Touchstone Blog Archive
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
  Leavenworthless- Trip Report
Recently Becky Trafecanty, a bad ass Berkeley climber/nurse, and Justin Alarcon, the guy with the matted hair and cut off jeans at Berkeley Ironworks front desk, returned from a trip to Northwest. “Neither of us had been (to Leavenworth/Goldbar) before, which was part of the allure,” said Justin. “We'd also heard about great quality rock, free camping, and it seemed a safer bet for dry weather than Squamish for a relatively short trip.” The majority of their ten day trip was spent in Leavenworth but they also checked out Gold Bar for three days.

Jessica Campbell on The Cattleguard Arete V8

Around 1860, Loggers established the central Washington town of Leavenworth in the middle of the Gold Rush, making a strip of businesses out of the saloons and brothels. As the need for lumber decreased, the economy declined, and the boom town slowly became skeletal and desolate. While Leavenworth's fruit industry made significant contributions to the economy with the hills of pear, apple, and cherry trees, the town needed more. In the 1960's Leavenworth locals made a last ditch effort to bring business, adopting a Bavarian theme. Now the town boasts status as Washington's second most popular tourist attraction with a strip of restaurants and gift shops all built like a village in the Swiss Alps. The alpine setting of the area also attracts many adventurous Washingtonians.

Keri Carlton on the Skyline Boulders at Steven's Passs

A half dozen rafting outfits run daily trips down the white water of the Wenatchee and Tumwater, both of which feature excellent kayaking and raftin. Besides the boaters, Leavenworth attracts backpackers and hikers, who often make the twenty mile trek to view the Enchantments and the large trees, conifers which burst into glowing yellows and oranges in the autumn. After their outings on the river, their hikes on the rocky hillsides of Icicle Canyon, or listening the non-stop accordion waltz in the town green, the tourists often walk along the Bavarian fronted streets, stopping by the Munchen Haus and Kink Ludwig's to stuff themselves. Most people come to Leavenworth to eat and drink and they are fat and drunk. If you can escape the food, and look past the rafting, Leavenworth features some of the best bouldering in the North West.

Max Hasson on Scrambled Eggs (v8)

“The climbing is pretty varied for granite,” Justin said. “There were plenty of slopers, crimps, and pinches, even a few pockets. The rock varied from 'just okay' to amazing. The boulders are all really accessible too, like seconds to minutes off the road. Its kind of like a granite Joe's Valley in the Pacific Northwest.”

Kyle O'Meara on Hurly Burly V7 at the Metalocalypse Boulder

While classic problems on the Fridge Boulder, at Mad Meadows in Icicle Canyon, and a circuit around Swiftwater saw ascents as early as thirty years ago, the majority of the bouldering developed within the past decade. Just before the turn of the century, Cole Allen and Johnny Goicoechea rallied out to the east Cascades to establish a hoard of neo-classics including The Sail (v9), Mushashi (v9), Pimpsqueak (v9), and The Peephole (v10). They were joined by Kelly Sheridan, the author of a new extensive guide book, local poster boy Kyle O'Meara, and the uber-strong Joel Campbell. These boys diligently scrubbed the boulders, unearthing a series of slopers, crimps, and granite jugs. In between discovering new problems, they bouldered out many of the classic top rope problems in the area. Going ropeless on the Sword (v3), the butt puckering Ruminator (v6), and running afternoon laps on the Sleeping Lady (v2), a jug haul located directly above the raging Icicle River with death potential, became standard practice.

Thomasina Pidgeon on Answer man V6

Though the bouldering is fantastic- the highlight for Becky was the mini pony that pastured along Icicle Canyon Road. Becky named the little horse Clover . Yeah Mini Pony!

Check out the great video that Justin and Becky made of their trip. Way to Crush!

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011
  4th of July Gyms Closed
This weekend should be great. Warm, sunny weather across California should make for a spectacular holiday weekend.

In honor of the 4th of July, the Touchstone gyms will be closing for the day. Normal hours will resume on the 5th.

Take the day off to check out some sweet high meadows granite.

Lucho Rivera on Simba's Line 5.12- on Geo Dome in Tuolumne Meadows

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Monday, June 27, 2011
  Show Your Touchstone Pride
Touchstone is holding a great contest right now. Take the time to show some Touchstone pride- take a picture of you or your friends wearing some Touchstone logo-wear.

