Tips on Better Onsight Climbing

One of the best feelings in climbing is walking up to a piece of rock and climbing it onsight, going from the ground to the top without falling and without any knowledge of the route. Onsight climbing, though the ideal style, is one of the hardest parts of climbing to master as it involves solid mental and physical strength. There are a few things that can help with your next onsight.

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Beth Rodden on her impressive onsight of The Phoenix a 5.13 crack in Yosemite

Read more: Tips on Better Onsight Climbing

Climbing with Kids

Climbing with your kids can be one of the most rewarding experiences out there. Watching your youngster scramble up the boulders on their way to being the next great climber can be amazing. But there’s lots to consider when taking your child out to the crag.

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Find a Third

Having a third kid-friendly person is essential to actually climbing. This way there’s always someone to watch the child while the parent belays or climbs. Heading to the crag with another family can help this situation immensely as you can take turns climbing and watch the kids. Susie Christensen has climbed with her daughter Ainsley from Yosemite and the Grotto in Sonora to the Verdon Gorge in France and Wilderswill in Switzerland. " It makes a huge difference to have a minimum of one extra person available to commit their attention to the kid. When Ainsley was a baby it was really critical to have an extra person who wasn't climbing or belaying that could hold her or feed her if she was crying. Now that she's older, a third person is helpful to keep her from wandering to dangerous areas (under other climbers, steep rocks/slopes, poison oak) and to keep her entertained."

Read more: Climbing with Kids

Slab Climbing Secrets

Technique is for the weak. Or so seems when you see the footloose climbing in the gym. Unfortunately, big muscles and an ability to campus do little on harder 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 steep routes will be easier with your precise footwork.

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James Lucas tries hard to keep from skinning his knee while slab climbing in Squamish

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7 Signs Your Partner Just Isn't Into You

You saw the climber from across the gym.  Maybe they set up the pads perfectly beneath that Bishop highball. Maybe they were crushing that spicy trad route at the Cookie Cliff in Yosemite. However you saw them, you realized that they were the perfect partner. Looks can be decieving though and reality can be even harsher.  Sometimes. despite your best intentions, your partner may not be that into you. Here’s a few signs to look out for.

1.Your partner claims they’re not ready for committing routes

This is a classic escape route. While the step from climbing at Dogpatch Boulders climbing gym to five days on El Capitan is big enough to scare anyone, most partners should be willing to commit to some adventure. If a partner tells you they’re not ready for a committing climb, what they really mean is that they’re not into a committing climb with you. For whatever reason, they don’t see you as a solid partner. Don’t stick around hoping that things will change. They may move into longer routes some day but you probably won’t be holding the rope.

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Is this a familiar scene?  Don't settle for a supporting role.

Read more: 7 Signs Your Partner Just Isn't Into You

Making the Most of Summer Climbing Trips

Summer is a great time for climbing trips. The alpine climbing in the Sierra, bouldering in Squamish, big wall climbing in Yosemite, traditional climbing in the Needles, and sport climbing in the far off regions of Rifle are all in great condition. Fill the car, grab a plane ticket and you're off to the climbing. Making big plans are easy. Making them happen are a little bit harder. Here's a great set of tips to make your climbing goals happen.

Read more: Making the Most of Summer Climbing Trips

Downhill Mountain Biking

The Brotherhood of the Traveling Sombero, a team of down hill mountain bikers sponsored by Touchstone Climbing, recently completed their first race at Northstar with solid results. We caught up with them this week to get the scoop on the race. 

“Northstar, which is infamous for dust and rocks, did not disappoint for the first race of the series,” said Touchstone rider Daniel Melvin. “It's a rather short course, lasting around three and a quarter minutes, with two bottom-bracket-smashing rock sections and two long flat sprints.... It was far from relaxing!"

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Read more: Downhill Mountain Biking

On the Road in Rifle

James Lucas has been climbing in Rifle Colorado, and submitted this trip report to the Touchstone Blog along with some great photos.  

