Touchstone Blog Archive
Friday, May 27, 2011
  The Studio: New Touchstone Gym in San Jose
The south bay area will be getting a little bit better this year with the addition of a new Touchstone climbing Gym. The Studio, located in central downtown San Jose on 1st Street and San Salvador, will be 12,000 square feet and feature lots of wall and tons of bouldering. The old night club and theater will undoubtedly be one of Touchstone's best new gyms.

Mark Melvin, Touchstone's wall builder extraordinaire, described the three tier building. The bouldering will overlook the route climbing, which will be up to 40 feet tall. The unique structure of the theater will require significant custom work. "It won’t be a cookie cutter gym," said Melvin.

The recent construction of MetalMark in Fresno has allowed for the team to gain a significant amount of experience and the team will be implementing a number of the ideas that they used in Fresno like adjustable cracks and curved walls for climbing.

Check out The Studio's Facebook Page Construction of the gym will begin in the next couple of weeks with construction hopefully ending late this fall.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, May 26, 2011
  Tips on Onsight Climbing
Rock climbing legend Lynn Hill made a video a little while ago about onsight climbing. Check out how she approaches routes and climbs them first try. Her advise is great for preparing for an upcoming trip or a comp where you will be spending most of your time onsighting routes.

Labels: ,

Sunday, May 22, 2011
  Castle Rock State Park on Verge of Closure
Seventy state parks across California will close starting in September. Elizabeth Goldstein, executive director of the California State Parks Foundation, said, "It represents 25 percent of the park system and, for the Bay Area, it's a big hit." Most significant is the closure of Castle Rock State Park, located in the redwoods of the Santa Cruz Mountains. The park has been a long time local bay area bouldering area- California's Fontableau with it's sloping sandstone boulders.

The closures are necessary to cover the two-year, $22 million cut in the state parks budget the Legislature agreed to in March. Those cuts were made to help shrink the state's then-$26 billion deficit to its current $15.6 billion. The funding for the state parks was going to come from an $18 increase in automotive registration, a bill that voters vetoed.

Park officials said rangers and maintenance workers will periodically patrol the shuttered parks and they are hoping volunteers will also step up. Some parks could remain open if nonprofit groups or local governments step in and take over their operation and funding, or if additional concession operators can be recruited, officials said. The Access Fund is currently working to stop the closure with a solid petition and political campaigning.

The closures will begin in September, Coleman said, and be completed by July 2012. The parks will be open through this summer, but there will be significant service reduction through the summer.

I visited Castle Rock over the weekend. Tons of climbers, and hikers littered the park. The very full parking lot was being manned by three rangers, one of whom took the time to speak with me about the changes. The ranger was unsure of the status of Castle Rock- if they'd be patrolling the area and ticketing people once it closed or what exactly the outcome of Castle Rock would be. The ranger informed me that things would remain the same through the summer but the fall would see changes.

Take a moment to write to your local politician about the closure using the easy to use letter writing tool at the AccessFund.

A frequent member of the Berkeley Ironworks crew, Michele Lombardo Goodhew climbs at Castle Rock State Park. Here's a video of her crushing The Lost Keys Traverse(V6), a neo-classic discovered by Chris Bloch a few years ago when he lost his keys. Check out the smooth moves she executes through the crux and into the hard mantle finish.

With competing beta, here's local hardman and Johnny Utah look-a-like Al Liu sending the Lost Keys Traverse as well.

Lost Keys from Al Liu on Vimeo.

Just below Castle Rock, a single hueco guards a series of bad slopers. The aesthetic problem was a long term John "Yabo" Yabolonski project until a few years ago when Santa Cruz local, Chris Sharma dispatched the first ascent of "Ecoterrorist" (V10/11). Here's some footage of Scott Chandler hiking the classic Castle Rock problem.

Ecoterrorist [v10] from scott chandler on Vimeo.

Below Indian Rock are a number of less developed and very good boulders. There's good information about them on a Supertopo Thread. There's some awesome new mantle problems down the hill. Get out there and check them out.

Make sure to voice your opinion about the state park closures- help keep Castle Rock open!

Labels: , ,

  Memorial for Bay Area Climbing Fixture Jason Dunbar
The Touchstone community lost a valued member last week. Jason Dunbar, a 34 year old climber of twenty years and a fixture in the bay area climbing community, suffered a heart attack while hiking on the trails of Yosemite.

A passionate and talented cook, Jason worked as a Sous Chef at Millennium Restaurant in SF, where he created the menu along with Eric Tucker. The gourmet vegetarian restaurant feeds people delicious food that keeps the environment in mind in the making. "He was honest and full of life-someone who believed that if he was going to do something, it was going to be done right and with all of his endless energy and integrity," said Allison Bagby.

