Touchstone Blog Archive
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
  Yosemite Facelift: Help Clean Up Yosemite
For the past 8 years, the Yosemite Climbing Association has held a four day event to help clean up Yosemite. The 8th annual Facelift will start on Tuesday September 20th at the East Auditorium behind the visitor center. The evening programs are a great chance to see slideshows by climbing's greatest and up and coming locals. There will be a ton of food and beer for people who volunteer to clean up the park.

The Facelift will continue until Sunday, September 25th. On the last day there will be a raffle for everyone that volunteered with prizes from a number of great climbing companies.

Tuesday September 20th:
Josh Helling will show Dangerous Season a film about Yosemite Search and Rescue
Lisa Rands presentation -

Wednesday September 21st:
Malcom Daly presentation - Tragedy and Triumph: Defying Gravity Though Post Traumatic Growth
Nicolas Favresse, Sean Villanueva and Ben Ditto will present Vertical Sailing Greenland

Thursday September 22nd:
6th annual Reel Rock Film Tour

Friday September 23rd:
Jim Donini presentation - High and Wild
Mike Libecki presentation - Around the World: In Search of Virgin Vertical Earth

Saturday September 24th 5:00pm - 9:00pm:
Volunteer recognition, raffle and outdoor music by Little Brother. Location to be announced

Sunday September 25th 6:00 pm - Midnight:
Raffle, food and dancing to Little Brother

There is also free camping in Yosemite for that weekend. Check out the Yosemite Climbing Association website for more information. Come to Yosemite, clean up, and enjoy the great climber festival!

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Sunday, August 28, 2011
  GWPC Video of TBS 7
The films from the previous Touchstone Bouldering Series Comps have come out. The comp at Pipeworks the other night went great and the next comp at Ironworks promises to be off the hook. While you wait between comps- check out these rad videos.

TBS 7 @ GWPC - Part 2, The Comp from Great Western Power Company on Vimeo.

TBS7 @ GWPC (Part 1 - Setting the Comp) from Great Western Power Company on Vimeo.

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Thursday, August 25, 2011
  Mission Cliffs New Bouldering Pads
Touchstone's pooh-bah, Russel Olsen just upgraded the bouldering area at Mission Cliffs. Utilizing a new flooring system, Olsen removed the old padding and placed in an entirely new set of padding. The new system utilizes 9 inch foam to make for a more cushy landing when jumping or falling off of the great boulder problems at Mission Cliffs. The system is also entirely seamless, which helps prevents rolled ankles and other falling injuries.

Touchstone has employed the system at Metal Mark, the new gym in Fresno and is working out the finite details of the crash pad system for future bouldering areas. Touchstone hopes to expand the Mission Cliffs bouldering area soon. As we posted last summer, we have acquired the space adjacent to Mission Cliffs to do a remodel that will include a completely new and expanded bouldering area. Unfortunately this project has been delayed in the building department. The nature of the delay has to do with the type of building that Mission Cliffs is classified as, and because of this our landlord has to be the one to work through these issues with the city. We continue to work with him to try and get this project moving forward, but at this point it is still stalled. This is an extremely exciting project for us and we remain strongly committed to make this happen despite this lengthy setback.

In the mean time, stop by Mission Cliffs and check out the new foam!

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  The Scene Movie Premiere
This weekend, Berkeley Ironworks will be showing the bay area premiere of Chuck Fryberer's new film The Scene. The movie takes a look at the epicenters of hard climbing and the people who are part of the action. Featuring Chris Sharma, Steph Davis, the bay area's Ethan Pringle, and many more climbers who are committed to the core.

The film tours amazing destinations like Moab Utah, Catalyuna Spain, and the major mecca of climbing- Boulder Colorado.

The film will be shown in the lead cave at Ironworks on Sunday evening at 8pm, after the gym has closed.

Bring snacks, beverages and your pysche this weekend. Check out the Ironworks Facebook page for more info.

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Monday, August 22, 2011
  Help Rebuild the Needles Outlook
On July 28, 2011, the famous fire lookout at The Needles in Sequoia National Forest was destroyed by fire. Margee Kelly, the USFS Forestry Technician who has made the tower her residence for more than twenty summers, baking cookies for thousands of Needle's climbers, escaped safely, but the lookout is a total loss.

An ember from the wood stove landed on the shake roof of The Needles Fire Lookout sparking a fire that quickly spread along the roof and eventually into the attic. Grabbing the fire extinguisher Margee fought to put the fire out, even climbing up on a ladder placed on the catwalk in an attempt to get closer to the blaze.

Sequoia Forest Helicopter 522 launched from the Peppermint Helibase in a matter of minutes dropping several buckets of water on the structure in what Margee calls “a heroic effort to save the lookout.” Unfortunately, their efforts were in vain.

At this time the US Forest service and Giant Sequoia National Monument officials are considering rebuilding the lookout. The Buck Rock Foundation, a non-profit organization whose mission statement includes “restoring fire lookouts and other historic facilities in accordance with all government and historical standards and guidelines,” can serve as a clearinghouse for contributions but this effort cannot proceed until the Forest Service makes its decision regarding the fate of the lookout.

