Better know an instructor: Ashley Hockersmith

Dogpatch Boulders is offering a new clinic series on increasing endurance through bouldering. Veteran instructor Ashley Hockersmith is teaching this new clinic, which starts on Sunday, Nov. 23rd and will meet on the two following Sundays. We decided to have a chat with Ashley to learn a little bit about how Ashley found climbing and what it has meant to her. Enjoy!

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Touchstone: Tell us a little about yourself and how you got started climbing.

Ashley H: I started climbing about 9 yrs ago, when I started working at a sporting goods store. One of my coworkers, who soon became a really good friend of mine, was really passionate about climbing. After months of pestering her about climbing, she finally caved, and put me on my first climb (which was a sport 5.6) at the local crag, Mt Williamson. It took me at least an hour to get to the top, and I definitely freaked out more then once, but by the end of it I was totally hooked. Being in Southern California, we had ample opportunity to take days trips to climb on real rock. I climbed my first slab, and traversed my first boulder in J-tree, and learned anchors and rope management in Malibu. We had a local gym in Arcadia called the ARC, and while it was kinda dark and pretty dirty, it was an enjoyable space to gain some strength and pass the time.

T: Describe some of your most enjoyable/meaningful experiences you've had because of climbing.

AH: My favorite thing about climbing has always been its ability to take me to new and beautiful spaces, and to meet really fantastic people. When I am in the gym, I am pretty focused on movement and numbers, but when I am outside, I don't care how many climbs I get in; I more enjoy just being in the natural environment, and getting to fully experience that space. In the Fall of 2012, I had the opportunity to spend a week at Castle Hill in New Zealand. Castle Hill is a place with infinitely rolling hills of green and gold grasses, that is littered with hundreds upon hundreds of perfectly smooth (yet textured) silver limestone boulders. I climbed 6 of the 7 days that I was there, and while I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of climbing, I spent a good half of my time, nestled in between the rock, just breathing and enjoying the quiet and landscape.

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T: How did you learn your good technique?

AH: I was really fortunate that my friend who got me into climbing was also a stickler for proper technique and communication. During that first day, when we were driving to Williamson, she made me repeat the On-Belay/Belay-On call and response etiquette for at least 30 unbroken minutes. She was always very aware of the risks associated with climbing as well as the consequences of poor technique/Belaying. She wanted to make sure I was aware of the seriousness of my role as her climbing partner. So because of this, I always want to make sure I am passing on good technique, and well as responsible climbing habits, to the people I teach and climb with. I am a stickler when it comes to belaying; if someone is being unsafe, I refuse to climb with them. I feel similarly when it comes to "spotting".

T: Explain why bouldering is such a great medium for training endurance.

AH: I think Bouldering is a great way to train endurance for a number of reasons. First, the climber doesn't have to sacrifice their strength in order to focus on extending stamina. The power aspect of bouldering can be directly incorporated into the focus on increased stamina. Second, by training on boulders instead of ropes, the climber can focus on a particular style, or type of movement that goes beyond the wall shape. Lastly, the climber can train on their own schedule, since bouldering doesn't require a partner. I would still encouraging working with another person, as a tool to push your climbing, but the flexibility of not needing a partner is a great asset.

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T: Quick Fire questions... Favorite spot to rope outside?

AH: New River Gorge

T: Favorite place to boulder outside?

A: Yosemite

T: Favorite wall at Dogpatch Boulders?

AH: Back Slab top-out (Green Monster)

T: Best Food near DogPatch?

AH: Long Bridge Pizza

T: Tell us something about yourself we'd never know from seeing you around the gym.

AH: I consistently want ice cream at 11pm at night.

T: We'd never have guessed... Thanks Ashley!

Ready to increase your endurnace through bouldering? You'd better jump on it! Spots are going fast for this three week clinic. 

