ABS Season 16 Divisionals went down last weekend at Basecamp in Reno, Nevada. Youth climbers from all over Northern California, Nevada, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska, Wyoming, Montana, the Western half of both Dakotas came together to compete for a chance to move onto Nationals.
Two youth climbers from The East Beta’s, Great Western Power Company’s Teen Team, reached the podium and will be moving on to Nationals. Elise Buser took 1st place and Katrina Louie took 5th. “It was really great to see the training that Elise and Katrina have been doing pay off and get them spots on the podium. Their hard work and persistence earned them invitations to nationals in Madison, WI!” Grace Gibbon and Annelise Eeckman also climbed for The East Beta’s on Saturday.
Also in attendance was Touchstone’s Head Routesetter Jeremy Ho. “It was a fantastic opportunity to work with an extremely talented crew,” said Ho. “This was the most experienced setting team nation-wide, and the two day event went off without a hitch!
Touchstone Climbing has always supported the next generation of climbers our gyms. Each of our nine locations has one or more youth teams, and while our focus has primarily been on making climbing an accessible and fulfilling after school activity, we see that some of our young crushers are moving in the direction of competitive climbing - and we need to move with them!
We are proud to announce that in February, we will be the proud parents of Team Touchstone, our own competitive youth climbing team. Led by Zach Wright and Scott Cory, Team Touchstone is perfect for youth climbers and their parents who are ready to make ready to train hard, have fun, and compete at the highest level to compete at their highest potential.
Our goal is to provide an team experience for any level at each gym. Competitive Teams will start at Berkeley Ironworks, Great Western Power Company, and Sacramento Pipeworks on February 1st. San Francisco competitive climbers will practice at both Dogpatch Boulders and Mission Cliffs. The Studio, Diablo Rock Gym and MetalMark will host recreational teams, while still offering the opportunity for competing in USA climbing events with Team Touchstone.
Find out more about Team Touchstone, and the best option for your child.
Good luck to everyone going to Nationals and a HUGE thank you to all the parents, volunteers, coaches and climbers who made this weekend such a great event at Basecamp Reno!
GWPC Staffers Chris & Elena might be back from their month long road trip, but they covered so many miles and saw so much rock! Here's what happened when they passed through the awe-inspiring canyons of Zion National Park.
After traveling three hours from Monroe, Utah, Elena and I were thrilled to see the massive sandstone canyon walls of Zion on either side of us. We stopped at a shell gas station after a few failed attempts at full campgrounds to buy drinking water, beer, and snacks. The lovely lady behind the counter decided to give us the local Springdale camping beta!
The next town over, Rockville, was a very small town. We turned left onto Grafton and traveled about 3.5 miles to a dirt road on the left. The camping was primitive but nonetheless free. The only downsides are that the sites were limited and when the National Park camping is full, locals flock to the area. There were a ton of ants that decided to parade in our tent as well. If you don't mind six-legged creatures as your alarm clock, I highly recommend this spot. If you prefer a bit more fancy location at only $10 per tent site with a hot tub, pool, showers, and a restaurant, Zion Ponderossa Ranch Resort off of 9 east and North Fork road is definitely worth the stop.
The following day we headed to the Zion to hike a bit. Parking during the day is scarce so park in Springdale. On the way in we noticed two fairly tall boulders next to the visitor's center. We decided to hike first and climb later. The first two hikes were The Watchmen followed by the Kayenta Trail to Upper and Lower Emerald pools. Both were easy to moderate and only about two miles each. Angel's Landing was definitely the highlighted hike which was about 7.5 miles over a 1480 ft. elevation change. Then came the bouldering.
Bouldering in Zion is not only gorgeous but very easy on the hands. Elena hopped on a few highball V0 to V2 problems and finished them no problem. I decided to tackle whatever I could manage to get my hands on. The first boulder had very nice warm up problems (about 10 or so) and two anchor bolts on the front of you weren't the soloing type. The second boulder had fewer and shorter problems but a bit harder. A few speculated V5 and V6 problems went down after a few tries. All in all, it was a great place to be. If you are an avid trad climber, this is definitely the place for you. From some short top rope and boulder problems, to big wall multi-pitch trad only routes, this sandstone sanctuary will have you begging for more.
A familiar face around the GWPC yoga and climbing community, Avram Pearlman sent in this trip report of his first time at Lover's Leap. When he submitted this post, Summer was coming to a close. At time of publishing, winter has yet to show it's face, so the Leap is still climbable! Read on to find out more of the play by play beta on this classic California climbing destination.
