Classic Bay Area Climbing Stories
A number of Touchstone youth climbers just headed to Nationals. Josh Levin, a member of Zero Gravity, wrote an awesome story on his blog about the team's trip out there. Red more about his story here: Josh Levin Blog.
The blog is always looking for great news articles, trip reports, and events going on in the Bay Area climbing community. If you have something to share, please send an email through the contact page : http://touchstoneclimbing.com/contact.html
Please share some of the great achievements going on around your local Touchstone gym!
GWPC Comp: Touchstone Rope Series In Full Swing
The latest Touchstone Rope Series comp at Great Western Power Company went off well, with a ton of climbers testing out the new routes in the lead area and on the topropes around the gym.
221 competitiors showed up to fight their way to the top of GWPC's technical walls. Local photographer and writer, Jim Thornburg signed copies of his new book "Stone Mountains" and even donated a signed copy to be raffled off to the climbers in attendance.
Pyramid Brewery supplied great beer, and Extreme Pizza provided much needed fuel to all the hungry climbers.
Andrew Bisharat, one of the editors over at Rock and Ice, just wrote a great article titled Doing Your Best in a Climbing Comp. The hardman sport climber, boulderer, and writer goes over nutrition information, comp strategy, and how to mentally prepare for the comp.
Check out the tips and prepare for the next rope series comps at Mission Cliffs on March 18th.
The Access Fund just released news about the current state of affairs of the Unlock Jailhouse Fund-raising campaign. Not only has $49,000 been raised for Jailhouse, but Touchstone has worked with Craig McClenahan and Fixe hardware to replace all the old bolts, draws, and anchors for the crag.
February 25, 2011. Boulder, CO – The Access Fund, the national advocacy organization that keeps climbing areas open and conserves the climbing environment, is thrilled to announce the completion of the initial fundraising phase for Jailhouse Rock. In just over two months, climbers and conservationists from California and beyond have raised over $49,000—exceeding our initial fundraising goal.
In November of last year, the Access Fund announced that a permanent access easement and conservation easement had been secured to Jailhouse Rock near Sonora, California through the Access Fund Land Conservation Campaign. However more help was needed from the climbing community to raise funds to create a new access point, trailhead, parking facilities, and ensure long-term conservation.
Since the initial fundraising phase, the landowners have requested toilet facilities for Jailhouse Rock, and with input from the climbing community Access Fund is exploring the best option for these facilities. Access Fund has applied for a grant from a conservation foundation to cover a portion of the toilet facility costs. The application is pending. Stay tuned to www.accessfund.org/jailhouse for updates.
The Access Fund would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to everyone who generously opened their wallets to make this victory happen. A special thanks to Tom Addison for his fundraising leadership, Planet Granite and Touchstone Climbing and Fitness, as well as all of our corporate partners who donated raffle items. “We are so impressed by the spirit and generosity of the community coming together to protect a threatened crag,” says Access Director Joe Sambataro. Individual donations for Jailhouse Rock will still be accepted and put toward long-term stewardship of the area.
The existing parking area and access trail will remain open for the immediate future. The Access Fund will be working with local climbers and the landowners this year to install a new gate, parking area, and trailhead, at which point 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, www.accessfund.org/jailhouse.
Zero Gravity at the ABS Nationals
The USA Climbing American Bouldering Series (ABS) Youth National Championships 2011 were held in Boulder, Colorado, from February 18 - 20, 2011
The Zero Gravity Team
The Touchstone Zero Gravity Climbing Team took six of their strongest competitors to the ABS National Championships over the weekend of February 18-20 and had an exceptional showing. Joshua Levin placed 3rd, Eric Sanchez was 4th and Jacquelyn Wu was 5th, all three qualifying for the US National Team. Charlie Andrews also made finals and finished 7th. Sera Busse was 2nd in qualifiers but ended up 10th overall. Will Roderick was 4th in qualifiers but dropped to 16th after semi finals.
