New Year's Resolutions

Every year, hundreds vow to change their lives with the New Year. In January, the number of new members at the Touchstone gyms increases greatly as people fight off the holiday weight. Exercising more and losing weight are two of the most common New Year’s resolutions. Achieving these resolutions can be easier by remembering a few steps.


Read more: New Year's Resolutions

The Gripster with Michael White

Everyone wants to improve at his or her passion. Michael White, a Berkeley resident and Sydney Australia native, began his climbing career during Christmas of 2009. Though a new climber, White wanted to perform better at climbing. He wanted stronger fingers but worried that excessive hang board training would damage the tendons and pulleys in his fingers. The freelance web developer and consultant wanted to make a better training device. After playing with different devices attached to the cable pulley machines at his local gym, he invented the Gripster.

history-of-the-gripster-01White's work on the Gripster started on Thanksgiving of 2010. Since his early models, White has been the sole employee of Gripster, creating three different shapes, building an online store, designing t-shirts, and creating a significant amount of marketing work.

The initial prototypes utilized a wooden box with campus strips. While the box could be attached to a cable pulley and used on any amount of weight, the beginning molds lacked the shape that White wanted. White played with the polyurethane resin used to make climbing holds, shaping with foam and making molds. After a few attempts, White made a 3D scan of a mold and adjusted the shape.

“Eventually I got to a point where I was happy with the shape,” said White. He created a final laser cut mold with a logo and URL embedded into them.

Unlike conventional hang boards, which utilize a single static position, the Gripster’s connection point allows for dynamic resistance as well as static positions. The three different molds can be attached to a cable pulley in the gym or hung from a pull up bar. This allows for different amounts of weight in a variety of positions to be used. Attaching the Gripster to a cable pulley allows for pulling on a vertical or horizontal axis. “Basically your imagination is the only limitation,” said White.

Check out this video of some basic exercises that you can do with three of the different shapes that White has developed. 

Want to work on weak fingers by doing monos at a low weight or bulk up with additional weight on big holds? The Gripster provides a perfect solution to these climbing demands. Currently, the three different models are available for demos at Berkeley Ironworks, Diablo Rock Gym, and GWPC. 


White’s Indie GoGo page offers a great place to support White and the Gripster! We're so pleased to have seen this invention from conception to implementation! Good Luck!

Zodiac Solo with Alice Ng

Picture being alone on a sea of granite for over a week. Climbing one of the world's largest granite formations by yourself is an intimidating prospect, and for Alice Ng, a Berkeley Ironworks member, it was quite the adventure.

Over 10.5 days in the end of September and early October, Alice Ng made her second ascent of El Cap, rope soloing the Zodiac of El Capitan. Though her big wall resume includes the Leaning Tower, Washington’s Column, and The Nose of El Capitan, this was her first big wall solo.

alice ng 6

Climbing El Cap requires an enormous amount of labor. Often, hauling and jumaring take more energy than the actual climbing. “I think anyone can climb a big wall, they just have to learn the systems and want it bad enough,” said Alice Ng. Still, climbing El Cap takes a lot of tenacity and remains a big goal in itself. To solo the formation is another feat entirely.

Read more: Zodiac Solo with Alice Ng

Youth Pan American Games

Every year young climbers from across North America, from Canada, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela, Brazil and the USA gather together for the Pan American Championships. This fall, a number of talented bay area climbers traveled to South America for the competition.

On November 22nd until the 25th, Touchstone’s Zero Gravity youth team members, as part of the US National team, traveled to Santiago, Chile for the Youth Pan American Championships. The competition consisted of Sport, Bouldering and Speed for the 14-19 year old age group and Sport and Speed for the 12-13 year old age group.

Zero Gravity

Read more: Youth Pan American Games

Climbing Through Pregnancy

Over Thanksgiving weekend, Lyn Barraza made the arduous hike to the Druid Boulders in Bishop, California. After warming up with a highly attentive spot from her husband Paul, Lyn fired Brother Law, an aethestic V3 arête near the Skye Stone. The technical problem required hours of effort from the other climbers at the boulders... and no one else was 7 months pregnant.

