisticuffs on 4x4

As she jammed rattly fists out a roof of the route, Shannon’s elbow popped. Then her elbow popped again. Then it crunched. By the next morning her sore elbow had swelled to grapefruit proportions, which meant no more climbing for Shannon for a few days. John’s disdain for cracks is well known. A V9 boulderer with a V20 ego, John employs a gastoning technique where he attempts to widen the crack to get inside of it. With no knowledge of jamming he said, “5.12+ cracks without footholds are not 5.12+.” When Shannon injured herself, John had a solid excuse to leave the scary parallel cracks and head towards the bouldering on the east side of the Sierra.

On their first bouldering day at the Druids in Bishop Ca, John hurt his wrist. He claims that he was “manhandling heinous slopers.” His more likely occurred because he had just spent 18 hours in the car and a few days before that being manhandled by the cracks. With John’s hurt wrist and Shannon’s tender elbow, the two spent the next couple of days resting and swimming in the hot springs. On Friday, the 15th, the pair were ready to try bouldering again. At 5am they woke to Buster gnawing at his back, crying, and shaking violently. They took him to the vet who drugged up his spazzing back and told them the little Beagle needed to rest for a couple of days. With things washing out, they headed back to the bay to let Buster and Shannon rest at home and salvage their last couple of days of vacation.

East bay climber Rob Mooring joined the pair, flying out for a few days of Creek crack climbing.

Over the two weeks they managed to climb 4 days, drive 3,000 miles, and epic half a dozen times. Shannon’s elbow healed just in time for her to head back to work on Monday morning. They’ll be heading out to again this weekend for more of the climbing lifestyle. They can’t resist the epics.

Vallejo has more pictures of his climbing at his website-

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010
  Diablo Fright Night- Learn the Thriller Dance
On Friday, October 29th from 6pm to 10pm, Diablo Rock Gym will be having a Fright Night to celebrate Halloween. It will be an awesome time! Our newest Zumba instructor, Cynthia Mallory, will be leading a Thriller Dance after her Zumba class at 6pm and then we'll have a Thriller Dance Off at 9pm.

If learning the Thriller Dance isn't enough, there will be other cool events. Members should come dressed up in full costume so they can win the "best costume contest." The first 13 kids will have a pumpkin to decorate at the gym. The staff will be having a pumpkin decorating contest with members voting for their favorite. The pumpkins will be displayed next Monday. The gym is decorated and the staff is excited!

Check out this Thai Prison inmates doing the Thriller Dance! Chilling!

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Sunday, October 17, 2010
  Time Lapse of Yosemite
The fall temps are here and people are heading out to Bishop and Yosemite. Here's a beautiful timelapse of Yosemite to get people pysched.

Time Lapse Tour of Yosemite National Park from Henry Jun Wah Lee on Vimeo.

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Thursday, October 14, 2010
  Pipeworks Riders Take on Sierra to the Sea
On October 1, Dan Weintraub and Nicole Dolney rolled into Bodega Bay at 7:30 pm- exactly as they had predicted. Their accuracy was especially impressive as they biked for fifteen hours and 210 miles to Bodega.

Taking advantage of the fact that the Pipeworks Bike Club annual camping trip to Bodega Bay coincided with his 50th birthday, Dan Weintraub, a professional writer, decided to ride from the Sierra to the Sea in one day with Dolney, a member of the Touchstone Women’s cycling team and only other rider who biked the entire course.

Weintraub, Dolney, and Mark Murray began the 210 mile ride at 4:30 am in the dark on Donner Summit. After a short shuttle to avoid dangerous riding along Interstate 80 in the dark, the riders took off from Baxter, where the temps had gone from 40 degrees to 70. Five hours after they began, they reached mid town Sacramento.

Riding through 90 degree heat, the crew of riders headed up Cardiac Hill, passing Lake Berryessa and nearly getting teased into swimming in the cold water. They passed up temptation, headed through Napa Valley and north to St. Helena. They rode through the town of Occidental and caught a beautiful sunset before cruising down the last stretch of their ride.

They rolled to the campsite right on time and were met by a large dinner and awesome company. Congratulations to the riders who took on the 210 miles and 15 hour ride!

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010
  The Importance of Careful Belaying
Belaying another climber requires as much, sometimes more, focus than leading. Making sure there is enough rope out and not short roping a climber can be crucial to the send. The folks over at Rock and Ice made a hilarious video of what happens when a belayer gets distracted.

The Amazing Issue Hits the Crags; Hilarity Ensues from Rock & Ice on Vimeo.

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Monday, October 11, 2010
  Join The Ironworks Crew
Touchstone Climbing is one of the best companies in the bay area to work for. The company has awesome management, a great company mission, and the company's climbing and fitness focus is unbelievablly fun. Right now, there is an opportunity for qualified individuals to join Touchstone.

Berkeley Ironworks is looking for a dependable, hard-working and self motivated individual to fill a full-time (32-40 hours per week) front desk position. The ideal candidate will have a flexible schedule, who is able to work mornings, evenings and weekends. A friendly demeanor, great customer service and basic climbing experience are a must.

