Climbing is Honest: Joshua Tree Trip Report

Amanda BioBy Amanda Robinson 

I found myself on the car ride back from my post-Thanksgiving Joshua Tree trip with a little bit less skin, a lot less pride, a lot more dirt, and just the right amount of necessary introspection. 

Let me explain.

Climbing has always been a multifaceted sport for me, as I must assume it is for many of those that spend their holidays, weekends, and free evenings partaking in it. No other sport pushes me in so many aspects; after a good climbing session, I am mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted.Most of the time I just leave it at that – I like climbing because it requires more than brute strength. Climbing requires more than technique. I’ve always known that, but what I learned this past weekend is that I love climbing because it is honest.

Once again, let me explain.

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Monica Aranda: BIW Staffer

For some, climbing is a hobby. For people like Monica Aranda, climbing is a passion.

Monica, a 26 year old Berkeley Ironworks desk staffer, instructorer, graphic designer, and woman of all trades has worked for Touchstone for the past 7 years. She began climbing over 8 years ago when she joined a summer rock climbing camp and went top roping at Castle Rock in Saratoga. After high school, Monica signed up at Diablo Rock Gym and began a solid and prolific bouldering passion.

Monica’s passion for climbing comes from three distinct aspects of the sport.

Monica 2

Read more: Monica Aranda: BIW Staffer

TBS 8 Friday at Ironworks

The Touchstone Bouldering Series Comps kick off this Friday evening at Berkeley Ironworks.  In their 8th year, the TBS comps are some of the best climbing competitions in the United States. With free food, free beer sponsored by local breweries, and tons of awesome climbing, these comps offer an amazing chance to have fun with the climbing community in your area.

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Never been to a Touchstone Bouldering Competition? Check out this hilarious video where GWPC staffer Andrew Jackson walks us through a day in the life of a Bouldering Competition. We dare you to watch this without cracking up. 

The climbing comps will roll through each of the Touchstone gyms. Below is a schedule of the upcoming comps.  For further information check out our comp page.  

Friday, November 9th, 2012 • Ironworks in Berkeley • 5pm-10pm

Friday, December 7th, 2012 • The Studio in San Jose • 5pm-10pm

Saturday, January 26th, 2013 • Metalmark in Fresno • 12pm-5pm

Friday, February 22nd, 2013 • Sacramento Pipeworks • 5pm-10pm

Friday, March 15th, 2013 • Concord Diablo Rock Gym • 5pm-10pm

Friday, April 19th, 2013 • Oakland Great Western Power Co • 5pm-10pm

Saturday, May 4th, 2013 • FINALE at Dogpatch Boulders! 12pm-5pm


Return to Meru: North Face Speaker Series

On Wednesday night, October 10th at 7 p.m., alpinists Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin, and Renan Ozturk will be presenting the saga of their ascent of India's Mount Meru, an ice- coated granite fang in the Himalayas.In 2008, the team of three suffered a devastating defeat a mere few hundred feet from the summit.  Three years later, the men returned to Meru with more grit, determination, and the strength to fit back to the summit.   




Jimmy Chin leading a pitch on Mount Meru.

Read more: Return to Meru: North Face Speaker Series

The Zebra Pants Girl

A few nights every week at Berkeley Ironworks, a young girl in zebra striped pants crushes the lead cave and in the Wave boulder at the Touchstone gym. "Zebra Girl", Touchstone desk staff's nickname for Kat Gentry, made a big impact recently when she won the Touchstone Rope Series comp.


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How to Grip Holds

In the latest instructional video from Adam Barczack, the basics of how to grip holds is shown. Pulling correctly on holds can be difficult. The difference between a sloper, a crimp, and a jug is not always obvious. Adam shows the proper way to place your hand and pull on a few different types of holds.


Artist of the Month: Andreina Davila

Rock climbing attracts all manners of people.  Artists make a significant contribution to the climbing community.  The Touchstone gyms enjoy celebrating the amazing artwork that many locals climbers produce.  From the great photography of Dan Mottaz at Mission Cliffs to the artistic work of Andreina Davila at Ironworks, amazing art work hangs on the walls of all of the Touchstone gyms.  