Rifle Colorado offers some of the best sport climbing in the United States. The two mile canyon hosts hundreds of steep limestone routes. The approach to the crags vary from a short thirty second walk to a grueling five minute hike. Sitting at nearly 8,000 feet, the canyon with its easy access, offers a great spot for a summer climbing trip.

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I left Yosemite in the beginning of June and made a circuitous drive to Rifle, stopping in Tuolumne, Las Vegas, Maple Canyon and Salt Lake before finally reaching Colorado. While in Maple, I slipped clipping the second bolt on a warm-up. The rope wrapped behind my leg, burning my thigh. I hit the ground, landing on my back. I sent the route and then limped out of Maple to hang out in Salt Lake City for a few days. When I reached Rifle, I got food poisoning the first night. Two days later, a fire in the nearby town of Rifle threatened to burn the entire canyon. The park was closed for a few days while firefighters worked to contain the blaze. It was a less than auspicious beginning to the trip.

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After a few days, the fire cleared up. My food poisoning dissipated and my rope burn healed. Touchstone athlete, Ethan Pringle, showed up with his Norweigian lady friend Trine. At night we listened to Carl Hiaasen’s new audio book Bad Monkey. During the day, we climbed. Trine hiked the classic Feline (5.11a) and Ethan managed a strong show, putting down Cryptic Egyptian (5.13c) his second try, onsighting Sometimes Always (5.13c), and sending Present Tense (5.13d) in just a few efforts.

“Midgets Remain Indoors,” Ethan suggested. For the week that Ethan and Trine climbed in Rifle, we guessed at the acronym MRI that marked every port-a-potty.

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 Ethan and Trine stayed for a week and I kept climbing. Two years ago, I spent three weeks climbing in Rifle and did many of the easier 5.12 routes. This trip, I’ve focused on climbing some of the harder routes for me. I managed to send Hang Em Higher (5.12d), Slaggissimo (5.12d), Pump-O-Rama (5.13a), and Vitamin D (5.12d), and Hand Me the Canteen Boy (5.12d). In typical Rifle fashion, I’ve also one hung a few sport routes too.

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One of the routes I’m most psyched to climb is the 8th Day, which is a mega long technical 5.13a. In the picture is Martin, a crazy Bulgarian who hangs tough in Rifle during the summers. Martin managed to tick the route in a 2 hour ascent.

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American Sport climber Colette McInerney climbing on Cryptic Egyptian.

The summer weather in Rifle is hot. When Charlie Barrett arrived, I outfitted him in the proper attire.  (Notice the Berkeley Ironworks tank!)

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Tank tops are essential in the heat. Look Good Climb Good. In between the heat, afternoon thunder showers kept the humidity high. I often confused climbing in Colorado with pulling on limestone in Laos. There's a nice river that goes through the canyon, which makes for a perfect place to swim during the heat of the day.

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Isabelle sending Quickdraws (5.12c)

There’s a constant roll of climbers coming through Rifle. There’s been a crew from Quebec who scream French when they fall.  This photo shows Stephane Perron falling going to the anchors on the Project Wall classic Apocalypse (5.13c).

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Former Touchstone member, Isabelle Rittberg has been crushing in the canyon. Rifle is also the former stomping grounds of Ironworks Stockboy, Scott Frye. Frye established some of the best routes in the canyon including Beer Run (5.13a), and Living in Fear (5.13d).

River Party
 

One of the best parts about Rifle is sitting around the river in the afternoon, when the day is hottest.  The river is shallow but really cold and perfect for freezing your body after struggling up one of the hard routes.

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This last weekend was the Rifle Rendez-spous, which is the annual park clean up.  A ton of climbers came out for the event.  Chris Sharma gave a slide show and there was a really fun bbq.  I managed to get to the anchors on the 8th day twice.  The first time, I climbed to the top in the pouring rain.  I still have another week and a half in Colorado. I’m looking forward to more crushing!  Hopefully the 8th day will go down!

 

Hood to Coast Bake Sale

The beaches of Seaside, Oregon are a scenic three hour trip by car from the glaciated slopes of Mt. Hood. But on August 23rd, Touchstone members Caydie McCumber and Sebastien Lounis, along with a team of 10 other friends, will link those landmarks on foot, covering a winding 200 mile course in the 2013 Hood-to-Coast relay.