Night Climbing Tips

The time change and the fall season means short days. In Yosemite, darkness falls in the Valley at 5:30. If you are driving out from the bay or sleep in at all, that translates to very little time to climb. The best way to make the most of your trip is to climb at night. If you're into alpine starts to climb El Capitan, you will probably need to do a fair bit of night climbing. Not only will a night session extend your climbing time but it will kill the long boring hours before bed, it allows for better temps and more time to get up the wall. 

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John Dickey photo of Paul Barraza on Yabo Roof

Get A Good Headlamp:

There's a variety of options for headlamps out there. Use the brightest one possible. Grab some fresh batteries. Better is to use a rechargable headlamp. Bay Area climber Dan Freschl produced the escellent Bosavi headlamp, which recharges with a USB cable. Also check out the Black Diamond Sprinter headlamp.  

Look at Your Feet:

Be extra precise with your footwork when climbing at night. Shine the headlamp in small circles to double check on shadows. Move carefully. The temps tend to be significantly better and your feet will stick way better at night if you take time to place them well. 

Bring a Lantern:

While you can't exactly swing a Coleman lantern half way up El Capitan, you can bring a lantern to the boulders. Get a propane lantern. They tend to be brighter than the battery operated variety. Some companies sell sticks to hang lanterns or find a tree. Make sure you hang the lantern in the spot that casts the least shadows on the wall. 

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John Dickey jumaring the Stoveleg pitches at 3am

Know Where You're Going:

Earlier this fall, I climbed to Dolt Tower on the Nose with photographer John Dickey for a sunrise photo shoot. I got lost looking for a pendulum point because I failed to see the bolt in the dark. I checked the topo a few times and found the spot where I needed to swing to the Stoveleg Cracks. If you're out bouldering, know where the problem is, how to get off and what the holds are. Knowing where you're going helps significantly. It's easy to get lost in the dark. 

Stay Warm:

The colder conditions may make climbing easier but it also gets a lot cooler when you're inactive. Grab a thermos of hot tea for bouldering and a belay jacket for longer routes.

Staying warm with plenty of light, knowing where you're going and climbing well will add to a succesful night of climbing. If you want practice, the gyms periodically have night climbing sessions. Stay tuned for the next event, bring your headlamp and have fun.

Cliffs of Id, Culver City!

Big news out of Culver City, California!

For those of you who have been living under a rock..or maybe on a rock... we are currently in the design, permitting, and construction phase of not one, not two, but THREE brand new world class gyms in Southern California. We are extremely excited to be moving forward on all three projects. 

In today's news, we are ready to announce the exact location and name of our Culver City gym! 

We have decided to name our new, 25,000 sq ft gym, the Cliffs of Id.

If you're a patron of Touchstone Climbing gyms, you know that most of the time we pay homage to the original building by deriving the gym name from its history. Great Western Power Company in Oakland was once a power and electric plant, Berkeley Ironworks was an iron refinery and warehouse, etc... But for Culver City, we decided to do something a little different. 

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"The name is a slightly nerdy reference to Reyner Banham's Four Ecologies of Los Angeles," said Dogpatch Boulders manger Justin Alarcon. "It's an interesting book and defense of LA architecture / urbanism / ecology. Culver City is in the region described by Banham as the Plains of Id."

One quote really stood out, 'The Plains of Id are where the crudest urban lusts and most fundamental aspirations are created, manipulated and, with luck, satisfied.' "Changing 'Plains' to 'Cliffs' was kind of a no-brainer," said Alarcon. 

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The Cliffs of Id is directly off the 10, on Fairfax Avenue near Venice Blvd and La Cienega and has ample parking. We are also right next to the Metro Station, hip hip hooray! We KNOW all you West Siders will be psyched on this location! “LA Boulders has changed the climbing gym market in Los Angeles,” said Sr. Manager Jeffery Bowling. “This new gym allows us to serve Culver City, Santa Monica, and beyond. We’re very excited about the location of the gym and thrilled by the warm welcome we have received from the L.A. climbing community.”

Cliffs of Id will be a HUGE rope climbing gym, which is great news for everyone who prefers to tie in. The gym will have about an even split between rope climbing and bouldering. "We will be building the gym in two phases," said Jeffery. "Bouldering first, then our rope walls a few months later."