Interested candidates should send an application, a cover letter and resume with references to Berkeley Ironworks manager Lyn Verinsky-

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  Columbus Day Hours
On Columbus Day, October 11th a number of gyms will have different operating hours and class schedules. See the below listing for updated hours and class changes:

Mission Cliffs will have no classes and hours will be 9am to 7pm

Great Western Power Company will have Crossfit at 5 and hours will be 10 am to 6pm

Berkeley Ironworks will have Cardio Kickboxing at 1pm and Cardio Boxing at 6:30 and hours will be 9 am to 8pm

Diablo Rock Gym will have no classes and hours 9 am to 6 pm

Sacramento Pipeworks will have Yoga at 12, Indoor Cycling at 5:30pm, Yoga at 6:30pm, Yoga at 7:45pm and hours will be to 10 pm

For More Information check the Calendars Page

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Friday, October 8, 2010
  Touchstone Women Elite Cycling Team Wins BAT/BAR Awards
The Touchstone Women Elite Team had an exceptional season this year in the Northern California Nevada Cycling Association (NCNCA), the most competitive region in the country. The team won best all-around team and best all around rider with riders placing first in at least 14 races and standing on the podium in 4 times as many races. The strong standing won the team the Elite Women’s 1/2 best all-round team award in Northern California. More specifically the team, with its strong sprinters, dominated the criteriums, the 50 to 1 hour races, winning or being in the top three in the Folsom Early Bird Criterium, the Folsom Cyclebration Criterium, and the Masters State Criterium Championship.

Mary Maroon, of the Women’s Touchstone team, earned the Best All Around Rider Title in Women’s Elite 1/2 division with wins in the Central Coast Circut Race, the Lodi Cycle Fest, and a half dozen criteriums. Maroon credited the dedication of her teammates and Carol Irving, who acts as the hands-on manager of the 16 member team. “Carol put in a Herculean effort,” said Maron. “Without Carol, Touchstone would have never seen a podium.” Markham Connolly, Touchstone’s Director of Operations, founded the team and acted as the sponsor/manager. Connoly said, “The team performed better than ever. Our focus this year was to do well in the NCNCA races. To win BAT (Best All-round Team) and BAR (Best All-round Rider) is a great accomplishment.”

Elis and Mary employed solid racing tactics to secure the team a number of wins.

All the riders on the Touchstone team progressed through the season with a number of them moving up the Cat. In Women's cycling, there are Category 1, 2, 3, and 4. Category 4 is the entry level of racing and Cat 1 is the highest. Levels are earned by placing well in previous races. Category 1 and 2 race together and compete in the National Level Races. Category 3 racers often race with Cat 1/2 at the local level. Touchstone started with five Category 3 racers and six Category 2 racers and five Category 1 racers. Within the season, 3 of our Category 3 racers upgraded and one of our Category 2 racers upgraded to Cat 1. In general, most riders train 12-15 hours a week with some training for over 20 + hours a week. The women did exceptionally well throughout the season and the number of Cat advancements is evidence to the hard training. As Maroon stated, “To be clear, we performed well right from the very beginning. We performed well because all the right pieces were in place to make us the best team in the district. We know we race in the most competitive district in the country and a BAT (best all around team) Title feels really good.”

The Menlo Park Grand Prix, one of the premiere women's race in the NCNCA, had five members of the Touchstone team riding in it.

Congratulations to the Touchstone Women’s Cycling team for their outstanding season and every one of their great successes along the way!

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Wednesday, October 6, 2010
  Kate Rutherford's Meter of Misery Slideshow
On Monday, October 11th, Kate Rutherford will be giving a slide show on her recent expedition to Greenland. The Washington native headed to the Tasermuit Fiord in Greenland with Canadian climber Jasmin Caton for two and a half weeks. They climbed two enormous granite formations- Ulamatorsuaq and Nalumasortoq. After being sandbagged by Czech climbers, finding the war in the 5.12 sections of Nalumasortoq's War and Poetry, and climbing over 1500 meters, Rutherford discovered a meter of misery.

Rutherford will be detailing her epic as well as her first all female team ascent of Yosemite's El Capitan, her recent trip to Venezuela, and her life on the road as a full time climber and part time jeweler.

Hosted by the Stanford Alpine club, the free slideshow will be 7:30 pm at the at Stanford's Clark Auditorium

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Sunday, October 3, 2010
  Welcome to Rocktober
October with its cool temps and stable weather is a perfect time to get out and start climbing for the bouldering season. For those that want to get pysched for rock climbing this fall, Ethan Pringle sent a video to the Touchstone Blog about the bouldering in Norway.

Bouldering in Norway from Boulderkeskus on Vimeo.

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Friday, October 1, 2010
  New Pool at Diablo Rock Gym

Diablo Rock Gym in Concord now has access to a heated indoor pool. Partnering with Aquatech, one of the premier swim schools in the bay area, Diablo will have full time access to the lap pool with classes coming soon.

You can also visit Aquatech during office hours to check in, register for programs, ask questions, change schedules or find out specifics for events and clinics.

Russell Olsen, the Touchstone Director of Facility Operations, spent the summer supervising the building the pool.

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.

Come check out the new pool and do some laps!

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