Since its construction in 1938 The Needles Lookout has been visited by many thousands of climbers, hikers, naturalists, photographers and scientists among others due to its unique position high atop The Magician Needle. Many visiting climbers from around the world have had their first good look at The Needles from the tower, and have gained valuable information from the old guidebooks and maps kept there.

Please write to the District Ranger for The Western Divide Ranger District and also to the Supervisor of Sequoia National Forest. Climbers input into rebuilding the structure will undoubtedly expedite the process.

District Ranger Priscilla Summers
Western Divide Ranger District
32588 Highway 190
Springville, CA 93265

Sequoia National Forest Supervisor Deb Whitman
1839 South Newcomb Street
Porterville, CA 93257

For more information check out the Supertopo thread as well as the Buck Rock home page.

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Friday, August 19, 2011
  The Sport of Bouldering Makes NY Times
Recently, bay area climbers Randy Puro and Beth Rodden headed across the big pond to Norway, where they bouldered, trad climbed and clipped some sport bolts. The pair were followed by a reporter for the New York Times, who posted a story about them in the paper.

VINGSAND, Norway — Two large black mattresses bounced along the coastline, pausing every so often in front of large rocks and the glimmering sea view. w. The mattresses — or crash pads, as some call them — were strapped to the backs of two American rock climbers who are among a growing group of people who in the last decade have practiced and promoted a form of climbing that relies on mattresses, rather than ropes, to catch their falls.

Reaching a rock known by locals as the Dalai Lama, the climbers threw the pads onto the ground and changed their shoes, and then it was time to hit the rock.

“It’s going to be an awesome day,” said Beth Rodden, a 31-year-old Californian who in 2008 completed the hardest traditional climb ever created in Yosemite National Park.

It was early July and Rodden warmed up her fingers in a sort of sunburst motion. She then began to feel the boulder in front of her, pinching each wrinkle and fold. Then, right foot first, she was off the ground, dancing in the vertical. If she fell, her black mattress was on the ground just five feet below to catch her.

For decades, rock climbing was a sport about reaching places thousands of feet off the ground. These climbs can take days and require sleeping up on the rock. Spectators watch with binoculars below. Pinning ropes to the rock along the way is a necessary safeguard, and learning how to climb with a rope is a lengthy undertaking that long kept the sport on the fringe.

The rest of the story as well as videos and photos from their climbing day can be seen on the NY Times website

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011
  Lake Tahoe Bouldering Competition
On September 17th, the first annual Meyers Climbing Festival will be held in the town outside of South Lake Tahoe.

South Lake has some of the best granite bouldering around and the competition will be a great chance to check out all the climbing in a fun environment.

The adult entry fee is $35 and includes lunch and a t-shirt. For climbers 17 and younger, the fee is $25. Registration in Meyers opens at 9 am and the competition begins at 10. Lunch will be at noon and the comp ends at 4. Prizes will be awarded to the winners of the different divisions.

Register for the comp at the Lake Tahoe Bouldering site.

Get ready for the competition by heading over to your nearest Touchstone gym and powering up on the campus board, the steep boulder problems or by tossing some weights around. Get pysched!

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Monday, August 15, 2011
  Profile of Paul Shain- Ironworks Member
Paul Shain, a long time Ironworks member, began climbing with his 12 year old daughter when he was 57 years old. Shain is now retired but works part time for a non-profit that teaches young people in Richmond television production. Twice a week, Shain heads out to the Berkeley Touchstone gym to climb and stay fit. He took a few moments to share his climbing experience with the blog.

My membership with Ironworks dates to the opening of facility (I was amongst the first few hundred who joined.) At the time, my main motivation was my 12-year old daughter Emily’s interest in climbing and my desire to spend quality time with her and reinforce her interest in physical activity. I was 57 years old. Our joint climbing experience was a special one and both we cherish those experiences. She’s now out of college and living in Chicago but a joint trip to Ironworks is a mandatory event every time she visits.

Twice a week we religiously took to the gym, sharing the challenge of the wall and the special closeness what ensued for our shared experience. We both fell in love with climbing. One lovely aspect of the experience was that she was a natural and I was a natural klutz. In the first year, she was doing 5-11’s and I was struggling (and I mean STRUGGLING) with 5-9s. It was particularly sweet to share an activity where my daughter was so clearly the leader at a time when she was entering her teen years. It was empowering for her to star and to be the one who mentored me in the gym. I, of course, loved it all.

Shain and his daughter

Over time, I began to learn a bit and became a respectable but not particularly advanced climber. Time passed, my daughter grew up, and went away to college. Although she was no longer around to partner with, by then I was hooked and continued to climb, introducing a friend to the sport and meeting regularly with him and with my niece to ensure that I got a couple of climbs in every week. I was now over 60 and the health benefits that climbing provided; flexibly, range of motion, strength, balance, and breath control had become the centerpiece of my exercise regimen.

Little did I know that climbing would literally save my life.

