Touchstone Blog Archive
Monday, November 29, 2010
  Great Holiday Gift- New Climbing Shoes
This holiday season, Touchstone will be hosting a series of rock shoe demos at each of their gyms. La Sportiva, Five Ten, and Evolve shoes will be presenting a number of different shoes. A representative of the shoe company will help you find your size and the ideal shoe. Find a new shoe to make you crush that steep boulder problem, fight through the pumpy sport route, or get tradical on a long Yosemite crack climb. The demos will be from Dec 13 to the 16th. The best part is that shoes bought at the demos will be 20% off for members and 10% for non-members. All sales are final. The demos are:

Monday- Dec 13- DRG

Tuesday- Dec 14- BIW

Wednesday- Dec 15- GWPC

Thursday- Dec 16- MC



There is no better shoe for high-end sport climbing, bouldering or competition climbing. The Hornet is built on a new state-of-the-art low volume last, with a downturned toe and an asymmetrical lacing system that allows for a perfect, custom fit. The upper is synthetic Cowdura™ with a 3-D Polytechnic™ coating that increases durability and abrasion resistance without adding weight. The Mystique™ outsole offers unparalleled grip, precision and durability.

Blackwing mens/women's

Think Dragon with a Velcro® closure. We made our latest state-of-the-art shoe even more user-friendly. The padded-tongue has a super-soft, fleecy microfiber lining. It wicks sweat and gives the top of your foot support and comfort, no matter what the angle. The new Blackwing fits like a glove, but slides on easily. The team shoe heel cup is extra snug and the Mystique™ outsole is specifically designed for ultimate friction on overhanging rock.

Anasazi lv

The Anasazi LV (Low Volume) excels on climbs of 5.11 and higher, both indoors and out. This performance climbing shoe is built on a women’s-specific last, and is designed for medium volume feet. The heel design offers an excellent, no-slip fit. Five Ten®’s proprietary “Power Toe” and a unique midsole provide the support for extremely technical climbs. Outsoles are Stealth® C4™ with extremely high friction, indoors and out.

Five Ten will also have the Arrowheads, the Coyote Velcro, the Super Mocc, and the Quantums.



A high performance shoe purposely built to provide the solution for modern bouldering problems

Miura VS for Men and Women-

A high performance shoe for amazing edging control and pocket climbing performance

La Sportiva will also shoe the Testarossa.


Pontas Lace

A much stiffer version of the Pontas, the Pontas Lace is a sporty outdoor shoe that performs brilliantly at edging. With the added rand rubber around the toe box, it can also be used as a more technical traditional climbing shoe.


Vertical terrain need not apply. The Talon has always been the weapon of choice for serious steep sends! New for 2009 is the toe box rand layout, fully perforated upper, rigid heel cup, black mesh trim and green TRAX rubber in the arch. Ideal for bouldering, gym, and sport.


The Predator just got a serious upgrade in the cosmetic department and is ready for your steepest projects! New for 2009 is a deeper heel cup with more tension, rigid heel cup, moderately perforated upper for breathability, higher toe rand, and black mesh pull straps. Ideal for sport, gym, and bouldering.

Optimus Prime

Chris Sharma designed this versatile down cambered shoe for front point edging and climbing vertical to overhanging climbs. It offers high performance in a comfortable fit.

Evolve will also be showing the Kaos, the Defy, the Pontas, the Royale, and the Elektra.

Stop by the Shoe Demos and get a GREAT deal on shoes out this winter season!

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  10 Year Old Crushes the Boulders
On Sunday, November 14th, Dylan Meyerhoffer went to the Sads boulders of Bishop’s volcanic tablelands with a half dozen members of Zero gravity and crushed Rio’s Crack (v6).

Dylan on Rio's Crack

For the past half year, Dylan trained with the Zero Gravity Youth Team under the tutelage of Scott Jenerik. “Scott’s really good at helping kids see their potential,” said Marykate Meyerhoffer, Dylan’s mother. “Scott asks them what their goals are and he tailors the program to what the kids say their goals are.” Dylan competes in the 11 and under category and was invited to nationals last year when he placed 6th in the North est America divisional. Dylan’s passion is for the outdoors though and climbing with Zero Gravity this year helped his climbing significantly.

