Manager's Favorite: The West Face of the Leaning Tower

The Leaning Tower rises ominously next to Yosemite's Bridalveil Falls. Described by Royal Robbins as "The steepest wall in North America," the West Face of the Leaning Tower was the site of an impressive 1961 ascent by Warren Harding and one of the first big wall solos by Royal Robbins a few years later.

For many Yosemite climbers, the enormous West Face provides a perfect place to climb overhanging, immaculate rock. "This super steep route has a little bit of everything," said Pipeworks Manager Vaughn Medford who has climbed the route three times. "An airy approach ledge, bolt ladders, moderate aid and some free climbing, along with one of the nicest bivy ledges around - the Ahwahnee ledge is perfectly situated just short of half way up."

DSC07349 Bridalveil and Leaning Tower

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Pipeworks Member Profile: Larry Knapp

“You can have 15 minutes with the doctor, but only YOU know what is prescribed for your life.”

Pipeworks Member of the Month: Larry Knapp

By Jason Bove

It is always a pleasure to write a story about someone who found a passion for the outdoors, and actively pursues it year round. I have a chance this month to feature Sacramento Pipeworks member and friend, Larry Knapp. Among many other titles throughout life (Father, CPA, Climber, IPA Connoisseur, etc…) he holds the prestigious honor of being MEMBER NUMBER ONE! Let’s start with the burning question…”Can you tell us a little about how you became member #1, and how does it feel to hold such a noteworthy title?


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Women's Empowerment at Pipeworks

The Touchstone Gyms have had amazing opportunities to transform people's lives through fitness. "Sacramento Pipeworks has been working with Women's Empowerment since 2004," said Pipeworks manager Vaughn Medford. "They are headquartered only a couple blocks away from the gym, so it is not unusual to see a group of women 10-15 power walking over to the gym on Fridays. They use the gym to work out in the weight area and do cardio. The members have become accustomed to seeing the group, and we're all supportive of such an important cause."

Womens Empowerment1

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Member Profile: Victor Bonanno

In our monthly segment - 15 Minutes with the Doctor - Jason Bove of Sacramento Pipeworks sits down with a member to find out what makes them tick.

Victor B.1Today, I was lucky enough to chat with long-time Member, Father, Grandfather, Husband, Climber, Outdoor Enthusiast, and recent Crossfit Participant...Mr. Victor Bonanno. Since 2002, and a couple of different local climbing gyms, Victor has been a part of the climbing community surrounding me in Sacramento.

I figured it was about time to get a small piece of his inspiring story to share with all of you. Enjoy.

Upon turning 50 years young, Victor decided that the time had come to finally get to those hobbies he had been wanting to do for years; amongst them, Abalone Diving and Rock Climbing. Not knowing the first thing about  becoming a rock climber, he and his wife, Mary, began to do some research. A simple belay class purchase from Granite Arch was given as a gift, and piqued his curiosity enough to get into the gym and try things out. Shortly after doing some regular days of indoor climbing, Victor was approached by the owner about an outdoor trip to Phantom Spires and the chance to get on real rock! Hesitantly, an agreement was made and the trip ensued. Getting back out into nature was just what he needed, and by pulling himself to the top of those routes, the thrill he was seeking for so long finally reared its head. Still today, Victor states, “There’s nothing finer than reaching up to that top hold of a pitch.”

Now fifteen years and countless climbs later, Victor has placed both his hands and feet on rocks in outdoor destinations such as: Yosemite, Moab, Red Rocks, Castleton Tower, Joshua Tree, Shasta City, Bucks Bar, and two different Lovers Leaps’. However, like many other climbers, he finds that his favorite climbing has to be down in the Owens River Gorge near Bishop, California.

Victor B.2Segue to 2013…

In February, Sacramento Pipeworks introduced a Crossfit program to add to their already impressive offerings. Around the same time frame, Victor Bonanno was filling out a Kaiser questionnaire that asked him how frequently he works out ‘to the point of breathing very heavy and exhaustion’... perfect timing! Although climbing is a fantastic workout, sometimes the better you get at it, the less heavy the cardio exercise you may get out of it. On the other end of the spectrum, it has been proven that Crossfit includes high-intensity and high-focus workouts designed to focus on specific movements to not only increase strength and flexibility, but the cardio benefits can be HUGE!

For the last five months of his eight years as a Pipeworks regular, Victor has been giving the new-ish Crossfit regimen a try. When I asked of his opinion, he says, “Besides the awesome and well respected instructors, Dustin and Collan, the people in the class (like climbers) are equally great!” He has found that the ‘pain and misery’ he experienced at first has now become ‘not so bad’. Crossfit has not only ramped up his metabolism, but by working on different parts of his body, climbing has become easier. More climbs were able to be accomplished by utilizing better form, having better core strength, and climbing more confidently.

Today, more climbers are making the shift to incorporate cross-training workouts like Crossfit and Yoga to supplement their routines. The strange thing, at least from what I have seen, is that not many of the people brought up in the Crossfit world are attempting climbing. Why the distinct divide, who knows? While both produce beneficial results, I’ll let you be the judge what is best for you.