This years competition saw the strongest, deepest field in ABS history. In addition the venue was a large warehouse with three amazing climbing walls, lighting arrays, PA systems and tons of space for spectators. The USAC set up the venue for the Adult National Championships which were held a week earlier. Video of this event can be found HERE
Full results from both the Youth and Adult comps can be found at the ABS site.
The Touchstone Zero Gravity Climbing Team will now be focusing on the USA Climbing Sport Climbing Series (SCS). The season starts March 19th with Local comps, moves on to the the Northern California Regional Championships May 14th, the Division 1 Championships in Salt Lake City June 11-12, the National Championships in Atlanta Georgia July 7-10 and the Youth World Championships in Imst Austria August 25-28. This years Touchstone Zero Gravity team is one of the strongest ever and have a very good shot at winning the Team Championship award at the National Championships. Once again, many of these Touchstone youth are favorites to be selected for the US National Team.
If you would like more information or to try out for Touchstone Zero Gravity, please contact Coach Scot Jenerik: firstname.lastname@example.org
Leave No Trace: Disposing of Waste at the Crag
Rock climbing outside involves spending a lot of time in fragile eco-systems. There's easily disturbed micro-biotic soil in Indian Creek, a fragile desert in Bishop, and the wild life in Yosemite that all need to be considered to ensure a leave no trace impact on the environment.
Leave No Trace, a company out of Colorado, offers some great insight on their website about ways to minimize impact. Check out their article on the subject.
Proper disposal of human waste is important to avoid pollution of water sources, avoid the negative implications of someone else finding it, minimize the possibility of spreading disease, and maximize the rate of decomposition.
In most locations, burying human feces in the correct manner is the most effective method to meet these criteria. Solid human waste must be packed out from some places, such as narrow river canyons. Land management agencies can advise you of specific rules for the area you plan to visit.
Contrary to popular opinion, research indicates that burial of feces actually slows decomposition (at least in the Rocky Mountains). Pathogens have been discovered to survive for a year or more when buried. However, in light of the other problems associated with feces, it is still generally best to bury it. The slow decomposition rate causes the need to choose the correct location, far from water, campsites, and other frequently used places.
Catholes are the most widely accepted method of waste disposal. Locate catholes at least 200 feet (about 70 adult steps) from water, trails and camp. Select an inconspicuous site where other people will be unlikely to walk or camp. With a small garden trowel, dig a hole 6-8 inches deep and 4-6 inches in diameter. The cathole should be covered and disguised with natural materials when finished. If camping in the area for more than one night, or if camping with a large group, cathole sites should be widely dispersed. Perhaps the most widely accepted method of backcountry human waste disposal is the cathole. The advantages are:
• they are easy to dig in most areas.
• they are easy to disguise after use.
• they are private.
• they disperse the waste rather than concentrate it (which enhances decomposition).
• it is usually easy to select an out of the way location where you can be certain no one is going to casually encounter the cathole. Selecting a Cathole Site:
• Select a cathole site far from water sources, 200 feet (approximately 70 adult paces) is the recommended range.
• Select an inconspicuous site untraveled by people. Examples of cathole sites include thick undergrowth, near downed timber, or on gentle hillsides.
• If camping with a group or if camping in the same place for more than one night, disperse the catholes over a wide area; don t go to the same place twice.
• Try to find a site with deep organic soil. This organic ma al contains organisms which will help de pose the feces. (Organic soil is usually dark and rich in color.) Refer to the jars used to demonstrate decomposition. The desert does not have as much organic soil as a forested area. (See number 2 under Digging a Cathole below.)
• If possible, locate your cathole where it will receive maximum sunlight. The heat from the sun will aid decomposition.
• Choose an elevated site where water would not normally during runoff or rain storms. The idea here is to keep the feces out of water. Over time, the decomposing feces will percolate into the soil before reaching water sources.
Digging a Cathole
• A small garden trowel is the perfect tool for digging a cathole.
• Dig the hole 6-8 inches deep (about the length of the trowel blade) and 4-6 inches in diameter. In a hot desert, human waste does not biodegrade easily because there is little organic soil to help break it down. In the desert, the cathole should be only 4-6 inches deep. This will allow the heat and sun to hasten the decay process.