Dylan climbing at a Touchstone Comp

Rio’s Crack suited him well. His small hands fit well onto the small crimps but the crusher still had to fight for the ascent. He made twice as many moves as most people “I’ve never tried that hard,” Dylan said. Dylan climbed classics like the Buttermilk Stem at the Buttermilks and Secret to Success at the Happies earlier in his career and has managed to do the mega-enduro Ironman traverse (v4) in two parts, and nearly crush the small crimps of Howard Carter sit (v6). His psyche is mostly on heading back to Fontainbleau.

Dylan Meyerhoffer began climbing at the age of 3 and has traveled across the world climbing. Dylan bouldered in Fontainebleau, climbed routes in Thailand, and spent time in Yosemite, Squamish, Switzerland, and his favorite boulders of Bishop.

Dylan loving the sandstone of Font

The Zero Gravity team meets and trains at the Touchstone climbing gyms. A number of national champion and talented rock climbers have emerged from the program. For more information contact Scot Jenerik Head out there and crush like Dylan!

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Friday, November 26, 2010
  Recuperating from Shoulder Injuries with Marmot Athlete Beth Rodden
Marmot athlete and pro-climber, Beth Rodden had shoulder surgery lat year and has been on the path to recovery. Using therabands, weights, and basic exercises, Rodden has worked the muscles in her shoulder back to where she can climb again. Marmot clothing company and Rodden made a series of videos about shoulder exercises. Check out the videos and help prevent and recuperate from shoulder injuries.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010
  Stone Mountains: Jim Thornburg's New Book Release and Signing at BIW
For the past 26 years, Jim Thornburg has been climbing. For the past 20 of those years he’s been photographing his climbing travels. A highly published photographer, Thornburg has climbed at and photographed over 200 different crags. Recently, Thornburg made a collection of the best areas in North America. "Stone Mountains: North America’s Best Crags" ($60 is a 320-page review of 35 different North American crags with introductions by local climbers and a great selection of photos from the areas.

Dougald MacDonald, the Editor in Chief of Climbing Magazine, reviewed the book saying, “Don’t expect a guidebook, Thornburg warns in his intro—it’s a psyche book, pure and simple. And once you pore over these pages, I defy you not to start dreaming of road trips: Chattanooga? Zion? Maple? El Portrero? Gas up the car! “

On Dec 2nd, Jim Thornburg will be signing his new book at Berkeley Ironworks from 7pm- 9pm. Stop by the gym and check out an awesome new climbing book from a great local photographer and climber.

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Monday, November 22, 2010
  Thanksgiving Hours
Touchstone climbing gyms will be observing Thanksgiving this year and many of the gyms will have different hours. Below is a list of the changes. Hope everyone gets out and has a great long weekend! Remember to eat ham!

Mission Cliffs
Wednesday, November 24th 6:30am-7pm No classes
Thursday, November 25th - Closed for Thanksgiving
Friday, November 26th - 6:30am-10pm No Classes
Classes resume on Monday, Nov. 29th.

Great Western Power Company
Thursday, November 25th - Closed for Thanksgiving.
Friday, November 26th - 10am-6pm, No Classes.

Wednesday, November 24th - 9am-6pm, No Classes
Thursday, November 25th - Closed for Thanksgiving
Friday, November 26th - 9am-6pm No Classes

Diablo Rock Gym
Wednesday, November 24th - 5:30 - 8pm, No evening classes except Yoga at 6:30 pm
Thursday, November 25th, Closed for Thanksgiving
Friday, November 25th 5:30am-10pm, no 6am class

Berkeley Ironworks
Wednesday, November 24th - 6am-6pm, No classes except for spinning
Thursday, November 25th - Closed for Thanksgiving
Friday, November 26th - 9am-6pm, No Classes except for belay classes and spinning

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Friday, November 19, 2010
  Columns of Hope: How Recycling Ropes Can Help
On October 28th, The Columns of Hope, by April Lemly, showed as part of the Surviving and Thriving Exhibit at a gallery on San Francisco’s Minna street. The benefit art show helped two Bay area organizations, San Francisco Women Against Rape (SFWAR) and Women Inc. The organizations support female survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Touchstone climbing gyms donated a number of 100-150 foot ropes, which Lemly hung from the rigging of the room, placed clothespins on, and attached notes to the hanging ropes. The interactive exhibit encouraged viewers to place note cards on the ropes with an emphasis on the “pay it forward” aspect of the piece. The ropes represented struggle, hope, and ultimately freedom.