Touchstone at the top of Mount Shasta

Submit your photos to or post them on the Ironworks Facebook page by July 1st and your photo will be posted in a prime location in the gym AND you will win a FREE month of membership.

TRS in Canyonlands Utah

Get AWESOME with your Touchstone gear and take a pic with it. You've only got a few days left- Get Out There!

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Friday, June 24, 2011
  Metal Mark Opening = 0 Initiation Fee
In honor of Touchstone’s newest gym, MetalMark Climbing & Fitness, we’re offering zero initiation to new members who sign up this Friday, Saturday and Sunday!

To receive the discount, simply check out the Facebook page of your local gym.

Berkeley Ironworks
Metal Mark
Great Western Power Company
Mission Cliffs
Sacramento Pipeworks
Diablo Rock Gym

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Monday, June 20, 2011
  GWPC Climbing Beta Videos
Great Western Power Company put together a couple of videos for those that need a lil more beta on some of the classic problems at the gym. Bryan "Cuz" Hedrick provides some great beta with these Cuz's Corner Videos.

GW Boulder Beta, Ep. 1 from Great Western Power Company on Vimeo.

GWPC Boulder Beta, Ep. 2 from Great Western Power Company on Vimeo.

Find GWPC on their Facebook page for more beta on the latest problems.

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  Recall Alert: Gri Gri 2
Petzl just issued a recall for a series of GriGri 2s. Check their notice below.

Petzl has issued a Recall for Replacement for all Petzl GRIGRI 2 units with the first five digits of the serial number between 10326 and 11136. Petzl recently became aware that excessive force applied to the lowering handle in the open position can cause internal damage that can disable the GRIGRI 2's assisted braking function. As a precautionary measure, Petzl is asking for the return of all affected GRIGRI 2's, to be replaced with revised versions. To date, seven such damaged GRIGRI 2’s have been reported worldwide, and no incidents as a result of this damage have been reported.

If you have a GRIGRI 2 with a serial number in this range, please stop use immediately and contact Petzl America at 1 (800) 932-2978 (toll free) or to initiate an exchange.

For more information, please visit: Their page about the recall.

While the potential risk of an incident due to this issue with the GRIGRI 2 is small, our total commitment to the safety of our users has led us to make this decision. With the summer climbing season just beginning, Petzl understands that this recall comes at an inconvenient time and we are working hard to ensure that everyone receives their replacement GRIGRI 2 as quickly as possible. Everyone at Petzl is committed to resolving this issue. We ask you to accept our sincerest apologies for this inconvenience, and we thank you for your continued support.

Please note that, to ensure we can respond to all questions, Petzl will not be answering questions directly on these forums. We ask that you direct any questions for Petzl on this matter directly to the email address and toll-free number above.

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  William Shatner Explains Why You Should Climb
William Shatner stars in this great video about climbing. Check out a classic bit of Shatner advice- for more footage- see Star Trek IV where Captain Kirk attempts to free solo El Captain on his rest day.

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Sunday, June 19, 2011
  New Yoga for Climbers Class at Ironworks
Berkeley Ironworks will be starting a new class at the end of the month- a yoga for climbers class. Rulick Bilorusets is an urban yogi in the San Francisco Bay Area. Being influenced by many traditions, Rulick teaches a dynamic style of yoga, emphasizing the qualities of awareness and meditation in the practice. Ever committed to the healing and nurturing sides of yoga, Rulick helps his students to discover their limits and guide them into the unknown. Being a climber and back-country skier, Rulick sees benefits from applying both the physical and mental aspects of yoga practice to these “extreme” hobbies. Rulick’s message is simple: stay present, strengthen your body, and sharpen your mind.

Drawing from his Iyengar inspired teacher training at Piedmont Yoga Studio, Rulick structures his Wednesday class around body alignment and breath work. He explains the benefits and origins of the poses, taking his students through gentle vinyasa. This class is suitable for the beginners and intermediate practitioners.

Building upon the practice of yoga flow, Rulick teaches a more rigorous class on Thursday. The class is designed with the climbing community in mind. Shoulder stretches and chest openers are a must. Core strengthening and arm balances are top priority. You can take this class even if you have never done yoga before. Your body needs to be in a good shape to keep up with the flow.