In late summer, we took at trip to Tahoe for a little climbing. Having never been up Highway 50 to climb the multitude of routes in that direction, I didn't know what to expect. After only a weekend I am hooked, and can't wait to get back! A friend of mine had always recommended the Leap as a great place to start traditional multipitch climbing. The abundance of routes from 5.5 to 5.9 make it a great place to focus on gear placement, anchor building, topo reading, route finding, and setting up a belay station. The granite is gray in color, and includes features similar to those found in the valley.
Getting there is fairly easy, as long as there is not an abundance of traffic in the Sacramento area. Water is available at the parking area, however parking is limited. There are 20 walk in campsites, with space for one car per campsite. The day use parking area is also limited, and can be taken up with overflow from the campers. The campground is first come first serve for $10/night with 14 nights max. There is running water, fire rings, and pit toilettes. Day use fees are $5/day per vehicle.
With our rack and some borrowed pieces, myself and my partner Marie hiked out to try a few routes on the Hogs Back. This wall is slightly shorter than the main wall, and allows for two and three pitch routes. Knapsack, our first choice, was more congested than the 880 during rush hour. Instead we walked right up to Manic Depressive, a two pitch 5.5 that was really fun!
After getting a little more comfortable with the idea of switching leads, placing gear, and dealing with the rope, we got on Deception. Deception is a 5.6 route that included a 5.8 crack variation (extremely scary), lay backs, stacked blocks, and a scary slab traverse move with no hands near the end of the second pitch. The exposure made me realize how short the routes in the gym really are...
Many of the classic routes are referenced on Mountain Project, but this place is pretty big. Highway 50 is littered with spots around the Leap, some even include free camping! It's not a bad idea to get your hands on a copy of South Lake Tahoe Climbing, by Chris McNamara (Supertopo 2004). Although ten years old, this book was still a great to have in hand.
In October, GWPC Staffers Elena Hershberger and Chris Cuoco embarked on a 1-month road trip throughout the Western United States. It's an enviable itineratry to be sure, so they agreed to report back on their favorite spots! First up is their visit to explore the Mystic Hot Springs, (and the climbing) of Monroe Canyon, Utah.
"Chris and I arrived at Mystic Hot Springs at 3.30 on Friday, October 3rd after about a two hour drive from Provo, where we had stayed the night before," wrote Elena "Mystic sits in sleepy little Monroe, Utah. Monroe has a gas station, a couple sandwich shops and a Family Dollar, all of which close early and aren't open on Sunday. The beer is a state-mandated 4% or lower, so bring some with you if you don't want to subject yourself to bathroom breaks every 15 minutes.
But this quaint little town isn't why we came. The real slice of heaven and what we were really after, were the amazing natural hot springs and the surrounding campgrounds, geothermal greenhouses, tropical fish ponds, psychedelic refurbished buses (which are rented out for overnight stays) and pioneer cabin village, all located in the midst of this conservative, rural town. Mystic had a laid back, retro vibe and we were sold on it right away.
The day prior, we had contacted one of the owners of the hot springs through the WWOOFing network to do some work for a few days in exchange for free camping, meals and hot springs. What we got, though, was so much more. We were welcomed in to spend meal times with Mystic Mike himself (who founded the springs in 1995) along with his girlfriend, Aubrey, and their two kids, Xavier and Soleil. We were treated like family. We got to give back by helping to shovel out and deepen the channels which the springs run through. It was hard and steamy work but being able to soak in the hot springs twice a day pretty much erased any muscle tension that had accumulated over our 5 hour work days.
On our last day there, Mystic Mike let us in on the beta for a local climbing area that was just beginning to be developed. So on our way out, we drove 10 minutes down the main strip and toward the mountains to Monroe Canyon in Fish Lake National Forest. The main crags had several multi pitch and sport routes on either side of the river that flows through the canyon.
Chris and I had only packed enough gear to boulder and found a couple of roadside routes easily. Serendipitously marked with the word 'HERE' in white paint on the slate grey volcanic rock, we pulled over and plopped our crash pad down right underneath. We bouldered the bottom of a few (speculated) 5.10+ routes which were well-lined with bolts. Unfortunately, without our full compliment of gear, we were left to drool over the mere possibilities what might have been if we had decided to bring all of our gear. We set off to our next destination with our bodies rested and our hopes high for the promise of even more climbing."