In closing, I am happy to report that next month, November, Victor will turn 65 and is still going strong!

Mary, his wife, claims that with all of things he does to keep up his physical fitness, she does not necessarily agree with all of them. She is always scared to watch him climb, and thinks he is ‘nuts’ for doing so at his age. We believe, in our circle of friends, that he is perfectly sane, inspiring, and admirable for his choices.                                                                                  

I asked Dustin, his Crossfit instructor, if he had any closing words for this story. He provided without hesitation, “Victor defines the "anti-aging" aspect of living a healthy life! His unstoppable resilience during workouts redefine the possibilities capable of any human body. This leader among men will change your life and leave you with the confidence to conquer anything you put your mind to. Thank you Victor!”

Thank you for spending a few minutes with us Mr. Victor Bonanno, we appreciate YOU! Happy Birthday!

Member of the Month:Nicholas Wray

In our ongoing segment - 15 minutes with Doctor Bove - Pipeworks staffer Jason Bove sits down with a member to get to know a little more about what makes them tick. 
“You can have 15 minutes with the doctor, but only YOU know what is prescribed for your life.” he says. 

Tonight, I sit on the opposite side of a familiar round table to talk with someone who is a long-time Pipeworks member, an influential man behind the camera lens, a smile amongst friends, and a staple of a modern, Sacramento society.

Screen Shot 2013-09-03 at 4.42.27 PMMember of the Month: Nicholas Wray

You ask, “who’s that guy at the end of his rope?” A small play on words has hopefully caught your attention long enough to introduce you to Nicholas Wray. He is, in fact, not at the end of his rope, but sometimes, a rope. More than likely though, he can be found smiling and joking over in the boulder cave while effortlessly sending most peoples’ projects.

Landing in Sacramento by way of Cincinnati in 2006, Nicholas was introduced to both climbing and the Pipeworks community through a friend and co-worker. Little did he know was that he was delving into a land that was completely different than the Civil Engineering world he was living in. With this introduction, Nicholas found a different cast of characters, new friends, and a whole new obsession...rock climbing.

Like most climbers, by way of projected goals and a focus on pulling hard both indoors and out, Nicholas found his new favorite vacation destination, Bishop, California. In this area of the world, things were different, and peoples’ love of nature overtook the necessity to tell you about their day job. Here, it didn’t matter, and it was through this ‘selfish act’ of climbing that everyone found reward. With Bishop being over 4 hours from Sacramento, there needed to be something closer to home to climb on though, so Pipeworks became a weekly ritual. The gym quickly became an escape from daily stress induced by work, and Nicholas says that when he is climbing, “everything else good or bad seems to take a back seat.”

From year to year, what we are seeing in the industry, is that climbing is becoming more mainstream, and increasing attention is being paid to the benefits of it. I asked, “Will this growth in popularity change things for you?” Nicholas responded, “We are drawn to the sport, because it is a very personal challenge, but also for the community. With a smaller, tight-knit circle of motivated individuals, one may find that friends become more like family members. However, I believe that it is the individuals’ personal struggle to climb better or smarter than the last time, and be more efficient, nobody elses’.”

N.WrayHUGE THANKS to Nicholas Wray for being such a big part of Sacramento Pipeworks. Amongst other things, he is a friend, a local photographer, owner of Sacramento Space, a human being, and a rock climber. Remember to say hello to him while he is busy sending all of those hard problems that we wish we could.

Stay tuned for next months installment of 15 minutes with Doctor Bove!

Pipeworks Member Profile: John Martinez

Recently, Pipeworks manager Vaughn Medford sat down with long time Touchstone member John Martinez, who has undergone a huge transformation at the Sacramento gym.  Check out the great write up about John.
We are sad to bid farewell to our friend and long-time member John Martinez, who is being asked to relocate out of town for work. John started his career with the California Conservation Corp in 1978 and for 30+ years he has been promoted through the ranks, spending a good portion of that time at CCC headquarters located here in Sacramento. Recently however he was offered a big promotion: managing a field office and crew in the CCC’s brand new facility located in South Lake Tahoe.


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Staff Profile: Jason Bove

profile You all (hopefully) come to your local gym because you love the climbing, the community, the great work out.. ext. Now imagine going to that same gym every day, BUT GETTING PAID FOR IT! The staff at our various Touchstone Gyms are made up of amazing, passionate people. Want to know what makes them tick? In our new segment 'Better know a staff member,' you'll do just that. To start us off, Jason Bove sits down with himself and confesses his addiction. 

My name is Jason Bove, and almost 7 years ago, I began working as a Desk Staff at Sacramento Pipeworks. Today, let me be the first to express how happy I am to still call Touchstone my employer. Wait a minute, this is starting to sound as if I should be either in a confessional, or standing up in front of a room of other people addicted to something.

To tell you the truth, I suffer from obsession...and one of my addictions is climbing.

My desire for climbing has followed me through the last 19 years of my adult life. I have moved with the industry as it has taken me from working at my hometown gym in Rockford, Illinois to Montana, Virginia, California, and Thailand. Jobs throughout this career have ranged from building indoor rock climbing facilities to shipping packages to happy Prana customers. I have even spent some time solving problems behind the desk of another local gym, Granite Arch!