Over the years, I have seen a number of women climb hard during their pregnancies. In Squamish, Thomasina Pidgeon danced up 5.10+ slab routes while very pregnant with her daughter. In Rifle Colorado, Lauren Lee hiked my 5.12+ sport project on toprope while 7 months pregnant. 


Lyn crushing v7 3 months pregnant

Read more: Climbing Through Pregnancy

Unlocking Jailhouse

Picture one of California's best climbing areas. A place with nearly a hundred routes, that is climbable through rainy winter days, and features some of the most difficult climbing in the state. Now, imagine the access to that amazing crag was in trouble of being closed. For nearly 20 years, Jailhouse Rock has struggled with access issues. But recently, thanks to a few individuals and a large amount of support from the climbing community, access to Jailhouse has been unlocked.

The Access Fund made a great video about unlocking the crag.

Read more: Unlocking Jailhouse

Christmas Gift Ideas

Looking for holiday gift ideas for the climber in your life?  All Touchstone gyms carry a wide array of items. From stocking stuffers to that amazing present, stop by your favorite gym and check out some of our goods!

For stocking stuffers, the gyms sell small items like chalk, Clif and Luna bars, and hand warmers.  Headlamps also make a great small gift item.  There are a number of amazing chalk bags available that can become stocking themselves! 

glen denny book

Read more: Christmas Gift Ideas

Thanksgiving Hours

Thanksgiving came fast this year.  For those looking to sneak in to the gym before and after the holiday meals, the times of the gyms have changed slightly.



Diablo Rock Gym- Open November 22, Thanksgiving Day, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Berkeley Ironworks- Closed November 22, Thanksgiving Day Weekend hours on Friday, November 23

Great Western Power Company- Closed November 22, Thanksgiving Day- *CrossFit will be doing a special Thanksgiving trail run: 9AM @ Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve, Friday, November 23: NO CLASSES, gym hours 10AM to 6PM (*CrossFit will have 10am, Noon & 5pm Classes)

Sacramento Pipeworks
- Closed November 22, Thanksgiving Day, Open Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.  

The Studio
- Closed November 22, Thanksgiving Day, Open Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

Closed November 22, Thanksgiving Day, Open Friday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. 

Live Your Dream with the AAC

Have you ever dreamed of bouldering above sand on a gorgeous beach? Do you think of jamming your hands in a long desert splitter? Are your day dreams filled with visions of snowy far off mountains? The American Alpine Club along with Touchstone Climbing wants to make your dreams a reality with the Live Your Dream Grant.

LYD 4_Front copy 

Read more: Live Your Dream with the AAC

Training Drills for Climbing

Climbing requires a number of skills. One of the most important and an often overlooked facet skill set is balance. When climbing aretes, slabs, or vertical faces, having a good center of gravity and weight over your feet is crucial for success. In this video, a few British climbers demonstrate a great way to improve balance by attaching a pendulum point to your harness. They also suggest placing coins on footholds to improve precise footwork. Using these methods will turn you into a delicate climber capable of ascending anything.

Head out to your nearest Touchstone gym and work those climbing skills.

Extreme Slab Climbing

One of the best parts about rock climbing is that it is really fun. A few years ago, a pair of Quebecois climbers headed to the slabs in Squamish with plans to take their passion for climbing and skate boarding to the next level. Check out their exciting take on descending slabs.


Yosemite Slab Bouldering

One of the most important skills in rock climbing is learning to stand on your feet. Solid footwork and balance will help you climb the most difficult climbs around. Yosemite Valley, with its long low angle pieces of granite, provides a perfect place to practice slab climbing and working on your footwork. The Camp 4 boulders contain a number of great difficult slab problems including Initial Friction, Blue Suede Shoes, Kumba, and more.

Located right behind the Wine Boulder, just a few minutes from the Camp 4 campground, Blue Suede Shoes is an area classic. Just to the left is the more difficult Red Suede Shoes. Check out Andy Liu's smooth footwork.

Read more: Yosemite Slab Bouldering

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