• When finished, the cathole should be filled with the original dirt and disguised with native materials.
Catholes in Arid Lands
A cathole is the most widely accepted means of waste disposal in arid lands. Locate catholes at least 200 feet (about 70 adult steps) from water, trails, and camp. Avoid areas where water visibly flows, such as sandy washes, even if they are dry at the moment. Select a site that will maximize exposure to the sun in order to aid decomposition. Because the sun s heat will penetrate desert soils several inches, it can eventually kill pathogens if the feces are buried properly. South-facing slopes and ridge tops will have more exposure to sun and heat than other areas.
Though catholes are recommended for most situations, there are times when latrines may be more applicable, such as when camping with young children or if staying in one camp for longer than a few nights. Use similar criteria for selecting a latrine location as those used to locate a cathole. Since this higher concentration of feces will decompose very slowly, location is especially important. A good way to speed decomposition and diminish odors is to toss in a handful of soil after each use. Ask your land manager about latrine-building techniques.
Use toilet paper sparingly and use only plain, white, non-perfumed brands. Toilet paper must be disposed of properly! It should either be thoroughly buried in a cathole or placed in plastic bags and packed out. Natural toilet paper has been used by many campers for years. When done correctly, this method is as sanitary as regular toilet paper, but without the impact problems. Popular types of natural toilet paper include stones, vegetation and snow. Obviously, some experimentation is necessary to make this practice work for you, but it is worth a try! Burning toilet paper in a cathole is not generally recommended.
Toilet Paper in Arid Lands: Placing toilet paper in plastic bags and packing it out as trash is the best way to Leave No Trace in a desert environment. Toilet paper should not be burned. This practice can result in wild fires.
Proper disposal of tampons requires that they be placed in plastic bags and packed out. Do not bury them because they don t decompose readily and animals may dig them up. It will take a very hot, intense fire to burn them completely. Urine
Urine has little direct effect on vegetation or soil. In some instances urine may draw wildlife which are attracted to the salts. They can defoliate plants and dig up soil. Urinating on rocks, pine needles, and gravel is less likely to attract wildlife. Diluting urine with water from a water bottle can help minimize negative effects. Special Considerations for River Canyons: River canyons often present unique Leave No Trace problems. The most common practice is to urinate directly in the river and pack out feces in sealed boxes for later disposal. Check with your land manager for details about specific areas.
Wendy Georges: The Ultra Runner
Wendy Georges runs. Georges runs a lot. The 53 year old Berkeley resident took up running 24 years ago and began racing when she was 42. Since then she’s competed in dozens of road races including many marathons and ultra marathons.
“My favorite is 50 miles. It takes 8 hours. It feels like a solid day’s work- long enough that you’re really glad its over but you get such a feeling of accomplishment.” The female grandmaster of last year’s Oakland marathon aims for three ultra marathons a year with a number of shorter races as training. Georges races 9 to 10 months out of the year.
Georges with ultra running legend and BIW member Ann Trason
On Feb 6th, George ran the Jed Smith Ultra Classic, sponsored by the Buffalo Chips running club. Georges placed 3rd at the race flanked by women 20 years younger than her. Needless to say she won her age group. The 50k race headed through much of Sacramento and prepped her for the American River 50 mile run on April 9th. The American River race is a hybrid of road and trail with 31 miles following the Jed Smith course, 19 miles on trail, and the final 3 miles, a fierce uphill fight.
When not busy running, Georges has worked for the past 25 years at the Alameda County Health Care Dept as a social worker helping the homeless. For the past 15 years, Georges also instructed a cycling class at Ironworks.
Georges and Marc "El Jefe" Trotz at the Falmouth Road Race in MA in 2010. Trotz, the president of the Touchstone runners also teaches cycling classes.
Georges currently coordinates the indoor cycling program, working her 25th year as an instructor. There’s an old saying that goes, “Running can hurt cyclists but cycling can’t hurt runners.” Georges reiterated the fact adding that “It really aids runners. It’s great cross training. Cycling is very good with running because it’s low impact; you’re not constantly pounding asphalt. It’s really good for the cardiovascular system and shifts the burden away from the overused running muscles.”