When I was 62 years old I began to experience symptoms of heart distress. Fortunately, I heeded the warning signs and after extensive testing, I underwent open-heart surgery for a quintuple heart bypass operation. My arteries looked like shredded spaghetti with a myriad of tiny capillaries that had developed in their place to keep my oxygen flowing. I am convinced that the years of rigorous exercise climbing fostered and nurtured those alternative capillaries and, in effect, saved my life.
Ten weeks after my surgery, I was back at Ironworks, rehabbing and continuing to grow as a climber. That was 6 ½ years ago.

I have just passed my 69th birthday and continue to climb twice a week. While my degree difficulty has remained pretty constant (making most 5-10 Cs and Ds with occasional hard earned 5-11s). What’s cool is that I continue to improve and am making many more climbs without stopping than I used to. My technique continues to improve and I’m as enthusiastic and energized by climbing as I was as a novice 11 years ago.

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Friday, August 12, 2011
  Technique for Slab Climbing
Technique is for the weak. At least that's what it seems like seeing the strong boulders in the steep parts of the gym. Unfortunately, big muscles and an ability to campus won't get you up hard routes- precise footwork and an ability to climb well will get you much farther. One of the best ways to improve your footwork is to slab climb. While climbing lower angle rocks isn't in vogue, it can be really really fun. Take the time to learn proper technique and the big muscles will shoot you to rock super stardom.

Position your body
You want as much downward pressure on the balls of your feet as you can. If you lean in to far and hug the rock, you'll probably cheese grater right down. Keep your butt out and your hands in front of you. It's a calf burning way to climb so make sure you have comfy shoes and toned legs.

Smear your feet
A smear is when you use the friction between your shoes and the rock to hold you in place. Get as much weight onto your foot as possible. Look for tiny edges, ripples and other dimples in the rock.

Mason Earle, a slab ninja, on a first ascent in the Needles.

Move Confidently
Moving well on slab routes requires stepping up. Usually the moves aren't physically taxing but require a greater sense of balance. Place your foot on a hold and commit to the process. You'll do much better if you're relaxed and moving well.

Wear good shoes
Stiffer shoes work much better on slabs. Make sure your soles are clean. Slab climbing requires really strong feet so be aware that your feet may get a little worked after some intense slab climbing.

How to Climb Low Angle Rock Walls Outdoors

There's lots of great places to go get your slab climb on. Try the Dike Route (5.9) in Tuolumne, FreeBlast (5.11b) in Yosemite, Initial Friction (v1), Blue Suede Shoes (v5) in the Camp 4 boulders, or any of the hundreds of slab routes in Squamish. At Ironworks, there's a great slab in the back of the gym as well as a wall in the front.

Now go get your slab on!

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011
  6 Chambers at Sacramento Pipeworks
Pipeworks just had a great 6 Chambers, a series of puzzles designed to engage the members in everything Pipeworks has to offer: roped climbing, bouldering, fitness, spin class, yoga and our Facebook page.

From Wednesday July 6th until July 26th, members had a chance to work through the 6 Chambers.The puzzles included word searches, anagrams and other tests of brain and brawn.

The prizes included a $100 gift certificate to the Pipeworks climbing store, a free month membership and other great gear. This year, Drew Dano won the challenge in under 30 hours and won a $100 gift certificate.

Pipeworks plans on having more games like 6 Chambers so keep a look out on their Facebook Page In the mean time, stop by the gym and check out all the great programs, climbing, bouldering and classes that Pipeworks has to offer!

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Saturday, August 6, 2011
  TBS 7 at Great Western Power Company
The recent comp at Great Western Power Company kicked off the Touchstone Bouldering Series 7th year of climbing competitions in the bay. Over 300 climbers and spectators headed to the Oakland gym with 272 people participating in the event!

The record number of climbers got a chance to eat lots of Extreme Pizza, drink some great Pyramid Beer and recover from their climbing efforts by drinking a ton of Nesquik Chocolate Milk- chocolate milk is an awesome recovery drink. Check out the blog that was written about it.

Mission Cliffs member and smoothie ninja Andy Bayowski whipped up some delicious and healthy future good smoothies. There was an awesome raffle and a ton of great prizes given away.

To see more picture check out the GWPC Flickr Page

The next comp will be August 26th at Sacramento Pipweworks. Get ready to crush!

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Thursday, August 4, 2011
  Jiu Juitsu Classes at Pipeworks
Sacramento Pipeworks is introducing a beginner's Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class for people with 0-1 years of experience. The class is a great opportunity to learn the fundamentals of the art- submissions, defense, positioning, and strategy.

Jiu Jitsu is a great self defense tool and a great cornerstone to your mixed martial arts program, for increasing core strength, flexibility,m agility and balance.

Each session begins with a warm-up and stretch followed by technique instruction and short sparring sessions for participants. Class size is limited due to available mat space- first come first serve.

Stop by Sacramento Pipeworks for more information on class times and dates.

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Tuesday, August 2, 2011
  Climbing Video Instructions- The Basics of Bouldering
Learning how to rock climb isn't easy. It takes time, dedication, and some instruction. Luckily, there's lots of information out there on how to climb better. Check out this series of videos which explains a little bit about bouldering and how you can improve your climbing.

Take your new climbing skills to the next Touchstone Bouldering Series Comp coming to Sacramento Pipeworks on August 26th.

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