Touchstone Blog Archive
Monday, October 31, 2011
  The Studio: Construction Update
Construction on Touchstone’s newest gym, The Studio in San Jose, has been moving along smoothly. The gym will be located on South First Street in an old theater. The building has significant character with a marquee, a ticket booth, and a setting like an old theater.

The building’s unique design allows for a significant amount of climbing. There will be over 75 lead and toprope anchors along the 44 foot high walls.

Bent steel makes the formation of the 15 foot bouldering walls. There are no angles, just smooth transitions from one section to the next. There will also be a free standing boulder and the second floor bouldering area will overlook the climbing wall. This large bouldering area promises to be one of Touchstone's best.

There will be an adjustable crack like the one at MetalMark. There will also be a chimney, a roof area, some extreme dihedrals and tons of other awesome climbing features.

The Studio will have an excellent yoga and fitness room. New showers and locker rooms will make the gym an easy place to go work out at and leave feeling fresh. The latest cardio machines, free weights, and tons of exercise machines will round out the facilities.

Mark Benkert acted as the lead welder and wall designer along with Touchstone founder, Mark Melvin. This is the second gym the pair have built this year and they used many of the innovations they developed at Fresno’s MetalMark.

Touchstone hopes to have the building finished by late 2011 or early 2012. Stay tuned for details about the latest construction.

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Saturday, October 29, 2011
  Yosemite Bouldering
Temps are cooling down, which means it's time to head to Yosemite and start wrestling pebbles.

The granite bouldering in Yosemite is world class and a mere 4 hour drive from the bay area. It's even closer for Pipeworkers and MetalMarkers. Stay up to date on the newest boulder problems out there by checking Betabase.

Mill Valley climber Kyle O'Meara headed out there this past weekend and crushed on his first bouldering trip to the Ditch. Flashing classics like Midnight Lightning, The Force, Wall to Wall Carpet, and scraping his way up Initial Friction, O'Meara took a tour of the park. Here's some footage of O'Meara killing the granite to get you pysched.

Two days in Yosemite from Kyle O'Meara on Vimeo.

Stop by the Touchstone gyms and grab chalk, crash pads, brushes and all the essentials for your next trip to Yosemite!

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011
  Project Bandaloop
Project Bandaloop performs across the world. A product of the bay area, Project Bandaloop has expanded across the globe and offers a great glimpse into the artistic aspects of climbing.

"They blend parts of classical dance, Cirque De Soliel, climbing, and rope work with a detailed aesthetic sense to the particular building, wall, structure, or cliff that they are performing on or around," said Hans Florine, a former performer and rigger for Project Bandaloop. The performance company started when Amelia Rudolph wanted to combine her climbing with her dance. She put on a show at City Rock gym in 1991.

2009 Project Bandaloop Eastern Sierra Workshop from Project Bandaloop on Vimeo.

This footage shows a session in the Sierra.

Florine, the manager at Diablo Rock Gym, has rigged and performed for them in New York's Time Square, in India, in Italy, and across California. A number of other bay area climbers have worked with the company as well. Check out some of their amazing footage on their website.

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  New Climbing Gear on The Season
Rock climbing protection is developed through all sorts of means. Often new equipment is thought up and tested by enterprising climbers. Fitz Cahall, the creator of a tv series on outdoor adventurers called the Season, put together a great video about Matt Maddaloni testing a new anti-cam device. The new gear helps protect large cracks without bolts.

The Season Episode 15 from Fitz Cahall and Bryan Smith on Vimeo.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011
  Hybris Bake Sale- Youth Climbing Team Fundraiser at Metal Mark
The climbing community in Fresno is rapidly expanding. As more and more climbers head to MetalMark, there has been an increase in the competitive aspects of climbing. MetalMark now has its own youth competitive climbing team- Hybris.

The team of 8 kids named themselves after the Greek Mythologic term Hybris, which means "the spirit of outrageous fun."

Joe Diaz began climbing in 1996 and started a climbing team at Yosemite Fitness in Fresno. He left the team to become a firefighter but has recently reinvested into the Fresno climbing team. The team meets twice a week for two hours on rotating days throughout the week. Hybris will be fund raising for their travel expenses to comps. Their first comp as a team will be in Sacramento on Saturday.

