We are happy to announce that long time Touchstone employee Jeremy Ho has been brought on as Head Route Setter. The Head Setter position was held by Craig McClenahan for many years and more recently by Kyle Robinson and Jeffery Bowling, and now Ho is ready to step up to the plate. He's been working with Touchstone for over 6 years, and has done everything from belaying birthday parties to route setting. "I'm so psyched to be moving forward with the company," Ho said.
Ho’s start with Touchstone stems from his love of climbing. “I started climbing about 8 years ago at our Concord facility, Diablo Rock Gym, with my good friend and fellow Touchstone employee Mike Herschberger as something to do when we were bored on the weekends. This quickly turned into a total obsession and I found myself trying to find a way to climb all the time, which eventually lead me to applying for a Belay Staff position so I could earn a free membership.” The manager of Berkeley Ironworks at the time, Paul Barraza, quickly noticed Ho's potential and moved him to the front desk. He worked there for several years, teaching clinics and bringing his charm to the Berkeley community, until transitioning to the route setting team in 2010.
Ho’s love for route setting comes in part from working with other great setters. “We love the hard work but we also keep things fun; the jokes flow all day. We talk a lot about climbing and setting, and there's a strong sense of camaraderie among the crew which makes going to work at 7 am every day a blast.” He also enjoys the creativity that setting allows. “Creating movement that inspires people to progress as climbers is the best part of the job. I get so psyched when people stop me and tell me they loved one of my routes because it challenged them in ways outside of its difficulty.”
Even after all these years, climbing is still Ho's passion. A strong boulderer with a half dozen V11’s on his resume, his most significant accomplishment was his send of Evilution Direct. Ho described it as “V10 to the lip, Hard V4/easy V5 over the lip then I guess 5.11a slab.” The top remained a crux for him though. “I haven't climbed much slab so I'm not great at judging the grade,” he added. “It felt 5.SCARY to me.” More than the shear difficulty of the climb, the problem had personal significance to Ho. “That problem is something every climber that has ever stepped foot in the Buttermilks has stood under, stared up at, and dreamed about one day maybe possibly climbing and few actually do. So for me to be one of those few makes me incredibly proud. While I feel like I have climbed more physically difficult boulder problems, that one still makes me giddy and scared to think back on. It still makes my hands sweat just thinking about it.”
Ho hopes to bring more national climbing competitions to Touchstone. “Watching everyone laughing, having fun and, seeing people enjoy your hard work is incredibly satisfying,” Ho said of Touchstone comps. This fall he will be attending the USAC Level 2 Routesetting Clinic in Iowa, allowing Touchstone to have ABS, SCS, and USAC sanctioned events. “With facilities like Dogpatch Boulders, the LA.B and Mission Cliffs I think it would be a rad opportunity to showcase our world class gyms.”
The 29 year old resides in Oakland with his fiancé Alison Bagby, 2 dogs, and 3 cats. A daughter will be joining the family in a few months. We'd like to welcome Jeremy to the team and can't wait to see what he brings to Touchstone! Congrats JHo!
Tags: Jeremy Ho, Touchstone route setting