The exhibit was designed specifically for the space, though Lemly hopes that it will be installed elsewhere. The entire exhibit was recycled, thanks to Touchstone’s donation. “It was really lovely to see this rope that has such a short lifespan really, have a completely different role,” wrote Lemly in a note to Touchstone.

Recycling ropes have helped a number of organizations. For the month of December, the Access Fund will be collecting old ropes and donating $10 to a local access for each rope they collect. Drop off your old ropes at any Touchstone gym. Help art projects like the Columns of Hope, and help access at your local crag.

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Thursday, November 18, 2010
  Unlock Jailhouse: Help Ensure One of California's Best Sport Crags Stays Open
This morning, November 17th, the Access Fund and the private owners of the overhanging basalt of Jailhouse in Sonora came to an agreement allowing climbers permanent access. The crag, which boasts nearly 100 routes 5.11d and harder, has the highest concentration of difficult sport climb on a single cliff in America. The world renown crag has been kept private since its discovery in agreement with the land owners about access. The Access Fund worked with the owners to secure permanent access to the cliff for climbers.

Along with the access, there will be improvements needed to the trail and parking lot to the cliff. The Access Fund is asking for support from the climbing community. Please give to the Unlock Jailhouse fund today!

Below is the Access Fund's announcement:

The Access Fund is pleased to announce permanent access has been secured to Jailhouse Rock near Sonora, California through the Access Fund Land Conservation Campaign. However more help is needed from the climbing community for long-term conservation.

While private landowners have historically allowed climbing at Jailhouse (named after a nearby state penitentiary), a recently approved subdivision which included the trailhead and initial approach trail threatened future access. Plans to further subdivide the land adjacent to Jailhouse in the coming years could have blocked access even further, since the trail would need to cross multiple new lots purchased by private landowners who may be less inclined to grant public access.

With the future access to Jailhouse at risk by a quickly approaching subdivision, local climber and long-time access supporter Tom Addison contacted the Access Fund and the landowner for help. After several months of working with the landowners, the Access Fund reached an agreement to protect Jailhouse Rock through a complex conservation development partnership. A short-term $100,000 Access Fund Land Conservation Campaign loan will secure a conservation and access easement, ensuring permanent protection and access to Jailhouse Rock. Local climber and investor Steve Russell is giving his support by providing short-term capital to the Land Conservation Campaign for this project. However the Access Fund will need donor support for the access implementation and long-term conservation phase.

Jailhouse Rock boasts up to 200 feet of overhanging amphitheater on the western face of a basalt lava flow known locally as Table Rock. “For 12+ and harder routes, Jailhouse offers arguably the best winter stamina sport climbing in the West,” states Tom Addison, who has been climbing at Jailhouse Rock and maintaining positive relations with landowners since 1990.

Jailhouse Rock is a major resource for the Bay Area, Yosemite, and Sacramento climbing communities during the fall, winter, and spring months when other sport crags are covered in snow. “Jailhouse has been formative in my climbing,” says pro athlete Alex Honnold. “It has one of the best concentrations of hard routes in the country, as well as one of the best climates. You can climb there any day between September and June without even having to check the weather. It's an amazing crag.”

Although popular, climbers had previously kept a “no guidebook, no publicity” policy at the request of the private landowners. While this will no longer be a stringent policy, climbers are asked to respect the fact that Jailhouse is still on private land. While the Access Fund has secured a conservation easement to protect climbing access, it is more important than ever to maintain a good relationship with the landowners.