Was your #rocktoberresolution to try out a new class? You're in luck!
Great Western Power Co in Oakland is offering a new time slot for a old class. By popular demand, there will be class on Mondays at 8:30pm. If you've never taken a Cardio Boxing class, check out this video to find out more. It's guaranteed to leave you with sore muscles and a smile on your face!
Cardio Boxing at Touchstone Climbing & Fitness from Great Western Power Company on Vimeo.
It's that time again! The Touchstone Competition Series, aka #TCS2014, comes to Great Western Power Co in Oakland this Friday! TCS has visited a Touchstone gym every month this year, alternating between roped climbing and bouldering. TCS2014 at GWPC will be a roped climbing comp and climbers of all levels and all ages are welcome to come out and compete!
Never been to a Touchstone Climbing Comp? Never fear! Here is a handy 3 step guide for the best Friday night of your life.
1. Know what you're in for
FUN! Seriously. While some people might hear the word 'competition' and get S.A.T. nerves, tranquillo amigo! Putting on Touchstone Comps is our way of saying thank to our members for being awesome. This is a FREE event for Touchstone members! Guests pay ONLY $10. (Which is a screamin' deal) The party, er, we mean comp, starts at 5pm and ends at 10pm. You can stop in any time and we'll welcome you with open arms.
Competitors (that's you!) get a score card in beginner, intermediate or advanced categories, and self-score their climbs as the night goes on. Sure, you need a witness, but that's what your belay partner is for!
Once you've climbed your brains out, the REAL party starts. Everyone in attendance gets an awesome T-shirt, pizza, and beer from our friends at Strike Brewing. (21+, duh) There will be raffle prizes, music, a photo booth and all your favorite people.
What did we tell you?! FUN!
2. Come prepared
Don't worry. It's not that hard. If you ignore this step and skip right to #3, we'll still be psyched to see you.... we'll just send you to the back of the line.
To get a score card, you need a 3 letter Touchstone Comp Code. To get a Touchstone Comp Code, you need to register. You can do that here. It's going to look like this:
If you've been to ANY Touchstone Climbing Comp in the past 2 years, then you're already registered! Click 'Lookup' to find your 3 letter code. If this is your first time, don't worry. We'll be gentle. Click on 'Register' and it will be over before you know it. Now's the tricky part. You've got to remember the code, or all this was for naught. If only there was a piece of paper that you needed to bring to the comp anyways that you could write the code on, as to not forget it......
Thank goodness for the waiver. Print it here. Fill is out. Write that code somewhere we can find it and BAM! You're ready to go.
3. Invite all your friends
Seriously, how bummed are your buddies gonna be when they see their feed blowing up with photos of you having the time of your life and you didn't invite them. It's an awkward and avoidable conversation to have. Let the people know! RSVP to the event on the 'book. Post a photo. Hashtag #TCS2014. Call them on the telephone. Do whatever it takes.
By Jon Kennedy
When planning a bouldering trip in June, climbers usually place Bishop last on their list of potential destinations. For those unfamiliar with Bishop climbing, it is a fall or winter destination if you want those optimal sending temps. I love the look you get when you mention you’re going to the Buttermilks in June. With temps in the 90s and up, leaving climbers running for the shade, Bishop in the summer can be a climber’s worst nightmare. But the sound of no crowds lured a few Average Joe climbers to the high desert in mid-June...
As we left the Bay Area, we got our last glimpse of city life and the “thrill” of sitting in rush-hour traffic. A few hours later, we reached Yosemite National Park, flashed our annual pass and headed towards the higher elevation of Tuolumne. Seeing the beautiful lakes and inspiring domes of YNP were the perfect primer and helped get us psyched for some granite climbing.
After several hours of driving down 395, we decided to make a short detour in the interest of a little rest & relaxation. The combination of the full moon and the cool evening sky created a perfect setting for taking in the local hot springs.
(NOTE: The springs are easily found right off of 395. Once you see the big green church, continue on for a few miles then take a left and head down the road until you pass the second cattle gate. From here, make a left turn onto an obvious dirt road and park at the turn off. There’s a wooden path that leads you right to tub.)