Rulick's class will be Thursday nights at 7:45PM to 9PM. Stop by Berkeley Ironworks and check out one of Touchstone's great yoga classes.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011
  Cleaning Lover's Leap
Sacramento's local Access Fund affiliate, CRAGS (Climbing Resource Advocates for Greater Sacramento) is organizing a clean-up of Lovers Leap on Saturday the 25th and Sunday the 26th this month.

The Line- One of Lover's Leap best climbs

This event is in it's second year and a number of local climbers arrived last year to help with trail maintenance, picking up trash, and cleaning up one of California's best crags.

These events epitomize climber conservation at the local level, showing landowners and land managers that climbers truly care about the places they recreate. This display of stewardship not only gives back to the land, but is paramount to keeping climbing areas open by showing decision makers the passion that climbers have for their climbing areas.

Meet at Sacramento Pipeworks on Saturday June 25th at 8 am to carpool to the event. Lunch, water, and snacks will be provided. Check CRAGS on Facebook to stay up to date on local events.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011
  Castle Hill Ice Cream- Moon Goes Bouldering
Recently Ryan Moon, a 26 year old bay area climber and 5 year Touchstone employee, traveled to Castle Hill on the central northern portion of the south island of New Zealand. Moon traveled with Eric Vergne, another Touchstone employee, for the entire month of May. The pair climbed on the slabby and glassy rock of Castle Hills.

In the first two weeks, the pair climbed four or five days. The weather was crushing and it rained frequently. Ryan spent all his time non-climbing time blimping out on the country’s amazing ice cream. “Come for the climbing, stay for the ice cream,” Moon wrote on his blog.

“The birthplace of our love for the infamous Tip Top ice cream is right here in Darfield. One should be prepared before ordering ice cream on a cone in New Zealand. A single scoop in the states is just that, a single scoop. A single scoop in New Zealand is a grapefruit sized ball of bliss that even my sweet tooth can barely handle. There was one experience where the woman serving the ice cream crushed my cone into oblivion attempting to place the gigantic frozen sugar sphere onto what would normally be a structurally sound cone. Alas, she had to rescoop.”

Eric crushing a boulder problem

When the weather cleared, Moon and Vergne managed to shake off the extra ice cream and meat pie weight and head to the crags. “The climbing was very 'anti-Ryan Moon'. It was slabby, buldgy, slopey, glossy, and everything else i can't climb,” Moon said. “Tons of mantles. Not an easy topout in the country.”

New Zealand Mega Adventure 2011 from Old Man Moon on Vimeo.

Moon's video of the trip

Moon said that some of the other highlights of the trip included sick nasty padslides, dance parties, shortbread cookies called 'melting moments', amazing climbing, runnel climbing, mingling with peeps from other countries, beautiful scenery, annoying kiwis with jokes about lord of the rings, locking friends in the bathrooms that have locks on the outside for some reason, sheep jokes.

Ryan climbing a V2 runnel

Moon is back behind the desk at Berkeley Ironworks, where he can’t stop talking about going back and how he’s “stuck” in Berkeley. If you see him, tell him he needs to call the Wahmubulance.

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Thursday, June 9, 2011
  A Week in Yosemite- A Bouldering Video
Walker Kearney, a long time traveling rock climber, headed to Yosemite this spring and documented his trip on video. His footage includes a number of classic boulder problems around Camp 4, the Sentinel boulders, and more.

The weather in the Valley right now is awesome. The sun is out, the rocks are drying quickly from the last storm, and the temps are great for rock climbing.

Yosemite Bouldering: A Week in the Valley from Walker Kearney on Vimeo.

Stop by your local gym and gear up for your trip to Yosemite with some great Organic crash pads, new Black Diamond cams, or some awesome sport draws. Get out to the Valley- the weather is GREAT!

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011
  The Rapture: New Bouldering in Tahoe
Vitaly Volberg, a 27 year old graduate student at UC Berkeley, made a recent ascent of a new granite boulder problem out by South Lake Tahoe. For the past three years, Vitaly has been an active member at Berkeley Ironworks, training diligently and getting it done.

On the predicted day of the Rapture, Vitaly and a few other bay area climbers headed out towards the Pie Shop to explore some of the new granite boulders. “I really love South Lake Tahoe,” Vitaly wrote. “The granite boulders are similar to bishop but the bouldering is much less developed. There is tremendous potential for new areas and first ascents! My friends Eric Sanchez and Spoons were there last weekend and did two first ascents in just a few hours.”