Jason loved Yosemite and spent a significant amount of time in the valley, where once a week for the past three years he took day trips to boulder or to hike looking for new rocks on rainy days.

Jason's memorial service will be held on Friday, May 27th at 2PM at Lafayette Orinda Presbyterian Church, 49 Knox Dr., Lafayette.

In lieu of flowers, Jason’s family and friends are asking you to contribution to The Access Fund; an organization dedicated to protecting the environment at America's rock climbing sites.You can make a memorial donation to Jason's Access Fund Site

Labels: , ,

  Mission Cliff Closed for Carnaval
The San Francisco Cultural Arts Traditions, (SFCAT), will be hosting the 33rd annual SF Carnaval Festival & Grand Parade. The festival, which starts Saturday May 28th and continues until Sunday, will be in the Mission district of San Francisco. Both the parade and the festival are free. MC is located in the heart of the festivities. Parking will be
EXTREMELY limited as Harrison St. will be closed (between 16th -22nd). MISSION CLIFFS WILL BE CLOSED ON SUNDAY.

Both the parade and the Festival are FREE! Stop by the festivities on your way back from the gym!

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, May 18, 2011
  Zero Gravity Takes on Nor Cal Regional Championships
The Touchstone Zero Gravity Climbing Team, the youth climbing team, headed to the Northern California USAC-SCS Regional Champions, where they crushed for the sixth consecutive year. On May 14, 2011 the Nor Cal Regional Championships were held at Rocksport in Reno, NV.

Mel Roderik

"It was one of the best performances by the team in my 10 years of coaching," said head coach Scot Jenerik, "because of how focused and how hard everyone tried. They were total pros."

Nick Bradley

The entire team qualified for the Division 1 Championships which will be held at Momentum in Sandy, UT on June 11 & 12, 2011. In addition they had 11 Regional Champions and 28 podium places. At the Div1 Championships these athletes will be vying for a bid to the National Championships in Atlanta, GA in July. There they will be working toward a place on the US National team and a trip to the Youth World Championships in Imst, Austria in August.

Hannah Donnely

Congratulations to Regional Champions:
Sera Busse (Sport and Speed)
Natalia Grossman (Sport and Speed)
Joshua Levin (Sport and Speed)
Eric Sanchez (Sport)
Will Roderick (Speed)
Connor Everton (Sport)
Nick Bradley (Speed)
Cameron Reed (Speed)

The Team

Touchstone Zero Gravity Climbing Team placing:
Sera Busse Youth-B Female 1 1
Natalia Grossman Youth-D Female 1 1
Eric Sanchez Junior Male 1 3
Joshua Levin Youth-A Male 1 1
Connor Everton Youth-B Male 1 3
Will Roderick Junior Male 2 1
Nick Bradley Youth-B Male 2 1
Cameron Read Youth-C Male 2 1
Seth Rogers Youth-D Male 2 2
Katrin Gentry Youth-B Female 3 3
Revan Florn Youth-D Female 3 3
Rick Gentry Youth-A Male 3 2
Dylan Meyerhoffer Youth-D Male 3 3
Alexa Nazarian Youth-A Female 4 4
Hannah Donnelly Youth-B Female 4
Haniel Roland-Holst Youth-A Male 4 5
Michael Cohen Youth-A Male 5 3
Mel Roderick Youth-B Male 5 4
Jacquelyn Wu Youth-B Female 6 2
Sam Steuart Youth-A Male 6 4
Gabii Strandberg Youth-B Female 7
Ethan Rogers Youth-D Male 7 6
Andrew Dixson Youth-A Male 8 7
Michael Humphrey Youth-B Male 9 5

Scot Jenerik heads the team with help from Scot Cory, the assistant coach. For more information about Zero Gravity check out their website.

Labels: , ,

Monday, May 16, 2011
  Yosemite Epics Book Signing at Ironworks
On June 9th at 6pm, sports writer Matt Johanson will be stopping by Berkeley Ironworks on a book release tour of Yosemite Epics, a vivid collection of tales of extreme climbing in Yosemite National Park.

Author Barry Parr said, “Yosemite Epics reveals death-defying adventures in a place that is known for them. The extreme activities are hair-raising. Some of the descriptions are going to be classics. The book records a great many incidents that are valuable contributions the literature of the Sierra Nevada.”