This will also be a full service gym with designated areas for program rooms, fitness equipment and a training area. “Offering premier climbing, fitness and classes like yoga and kickboxing has become synonymous with the Touchstone Climbing brand,” said Director of Marketing Lauryn Claassen. “Bringing a full service gym to Culver City will be huge for both the climbing and fitness communities.” That's right people, your climbing gym membership can also be your yoga studio membership, which will double as your home away from home! Additionally, ALL Touchstone Climbing memberships are created equal. If you are already a member at LA Boulders, you are also a member at Cliffs of Id and vice versa. Reciprocal memberships for the WIN!

We will once again be working with Walltopia, a leading climbing wall manufacturer and our BFFs, to build the gym. "This is our 5th project together and our partnership with Walltopia becomes stronger with each gym,” said Bowling, who visited Walltopia headquarters in Bulgaria in June. “We are ready to bring something truly innovative to the greater Los Angeles area.”

We anticipate opening in mid 2015. To stay tuned on the play by play, give our Cliffs of Id Facebook page a follow. We'll be releasing our new logo, wall designs and construction updates in the following months. When it comes time to hire staff, we'll post announcements there. 

 

Better Know a Setter: Ken Tran

DSC 0213-2 copyThey're up with the sun, chain coffee-drinking and working hard to bring you the routes you love to send, project, and crush. 'Touchstone Routesetting' is an industry term for excellence, and each member of the crew brings a little somethin' somethin' to the team. In our ongoing segment, Better Know a Setter, we bring you a closer look at what makes 'em tick. In this weeks installment, we sat down with on of our Studio Climbing routesetters, Ken Tran.

How long have you been route setting?

Seven months.

How did you get into route setting?

I was looking for the exact opposite of being a lawyer. Nailed it. (Bolted it).

What is your favorite gym to set at and why?

The Studio. The members are awesome.

What are you route setting pet peeves?

When people grab the foot chips that I only put on there to be nice to shorties.

What is in your route setting bag right now?

A drill and some socks.

What inspires your routes?

Climbing and occasionally Bjork and doom metal.

What is your favorite memory setting with the Touchstone Crew?

When Eric Sanchez made it rain $20 bills on me from a ladder. Or when we played dodgeball with exercise balls at LA Boulders. 

Where is your favorite place to climb outside?

Hueco Tanks.

What is your advice for aspiring setters?

Email Jeremy.

How many burritos do you eat every week?

At most five or six.

How many cups of coffee?

My rule of thumb is one cup for every ten holds I put up.

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Fall Yosemite Bouldering

The temperatures in Yosemite Valley have been slowly dropping. The fall storms have been light and sporadic. Conditions have been slowly improving in America's best granite bouldering destination.

One of the best parts of bouldering in Yosemite this fall has been climbing on all of the newer boulder problems around the Valley. Since the last printing of a bouldering guide, the volume of problems in Yosemite has nearly doubled. Areas like Bridalveil have been developed by the BetaBase crew and have yielded awesome moderate and difficult climbs.

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Bridalveil Pogo sits just a few hundred feet from the parking lot on the massive boulder. A heel hook to an undercling, a huge slap to a sloping hold and a difficult jump mark this height dependent classic. The problem's dynamic nature marks a stark contrast from the traditional static style of most Yosemite boulders. Further up the hill are the awesome Meat N Potato climbs.

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The left arete, Meat features a difficult move over a bulge, surmounted with either kneebar trickery or a calf hook. The climbing afterwards involves balancey liebacking up the arete to a good hold. At V4 and just up the hill from the Bridalveil Pogo, this is another not to be missed Yosemite problem. The adjacent Potatoes (V5) is also quite good.

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Outside of the Bridalveil circuit are more new problems like Avocado. Slab crusher Beth Rodden made the first ascent of this Curry Village slab testpiece, clocking it in at a very conservative V6. A few climbers have repeated the problem guessing it to be closer to the V9 range. In this photo, Ironworks manager Lyn Barraza crimps down on the tiny holds high above the pads. This problem is another great new addition to the Valley slab circuit.