The work is far from over
Although Jailhouse is now technically protected under a conservation easement, the current approach trail still crosses private land, which is up for sale. And the historical parking area is also subject to break-ins and misuse by non-climbers looking to access Tulloch Lake for partying or swimming.

The Access Fund has secured a route to the cliffs through a different access point, but it still needs your donations to secure the funding needed to build a new parking area with trailhead facilities, pay for the construction of a security gate, as well as cover legal, surveying, and other transactional costs.

Please give to the Unlock Jailhouse fund today (! The Access Fund needs to raise $40,000 in the next 12 months to cover the expenses necessary to provide the new access point and protect and steward Jailhouse forever.

Access details
The existing parking area and access trail will remain open for the immediate future. Once the new gate, parking area, and trailhead are funded and built, the old access route will be restored to natural conditions and closed. At that time, climbers will need a gate code to access the cliffs, since the area is leased for grazing horses. Stay tuned for updated access information, including the code and important conditions of access,

Special thanks to the landowners, Marta and Steve Weinstein, who have graciously allowed climbing at Jailhouse for the last 12 years and will continue to own the property and work with climbers to ensure that Jailhouse Rock remains in its current and natural state. Without the local expertise, passion, and dedication of local climbers Tom Addison, Brian Poulsen, and Access Fund Regional Coordinator Paul Minault, this victory for the climbing community would not have been possible.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010
  Kids, Cupcakes, and Climbing
On Thursday evening, Berkeley Ironworks will be flooded with cupcakes, cookies, and brownies. Ironworks climbers are having a bake sale with the proceeds are going to Learning for Life, a non-profit national organization that helps urban area kids in places like Oakland with after school activities.

Students at the May 2009 Energy Fair

On December 3, Maria Schriver will be taking 30 Learning for life kids to Berkeley Ironworks. Schriver, who has worked for Learning for Life for 2 ½ years, teaches science lessons focusing on energy and the environment with Sebastien Lounis, another Touchstone climber. Schriver talked about why they wanted to take the student climbing. Schriver stated, “They can be successful and see themselves improving and accomplishing something. They can work at their own pace, but be encouraged by other kids. They can find a reason to be committed to lifelong fitness.”

The students checking out posters at the fair.

On the day of the field trip, Schriver, Jose Gutierrez, and two other Touchstone members will be helping belay the kids.

This is a great opportunity to eat some excellent baked goods, rock climb, and support a great cause. Stop by the bake sale on Thursday night and kids get into the gym.

If you can't make the bake sale you can still donate to the program by writing a check to "SFBAC Learning for Life" and mailing it to Kate Wollner at Horace Mann Elementary School, 5222 Ygnacio Ave, Oakland CA 94601 contact for more details.

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Monday, November 15, 2010
  How to Grab the Golden Ticket: Pringle Talks Redpointing
On Saturday November 5th, Ethan Pringle redpointed The Golden Ticket (5.14d) at the Red River Gorge’s Chocolate Factory . The all natural sandstone route features pockets and crimps on a steep wall. “The line is so inspiring and the movement is really incredible,” Pringle said. “I’d just like to say that the Golden Ticket is maybe the second best route of its grade maybe behind Biography.” To climb such a difficult route, Pringle employed a number of different tactics. Pringle’s techniques are applicable to any project- from the gym to the boulders to free El Capitan routes.

Pringle at the anchors of the Golden Ticket

Pringle’s path to his redpoint was a long way in coming. “When I first got on the Golden Ticket, it felt nearly impossible,” said Pringle. Pringle spent his initial efforts figuring out the moves on the route and then linking them into longer sections between hangs. The crux involves a V9 boulder problem with an accuracy dependent deadpoint to a hidden pocket. Higher on the route, there’s another V9 or V10 red-point crux which spit Ethan off a number of times. To climb high on the route, Pringle needed to maximize his efficiency through the difficult deadpoint so he could tackle the hard redpoint crux with a lot of energy. On his fourth try, Pringle climbed the entire route with one hang. On his fifth try, he managed to make it well into the red-point crux. Pringle’s next few efforts saw marginal gains though. The small and abrasive holds worked his fingers. The temperature and humidity affected his climbing. P