Georges winning the City of Alameda's 4th of July race in 2010 as the first woman overall.
Georges spoke about the cycling program at Ironworks saying, “The program at Ironworks is highly developed. It has been raised to a higher level. New people go through an accelerated process of becoming fit because the classes are so demanding.”
Stop by Ironworks and catch one of the many great cycling classes that the awesome athletes teach.
The DRG Challenge
Diablo Rock Gym posted up their 2011 Challenge List. Designed to help gym members set and complete easy, medium and challenging goals. The Challenge List will help motivate you into pushing a little harder at the gym.
Swim 88 laps/1 mile in the pool
The goals range from climbing 5.8 in the gym, to swimming a lap in the pool, to having DRG days, where you swim, bike, boulder, climb, weight lift, and take a fitness class all in the same day!
Take a fitness class
For the month of February, DRG will be offering $10 fitness classes to help people jump off into the Challenge List.
The folks over at DRG will be happy to help instruct you on how to perform a given challenge.
Complete 36 challenges and you get a DRG t-shirt. Complete 86 challenges and you’ll get another prize. Complete 100+ and you’ll get something special!
Make Workouts More Exciting With the New IPads at GWPC
Working out can be hard. Grinding away on the elliptical machine, doing a hundred floors on the Stairmaster, or keeping your heart rate at 140 for an hour on the treadmill aren't easy tasks. One of the best ways to make a workout go faster is to shift your focus to something else. Great Western Power Company just picked up a couple of Ipads to do just that.
Catch up on the newest episode of House, Gossip Girls, or the Bachelor on GWPC's Hulu account. Watch a Netflix movie while you spin your legs on one of the cycling machines. The thin and light multi-touch computers will also have a number of newsprint and web radio apps.
Head to the front counter at GWPC and ask to borrow one of the 2 Ipads. Members that have recommendations for additional apps/games/etc. can drop them in our suggestion box. Stop by GWPC for a great and entertaining workout!
New Petzl Gri Gri's At Touchstone Gyms
Petzl, a leading company in manufacturing great climbing products, recently released an updated version of their immensely popular GriGri.
The new GriGri 2 is compatible with ropes from 8.9 to 11mm, has a progressive descent control system designed to offer smooth, even lowering action - there's a larger 'sweet spot' when lowering a climber or rappelling, and is 25% lighter and 25% more compact than the old GriGri.
The belaying technique of the GriGri2 is similar to the previous edition. Below is a video made by Petzl of the correct way to use the device.
Petzl also release a warning about a number of their products that are being counterfeited. These knockoffs have less than the reliable amount of strength and need to be avoided. For more information Check out the Petzl Warning.
Stop by your nearest Touchstone gym and pick up some great new Petzl products!
Touchstone Rope Series 5: Great Western Power Company
This Friday night, February 18, the Touchstone Rope series comp will be hitting the Great Western Power Company.
There will be pizza, beer, and a ton of new routes all over the gym. The Touchstone Rope series are some of the best comps on the West Coast. Tons of climbers come and meet up, hang out, and have a blast at the functions.
Metal Mark Construction Update
Work on Metal Mark, Touchstone's new gym in Fresno, has been moving along smoothly. The steel beams and supports for the building have been erected. The roof is up and insulated already and they finished with the lower roof where the locker rooms, fitness rooms, and office are.
Last week, they started on the climbing walls and are progressing well with the rest of the construction. The gym will be an awesome addition to the the Touchstone circuit.
The gym will be completed soon! Keep on track for construction updates on the Touchstone Blog.
The Sandbagger: Profile of Ironworks Climber John Schmid
At 5’8” 145 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes, the 29 year old John Schmid appears like a mild mannered rock climber. After receiving a biology degree from Colorado College, where he began rock climbing ten years ago, Schmid moved to the bay area to take up a job that would support his climbing lifestyle. Schmid became a murse- a male nurse. During the graveyard shift, Schmid works in the neo-natal intensive care unit of Alta Bates in Berkeley where he saves the lives of sick little babies.