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Beyond the new problems are the old Camp 4 classics like The Force. Jerry Moffatt established The Force during a trip to Yosemite in the mid 90s, naming the line after one of the first lines in the Michael Jackson hit "Don't Stop Til You Get Enough." In the chart topper, Michael sings, "Because the force, it's got a lot of power." In this picture, Robin Puro is climbing The Farce, a slight variation to the Force. Moffat started just left of Thriller and climbed straight up, making a powerful move and then gastoning a reinforced hold. Most climbers now use the second hold on Thriller, which splits hairs and makes the problem a bit easier.

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One of the classic and often overlooked aretes in Yosemite, Fish Eye arete rests just next to the Hexentric at the Cathedral boulders. Orginally given the sandbagged V4 rating, the problem sees very few repeats. Here, Tommy Caldwell shows how it's done. He sit starts the problem, goes high right hand to a crimp, slap the arete then crushes to the top.

The temperatures are dropping low this weekend and conditions will only continue to improve. Head out to Yosemite soon to see the best new problems and some of the classics.

Block Party and Fitness Bazaar at LA Boulders

Big news from LA Boulders, our flagship bouldering gym in Los Angeles. They're throwing a HUGE party this weekend, and everyone is invited. Here is the general berak down. 

"We live in, quite frankly, the best neighborhood in all the land," says LA.B manager Remi Moehrign. "To celebrate the amazing Arts District and all that we have to offer, we're throwing a HUGE FREE EVERYBODY'S INVITED kinda block party and fitness bazaar."

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That's right. There will be FREE yoga all day. There will be FREE intro to bouldering classes if it's your first time. There will be a FREE dyno comp so all you 'strongs' have a chance to fly through the air with the greatest of ease. We'll also have local vendors and friends coming by with tasty treats and awesome east.

Plus, with a $5 donation, you'll get some delicious eats served up by Midnight Mission, a dtla non-profit that helps people get back on their feet.

"This event will be like if a farmers market, psicobloc and a wanderlust got together and somehow created a magical love child. It's gonna be something like that," said Moehring. 

Want to let us know you're coming? Find out more on the LA.B Facebook page, or register here: http://bit.ly/10N1P7u

Trip Report: Lovers Leap

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. 

Marie at the anchor

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.

deceptionGetting 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.

All the Comps: A TCS2014 Interview with Kris Terry

This year, the Touchstone Comp Series switched between rope and bouldering comps at the nine different Touchstone gyms. Going to one or even two of the local gyms was a challenging feat for many California climbers. Kris Terry, a Sonoma County resident and climber of six year, managed to tick off each of the TCS. He spoke with the blog about this year's comp series.

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The 23 year old Vertex Climbing Center route setter coaches the gym’s youth team and spends his free time woodworking, producing Murphy beds and carving wooden cutlery. In between all his work, he managed to hit all the comps.

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“My motivation for not missing a single comp in this years series came two years ago when I left early and lost my chance at winning a hangboard in the raffle. My buddy called to ask where I was because they called my name for the big prize but I was already on the road home. So I guess it all began for the schwag (lol!) but it has grown into much more than that. I love the process of training with a powerful goal in mind and seeing the pay off by being ranked high amongst some serious talent.”

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“Besides having a great time with my awesome Vertex friends, my favorite part of the series was the ability to check out all the different terrain Touchstone has to offer,” said Terry about the comp series.

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“My favorite comps this year were: 1) Metal Mark because I performed my very best there and left with first place; 2) Mission Cliffs because I got to participate in finals; and 3) The Studio because my girlfriend finally joined me for her first TCS comp and got just as addicted as I have been. She ended the series 3rd intermediate! “

Triple Adopt-A-Crag at Indian/Mortar/Cragmont

Join the Bay Area Climbers Coalition, the Cal Hiking and Outdoor Society (CHAOS), and Cal Climbing for the first annual Berkeley Triple! On Saturday, November 8, 2014 from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, the groups will be participating in an Adopt-A-Crag at Indian Rock, Mortar Rock and Cragmont in Berkeley.