Joe Diaz and some team members

To help with the expenses of their upcoming comp, Hybris will be having a bake sale at MetalMark's Great Monster Bash on Thursday, Oct. 27 from 6-9 pm. The team is happily accepting donations of baked treats to sell. Simply drop them off before 6 and help the little Goblins. Help out the team and have a great time at MetalMark

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Saturday, October 22, 2011
  Big City Mountaineers: Summit for Someone- A FA of Malaysia's Dragon Horns
Recently, San Franciscan, Luis "Lucho" Rivera and North Face athlete Cedar Wright headed to the Dragon Horns on Tioman Island in Malaysia to attempt a first ascent.

The pair are climbing to raise money for Big City Mountaineers, a group that mentors under-resourced urban teens through transformative outdoor experiences to enrich lives, broaden horizons and instill critical life skills.

Lucho was a member of the Urban Pioneer Program in San Francisco, a group much like BCM. The group helped Lucho escape gang life in the Mission and explore the wilderness of Yosemite and the Sierra. "These programs are great because they take inner city kids into the outdoors and teach them valuable life and team building skills," said Lucho. "That's hard to get when you're in a gang or in the hood. These programs teach you how to work together and help one another instead of hurt one another."

Lucho and Cedar have climbed together on a number of occasions, making the first ascent of the Camp 4 Wall, a grade 5 5.12 route up the wall behind Yosemite's Camp 4 campground.

The North Face is also committed to supporting BCM kids and has pledged to match every dollar raised up to $4,000. Mountain Op also promised to donate 25% of their profits to the program.

You can follow their travels on Cedar's blog.

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Thursday, October 20, 2011
  Jailhouse Adopt-A-Crag
On November 12th, the Access Fund is hosting a workday at Jailhouse near Sonora, CA. Over 200 tons of gravel will be laid for a new parking area and road, new fences and gates will be made and the access trail will be improved. The Access Fund is helping to sponsor this Adopt-A-Crag event. Climbers around the bay area will be heading out to help.

Also, as of that day, the access to the crag will change. New access will be through a gate off O'Byrnes Ferry Road, which will be locked. To get in through the gate, you'll need the combination. That will be posted here:

Jailhouse Access Fund

The terms of the new easement require that climbers follow a few guidelines- No dogs, music, fires or camping are allowed. Also, per the owner's request, please don't park outside of the new access gate. Until Nov. 12th, park by the bridge and approach the cliff by the old traditional hike up the steep hill.

Stop by Jailhouse on November 12th to help out at one of the US's and Bar Area's premiere sport climbing crags.

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Monday, October 17, 2011
  Food For Climbers- Spinach Ricotta Muffin
After 20 years of practicing law, Marirose Piciucco decided to switch occupations, attending the Bauman College, a Holistic Nutrition and Culinary Arts program in Berkeley on University Avenue. After receiving a certification as a Nutrition Educator and Natural Chef, Piciucco joined fellow Ironworks member Christy Kovacs and began Small Steps Cooking. The company works with whole, unprocessed and unrefined ingredients to make nutritious meals.

Small Steps offers after-school classes, group cooking classes, kids’ culinary summer camps, nutrition workshops and other classes.

Picicucco brings by some of her great food to Ironworks. One of the staff favorites is the spinach ricotta muffins. Here's a bit about why the muffins are a great post workout meal and how to make them.

The eggs and cheese in the recipe provide high quality protein to help rebuild muscle and stimulate the insulin release needed to optimize the use of the carbohydrates. The spinach and kale provide Vitamin K, which is important for healthy blood. The kale is packed with calcium, manganese, and B Vitamins. The leafy greens are loaded with beta-caretene. All the vitamins help support the nervous system, eye health, help with clarity and mental focus. The sweet potatoes, a complex carb, contain sugar, fiber and other nutrients. The sugars in the potatoes take longer to enter into the bloodstream than the simple carbs in candy, cake, and sodas. For post-workout (within 30-60 minutes after workout), carbohydrates help replenish the glucose and glycogen used as fuel during the workout. Eating soon after a workout ensures that the body synthesizes the glucose optimally and transports it to the liver and muscles where it's stored as glycogen.