If you’ve never been to the hot springs off 395, it’s worth every minute of the short drive/approach to be able to relax under the stars and the moon surrounded by the mountains and good friends. After a restful night’s sleep, “Team Average Joes” were off to crush some real rock and see some beautiful sights. But before we headed up to the boulders, we needed to fuel up at Erik Schatt’s bakery – which has good coffee and the best baked goods on the whole East Side. Our first climbing destination was Way Lake, where the high elevation ensures that the temps are usually perfect in June. Since no one in our group had ever been to Way Lake, we didn’t quite know what to expect. After hiking around a bit searching for boulders, we realized we were on the wrong trail without a climbable boulder in sight. Instead of getting disappointed, we shifted gears and ended up enjoying an incredible day of alpine hiking, which satisfied our wanderlust. After a pit stop at Mammoth Brewery, it was back to the hot springs to relax and plan out our next course of action. It was an easy decision to settle on a night session, so we headed towards the Buttermilks, since we knew there were a couple of decent boulders there.
Night climbing in the ‘Milks is amazing. When you pull up to Grandma and Grandpa Peabody and the whole area is peacefully deserted, you know it’s going be a fun night. We got the pads out and ran towards Grandma Peabody. The back of Grandma has a bunch of skin-friendly jugs to warm up on. After a brief warm-up, we attempted a who’s who of popular Buttermilks moderates, including Go Granny Go and Ironman Traverse, climbs that commonly attract heavy crowds during the peak season. Fortunately, we literally had them all to ourselves. Thanks to our JOBY torches, the climbs were easily lit up, making night climbing very easy and safe. After a few sends and lots of flailing we headed back to town for a good night’s sleep (In a bed; worth it if you want to sleep like a boss).
After another lazy morning, which downtown Bishop accommodated perfectly, we waited out the hottest part of the day with a little yoga and reading at the local park. After the temps started to drop, we headed out for Rock Creek.
Rock Creek is a special place. Located at 8500 to 9000 ft, there are beautiful granite boulders and a lovely creek flowing with clear water and some happy fish. Finding and approaching the boulders at Rock Creek was a dream. You park your car, walk 5 minutes, and you’re at the first incredible boulder. The rock quality is excellent – smooth granite with aesthetic lines and comfortable holds. We tried a few moderate problems, which required precise footwork and solid technique. Rock Creek bouldering is very similar to what you’d find in Yosemite – very smooth rock, littered with small/slippery feet and not much for handholds. The Rock Creek area doesn’t have vast amounts of bouldering, but what it lacks in sheer quantity, it made up for with its beautiful alpine forest setting. My favorite problem that we tried was called “Groove and Arete”, a fun V4 arête with a big move to an edge and some dicey top-out holds.
The next day, we again waited out the hottest hours of the day – this time by checking out the local climbing shops. One of my favorite ways to kill time in Bishop is going to Moonlight Gallery and checking out the beautiful pictures from around the world. The gallery also has a few books showcasing climbing history, something every climber these days should look at. The history of this sport has always amazed me. Looking at the pictures of the “Stone Masters” defying gravity without the benefit of guidebooks or modern-day gear has always been inspiring.
Around 3pm we headed to the Milks for an afternoon session. The first stop was the Birthday Boulders, with some fun warm-ups and a pretty stout V3 face climb called “Birthday Direct”, with small crimps and high feet. Because we also had a first-timer with us, I wanted to show her all of the “easier” classics, like Buttermilk Stem, Birthday Mantle, Robinson Rubber Tester, Good Morning Sunshine slab and the Green Wall. Being a first-time climber in the Milks, you realize that even the V0s are hard – very humbling. A perfect example is the holdless slab of Robinson Rubber Tester, which I’ve seen completely baffle and shut down many strong gym climbers. After a fun afternoon of climbing, we headed to the Happys, where big holds and big feet make for some fun gymnastic climbing.
In the Happys, we found a few good boulders with some fun V0 – V2s and just went to town. Our Bishop rookie quickly acclimated herself to the area, topping out 8 or 10 problems in our short session. She liked this style of rock a little better than the unforgiving granite of the Buttermilks. We climbed until sunset and then headed to the Tablelands to setup camp, where we enjoyed dinner before drifting off to sleep under the starlight.
The next morning, after packing up the car, we made another stop at Schatt’s bakery for goodies to bring home, paid a visit to the smokehouse for some jerky, and were on our way.
This was one of my favorite trips to Bishop. No crowds, tons of new sights and boulders, and a lot of time soaking in the springs. Leaving Bishop is always a sad time – your skin is sore, your body is sore, and you realize you’re leaving one of the best spots in California. Keep it a secret, though, people. Bishop is too hot in June. Spread the word.