These three organizations will be joining forces to take on the cleaning of three (yes three) of the Berkeley Rock Parks in one day - Indian Rock, Mortar Rock, and Cragmont Park - and you are invited to join us!

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Sign up for the event at Event Brite

It is extremely important that the climbing community support our outdoor climbing areas - the maintenance and conservation of these areas is our responsibility. These types of stewardship events go a long way in maintaining relationships with land managers and ensure our continued access.

Please be sure to sign-up for which "team" you want to join: Indian/Mortar - Volunteer - No Experience Required - we will train you

Cragmont - Volunteer - No Experience Required - we will train you

Cragmont - Trail Building - Experienced Trail Builders Only

Volunteer Roles

Volunteers are needed to help with the following projects at the three sites:

Glass and Trash Clean-Up

Clearing of Pathways Around Park

Trail Maintenance and Building - Experience Required for Cragmont

General Park Beautification and Landscaping Work

Where are these Rock Parks?

Indian/Mortar Rock = Mountain Project website provides a great overview and directions.

Cragmont Park = Mountain Project website provides a great overview and directions.

Safety/Parking/Food/Water/Tools

Safety - We are HUGE on safety! There will be a safety talk at 10am on the day of the event. Please note that we require all participants to be present for the safety talk and wear closed toe shoes. Unfortunately, we cannot allow anyone to participate that does not wear closed toe shoes and/or attend the safety talk.

Parking - These crags are nestled within the neighborhoods of the Berkeley Hills - so while the parking is free, it is limited. Our suggestion would be to try and carpool. If this is not possible, please be patient and know that you might need to park a block or two away - the walk over will be a great warm-up.

Food - Lunch has been graciously sponsored by BUILD Pizzeria in Downtown Berkeley. Their pizza is amazing and we encourage all of you to check them out and support the business that support our community.

Water - There are drinking fountains available at Indian Rock and Cragmont Park - please be sure to bring a water bottle.

Tools - we will be getting tools and gloves from the City of Berkeley Parks department, you are also welcome to bring your own lucky shovel, push broom, or gloves.

Joe Kinder: Touchstone Climbing Athlete

We're pleased to announce that we will be bringing on Joe Kinder to join our team of Touchstone Athletes. As a recent California transplant, we're happy he's found a home here at Touchstone Climbing. Joe’s personal climbing highpoints include numerous 9a routes, V13 boulder problems, and many first ascents and route development. His work with the Access Fund and other organization in the past year makes him a sage voice in the climbing community. He's been there. He's done that... and he's helping to educate a new generation of climbers. 

He is also a talented videographer and photographer, and we're excited to collaborate with Joe over the course of the year to create videos that give the viewer a inside look at the communities within Touchstone Climbing. Our first project will be a unique look at a day in the life of a route setter. It's an idea that came from seeing first hand what these men and women do day in and day out, and wanting to share that with everyone who samples their products on the walls of our gyms. 

Welcome to the team Joe! 

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BIO

"Joe Kinder’s first climbing experience was in Estes Park, Colorado on a family vacation when he was 13. It wasn’t until two years later, while living in New Hampshire, that Joe became fully overtaken by the sport of rock climbing. Known for his outrageous personality and infinite psyche, Joe is walking motivation. He eats, sleeps and breathes climbing and stays true to his personal slogan “ALWAYS PSYCHED!!!”.

After graduating college at the Maine College Of Art he became a professional athlete by age 20. A true business man sets him aside form the rest and allows him to travel the world, climb all year long and share his stories through videos and photos which can be seen on the popular joekindkid.com. Throughout his entire climbing career, consistency has been his forte. J Kinder’s personal philosophies stem from experiences, friendship and travel throughout his life as a climber.