Preheat oven to 350F.

Pulse spinach in batches in a food processor until finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl.

Add remaining ingredients. Mix thoroughly.

Grease an 8-cup muffin tin with olive oil or butter. With a large spoon, begin distributing the spinach batter evenly amongst the muffin tins.

Bake the muffins until set, about 20-25 minutes. Insert a toothpick in one to see that it is not liquidy. If done, remove from oven and let cool for approximately 15-20 minutes before attempting to take them out. Loosen the edges with a knife and turn out on a clean cutting board or large plate.

12 oz fresh spinach (or mix greens such as spinach, kale and Swiss chard)
1 large sweet potato, peeled and grated
½ cup full fat ricotta cheese
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese (or Asiago)
2 large eggs, beaten
1 clove garlic, minced
½ tsp ground nutmeg

Check out Smaller Steps website and remember- eat well climb well.

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Thursday, October 13, 2011
  The Strongest Grip: David Reinard Enters the Hall of Fame
Daniel Reinard, a 29 year old east bay native, leads a busy life. As a chemical plant operator living in Oakley, Reinard found himself becoming too busy to rock climb. After searching for ways to continue improving his climbing, he delved into the world of Captains of Crush grippers, steel bending and strength training. .

Reinard began hand strengthening in August of last year and his first competition was this past July. He has become a force in the competitions. Recently, Reinard was added to the Grip Hall of Fame for his impressive world records in the Worlds Strongest Hands Series

Strong hands make for a strong body. When the hands fail the body shuts down to prevent injuries. Anything I do now has improved.” Reinard said about the benefits of hand strengthening. “My job is physical so it has helped a lot here. I don't lose my climbing strength if I take long breaks. Weight lifting has also improved, along with other sports.”

Reinard lifts weights once a week and trains his grip everyday by using grippers, thick bar/axle lifts, sledge levers, 2x35 one hand plate pinches and other pinches. Occasionally he bends bolts, nails, levers, rebar and horseshoe for a fun change.

Reinard provided some suggestions for people that want to improve their hand strength. “Focus on quick simple workouts at the end of your climbing session. 15 minutes (5 minutes each) of grippers, plate pinches and wrist levers is all you need to see gains. Focus on max efforts not endurance. Raising max power also raises endurance, but not so much vice versa. If you don't lift weights, start. Deadlifts are a huge part of my grip progress. It helps in the way that an overall body exercise puts a large stress on the body. When this happens your body will increase testosterone output to help in muscle recovery. This stimulates growth throughout your whole body. It took me a long time to understand this fact, but once I tried it I was amazed.”

For more information about the Worlds Strongest Hands Series check out the blog. Also, David Home set up the Grip Hall of Fame in the UK. Stop by the Touchstone gyms and check out some of the great grip strengtheners.

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  Cal Prep Heads to Ironworks
On October 12th, fifteen students from Cal Prep headed to Berkeley Ironworks to check out the climbing gym. The students were completely new to rock climbing but the Ironworks staff helped the kids climb for the first time. “The instructors were incredibly conscientious, patient, enthusiastic and skilled, which made the whole experience all the more enjoyable,” said Rachel Niederman, a faculty member at Cal Prep. “The gear check-out/check-in was easy, and the gym was so impressive and exciting for our students to see.”

The students got a chance to climb on a number of the great routes at the gym. The challenge of climbing up the walls together helped unify them. Niederman commented, “Students who previously have teased one another were cheering each other on to make it to the top. It was great to see as their teacher!”

Ironworks has a number of young groups coming through the gym on a regular basis. The other Touchstone gyms support groups of young adults, teenagers and youngsters get the basic skills of climbing down. For more information stop by the front desk of your nearest gym.

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  Help Save Summit Rock
The Access Fund released a note about Summit Rock in Santa Clara. The crag is being closed because of bird nesting.

The County of Santa Clara, California has closed Summit Rock, a popular crag in the Bay Area to protect peregrine falcons nesting. Instead of implementing a seasonal climbing closure to protect the nesting site, the standard management practice at all levels of government nationwide, the County is enforcing a year round closure.

Summit Rock is one of the largest and most popular climbing destinations in the Bay Area. It features easy access, high quality sandstone, and a wide range of difficulty, including moderate routes for youth and beginners.