The most common weekly question I receive is “What keeps you here at Pipeworks?”

The best answer, of course, has to be the community.

The gym has brought me daily smiles and a large number of unmatched personal relationships. Over the years, I have met friends with a very diverse range of upbringings and professions, yet all still have the same common goals...staying fit and having fun. Admittedly, all of these people I would have never met without my selfish love of climbing. Along the road, however, I have learned that pursuits are not necessarily selfish if joy is brought to others by sharing your talents with them. It is the exact opposite.

band playingIn addition to climbing, I enjoy making and selling music and art. My ‘desk job’ allows me sufficient time to pursue all of the professions that round out the individual human that I am, and I am constantly encouraged by my employers to continue to be myself. Eli and the Sound Cult is a project that I have been involved in for the last year. Since the inception of the band, my friend Elijah Jenkins and I have brought our music on tour a couple of times so far, to share with folks in Sacramento, San Luis Obispo, Bakersfield, Modesto and Los Angeles. We piled all of our belongings, (climbing gear included) into a borrowed van and took to the road. We have played 13 shows over 4 months just to refine the stage performance, constructed a studio in Elijah's basement to record an album, and built a huge sound system and video display to tour the live show. Now that’s ambitious!

We are presently running a Kickstarter project to help fund the ability to continue to share our craft and put out our debut album, ‘Best of Pop’. If you are so inclined, feel free to check us out at

If you still believe that there is some leftover free time in my busy schedule, under the moniker of ‘doctorbove,’ paintings are made and sold by my company/art gallery, Japaints. I have recently been working with the City of Sacramento to create larger scale murals and share art with the public. This year, I was lucky enough to work with local artist John Horton on a 75’ mural behind The Crest Theatre, and am currently busy creating another on ‘The Kay’ (K & 8th Streets). This new project is 150’ x 8’ and will be completed by the end of June. Over the years, you may have even seen a Japaints show or two at one of your local Touchstone facilities. If you have not yet witnessed one of these displays of artwork, in December you can view them when the paintings will be hanging in Berkeley Ironworks!


Check out more at

jason climbingIn life, my goal is to spend time doing the things that will ultimately make me happy. As I have been told time and time again, “You only have one spin around this roller coaster.” So, why not be happy? Personally, I can not think of any reason why not, and will tell you now that I am. Thanks for spending some time with me, see you at the gym!


CrossFit Pipeworks

CrossFit is one of the fastest growing fitness programs in the United States and when Sacramento Pipeworks opened their own box earlier this year, hundreds of people have joined the great new way to get strong.

Since the January opening of the CrossFit Pipeworks, 200-300 new members have joined the new facility and 60-80 people are working out daily. “It is the fastest growing CrossFit Box in the United States without a doubt!” said Dustin Raúl Stumpf, a 23 year old CrossFit instructor from Salinas. Stumpf, who graduated with an Exercise Science degree from Sacramento State, instructs at CrossFit Pipeworks

DustinCrossFit 024

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The Sacramento Smoke Stack

Imagine doing an enormous first ascent in the middle of a state's capital city. For some, this is just a dream. For others, it's a bold and symbolic adventure.

The Sacramento City smoke stack rests at the corner of 7th Street and North B, a mere nine blocks from Pipeworks. A few years ago, gym manager Vaughn Medford walked the base of and saw an obvious line of bolts up the formation.

incenarator 2


“I assumed the bolts were to be used in case they ever needed to maintenance the structure but apparently not,” said Medford.

A few weeks ago, a fit seventy year old nearly crushed Medford’s hand when he shook it and introduced himself as Bill Smale, the man who made the first ascent of the Sacramento Smoke Stack.

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Women's Empowerment at Pipeworks

On March 15th, Women's Empowerment, a non-profit based in Sacramento, made their 50th visit to Pipeworks. We were able to catch up with leaders and participants in this amazing program to get the scoop on their partnership with Pipeworks.

Womens Empowerment1 

"Sacramento Pipeworks has been working with Women's Empowerment since 2004," said Pipeworks manager Vaughn Medford. "They are headquartered only a couple blocks away from the gym, so it is not unusual to see a group of women 10-15 power walking over to the gym on Fridays. They use the gym to work out in the weight area and do cardio. The members have become accustomed to seeing the group, and we're all supportive of such an important cause."

Read more: Women's Empowerment at Pipeworks

New CrossFit Pipeworks

“People are always looking for the quickest way to get results,” said Dustin Stumpf. CrossFit is the ANSWER!”

There's great news for Sacramento Pipeworks members.  On Wednesday, January 23rd from 5 until 8 pm, CrossFit Pipeworks will open their new program with a BBQ to welcome new and existing members.

CrossFit Picture

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Pipeworks Video

Recently, long-time member Collin Poseley shot a cool video of Sacramento Pipeworks.  When Posseley is not busy producing media content for the Sacramento area news, he has photographed and shot video for a number of the Pipeworks comps. 

Past blog entries can be found at



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