Remy, a Studio Climbing front desk member, raised money to rappel for a good cause last month. Check out her trip report on this unique experience.
I rappelled off a building, hurray! I have so much to tell you about all of it! Where do I begin?
We – staff, members and guest climbers at the Studio in downtown San Jose – raised $500 for Shatterproof, a non-profit focused on helping families battle addiction. It’s fun to help out organizations when there’s a climbing niche involved. Actually, a different organization called Over-the-Edge handles the ropes and gear. In a nutshell, Over-the-Edge is a group of journeymen climber peeps that travel the country setting up rappel lines for fundraising events like the one I pledged for this year.
Speaking of pledging, I cannot stress enough how amazing the members and guests are at my gym. They did not hesitate to help me out with raising the funds. Like, for real a member dropped $20 in exchange for a couple of brownies at our bake sale. And another member turned her purse upside down on the counter and gave me every penny that fell out of it (like $5 total). She didn’t even take any bake goods in return! It’s astonishing that our member community could care so much about helping others. Shatterproof and Over-the-Edge want us to participate again next year. They raved and raved about how awesome we are as climbers and community members.
Now about the rappel: it was rad! I learned so much about cave rappel or BASIC ascender gear, like the Petzl STOP and CROLL. Basically, the STOP is a long, slender self-braking belay device that runs on the descending line; I grip it to descend and unclench it to stop. Leading along the descending line is the belay line with the CROLL; it basically just acts like a seatbelt, halting my descent if I jerk around or begin to descend too fast. All the while I’m hooked in to both via a full-body harness, and they made me wear a helmet and gloves because apparently it’s like safer (wink wink – wear safety gear, guys!). The rappel only took about two minutes to complete, and onlooker said I looked like I was dancing on the way down. It was more relaxing than anything, and I would have done it again if they let me. It was actually my first manual rappel outside of a gym. And stepping over the edge was super easy.
All in all, the Over-the-Edge guys said I was among the easiest to coach on the lines, and they invited me to volunteer/rappel with them at an event in San Francisco in March. Hurray!
For San Jose residents, Late Night Climbing offers a perfect chance to have a fun and healthy evening. Hundreds of South Bay climbers have skipped the clubs and bars for the excitement of The Studio Climbing. The Stuido has held a few Late Night Climbing sessions on May 17th, March 29th and February 15th. The next one is coming up on July 26th.
“Its a good time for people to sucker their friends into coming to the gym and even if they don't love it or climb that much it doesn't really matter to them because it was $5 bucks and they are in a rad environment where everyone is nice, sober and having a good time,” said The Studio manager Diane Ortega.
Read more: Late Night Climbing
Recently Zach, a desk staffer at The Studio Climbing in San Jose, filed this report for the Touchstone Blog on how we treat grading in the gym.
It's 9 o'clock on an unremarkable Tuesday night at The Studio. The influx of eager climbers has slowed, creating somewhat of a lull for us at the front desk. I take advantage of our brief reprieve and address some of the closing chores, namely taking out the trash.
I've learned from unpleasant experience not to look too closely at the contents of the garbage; I usually try to enter a state of dissociative amnesia while I'm running trash. If I'm lucky, I don't even remember doing it once I'm done. On this night, however, I was pulled back into reality when I inspected the bottom of a trash can and found, crumpled and reduced to refuse, all of the grades from the routes that had been stripped the day before.
I blinked. Stripped less than a day ago, the shiny duct tape had already begun to lose its luster. Numbers corresponding to the Yosemite Decimal System were decimated, wadded up and discarded like a piece of gum that's lost its flavor. The 5.12+ that had looked so imposing adhered to the lead wall now lay in a puddle of coffee, drowning sorrowfully next to a 5.11 that I had called soft. The routes which had supposedly been the measure of our climbing abilities were now little more than a piece of yesterday's trash.
Maybe you're starting to see where I'm going with this. Grades have become an inexorable aspect of the climbing gym experience, and for many, they have become the main reason to go to the gym or to climb at all.
It's not hard to see why this happens. Climbing media spotlights elite climbers sending the world's hardest, most exciting climbs, leaving us drooling over the send footage and devising plans to be that strong some day. When your hero is some dude doing one-finger pull-ups and climbing V15, the value judgement you make is about measurable criteria: what grade he climbs and how many one-arms he can do, not something vague like how much fun he is having.
Maybe you come to the gym and train so you can be that guy, or so you can be the girl on the cover of the next climbing magazine, and that's fine.
No, really, that's awesome, I want to be that guy too.