ringle analyzed each of the factors. “I realized I needed to start warming up better before getting on the Golden Ticket,” Pringle said. Warming up the muscles is an integral part of climbing hard. Trying to achieve maximum performance out of muscles without sufficient warming up can result in a “flash pump”, a condition where the forearms are filled with lactic acid. Pringle realized his need to avoid this condition so he could maximize his energy to tackle the difficult climbing near the end. “ I also realized that the temperature of the wall and the air mattered a lot- too hot and my skin would slide off the terrible crux holds, but too cold and my hands would numb out and I'd over-grip, get pumped and fall. The temps would need to be just right.” Optimal performance is often condition dependent. Waiting for a weather window is one of the most difficult parts of rock climbing and affects everyone from boulderers to alpinists.

Working the Golden Ticket from Ethan Pringle on Vimeo.

A video of Pringle sending the route.

The clouds drizzled on November 5th. It was a dismal start to the day. Pringle knew better than to let the morning weather to affect his psyche. “That would mean that the wall would be cool instead of blazing in the sun like it normally does from 11:30-5pm.” Pringle started late and arrived at the Chocolate Factory parking lot to cold temps and little humidity. Derek, his friend and climbing partner, noted the “ideal” conditions that occur at the Red River Gorge saying, “Where else can you go sport climbing and say that the conditions are prime while you’re walking through puddles on the way to the crag?” Though conditions were not perfect for Pringle they were better than they had been.
Pringle kept a cool head approaching the route. Though he was nervous, he tried not to let it get to him. Pringle suspected he wouldn’t send but felt pressure to perform the route so it could be documented by his filmmaker friend. Pringle didn’t let his nervousness affect his performance though and after a solid warm up to make sure he wouldn’t get pumped, he headed to the route.

On the day he sent, the route felt easy for him. His muscle memory helped him sprint to the top crux. “Every move felt easier than it had on earlier tries, my skin on my fingertips felt nice and tacky, and I breezed through the crux easier than I had on previous attempts like I had just hung on the draw below the crux. I grabbed the finish hold, gave some celebratory shouts of victory, and clipped the anchors, psyched to have finished such an amazing route, and relieved that it didn't take any longer. “

Pringle noted the psychological feelings behind completing a project. “Finishing a hard project, especially one that ranks amongst the best and hardest you've ever climbed, is always the most satisfying. You get this elation that washes over you for a short time- you glow. “ Pringle finished with a strong point about projects and how to look for something new. “But then at some point, sometimes all too quickly, your satisfaction fades and you need a new project- a harder one, a prettier one, and you hope it won't take you too, too long.”

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Friday, November 12, 2010
  Fingerboard Workouts
There's never a better time to get stronger than right now. One of the best ways to strengthen your fingers for the Bishop bouldering season, for Thriller in Yosemite, or one of the local crimpy Mortar Rock test pieces, is to do some hang-board workouts. Check out these two instructional videos about how to hangboard and then go out and crush!

Fingerboard Basics with Ned Feehally of Beastmaker from Wild Country on Vimeo.

Here's a more advanced video for those that want to truly punish themselves:

Advanced Fingerboarding with Ned Feehally of Beastmaker from Wild Country on Vimeo.

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  Mission Cliffs Food Drive: Make A Difference
This winter Mission Cliffs is helping to make a difference in the lives of San Francisco low-income families, seniors and individuals threatened by hunger by holding a food drive with the San Francisco Food Bank.

At the entrance to Mission Cliffs are boxes to collect food. The most needed items are: rice and pasta, canned fruit and vegetables, tuna, canned meats, soups, stews, chili, peanut butter, cereal and other similar items. Please do not leave glass containers.

Some interesting facts about hunger in the San Francisco area:

One in four children, one and four seniors and one in five adults are at risk of going hungry. The two largest age groups threatened are children and senior citizens.

The majority of people receiving supplemental food assistance in San Francisco have at least one employed household member, but their incomes are not enough to pay expenses and buy food.

The San Francisco Food Bank will distribute food to over 34,000 households this holiday season.