Summit Rock is the only year-round raptor-related climbing closure in the nation. The County has adopted a recreation management approach that the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service, agencies with decades of experience in climbing and raptor management, did not even consider when the peregrine falcon was listed as an endangered species. The Access Fund supports dozens of legitimate seasonal raptor closures across the country and actively educates climbers about seasonal restrictions and the importance of protecting cliff-nesting raptors. The Access Fund believe that the county’s year-round closure of Summit Rock, while perhaps well-intentioned, is uninformed, misguided, and unnecessary.

The Access Fund needs your help to appeal to the County to lift this unreasonable closure and work with the climbing community to implement appropriate climbing management practices that protect the nesting raptors while still allowing recreational access.

You can also help by donating to the Save Summit Rock fund. We need your help to raise $2,000 to bring a renowned peregrine expert to Summit Rock to provide an assessment of the site and provide the county with a written opinion and recommendations on necessary closures to protect nest sites.

Check out more information at the Access Fund website for more information.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011
  Crack Boulder Problems
One of the best ways to improve your technique at crack climbing is by bouldering shorter cracks. Working on your jamming skills close to the ground can help you improve when you're climbing off the deck. Many crack routes come down to boulder problems. The classic Separate Reality, the quintessential roof crack in Yosemite is a long crack boulder problem off the ground. There are a ton of great boulder crack problems in Yosemite, Joshua Tree and in Moab Utah. Check out some of these inspiring videos.

Aphrodite [v?] from scott chandler on Vimeo.

Last winter, Paul Barraza established Aphrodite, a v5 crack boulder problem at the Crumbs. The bouldering below the Cookie Cliff has a number of great problems. Including Paul's highball First act. About the crack problem, Paul said, "It was hard to come up with a grade, since I am not a great crack climber. I managed to wedge my fingers just long enough to send the thing!"

Bachar Cracker is one of the most classic crack boulder problems around. Located just off the Yosemite Falls trail near Camp 4, the steep crack starts off with a hands section before going through a couple finger locks and a hard lock-off move to a large hold. There's an extension that ends by doing the Largo Lunge.

Joshua Tree Bouldering - Pig Pen from Natalie Duran on Vimeo.

Just past Joshua Tree's Hidden Valley campground is Pigpen, aka the Bachar Cracker of the desert. This long crack problem is one of the best around and a worthy companion to the crack boulder problem in Yosemite.

the Crackhouse from steph davis on Vimeo.

This mega crack problem in Moab Utah is sustained upside down crack climbing at its best. This testpiece requires serious endurance and tape. Steph Davis hikes the problem in this video.

The Touchstone gyms also have a great collection of crack topropes to practice your jamming skills on. Stop by Ironworks and hit up the thin hands and ring lock test piece over by the lead cave!

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Sunday, October 9, 2011
  Indian Rock Clean-Up
On Friday, October 14th the Access Fund is having an Adopt-A-Crag cleanup from 10am to sunset at Berkeley's Indian Rock. Mountain Hardwear employees as well as other Bay area climber's will be heading out to the local park to brush holds, clean up trash and make sure that the local climbing area remains pristine.

According to the Access Fund, Adopt-A-Crag events like the one at Indian Rock exist to unite local climbing communities in partnerships with land managers to conserve local climbing areas. Adopt-a-Crag events typically include activities such as litter clean-ups, trail construction and restoration, erosion control, and invasive weed removal.

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.

Sam Kobata, a Mountain Hardwear employee, has been working hard at maintaining local crags. A few months ago, Kobata participated in a clean-up at Mount St. Helena. Kobata will be working there on Friday. If you have any questions, need directions or wondering what you should bring to help out contact him at Sam Kobata-

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  Zero Gravity Assistant Coaches
Zero Gravity, the international known youth climbing team has been led by Scot Jenerik at the Touchstone climbing gyms for the past decade. Jenerik’s excellent coaching has been augmented by a number of great team members and assistant coaches. Currently, Zero Gravity had three assistant coaches.