The approach or “One life to live” is how he lives day-to-day and it shows in his positivity, which is infectious. Whether reaching out to people through his well-read, popular blog, or meeting climbers in person at crags around the globe, he is able to share his genuine passion for this sport in an amazing, unforgettable way. No one forgets meeting Joe." 

-Andrew Bisharat, Rock & Ice Magazine

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Mystic Hot Springs and Monroe Canyon Trip Report

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. 

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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.

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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."

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Member of the Month: Marissa Treece

Have YOU still found yourself wanting to get in better shape and try CrossFit, but not doing so for one reason or another? Have you waited for some kind of inspiration to find you first? Well, WAIT NO LONGER! Perhaps, our October member of the month, Marissa Treece, can inspire all of us to personally succeed even when life tends to get in the way.

From Michigan farm girl to Division 1 athlete for the University of Notre Dame, we learn something from tree forts to teletransit, and almost everything else in-between.

 

Member of the Month: Marissa Treece

 

    Bove) Can you tell us a bit about your childhood, and where you grew up?

Treece) I grew up on a farm in Northern Michigan and was always outside, doing “kid” stuff, which was probably the start to my interest in physical activity. That, and my older brother always set me up to lose when I played video games with him; so, I guess I can thank him for my interest in EVERYthing else. Growing up, my parents always kept me playing some sort of sport...starting with soccer at age 5. Outside of athletics, I grew up riding horses, building tree forts, and raising cattle and pigs for 4-H.

 

  1. Was there a particular life experience that you found, would set you forth on the demanding path of fitness that you pursue today?

T) I’m an incredibly competitive person, so I think athletics was just a natural path for me. Even when I was just a kid, I can remember a ridiculous drive to win a race on the playground, jump farther off the swing set, clean my room faster than my brother (yes…..you can see where my parents used this to their advantage as well!) When I was in 5th grade, I convinced my parents to let me play Pop-Warner football with all the boys; making a boy cry was what I considered a successful day at practice.

My path from playing sports to actually competing came during my freshman year in high school. My high school was very small and didn’t have a soccer team (which is what I was originally naively convinced I was going to go pro in), so I joined the track team. With relatively minimal training, I won the State Championships in the 1600m and 3200m. At this point, I thought I might actually have a shot at being a real athlete, if I dedicated myself to sports. The real focus on my track and field endeavours came during my junior year, when I lost my first two state championships to the same girl by less than a second combined. At this point, I decided I needed to focus on my training, if I wanted to pursue a collegiate or professional career.  This is where things really clicked for me. Again,…losing isn’t really my thing.

 

  1. While studying at the University of Notre Dame and competing in Cross Country running, you have accrued many noteworthy achievements and awards. Is there a favorite amongst them, and why?

T) In 2008, I competed in the Cross Country Junior Nationals and placed 4th, earning a spot to represent the United States at the World Junior Cross Country Championships in Edinburgh, Scotland. This is one of my favorite achievements because: (1) it was an experience that was unprecedented by anyone that I knew on my team; 2) it was my first opportunity to race abroad; and,(3) while I didn’t perform well at Worlds, I was able to perform when I needed to in order to qualify for a, what I would later realize, once in a lifetime experience.

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  1. Despite your other pursuits, you maintain a professional career as a Director of Design at Digital Firefly Marketing. Do you find that your commitment to such intense athletic endeavors make your professional life easier or more difficult?

T) Fortunately, I have an amazing boss who understands athletic drive and dedication. He was a world champion rower and olympic hopeful in the 90s! Obviously, I would love to dedicate more of my day to moving from a CrossFit hopeful to a (semi) professional CrossFit athlete, but I consider myself fortunate for having such a flexible schedule. I do think having a professional career helps me maintain a good life-balance, and honestly, I really love what I do. It also helps me to not take my training for granted, and allows me to continuously look forward to the gym.