Schmid on the Tuolumne classic On the Lamb (5.9) photo by Mikey Schaefer
A hard working regular Joe during the evening, Schmid transforms during daylight hours. When the sun comes up John Schmid is a rock crushing super hero! A solid trad climber with ascents of Zion’s Moonlight Buttress (V 5.12d), Indian Creek’s Optimator (5.13-), and an onsight of Yosemite’s Tales of Power (5.12b), John’s ability to crack climb comes from his years destroying the back of his hands in Indian Creek and Joshua Tree.
After becoming a crack warrior, Schmid headed to Yosemite in an attempt to learn to wall climb. “A few years ago, Geoff Christensen and I climbed the Regular Route on Half Dome (VI 5.9 A2) in a longish day. We topped out in the light. Then James Lucas encouraged us to climb the Nose in a Day. We believed him that we could do it. We made good time climbing to the Great Roof but then it got dark and we got tired. We only had ATCs. We fell asleep with the ropes wrapped around our arms to arrest the other climber’s fall. We topped out in 27 hours 45 minutes. It was a long day. Thanks. James.”
“I’m a good weekend climber,” said the notoriously modest Schmid. On a recent trip to Bishop, Schmid climbed his second, third, fourth, and fifth outdoor V6s. He hiked the steep Every Color You Are and then nearly flashed Atari, falling on the last move and then sending the problem a few minutes later. After a morning at the Buttermilks, where he claims to have gotten worked, Schmid dispatched Mr. Witty (v6) 2nd try and flashed Rene (V5 highball). He also sent Strength in Numbers (a highball V5) and Molly (v5) and French Press (v6) on a subsequent trip to the Sads. “I don’t boulder. I can’t hold things very well.”
John onsigting Tales of Power (5.12B) photo by Max Hasson
Despite his "inability" to boulder, Schmid climbs with a significant amount of tenacity and dedication. One morning, Schmid downed a half dozen Monster energy drinks and left Berkeley before sunrise to climb Yosemite’s classic Beggar’s Buttress (IV 5.11c). On arriving in “the Ditch”, it started raining. Neither John nor his partner had checked the weather. Determined to climb, Schmid smoked a couple cigarettes than hoofed down to Kaukulator, a slightly overhanging 5.11c test piece on the Rostrum. After hiking the crux, Schmid fought his way throw the notoriously difficult and sandbagged 10c offwidth at the top. Schmid grunted, moaned, and squirmed as he climbed the wrong way into the crack. In an impressive onsight, Schmid clipped the anchors and started to lower. A quarter of the way back to the ground, Schmid yelled to his belayer to stop. For the second time that day it started raining- the second time it wasn't water but Schmid puking from the monstrous effort.
“I’m already a plastic prince,” said Schmid of his constant presence at the Touchstone gyms. A long time indoor climber, Schmid grew up in LaFayette and climbed at Conord’s Diablo Rock Gym before moving to Temescal. Schmid splits his time between Great Western Power Company and Berkeley Ironworks climbing with the tough guy sport crew. He climbs with Tony Calvert and Ethan Scwartz, whom he mostly climbs routes with. “I really want to climb 5.13 in the gym so that I can tell James (the Touchstone blogger). My climbing career peaked 5 years ago in Indian Creek. I want to get back to that high point and tell James.”
Schmid employs a well known climbing tactic- that of the sandbag. He enjoys downplaying his abilities and then serendipitously sending your project. Watch out for the sandbagger at Ironworks, GWPC, and the local crags.
John on Equinox (5.12c) in Joshua Tree
Schmid will be spending the rest of the week in Bishop. James hopes to sandbag him before he heads back to the bay to send the 5.13 at Ironworks.
Help V10 Joe Head to Nationals
Josef “V10 Joe” Maier, an 18 year old senior at El Camino, is a Pipeworks staple. If you’ve stepped foot in the gym in the last four years, you have probably seen Joe bouldering somewhere in the gym.