Josh Levin, a climber for the past 13 years, helps coaching the Zero Gravity kids in the South Bay Area. Levin offered some great advice about climbing. “One of the biggest things I've learned that helps me with sending hard both indoors and out, but most of all with competitions, is being able to mentally prepare myself before I get on the wall. If I can block out all other distractions before I start climbing, close my eyes, focus on my breathing, and visualize getting to the top, I have a much better chance of succeeding than if I had just rushed straight to the wall.” Levin has climbed Espirit Rebeld 5.13d in Rodellar, Spain, bouldered Beefy Gecko in Bishop’s Sad Boulders, and been a national champion for multiple years in Sport, Speed and Bouldering.

Josh Levin at finals of the 2011 Open National Championships, Boulder, Colorado. Photo: Dane Cronin

For the past two years, Scot Cory has worked for Zero Gravity as an assistant coach. Cory began climbing with the team when he was 12 but became more serious about it when he was 16. Cory has climbed El Capitan’s Nose in a single day, redpointed 5.14 sport routes and bouldered V10. In between his classes at Los Medanos and Diablo Valley College, the 21 year old coaches three days a week. “The training is fantastic,” Cory said. “For me I generally knew what I had to do in order to get stronger, but it was all of the encouragement that Scot offers that makes and made it easier to really dig in and get the best out of the workouts.”

Scot Cory bouldering in Tahoe

Cicada Jenerik has climbed her age twice, sending V10 at the age of 10 and V11 at 11. The 17 year old San Francisco native has been climbing seriously since the age of 6, when her father, Scot Jenerik began Zero Gravity. The Gateway High School student now helps with the coaching of Zero gravity, providing serious inspiration to the female climbers on the team. “I think girls need to put in the work and they will be up there with the guys. Girls, don't be afraid to push it to the limit. Believe you can do it and the rest will follow. “

Cicada Jenerik

All of the coaches assist the kids with proper warm-ups techniques, setting and maintaining training schedules and keeping psyche high at competitions and in the daily grind of the work outs. These great climbers are a vital part of keeping Touchstone’s youth climbing team strong. Great work guys!

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Friday, October 7, 2011
  Touchstone Team on Half Dome
On Saturday evening, October 1st two bay area climbers hiked to the base of the Regular Northwest Face of Half Dome via the Death Slabs, thelow angle granite directly above Mirror Lake.

“Neither of us had been up the Death Slabs and after some of the stories I had heard about them I wasa bit intimated,” said Brian “Cuz” Hedrick of Berkeley. “One fixed line nearly killed me! The rock was a bit slick and the rope in question ran out of knots in it to hold on to. I slipped on a hold and slid 5 feet down to the last knot! I was 20 feet above a ledge, not attached to anything with a decently heavy pack on. Wigged me out before we even started climbing!”

The Death Slabs are in a serious rock fall zone and are extremely hazardous to hike in.

Ethan Pringle, a San Franciscan, and Cuz are notable figures in the bay area climbing community. Pringle, a Touchstone Athlete, is a world renowned sport climber with ascents of routes up to 5.15. Cuz, who works as a Touchstone route setter, is no slouch with ascents of the hardest problems in Bishop’s Buttermilk Boulders and at the bay area's Mortar Rock. However, the pair are far from seasoned trad veterans.

When asked what routes he climbed to prepare for the route, Pringle responded, “ Uhhh, the 13+ link up at Mission Cliffs? We really did nothing to prepare ourselves for the route, which was a bit of in issue.”

The two decided to pitch out the route, leading and following every pitch. On the harder sections of the grade VI climb, the second pulled on gear. In the difficult Zig Zags portion, the second jumared with the pack.

The view from the base of Half Dome is daunting.

They climbed with minimal gear, a small pack and only one rope. “Only having one rope was a little gripping because you're pretty much committed to the top no matter what, as there is no way to bail after a certain height,” said Pringle.

The pair made quick work of the lower sections of the route, climbing through the wandering slab pitches, across the Robbins Traverse and through the long series of chimneys. Things were going smoothly until they reached the difficult Zig Zags.

“I was getting ready to start jugging and cleaning the last of the Zig Zags when I hear Ethan yell some profanity and see a nice iPhone gleefully spinning towards the valley floor, “ said Cuz of the team’s only on route epic. “I supposed it didn't feel like taking the cables down. It wanted a....wireless descent!”

