Evilution: Ho's Bishop Highball Ascent

Imagine climbing at your limit. Now picture soloing a crumbling slab. For many climbers these are just dreams or more accurately, nightmares. For Touchstone route setter Jeremy Ho this was a reality.

On Tuesday January 15th, Berkeley climber, Jeremy Ho made a coveted ascent of Evilution, a 60 foot V11 highball on the Grandpa Peabody boulder in the Buttermilk Boulders of Bishop, California.

Read more: Evilution: Ho's Bishop Highball Ascent

A Bishop Bouldering Report

Recently, Touchstone member and obsessive climber, Jordan Shackelford traveled to the bouldering mecca of Bishop. Jordan sent the Touchstone blog a trip report of his winter bouldering excursion.

I’m sure you’ve heard the name Jordan Shackelford before. When Ryan Moon made the first ascent of Gentleman’s Club in the Columbia Boulders, I spotted him. My handsome mug can be found in the winter issue of California Climber.


 Now that we are acquainted, let me tell you about my recent 16 hour drive from the Bay Area to Bishop, CA. (why did you drive 16 hours? Did you drive to tahoe first and then drive through Bakersfield?) That’s not a typo, that’s what happens when you chart your course to Bishop through Bakersfield, by way of Tahoe, during a major blizzard in the Sierras. I guess sometimes that’s the price you pay for twelve days of butter-milking, pocket-pulling, hot-springing, snow-camping, igloo-collapsing, teeth-chattering fun.

Read more: A Bishop Bouldering Report

Live Your Dream Grant

It. Is. ON!

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Free money to climb?? What?! Applications are now being accepted for the 2013 Live Your Dream Grant! Get yours in before the application period closes on March 1st, 2013! Click HERE and download the simple application for the Western Region. Show your ambition, fill it out well, follow the instructions, email to the appropriate place, and you're done. Bam.

The American Alpine Club's "Live Your Dream" Grant is a program that supports climbers in realizing their climbing ambitions and dreams. The AAC is seeking to sponsor climbers of all ages and experience levels, as well as a range of climbing disciplines including, but definitely not limited to, trad climbing, mountaineering, sport climbing, bouldering, ice climbing, ski mountaineering, gym climbing and any and all other worthy mountain pursuits! The emphasis of the grant is on projects that have significant positive impact on grantees’ progressions as climbers and/or the development of their skills. Show them how your project will take you to the next level or get you ready for it. The purpose of the "Live Your Dream" Grant is to encourage climbers to pursue their dreams and to fund those individuals (or individuals that are part of small teams) to make it happen. This is for real. Think of your dream climbing trip.... the AAC and Touchstone want to help you get there! 

The Western Region Live Your Dream Grant is supported in part through a partnership with Touchstone Climbing and Fitness. We are so happy to be a part of this project and can't wait to see where is takes the recipients! Our contribution, coupled with local fundraising means that the AAC has a TON of money to give away this year. Award amounts will vary independently depending on scope of project, but will likely fall in the $500 to $1000 range - unless your project is super, super cool and you need more.


These grants are developed and administered locally with community support. Application period runs 1/1/13 through 3/1/13. Grant recipients will be announced 4/1/13. Grant awards must be used within one calendar year of date of award. To qualify for the Western Region Grant, the applicant must be a resident of California, Nevada, Arizona, or Hawaii. If you have specific questions, please email Western Regional Coordinator Jeff Deikis.


Zero Initiation Fee in January!

Oh 2013, how quickly you are upon us! It's that magical time of year again, when all the turkey and stuffing is but a distant memory in our minds, memorialized only by the few extra pounds we managed to pack on during the holidays. It's no wonder our resolutions for the new year tend to trend towards fitness goals to make up for all the seasons indulgences. So whether your goal is to shed a few pounds, to get hooked on a new fitness class, or to climb a little more often; we want to make your closest Touchstone Gym a little easier to be a part of. 

Which is why we're offering....

0 InitiationPoster
That's right! Take advantage of the many benefits to membership by joining any of our eight gyms any time in January and paying Zero Initiation fee. And frankly, being a member is pretty darn cool. Just think of all the unlimited fitness classes you could enjoy! All the Touchstone Climbing comps you could come party at for free. All the fun you could have and friends you could make.... And your very own membership card?!?!? *swoon* Check out the perks of being a Touchstone member:

  • Free Introduction to Climbing Class (this includes your gear rental for the day!)
  • One free guest pass each month, plus an EXTRA guest pass on the 4th Friday of each month. 
  • Reciprocal use of all other Touchstone Gyms throughout Northern California.
  • FREE fitness, indoor cycling and yoga classes. (Check out our online calendar for class schedules.)
  • Great discounts at our Pro-Shop: Just getting into climbing? Members receive 15% off on the Full Climbing Package - harness, shoes, chalk bag, locking carabiner and belay device. You also receive 10% off any purchase over $75.
  • Discounts on many of our climbing technique clinics!
  • Free entrance to the monthly member competitions that take place at one of our 8 locations. These competitions always include free food, beer, tons of climbing and a great chance to meet other Touchstone members. 
  • And don't forget about our newest gym Dogpatch Boulders, currently under construction in San Francisco! Enjoy member-only climbing nights and sneak peaks of the biggest bouldering gym in the country!

Find out more about our amazing gyms on our website join us on our social media sites to become a part of the conversation. Hope to see you soon! 

Pinnacles to be National Park

On Sunday, December 30, 2012, the Senate met for a rare Sunday session during which they passed a bipartisan bill creating a new 25,000 acre park. Pinnacles National Monument will be joining Joshua Tree, Yosemite, Zion, and over 50 other destinations as a national park. In 1908 at the urging of environmentalist John Muir, President Theodore Roosevelt established 2,500 acres 80 miles southeast of San Francisco in the Gabilan Mountains as a National Monument. Since Pinnacles’ inception, the area has served as hub for rock climbing.


Read more: Pinnacles to be National Park

Inspecting Harnesses

The New Year provides a great time to reflect on the previous season’s climbing goals and equipment.

After enough time climbing, the rubber on climbing shoes wears thin, ropes become frayed, and harnesses become worn. Identifying a hole in the shoe or a soft spot rope provide an easy way to know when to retire them. Climbing harnesses provide another challenge. Even experts make mistakes when retiring gear and unfortunately the costs are significant.


Read more: Inspecting Harnesses

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.

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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

Past blog entries can be found at  http://touchstoneclimbing.blogspot.com/



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