  1. What is an example of a workout routine you feel would challenge you most? Why?

T) In terms of a CrossFit workout… you’ll always hear people talking about “working your weakness” and the more serious I dive into it as a sport, the more weaknesses I find. I would say my biggest weaknesses are anything overhead and my gymnastic abilities. I was involved in gymnastics as a kid, but I think I’ve lost EVERY ounce of that training ;)

Bat Cave Games

  1. Many people speak of you as an instructor at Crossfit Pipeworks, and how you inspire them to be better at their sports. Do you have any motivational advice for them?

T) Honestly, I’m humbled to hear people are inspired by my involvement at Crossfit Pipeworks. I LOVE helping people, especially women, reach their potential. I think much confidence can be cultivated from a consistent positive workout routine. When people see gains in their fitness, or perform at a level that surpasses their own expectations, that confidence affects not only their workouts, but so many other areas of their lives.

To actually answer the question: I’ve done just about every fitness routine there is...from running, cycling, yoga, (a bit of zumba) CrossFit etc. My advice is to find something that works for you and matches up with your fitness goals. If you think running sucks, DON’T BE A RUNNER! Once you’ve found what you like, it is significantly easier to dedicate yourself.

 

The second thing is, find a reason to do it. This is different for everyone, for instance, I CrossFit because I want to do well at competitions. Some people do it because they’ve developed a good group of friends who also do it. The good thing about our Box is that we have a very energetic group of coaches and members, so if you immerse yourself in our culture, it’s hard to stay away.

Bat Cave 3

  1. Although you have only done Crossfit for a nominal amount of time, you recently placed first in the Bat Cave games at Crossfit Natomas. From the sound of it, you crushed lots of other tough competitors. Can you tell us more about this proud win?

T) I had an amazing time at the Bat Cave Games and had a HUGE group of CFPW supporters who came to watch. It was the first time I had competed in the sport, and the first time since college that I had done any sort of competition at all.

 

I think it was a great way to get back into “the game”; my competitiveness just sort of takes over when I compete. I think there is a level of pain ignorance that occurs and I can just shut that part of my brain off when I compete. But the competition was great! It was a great opportunity to represent Pipeworks and our coaching/programming abilities, and I look forward to MANY more comps in the future--namely, the CF Roseville Women’s Gauntlett on Nov. 1, with my teammate Abbie Crews.

Bat Cave 2

  1. As our facility at Sacramento Pipeworks grows in the next couple of months, what can we expect to see happen to the Crossfit space? Will there be any differences in the program once the box gets larger?

 

T) Well, I’d expect to see a huge space and expect some growing pains. I think it will take a few months to settle in, but a lot of positive growth in the long run. I doubt we’ll see a direct change in the programming, but we will have some additional space to use some of equipment we aren’t optimized for right now. What I hope to see is more inspiration! With one of the largest facilities in the area, I hope people continue to explore the possibilities CrossFit Pipeworks can provide for them.

nicholaswray.com-20140917-40 1

  1. When you are not busy with your professional life and athletic career, how do you utilize your free time? Do you have any other hobbies that you enjoy?

T) I dabble in a bunch of things. I had mentioned “life-balance” earlier, and over the years, I’ve found it to be essential in my life, so I try to make sure I stay involved in other activities.

First of all, I have a dog who LOVES to fetch and swim, so we kinda like to spend a lot of time at the river in the summer. Collan and I have recently re-discovered mountain biking, which serves as the perfect amount of adrenaline and “active recovery.” I’ve been known to slackline a bit, although I’m still pretty bad at it. I really enjoy cooking (and eating), and lately have been really into this traveling thing.

 

  1. If you could possess one superpower that is not considered to be of natural means, what would it be, and how would you use it?

T) Teletransit...for three reasons.

  1. Cars are eliminated. Zero Carbon Emissions (plus I have serious motion sickness issues).

  2. I’m forgetful. Like when I forget my keys at the gym and have already ridden my bike ALL THE WAY HOME. I never have to double check for anything.

  3. When you get home at 8:30 and you’re starving but don't want to cook. And the good Taqueria is on the other side of town. Problem solved.

Norway

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