A falling climber’s rope snaps thousands of feet above the ground. Two backcountry skiers find themselves buried by an avalanche. Wild winds hurl a paraglider out of control. These stories and many more come to life in “Yosemite Epics: Tales of Adventure from America’s Greatest Playground,” a collection of first-person narratives from rock, snow, ice and whitewater. Thrilling yet thoughtful, the book explains the athletes' motivations and shares valuable lessons learned from their experiences. Many well-known adventurers are included, such as Royal Robbins, Lynn Hill, Steve Roper, Tommy Caldwell, Peter Croft and Touchstone's Hans Florine and Steve Schneider.

Matt will be signing copies of his book, which will be available for purchase. Stop by and check out Yosemite Epics at Berkeley Ironworks.
Friday, May 13, 2011
  Climbing Through Anxiety
Rock climbing is scary. The fear of falling or failing on a difficult route or boulder problem can cause serious anxiety. Often before a difficult climb, my bladder becomes the size of a walnut. On a recent climb, I moved out out on relatively easy terrain but then got scared, over gripped, and ended up hanging. In an attempt to overcome my fear and become a better climber, I talked to a number of different climbers on the subject.

World renown free soloist and hard man rock climber, Alex Honnold told me, "Being scared doesn’t mean anything. Are you scared because you’re scared or because you’re in danger?" He emphasized that an emotional reaction to climbing had nothing to do with the actual climbing. Recently, he redpointed The Book of Hate, a 13d stem corner in Yosemite. He climbed poorly through the beginning section, over gripping and stabbing his feet erratically. When he got to a rest, he saw the difficult section ahead and didn't let his poor performance below affect him. "You just have to ignore it,” he said about the fear and anxiety of climbing, "just force yourself to do it."

Dave Macleod, an extreme British climber, wrote an excellent article about the fear of falling. Macleod talks about expanding your comfort zone- facing your fears and anxiety a little bit at a time to become more comfortable with the fear involved.

Here's a video of YOSAR member Scott Deputy pink-pointing (climbing on pre placed gear) Separate Reality. Notice how smooth he is on the send. He fought through his mental anxiety. The preplaced gear helped him avoid worrying about bad protection and focus on the movement.

Scott Deputy on Separate Reality from Mason Earle on Vimeo.

This video of Chris Schulte shows the mental anguish he went through to finish his boulder problem in Font. In Chris's case, he wasn't so much afraid of falling as he was afraid of failing. When he gave up his fear he was able to send his project.

BD athlete Chris Schulte bouldering in Fontainebleau from Black Diamond Equipment on Vimeo.

A few years ago, a young Yosemite park employee saw Dean Potter and asked him, "Dean you're a super rad free soloist, you've done some crazy base-soloing, and you never seem to get scared. How do you do it?" Did responded, "Well, you know when you're in your sleeping bag, it's cold out, and you really have to use the bathroom but you don't want to get up?" The climber nodded. "Well, I just get up and go."

My next trip out to my project, I underclinged through the initial difficulties. I was scared but this time I remembered what Alex had said, the way Chris relaxed to give up his anxiety, what Dean Potter does, and I just kept going. For more information about getting over fear in climbing check out Arno Ilgner's Warrior Way.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, May 10, 2011
  Diablo Rock Gym Adventure Slide Show

Tomorrow night, Aaron Johnson will be heading over to Diablo Rock Gym to give a special clinic on Taking It Outside! Johnson will be giving a slide show and show and tell on gear, his adventures with and more. MAS (Mountain Adventure Seminars) is a year-round outdoor adventure school and guide service specializing in rock climbing, mountaineering, telemark skiing, avalanche education, backcountry skiing and snowshoeing. Diablo will be providing free drinks and snacks at 7pm in the yoga room. Stop by and taste a bit of the adventure.

Labels: , ,

  Touchstone Climbers in the Limelight
Touchstone employees are some of the most motivated climbers around the bay area. From shoveling off boulder problems in the middle of Yosemite winters to driving across the country to send big wall free climbs, the Touchstone crew is stoker! A number of employees have been in the limelight recently.

Hans Florine, the Diablo Rock Gym manager, got mentioned in the National Geographic article about Yosemite for his super fast ascents of the Nose on El Capitan. He was also featured in a PowerBar ad in Outside magazine.

Touchstone's blogger and resident dirtbag climber, James Lucas made a recent trip to Zion National Park where he dispatched of Moonlight Buttress- a long 5.12d. Brittany Griffith wrote about James and their ascent of the formation at the Cleanest Line- Patagonia's blog site.

James on the 9th pitch of Moonlight Buttress (5.12d)

James's pies were also mentioned in the National Geographic article about Yosemite. He was one of the two climbers who brought "homemade apple pies" to a climber party. "First my pies are in Nat Geo. Next they'll be on the Food Network. Watch out Martha Stewart- I'm coming for you," said James.