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Read more: Hood to Coast Bake Sale

Touchstone Climbing Series

We've got exciting news about our next competition series! As the Touchstone Climbing Gym family keeps expanding, our competition series is growing right along with us! We're psyched to announce the creation of TCS, the Touchstone Climbing Series, which will kick off in 2014. 

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For those of you familiar with our bouldering and roped competitions, TCS is the holy consummation of TBS and TRS. With 9 gyms and such a dedicated climbing population, we've combined the two comps and created a schedule that will run annually, visiting each Touchstone location and rotating between a ropes competition and a bouldering competition. One comp to rule them all! 

The 2014 TCS comp schedule is as follows:

Feb 21 - Ropes at Pipeworks 
Mar 21 - Bouldering at BIW
April 25 - Ropes at MM
May 23 - Bouldering at SJ
June 20 - Ropes at DRG
July 25 - Bouldering at LA.B
Aug 22 - Ropes at GWPC
Sept 27 - Bouldering Finale at Dogpatch Boulders 
Oct 25 - Ropes Finale at Mission Cliffs 

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Here are some commonly asked questions regarding the new comp scheudle. 

Q: Does this mean there are less competitions? 
A: No! Creating TCS doesn't mean we will have less competitions, that's the beauty of it. Instead, we'll be able to involve more people since some of our members only boulder, or only rope climb. No more waiting. 

Q: Are the competitions still free to members?
A: Yes! Comps will always be free for our members, because you are awesome and we love you. Plus, guests are only $10. It's the cheapest way into the gym.

Q: How will this affect routesetting?
A: In a good way! By organizing the comp series by annually, we'll be able to keep our routesetting team on top of all 9 gyms, bringing you more new climbs more often.

Q: Do we still get free t-shirts, booze, pizza, and tons of new climbing?
A: Le duh.

Q: Will there be on-sight finals?
A: Yes, there will be a bouldering finale AND a rope finale. 2014 is going to be a very big year. On-sight finals will go down at Dogpatch Boulders and Mission Cliffs for the over-all bouldering and rope leaders. 

We can't wait to kick off the new comp series - and we hope you're as psyched as we are!  

 

 

Baking with Barnes: A Climber's Diet

Natasha Barnes, a Mission Cliffs climber, and bona fide rock crusher has been climbing for the past 13 years. In between sending 5.13d sport routes, bouldering problems like Thriller and Midnight Lightning in Yosemite, and going full tilt on the Yosemite offwidth circuit, Natasha works as a chiropactor in San Francisco.

For the past five years, Natasha has followed a strict vegan diet. "I only eat Vegans," she jokes. Natasha abstains from animal products, processed food, and operates her body on nutrient dense food. She took a moment to talk about what great food helps her send.

Read more: Baking with Barnes: A Climber's Diet

How To Make A Stick Clip

Traveling to different crags across the country, climbs have different levels of safety. Some routes begin above boulders with heinous drop offs below. Other routes have a crux at the very start. Either way, blowing the moves on these routes can be disastrous.

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In places like Smith Rocks in Oregon, the Red River Gorge in Kentucky, Maple Canyon in Utah, Rifle in Colorado, and even some of the routes at Pinnacles National Monument, clipping the first bolt can be quite useful. Not only does stick clipping the first bolt allow for a pyschological jump into the hard climbing, having the first bolt clipped also provides a significant amount of safety from hitting the ground. The best way to do that is with a stick clip.

Read more: How To Make A Stick Clip

Squeeze Play with Mark and Chris

On Thursday, June 20th, Touchstone Founder Mark Melvin and big wall ace Chris McNamara headed to Yosemite to climb El Capitan in a day. The pair set a speed record on The Lost World via the Squeeze Play Variation, climbing the entire granite cliff in 15 hours 33 minutes. Chris wrote a bit about their ascent.

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Read more: Squeeze Play with Mark and Chris

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

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