This month, Andreina Davila's work is displayed at Ironworks.  Davila was born and raised in Venezuela in 1977. Davila, a painter of 6 years, splits her time between her art and her role as Creative Director for the Diabetes Hands Foundation, a nonprofit organization she co-founded in 2008.


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Good Eggs at Ironworks

Picture this an amazing local food market around the corner.  Berkeley Ironworks is hosting Good Eggs, a community food hub for food and people, organized by the neighborhood and city.Come for a workout and on your way home, pick up fresh bread, Four Barrel coffee, pickles, jams, organic seasonal produce, specialty meats, and delicious ready-to-eat meals, all in one place.

Each week order the food you want from Good Eggs's great local farmers. The goods will be delivered to Ironworks on Thursdays for you to pick up and enjoy. Just order, eat and repeat!

This Thursday, Good Eggs and Ironworks will be hosting Nana Joes Granola, Sow Fresh Juice, I Love Blue Sea seafood, and Harley Richter Meats.  This is a great opportunity to order amazing granola, fresh orange juice, California King Salmon, and amazing bacon.  Come on by to taste samples and find out how you can get in on the deliciousness.


Road Construction at Ironworks

Beginning Wednesday, July 18th, there will be road construction between Berkeley Ironworks and Grainger. The crew will be working on rebuilding a sewer line that runs from 7th to Ashby. The construction will begin near the parking lot and extend to Ashby's freeway entrance.  Be aware of the increased traffic and a road closure because of the work.


Touchstone Interview: Dave Altman

Every Tuesday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., a scraggly haired fellow helps climbers and exercisers in the weight section of Berkeley Ironworks.  Dave Altman, a 60 year old climber, has been working for Touchstone since it began.  Altman began helping people with their strength training technique in August of 1992 when the gym was CityRock.  In between introducing people to weight training, helping people rehab their injuries, and teaching outdoor climbing classes, Altman is an obsessive mathematician, enjoying low-dimensional topology and physics-related differential geometry.

More notably, Altman and his friend Ray Jardine, made early ascents of Tales of Power, Separate Reality, Crimson Cringe, and Cosmic Debris, all hard 5.12 Yosemite cracks.  Altman talked to the Touchstone blog about his long time climbing career.

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Read more: Touchstone Interview: Dave Altman

Community Food Hub at Ironworks

Picture this: An amazing local market just opened up—inside Ironworks! Come for a workout and on your way home, pick up fresh bread, Four Barrel coffee, pickles, jams, organic seasonal produce, specialty meats, and delicious ready-to-eat meals, all in one place. We’re teaming up with our friends at Good Eggs to create a Community Food Hub, a space to get the best locally-made foods, in a place you dig!

Here’s how it works: Each week you order the food you want from foodmakers you'll love, all through Good Eggs. Your goods get delivered to Ironworks on Thursdays for you to pick up and enjoy. (And if you come to pick up your food and skip your workout, we won’t judge.) Just order, eat and repeat!

We’re kicking off our Community Food Hub on Tuesday, June 26th from 6-8pm! Come on by to taste samples and find out how you can get in on the


Thank you for choosing Fixe Hardware for your climbing equipment. The pro-deal is a special offer to athletes, guides, and climbing company affiliates to help put the best equipment out on the rock. 

In order to fill the pro-form orders in a timely manner, there are a few requirements:

The minimum order is $100.  Orders may only be placed twice a year.

Back stock orders will be canceled. 

Pricing information is confidential.  Please do not share.

All pro-form orders must be paid for by credit card. 

AMGA guides will be checked for authenticity on the AMGA website.

Most importantly, know your hardware.  Mixing metals seriously decreases strength and leads to corrosion.  When placing bolts use the correct size hanger- ½ inch diameter bolts need ½ inch hangers.  Make sure you use the proper type of bolt for the stone you are drilling.   We all have something to learn.  Stay up to date on the latest hardware.   Inform other first ascentionists, rebolters, land managers, and climbers about the best and safest equipment to use.


Please fill out the attached order form and email it back.


Have fun out there and good climbing

James Lucas



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