Touchstone route setter and hipster rock star, Brian "Cuz" Hedrick made a recent ascent of the Kraken at Mortar Rock in the Berkeley hills. Wolter Byron, a bay area film maker, shot footage of the send and made a cool video. Get pysched on the local boulders and with Cuz's beta- you can fight the Kraken.

The Kraken from ByronWolter on Vimeo.

Labels: , ,

Monday, May 9, 2011
  New Yoga Instructor at Ironworks
A new yoga instructor is coming to Berkeley Ironworks. Melissa Williams first came to yoga in 2004 in order to simply alleviate muscle tension and relieve back pain, however, she found much more. Yoga has become an integral component of her life. Melissa graduated from Cloud Nine Yoga in May of 2009 and is currently registered through Yoga Alliance. She has taught a broad range of classes but the constant theme is always centered on utilizing pranyama to deepen our life experience. Her abundant enthusiasm and gentle encouragement will lift your spirit as she guides you towards physical bliss! Melissa will be taking over taking over for Alaina's Saturday 10:45-noon yoga class.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, May 5, 2011
  Berkeley Ironworks Comp Friday Night
This Friday, May 6th, Berkeley Ironworks will be kicking off another of its Touchstone Rope Series comps. The route setters established a ton of new climbs using holds that were bought just for the comp. From 5 pm to 10pm, climbers will be able to check out the new routes. There will be pizza from Extreme Pizza, Pyramid Brewery beer, comp shirts, booths from the Cookie Department, Mamie & Makhi Sweet Potato Pie,and Nesquick and there will even be a speed climbing competition! Stop by one of the raddest events in the San Francisco area Friday evening. Registration opens at 4:45 pm.

TRS 4 Berkeley Ironworks from Princess on Vimeo.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, May 4, 2011
  Wrap Up Africa- Fundraiser with Cycling Legends Paul Sherwen and Bob Roll
On Thursday May 12th, cycling legends and commentators for the Tour de France and Tour of California, Paul Sherwen and Bob Roll will be presenting at the Circa Restaurant and Bar in San Francisco. The biking legends are hosting a fundraiser for Wrap Up Africa at the Marina restaurant.

Wrap Up Africa is a social enterprise and a foundation benefiting cancer patients in Uganda and Ethiopia. They teach families of cancer patients to make beautiful clothing that is then sold in Western markets. More people die from cancer worldwide than from HIV, TB and Malaria combined. Their mission is to empower families with cancer, increase early detection and improve treatment outcomes.

There will be a silent auction with contributions from the Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay, Belli Capelli, a Aromatherapy Salon and Spa, EyeItalia Boutique, SFMoma Artist's Gallery, artist Anne Marie Scallon, photographer Judy Baker, French sparkling wine from Appellation Blanquette de Limoux, Bay Area Discovery Museum, Half Moon Bay Golf Links, and more.

7:00 pm Silent Auction begins
8:00 pm Q&A with Paul and Bob
9:00 pm Silent Auction winners announced and poetry reading by Lauren Zuniga
10:00 pm Livewire Band!!!

Tickets are available for $15 at Wrap Up Africa Your ticket purchase is tax deductible.

All proceeds go to programs for outreach and access to care for cancer patients in Uganda and Ethiopia. Circa will contribute bar proceeds during the event to Wrap Up Africa Foundation

Labels: ,

This is the old Touchstone Blog. This is no longer active. Please visit our new blog at

March 2006 / April 2006 / May 2006 / June 2006 / July 2006 / August 2006 / September 2006 / October 2006 / November 2006 / December 2006 / January 2007 / February 2007 / March 2007 / April 2007 / May 2007 / June 2007 / July 2007 / August 2007 / September 2007 / October 2007 / November 2007 / December 2007 / January 2008 / February 2008 / March 2008 / April 2008 / May 2008 / June 2008 / July 2008 / August 2008 / September 2008 / October 2008 / November 2008 / December 2008 / January 2009 / February 2009 / March 2009 / April 2009 / May 2009 / June 2009 / July 2009 / August 2009 / September 2009 / October 2009 / November 2009 / December 2009 / January 2010 / February 2010 / March 2010 / April 2010 / May 2010 / June 2010 / July 2010 / August 2010 / September 2010 / October 2010 / November 2010 / December 2010 / January 2011 / February 2011 / March 2011 / April 2011 / May 2011 / June 2011 / July 2011 / August 2011 / September 2011 / October 2011 / November 2011 / December 2011 / January 2012 /

Powered by Blogger

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]