The Sacramento high school student began climbing at Pipeworks when he was 13. An older friend brought him to the gym and he just “got more and more into it,” said Maier. Since then, Maier has amassed a solid tick of hard boulder problems in Bishop like Xavier’s Roof (v11) at Dale’s Camp, Beefy Gecko (v11) at the Sad’s, and an onsight of Center Direct (v10) on the Buttermilk’s Gandma Peabody. “My favorite place to climb is in Bishop. I really like Tahoe but there’s snow there right now. I like to climb wherever there’s good rock,” said Maier.
Maier's climbing time at Pipeworks not only helped him send on his favorite granite boulders but has also helped him climb well at indoor comps too. Recently, Maier headed to the USA Climbing’s Regional Championships at Rock Sport Climbing in Reno Nevada, where he placed first in the Junior Male Division, the 18-19 year old men. “It was really fun. It was an all iso comp. You didn’t get to see the routes until you climbed them,” said Maier. “This is my first year competing. It’s fun. I am glad I am doing it.”
Maier plans to represent Pipeworks at Nationals, which take place in Boulder Colorado from February 18th to the 20th. To show support for Maier, there is a donation jar on the front counter to help the climber get to the comp. Maier needs money for airfare and accommodations to get to the comp. On Wednesday, February 9th at Sacramento Pipeworks there will be a bake sale for him and the two other NorCal Climbing members, Matt and Hannah Grossman, heading to the comp.
Support V10 Joe's trip to Nationals by donating to the V10 Joe fund at Pipeworks or by stopping by the bake sale on Wednesday February 9th.
Touchstone Rope Series 5: Sacramento Pipeworks
On January 21, 2011 the first Touchstone Rope Series 5 comps headed to Sacramento Pipeworks. The comp was a huge success. Over 225 competitors, nearly double the number of the previous rope comp at Pipeworks, pulled down on the steep gym routes. The majority of the climbers were local but 40 climbers came from the other Touchstone gyms and 40 more were non-Touchstone members.
Rico’s pizza brought 26” pizzas to the comp. These over-sized pies fed 10 people each and were some of the largest people had ever seen. Brew It Up, a Sacramento brewery provided a keg of Czech pilsner to compliment the pie. There was a ton of great food for everyone there.
The setters established a slew of new routes at Pipeworks for the comp. “The routes in the higher difficulty level were set with a bit of thinking required. It was obvious the route setters put in some extra time to make the routes interesting,” said Great Western Power Company manager Hans Florine, who placed first at the comp. Florine noted that not were the harder routes difficult and interesting but there were lots of new routes in general. “I was psyched to see that there was even a low angle 5.10 set. Variety abounded.”
Not only were there lots of eating and climbing but there were also potato sack races! The next TRS5 comp will be at Great Western Power Company on Feb. 18th. Head over to the Oakland and check it out!
Columbia Bouldering: Compact Marble in Nearby Sonora
The Gold Rush of 1940 brought unearthed lots of gold in the Sierra Foothills. The hydraulic mining also uncovered a mother lode of bouldering near Columbia College in Sonora.
The rock in Columbia is a highly compacted marble requiring body tension and an ability to hang open handed on many of the holds.
"It's like walking through the Castle Gray Skull," said Kim Groebner who checked out the boulders with Ironworks desk staffer Ryan Moon. She also ran into one of the more dangerous native plants- poison oak.
There is significant poison oak at the boulders. Even the leafless branches in the winter can cause highly allergic reactions. Be aware of what it looks like- leaves of three let it be! It's shiny and color and needs to be avoided at all costs!
Please be aware that the bouldering is at Columbia College and Columbia State Park. Be respectful of the landowners. Occasionally at the Stage Coach Boulders, the staff may ask climbers to step out of sight while they performed pretend robberies on the stage coach.
Here's some footage of a Touchstone setter and Columbia developer Ben Polanco, as well as Menesha Mannapperuma, and guide book author Dean Fleming climbing at the boulders.