The San Francisco Food Bank distributes more than 41.5 million pounds of food every year to low-income families, individuals and more than 400 local nonprofit agencies.

Help support the hungry in San Francisco- stop by Mission Cliffs and make a donation.

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Thursday, November 11, 2010
  New GWPC Manager Jeremy Yee
Jeremy Yee, a 32 Walnut Creek native, joined the Touchstone team recently as manager of Great Western Power Company. Yee is a long time athlete and blossoming climber.

While he attended the University of California at Davis, Yee spent his free time playing on a collegiate inline hockey team. The managerial economics major had played hockey for the past 16 years. Yee began playing as an adolescent and his passion continued through college. These days, his focus has shifted more towards climbing and his family. “It’s tough to have multiple hobbies with a little one,” Yee said regarding his 21 month old daughter Kahana, “but I definitely see myself getting back on skates.”

Yee’s psyche for climbing has increased exponentially since he began the sport four years ago at Diablo Rock Gym. Yee became enamored with climbing as a means to stay healthy and it has turned into his new obsession. “I am really psyched on climbing, on getting better, and seeing how far I can push myself in climbing. I would like to travel more for climbing and get out more and touch more real rock.” Yee and his wife of three years, Nozomi, headed to the northwest earlier this year to visit family and Squamish.
Unfortunately, he ran into typical “northwet” climbing conditions and it rained for his entire 6 day trip. Yee did get to hike the Chief though. Yee has climbed in other countries as well. On his honeymoon, Yee and Nozomi, went to Thailand, where they took long tail boats to 150 limestone cliffs and then climbed right out of the boat.

Speaking about his goals for GWPC, Yee said, “I’d like to help Max and the Crossfit East Bay program expand, find a new core instructor, and get the new fitness room busier. I’ll be keeping up the work that Lyn Verinsky, the former GWPC manager, did by increasing membership, growing the local profile of the gym, and increasing the quantity of programs as well as their quality.”

Stop by Great Western Power Company, meet the new manager, and check out all the great things he has been doing at the gym.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010
  California Wilderness Coalition Auction
On November 12 from 6-9 pm, the California Wilderness Coalition will be having their annual fundraiser at the David Brower Center in Berkeley. Conrad Anker will be awarded the Philip Burton award for his work on conservation issues.

An auction of travel packets and outdoor gear will be held to help raise funds for the CWC. There will be a number of Intro to Climbing Classes at the Touchstone gyms raffled off.

The CWC has worked to preserve 14 million acres of wilderness from the Lost Coast to the Sierras since 1976. The organization's main campaign is the Desert Protect Act of 2010, which will expand protection to Joshua tree
To find out more information check out the home page.

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  Scott Frye: Behind the Ping Pong Paddle
Eying his opponent from across the nine foot long table, Scott crouched and spun his paddle. The small white ball volleyed towards him. Scott blasted sideways. His paddle smashed the ball. The hit gave the ball topspin and accelerated it towards his opponent in a finalizing blow.

Frye's Coach Xin, 9 year old national champion and Frye's sparring partner Kevin Lee, and Scott Frye

Scott Frye is no ordinary ping pong player. The 53 year old Berkeley native and Touchstone Climbing Gym stock boy is also a father in the era of modern sport climbing. With the same obsession that he now plays ping pong with, he once climbed with.

In 1973, a fifteen year old Frye headed to Yosemite with Nat Smale. The pair had a carpenter’s hammer, a handful of pins, serious desire, and a lack of know-how. Using Steve Roper’s Green Guide to Yosemite they made an ascent of Church Bowl’s Aunt Fanny’s Pantry (5.6) and then attempted Black is Brown, a 5.9 and one of the hardest routes in Yosemite at the time. By trading off their one pair of climbing shoes, Frye made it to a ledge halfway up the two pitch route. Nat followed and arriving at the anchor turned white as a ghost. “Don’t move!” Nat said. He then pulled out every pin that Frye had placed with his hands. Smale quickly rebuilt the anchor. On the drive home from their near death experience, they ran off the Priest Grade road. “We went from one near death experience to another,” Frye said of the trip. Frye went back to Yosemite though and began climbing more. In 1976 with 1” tubular webbing tied around his waist, the hard old school EB shoes, and a few hexentrics, Scott lead the hands and fingers splitter Lunatic Fringe (5.10c). The climb was the hardest lead of his life. “I wouldn’t give that up for anything,” Frye said of his traditional beginnings.