Unfortunately, the pair’s only topo was on Ethan’s phone. Route finding had been a challenge for them all day. Since neither had climbed the route, they weren’t sure where to go. At the top Zig Zag, Pringle took the direct variation instead of the easier corner out right, climbing 12d instead of 12a. “There was no chalk, no tic marks to tell you where the good spots were, and it was slick as hell from all the aid climbers (and the sun),” said Pringle. “But there was a ton of fixed gear, so much so that I didn't even clip it all.” Luckily, the pair were only four pitches from the summit and used their savy climbing skills to bring them to the top. Pringle managed to onsight the pitch freeing much of the route, except for some of the free variations lower. Hedrick free climbed the majority of the route as well.

The Northwest Face of Half Dome is marked in red

After approximately 14 hours on the wall, the pair topped out and returned to the base, where they spent the night. The next morning the two weary climbers took the “long but enjoyable hike” down to the Valley floor via the Mist Trail.

When asked if he had any more plans for big walls like El Capitan and Half Dome, Cuz said, “I'm probably going to start gearing up for bouldering instead. Much less commitment and fixed lines.”

About the climb Pringle said, “We had a freaken blast! I can't wait to spend a whole season in the valley sometime. I think it will broaden my climbing horizons.”

Congratulations to the team for getting tradical!

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011
  Journey Into the Ring
On Sunday, September 18th, two Touchstone members brawled on San Pablo. Fighting for Education, a fundraiser brought together by the Alcazar Scholarship Fund, By Any Dreams Necessary, and Rocha Scholarship, hosted MMA exhibitions, raffles, and a fight between Andy "Mustang Andy" Sondag of Diablo Rock Gym and Tone "Iron" Chin of Berkeley Ironworks.

Both fighters are members of Victor Damian’s Touchstone boxing classes. Tone Chin wrote an account of the fight.


An instant message pops up across my screen. It’s Victor Damian. “Hey, do you want to have an amateur boxing bout with Andy? Sept 17th? 3 rounds, 3 minute rounds, for a good cause.” After reading the message, I felt a nervous chill running down my spine. No, it didn’t just running down my spine, but lingered around for a good, long minute. Do I really want to fight Andy? I respond, “I might be sailing. gotta check. will get back to you.” I already knew my schedule was open; I wasn’t going to be sailing that weekend. I was just trying to buy time to think things over. Do I really want to fight Andy?

Andy and I have sparred together a few times in the past. Sparring is about learning and teaching each other. And each time, I did very well. I relied on my quickness to hit him. But the real fight would be three rounds and my speed would be nullified when I tire out in the later rounds. Also in sparring, if one gets a good shot in, the other has a chance to take a breather and recover. But this was going to be a real fight with no breaks for hard hits. Show any weaknesses and your opponent will jump at you. I neither have any desire of hurting anyone nor do I have the desire to get hurt. But this was my chance to step into the Ring. If I pass on this opportunity, I will forever have regrets. I had to fight, not for the purpose of beating Andy but to test my mettle. There was a reason for that nervous chill to run down my back.

Andy is bigger, stronger, and better conditioned than me. After pointing out to my friends who Andy is, my friends would pull me aside and tell me, “be very careful” and joked if it would be possible for me to add them onto my Last Will and Testament. I only had 7 weeks before the fight. I had to start training immediately. My main resource for training is Berkeley Ironworks (BIW). In addition to being a top-notch climbing gym, it has weights and cardio equipment, excellent physical trainers, and a studio with heavy bags and a speed bag. Cardio-fitness was my weak link. I decided to take up Kristin Rios’ Cardio-Kickboxing and Bootcamp class to improve my fitness. In addition to helping with my cardio, Kristin was great at advising post-workout routine for recovery and good nutrition. Mary Rocha, another trainer at the gym, advised on strength exercises. Everyone at the gym was helpful in providing me with training advice.

On my second day in Kristin’s class, I badly twisted my ankle while completing her warm-up run to the fence and back on Potter Street when I stepped into a pothole. The ankle swelled up and was colourfully bruised. I had no time to be injured!! I went to a friend who practices Eastern Medicine. Within 48 hours of treatment, the bruise and swelling were completely gone. But the ankle was still injured on the inside, so I wrapped it everyday, up to and including the day of the fight, for safe measure. On the fourth day after the treatment, I was back in physical training. Instead of being out for four-six weeks, I was only out for one.