The line follows a series of pockets for the left hand, crimps for the right, and a high ball top out with good holds and a large lunge to the finish jug at the top. Tentatively rated v11, the problem awaits a second ascent.

Vitaly remarked on the experience saying, “The whole process of finding a potential boulder problem, cleaning it and figuring out how it climbs with friends is an amazing experience. It is really fulfilling to be able to do this!”

Want to talk about your latest exploits on the Touchstone Blog? Talk to your local gym manager.

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Sunday, June 5, 2011
  The El Cap Report
The spring season has brought a few storms but also a few glorious days of sunshine. In the dry spells there has been a lot of activity on Yosemite's El Capitan. Tom Evans, a long time climber and Yosemite local, has spent the past 5 years watching the climbers on El Cap from his stance at the bridge by the meadow.

The Southwest Face of El Cap- Tom Evans This picture was taken yesterday during the rainy part of the day.

The El Cap reports are a great way to check on the weather for the Valley, particularly the big stone. It's also nice to know what routes are seeing the most traffic and what condition they are in if you're going to make a weekend trip up the Zodiac, climb the Nose in a Day, or just head out for a fun day of climbing at the base of El Cap.

Corbyn Usinger on the Black Tower pitch of the Zodiac- Tom Evans photo.

Tom has all of the El Cap reports back logged. There's a great history of people climbing on El Cap, the successes and failures, the free and aid attempts, and everything in between. If you can't get enough of El Cap- check out The El Cap Report.

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Wednesday, June 1, 2011
  Bay Area Film Maker's Climbing Birthday Challenge
Byron Wolter, a 27 year old climbing film maker from the Bay area, decided to take on a rigorous birthday challenge this year. The Golden Gate National Recreation Area employee tested his desire to improve his bouldering, roller blading, and get pysched. Birthday challenges are great ways to get yourself to spice up your regular routine. Check out the one that Diablo Rock Gym Hans Florine wrote about.

Spencer tang-Smith
, another bay area climber who did a birthday challenge, talked about Byron's birthday challenge and his improvement. "The new Byron is not only improved, but inspiring. He's an inspiration to every climber who blames life circumstances on their lack of improvement, every alcoholic who lets the sauce get in the way of their dreams, everyone who wishes they could make a drastic change in their life but is too afraid to take the leap. More than ever, I'm proud to call Byron one of my best friends."

Byron made a video of his birthday challenge and the tape was chosen in this years "Next big indie Director" Contest put on by Fandango. The prize is a camera that will allow Byron and team to count on higher production quality on a year long road trip that will document climbing history across America.

Check out Byron's video Byron and team out. click Here, Watch, Vote. And be stoked. The Contest ends June 5th so vote for the local film maker.

Byron also made a number of cool bouldering videos of Mortar Rock as well as Bishop. you can see them at his Vimeo Site
Wolter Byron Vimeo's Site

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  Summer Youth Camp
Registration for Berkeley Ironworks annual summer camp begins this week. Come out to a great summer of climbing, swimming, and fun!

The camp will be packed with different events each day. There will be lunches at the Aquatic Park, swimming at Lake Anza, tons of bouldering, routes, yoga, cardio boxing, an exciting obstacle course, and a day at the outdoor climbing rock of Cragmont in the Berkeley Hills.

Charlotte Perry-Houts, who will be running the camps again this year, began climbing 8 1/2 years ago at Indian and Mortar Rock. She soon became a permanent fixture at Ironworks, where she has worked with the summer climbing camps for the past 4 years.

An Ironworks summer camp alumni, Charlotte has taken many trips to Cragmont, where the kids will climb outside for a day. "It's a nice park where you'd have a picnic that happens to have a bunch of routes down a trail on the side," said Charlotte. "We set up three routes there- two pretty easy cracks and a really tall overhanging 10b called Farewell to Arms." Join Charlotte and the kids at this summer's youth camp!

The Camps run from Monday through Friday from 10 am to 4pm. There will be childcare available for working parents from 8:30 am -10 am and from 4 pm - 5:30 pm
$400 members, $450 for non-members

Kids ages 6 - 14 are welcome.

June 20 - 24
June 27 - July 1
July 11 - 15
July 18 - 22
July 25 - 29
Aug 1 - 5
Aug 8 - 12
Aug 15 - 19

For more information check in at the front desk of Berkeley Ironworks

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