At the same time that he was learning to climb the difficult cracks of Yosemite, Frye was also bouldering at Berkeley’s Indian Rock. Looking to establish something different than the sandbagged problems of Indian Rock, Frye, along with John Sherman, Harrison Dekker, and Nat Smale, ventured to the steeper stone of Mortar Rock. The overhanging rhyolite hadn’t been touched and the posse of boulderers found a series of small crimps that traversed the wall in an obvious but imposing line. “No one thought it was possible, “said Frye. They tried it anyway. Smale, the strongest of the group fought through the difficulties and established Nat’s Traverse (V8). The second ascent eluded the other climbers for a year, until Frye finally got strong enough. “All of us trained to keep up with Nat. “Frye said. Though he did a significant amount of bouldering in the bay area including the 1978 first ascent of Mortar Rock’s Jungle Fever (V8), Frye’s love for trad climbing kept him heading to Yosemite.

The Valley ethic ran strong through Frye but the bouldering at Mortar Rock pushed him towards climbing on sandstone, basalt, and limestone. “The transition from trad climbing to sport was huge, huge, huge.” Frye said. The genesis for bay area sport climbing began at Mickey’s beach, where the technical nature of the rock left the climbers wondering what to do. “Weighting the rope, even top roping was considered cheating. I didn’t want to hangdog and I brow beat people who did,” said Frye. Harrison Dekker, a bay area hard man, helped Frye break through the psychological crux of the movement. While the pair worked on Dreams of White Porsches at Mickey’s Beach, Decker noted that to send the climb they would need to break it down into little boulder problems and hang on the rope in between. The pair discovered that what the French climbers were saying at the time was true, “You could climb harder, longer sequences if you worked it out.” With these tactics, Frye traveled across the US and established new difficult sport climbs.

Scott Frye during his heyday as the Indian Rock Lowball Master photo courtesy of Harrison Dekker

Many of the hardest rock climbs of the day were put up by Frye including Rifle Colorado’s Living in Fear (5.13d/5.14a), Donner Summit’s Steep Climb Named Desire (5.13d), the Virgin River Gorge’s Dude (5.13c), and the Marin Coast’s Surf Safari (5.14a). His traditional ethics never left him while he sport climbed and he remains an advocate of minimal impact. One of the things he laments is all the fixed draws at places like Donner Summit’s Star Wall, where Steep Climb resides. Talking about his first ascent ethics he noted that back in the day, “If a route was 60 % bolts we’d just make it 100%.” Unfortunately one of the natural digressions in climbing is a conversion from bolts to fixed chains. At the Star Wall, the six foot long metal chains can be seen from the nearby Pacific Crest Trail. “As a non climber walking up and seeing that I would be offended,” Frye said. “If I had known it would go that way, I would have put less bolts and more gear in.”

At 44, Frye finally returned to the home of his traditional beginning but this time he went to Yosemite to boulder. Though he had been around for the first ascent of Thriller, he had always stayed away from the smalls rocks. “When people started to just boulder in Yosemite I thought they were crazy. It was a strange concept- to drive all that way just to boulder,” said Frye. Ironworks hardmen, Paul Barraza and Tim Medina finally convinced Frye to explore the smaller stones. From the next 7 years, until Frye was 51, he bouldered constantly and rediscovered his love for climbing. Frye made an ascent of Thriller (V10) and the next year sent Midnight Lightning (V8) at the ages of 44 and 45 respectively. “I guess I just waited for the pad technology,” he said.