However, I don't think achieving that success should come at the price of losing perspective of why we go to the climbing gym. I think many of us (including myself) could use a critical reevaluation of what a grade in the gym means, or at least what it should mean. A grade in the gym is a suggestion, a tentative guideline based on a general consensus to help you find something that you want to climb. A grade is little more than an instrument for helping you select a route to train on; in the gym, grades are stripped of whatever intrinsic value they might have outdoors. Here's what a 5.10a in a gym really means:
5.10a: If you climb 5.10, you should try this, and it will be moderately challenging. If you climb 5.12, you could use this as a warm up, or to run laps. If you climb 5.9, you should project this, if you feel like trying hard.
We recently hosted a youth SCS competition at The Studio where the comp climbs weren't labelled with YDS grades. Instead, they were numbered from 1-40, with 1 being the easiest and 40 being the hardest. For a brief, magical period after the competition (before the routes got YDS grades), people had the opportunity to get on a climb without any preconceived notion of how hard it “should be.” And while some people took this opportunity, others couldn't stand the idea of not knowing the “real grade” of the climb, i.e. what that climb was worth to them, and others, in terms of bragging rights and send-points.
If you want to know what those climbs, or any climb in the gym is really worth, I'll tell you: They're worth whatever training you got out of trying them, and whatever fun you had while climbing them.
I'm not suggesting that we do away with the entire concept of grading in the gym, far from it. We all use grades to determine what to warm-up on, what to project, and to get an idea of what we could (ideally) climb outside. However, we should all notice that the girl on the front of the climbing magazine isn't pictured inside a climbing gym, she's outside doing what she spent all those hours in the gym training to do: real climbing. World-ranked climbers aren't logging their gym climbs on their 8a.nu, and neither are you, so don't beat yourself up when you don't send your gym project.
By no means am I trying to diminish the joy we experience when we send a project in the gym, rather, I hope we can all realize that the pleasure we derive from our time in the gym is not contained in the number at the bottom of the route. Whatever your project in the gym may be, you can rest assured that it won't be there for long. What will last, however, is the enjoyment you derive from it, and the positive effect it has on your climbing. Six months from now when you're climbing outside and reaping the benefits of the training you're doing now, you will benefit from the overall work you put in, not the V-points you earned in the gym. As for the ratings of your training routes? You won't remember them any more than you remember the contents of yesterday's trash.
This year Touchstone Climbing has an amazing opportunity to work with Team Specialized and the Northern California Cycling Federation (NCCF) to help develop their junior race team (ages13-18). Markham Connolly, Touchstone general manager and avid cyclist organized the partnership and has been working with the team.
Read more: Team Specialized Training at The Studio
This weekend, Saturday, March 23, 2013, The studio is hosting a USAC Northern California division Sport Climbing Series comp. This comp provides a great opportunity for young climbers in the South Bay to begin climbing competitions.
USA Climbing is the national governing body for competition climbing in the United States and is responsible for sanctioning the American Bouldering Series (ABS), the Sport Climbing Series (SCS) and the Collegiate Climbing Series (CCS).
The Studio comp marks the second of the six regional comps. The Regional Championships will be held in May at City Beach in Fremont. Divisionals will take place in June at Vertical World in Seattle and Nationals happen in early July at Stone Summit in Atlanta.
$30 for USAC members ($35 for non-members)
Youth-B and above will need to get a Touchstone Lead Certification. You can get this done at any Touchstone Gym prior to the comp. You can do it at The Studio before the comp, but there might be a line. f you plan to Lead, please bring your own rope.
In the middle of February, the Studio's Cheyenne Sulaski headed out to one of the world's best bouldering destinations, Hueco Tanks, for a brief trip. She sent the Touchstone Blog a report about her trip.
My go-to bouldering trip tends to be Bishop, and I hadn't made it far past there. I've road-tripped across the country multiple times, but never with the intent to climb. So when Brian Hedrick, (who can be found on Instagram under the name bcuzhedrick) invited me to go to Hueco Tanks with him for 10 days, I was pretty excited. Part of what I love about climbing is that it opens up a whole new reason to travel. Previous to climbing if someone would have invited me to Texas, I would have looked at them very un-enthusiastically and probably made some sarcastic remark about how much I don't like Texas. Now that I climb, I look at places like El Paso, and think: there's world class climbing 20 minutes away, well of course I'll go! So with our psych high and my car filled with crash pads we headed out mid day of February 14th, making it all the way to Joshua tree that night. The next day we spent 12 hours driving the most exciting road in the USA (I-10) just in time to get to Hueco for the 20th annual Rock Rodeo Competition.
Read more: Hueco with Cheyenne