Trip Report By Avram Pearlman
Tioga Pass is Open! I know there are many other ways into the eastern Sierra, but there is nothing like driving through Tuolumne Meadows to get to a near endless supply of sport, trad and bouldering. Oh, and did I mention free camping and hot springs? And, unlike Yosemite, dogs are OK too...
To make the drive home a little easier after climbing in the Gorge we checked out a spot called Clark Canyon. The approach is easy (15 minutes on a slight incline) and the routes are nestled in the trees providing shade and a wind break as needed. The Canyon was chock full of moderate sport climbs (for me that means the 5.7-5.9 range), and many more in the 5.10s as well.
The rock is volcanic tuff, with a slight orange patina. Lots of pockets for hands and feet, as well as some decent cracks. We set up in a section called Area 13 and completed three routes each in an afternoon.
On the Center Wall we started with a 5.8 called Chop Chop. A combo of face climbing, side pulls and cracks that could be climbed clipping the bolts or placing gear (smaller pieces only). We set up a top rope and then climbed the route about two feet to the left, a dihedral 5.8 crack line called Scorpio. Towards the top of Scorpio, the crack got a little bigger and there was a perfect hold (out of sight) right where I needed it to be!
Finishing the day with a super fun and mellow 5.7 four star route called Ugly, Fat and Mean, Come to Mammoth, Be a Queen. Nine bolts to anchors with an amazing view! The bolts and anchors on all the routes were in really good condition, at most a few years old. Next time we head back there I would like to try a two-pitch 3.5 star 5.10a route called Cholito. It looked like a sweet line, with 17 bolts.
The parking area for the Canyon is less than an hour to the Mobile station in Lee Vining. In fact, Google maps estimates five hours and fifteen minutes from Touchstone's own Great Western Power Company to the trail head. Most of the forest service road was fine, but there was one section of road that we were glad to have a high clearance vehicle.
Big Springs Campground is only a few miles from the Clark Canyon trailhead, and is a free, established campground if you don't mind being close to your neighbors. Clark Canyon is all Inyo national forest so dispersed camping is allowed. The brush is thick in places, but there are plenty of flat spots for a truck or tent.
The staff at the gear shop in Mammoth dropped rumors of a new version of Mammoth Area Rock Climbs, by Marty Lewis and John Moynier. The coming book is to include many of the now established lines not listed in the 3rd edition. After being pressed for a release date for the guide, the guy behind the desk just shrugged. “Who knows when it will be out, we are talking about climbers here...”
On March 22nd, a crew of GWPC Climbers ran through the streets of Oakland as part of the Oakland Running Festival. GWPC member, Ari Oppenheimer talked a bit about the group's race for the Touchstone Blog.
Anyone who has dedicated any real time to climbing knows just how incredibly fun it is. The pleasure to be had in moving upwards weightlessly transcends all disciplines and distinctions in the climbing community; it is what unites us. Many people walk into climbing gyms looking for access to an activity that can compliment weight lifting or other (regular) fitness activities, but stay for climbing–realizing that they haven’t touched a weight in months.
But climbing’s “funness” is a double-edged sword. It is so fun that it’s easy to overdo it and get injured or burnt out. To keep the psyche high and your body healthy, it’s important to take small “excursions” from climbing. For a small crew of climbers at Great Western Power Co, the Oakland Running Festival was one such excursion.
Despite the casual, “excursion from climbing” approach that the crew took to training for the race, (almost) everyone walked away feeling great with either a PR or a solid debut half-marathon. Bianca Taylor and Mike Maloney both crushed it, running 2:18 and 1:37 respectively for their first half marathon. Distance running veterans Valerie Ann, Sarah Winter, Melanie Barnes, and Maxine Speier had solid performances, running 1:49, 1:58, 1:52, and 2:15. And I managed to limp away with a time of 3:17 and an overall position of 38th for the full marathon.
After the race, Maxine and Mike met me back at Great Western to recover with a sunny rooftop foam-roller session and a few sausages at Rosamunde. Even though our psyche from the race was running high, and despite our engagement in activities that stemmed from running, our conversations rarely departed from climbing. While we were running the race, and while we walked around Oakland with our bib numbers, it would’ve been easy to assume that we were just a group of runners. But the reality is that we are, and always will be, climbers.