Frye climbing at Grizzly Peak in Berkeley

Frye has supported his endeavors through work in the climbing industry. He briefly experienced the “luxurious life” of a sponsored athlete but he found stability in the climbing gym industry. He has worked for Touchstone for over a decade as the retail assistant/shipping and receiving clerk. Frye works the morning shifts at the Touchstone retail warehouse at the Ironworks gym. “Working with Patti (Phillips the retail manager) and the Melvins (the Touchstone Founders) is a great job,” Frye said. Frye, who has worked with Touchstone for 10 years, credited the Melvins with helping a number of climbers and the climbing community on a grand scale. “There are not enough good things you can say about the Melvins,” Frye said. The Touchstone stock boy ships guidebooks, harnesses, a lot of chalk, and a ton of climbing shoes to the five different Touchstone gyms. Occasionally, Frye escapes the retail warehouse at Ironworks to mentor the older crew of climbers at the gym. “I teach them to flag and climb more dynamically- so it’s not like they’re climbing on the Eiger on frozen ice.”

Frye’s newest obsession is ping pong or more accurately known as table tennis. Though he has played for his whole life, he has focused on the sport in the past few years. Frye plays 5 to 6 days a week, runs topspin, underspin, and curve drills every other day, pays for a Chinese coach, has a mentor, and teaches a youth team. Frye also practices and trains with the kids. When they do fitness runs, he ignores his bum knee and follows them around on his scooter. “I’m having so much fun with it, trying to realize the skill set of an Olympic event,” Frye said.

These days, the little he climbs is in the gym, where he cross trains for ping pong. “It’s a funny thing, “Frye said. “After climbing for 30 years and looking back at it all, there’s one thing I wish I had done- climb more.”

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010
  Yosemite Entrance Fee Waived
In celebration of Veterans Day, Yosemite National Park, and all other National Park sites across the country, will offer free admission Thursday, November 11, 2010 for all visitors in honor of current members and retired members of the United States armed forces and their families.

Free admission is being observed by all public lands managed by the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture.

This fee free day has been observed since 2006. Waiving entrance fee waivers to all public lands on Veterans Day is one way to show appreciation for the millions of men and women who fight to keep America’s public lands accessible to all Americans.

Fees being waived for Veterans Day include the fees associated with entrance into the park only. All other fees associated with camping, lodging, or activities within the park are not waived. The fee waiver is good for Veterans Day only.

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Saturday, November 6, 2010
  Halloween 2010 at Diablo Rock Gym
Diablo Rock Gym had an awesome Halloween party last week. A ton of members dressed up as skeletons, zombies, fairies, and more. There was pumpkin decorating, cowboy and cowgirl cookies, all the costumed climbers got up on the wall, and lots of other festivities. Paul Hara made a cool slideshow of the event which can be found at this site. Check out the movie!

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Wednesday, November 3, 2010
  Strength Training with Justin Alarcon
On November 16, Justin Alarcon will be holding a strength training clinic at Berkeley Ironworks. Alarcon, who has bouldered V12 in Bishop and double digits across the world, will be helping intermediate and advanced climbers break through their climbing plateaus with strength training.

"The strength training clinic is climbing specific. We're going to focus on training philosophies and strategies for developing strength for climbing that can't be achieved through climbing alone," said Alarcon about the clinic.

Justin on the power endurance testpiece Haroun and the Sea of Stories (V12)

One of the training aspects that Alarcon will be discussing is training through methods other than climbing. "For a long time climbers believed that the best way to get stronger for climbing was to just climb climb climb," Said Alarcon. "We now know that that is far from accurate. While climbing itself is absolutely necessary for improvement, its impossible to approach ones full physical potential without specific weight training."

Justin will also provide wardrobe tips on how to look strong- horizontal stripes make you look broader.

A climber for 11 years, Alarcon's biggest personal accomplishment has been his continuous improvement and growing passion for climbing. "Everyone who has been climbing for long enough has run into a plateau at some point or another, and for me, the key to breaking through these plateaus has been strength training."

The clinic will be held from 6-8 pm, a small number of people 2-4 will be in on the class, the class will cost $50.

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010
  Reel Rock Tour At Sacramento Pipeworks
For the 3rd year in a row CRAGS (Climbing Resource Advocates for Greater Sacramento), Sacramento's 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.

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.

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