Training for a fight is such a mind-trip. Everyday I thought of the fight. It was a constant reminder for train hard, eat right, and respect my body or else I’d get my ass kicked. My training consists of attending Kristin’s class, followed by hitting the heavy bag, then finally strength training. I would be at the gym for 3-4 hours everyday. I sparred whenever I could convince friends to come “play”. Unfortunately, I only had 4 sparring sessions. Not surprisingly, a lot of friends did not fancy the idea of getting hit.

The training prepared me for the fight and it prepared me for my other passion, sailboat racing. The week before the fight, I raced the Big Boat Series, a four-day regatta. In the past, I felt exhausted after three days of racing. Because of the improved conditioning, I felt strong even after the fourth day of races. I even trained two more days after Big Boats before I tapering down for the fight.

By early September, I was in the best shape of my life. Friends and acquaintances remarked how bigger I looked. I had gone from skinny 140 lbs to well-toned 146 lbs. Regardless of what happens in the match, I felt that I’ve already won since my life had changed for the better: I was eating breakfast, reading nutrition labels, and working out regularly. It wasn’t about how I did against an opponent but how I’ve improved from one period in time to another. I trained hard. I am in the best shape of my life. I am ready.

The Fight

Round One was so exciting and full of energy. In fact, I was so exciting that I completely forgot my fight strategy and just went on pure adrenaline and instinct, which expended a lot of energy. Attacks were followed by counter-attacks.
Round Two, I was getting tired. I really thought I was in better shape than this. My only advantage, my speed, was gone.

Round Three, I was taking a beating. I got my first standing 8 count and I was pissed. Unbelievable, I didn’t deserve this stand 8! After a few seconds more of fighting, I got my second standing 8 count. Ok, I deserved this standing 8; I’m super-tired. I wasn’t defending myself; I couldn’t even get out of the way of the incoming punches. My legs were jello. I was surprised I could even stand. But I wanted to try just one move, the Superman punch. I want to say, “I did the Superman punch in the Ring,” even if I missed. I dug deep for some energy, raised my knee, and lunged with the right cross. I glanced Andy without any effect, but I did it! Then later the third standing 8 count came from the referee. I thought to myself, “I’m done, call off the fight, ref.” But as soon as I thought that, I screamed at myself, “No you’re not! You’re going to finish it!” When time was finally up, I was still standing.

Post-fight Reflection

If I could do it again, I would do things very differently. I wouldn’t have gotten so excited at the beginning and stuck to my original strategy. It’s amazing how strenuous three, three minute rounds are. I had trained seven weeks, including injury time and time off for sailing, for the nine minutes of fighting. Yet those nine minutes were the most exhausting experience of my life. I can proudly say, I gave it my all and left nothing back.

Friends often ask, would you do it again? I knew before entering the Ring, my answer. This would be my first and last time in the Ring. I don’t like hitting people and I don’t like to get hit. It’s not about beating an opponent, but about knowing that if I get beaten down, would I get back up and fight? I already know; I will fight on.

Stop by the Touchstone gyms and check out the great kick boxing and boxing classes that we offer.

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Monday, October 3, 2011
  Climbing on CBS's 60 Minutes
Sacramento native and long time Pipeworks climber, Alex Honnold was recently featured on 60 Minutes with Lara Logan. The show filmed Alex, a renown free soloist, climbing the Choinard-Herbert on Yosemite's Sentinel route with no rope. The 5.11 route proved to be little challenge for Alex "No Big Deal" Honnold.

Honnold at the top of the Sentinel after his ascent.

CBS posted the video online of Alex's climb.

The crew made a behind the scenes video. Of particular note, Touchstone blogger James Lucas worked as a production assistant on the film, carrying enormous loads of gear to the summit of Sentinel and "pretty much dragging Alex to the top of the climb."

60 Minutes Interviewer Lara Logan in El Portal

Additionally, CBS did an interview with the quirky Honnold. Check out the short here. Lara Logan asked Honnold a number of great questions. Check out the wild footage online.

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