Better Know a Setter: Ryan Rougeux

They'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 Sacramento Pipeoworks setter Ryan Rougeux.

spRyan2How long have you been route setting?

Officially about 2 1/2 years, but I started learning with the old school crew of Andreas, Craig and Peter back in the day at Pipeworks.

How did you get into route setting?

I've worked the desk since 2007, and kept bugging the setters to teach me their magical craft.

What is your favorite gym to set at and why?

The future Pipeworks bouldering expansion will be my favorite.

What are your route setting pet peeves?

When climbers would rather try grabbing a foot chip then learning how to climb slopers. The gym exists so you can work on your climbing weaknesses in a controlled environment, don't gravitate to what you're good at! 

What is in your route setting bag right now? 

Random Stone Age holds, some bolts, maybe a step ladder and ascender.

What inspires your routes?

Climbing outside on real rock and the motivation to stump the regulars on my routes. It brings me great inner joy to watch someone fall off my routes.

unnamed-16What's the hardest thing about route setting?

Staying motivated and being creative. Imagine spending 8 hours in the gym setting routes... and then spending another hours putting your own time into training for climbing. I live at the gym.

What is your favorite memory setting with the Touchstone Crew?

Many years ago after a rope comp at Pipeworks the keg still had beer in it (sounds crazy right?) and Fernando and Josh did their part to try and empty it. Eventually Fernando felt 'motived' decided to lead the 13b comp route and broke a hold at the 2nd clip that sent him cartwheeling upside down to josh. We threw a helmet on him and he promptly sent the hardest route in the gym.

Where is your favorite place to climb outside?

Right now it's a few secret boulders I'm trying to develop around Donner Summit, there are still so many unclimbed blocks out there.

What is your advice for aspiring setters?

Don't get discouraged. Your routes will be bad for a longtime. Even when your routes start to get better we're still going to tell you they're awful. It's a tough-love tactic. 

How many cups of coffee do you consume on a weekly basis?

All of them.

The PsicoComp WrapUp

On August 8th, Clif Bar held a $30,000 drag race between 32 of the world’s best climbers in Park City Utah. The second annual PsicoComp pitted climbers in a head to head battle on a 55 foot tall wall above an Olympic pool. With former winner Sasha Digulian on the mend with a finger injury, the women’s field was an open to dark horse climber Claire Branff, last year’s winner Delaney Miller and power house climber Alex Puccio. In the men’s competition, everyone wondered if Sharma would win his own comp or would it be incumbent Jimmy Webb, or World Cup winner Sean McColl. Regardless of who won, the comp promised to be more action packed and spectator friendly than any other climbing competition in history.

The PsicoComp idea originated from Chris Sharma and Mike Call, who were deep water soloing in Mallorca Spain four years ago. The climbers realized the excitement of climbing high above the water and wanted to transport the experience to a US audience. When the opportunity arose to use the ten foot deep Olympic pool at the Park City training area, the pair seized the opportunity to build a 55 foot wall over the water with Walltopia.

Within six months, the PsicoComp established an amazing event. 5,000 people watched live with and an audience of 55,000 viewed the excitement online, making the PsicoComp the most viewed climbing competition in history. This year’s PsicoComp promised to be better with the increased sponsorship and support. The Louder than 11 production crew ran a half dozen cameras over the pool and wall, shooting between amazing shots of the climbers and the commentators, Brian Runnels and Chris Weidner. Jonathan Thesenga returned to MC the event while two DJS spun beats to the climbers.

Spanish climbing legend Dani Andrada and the Godfather of Deep Water Soloing, Miguel Riera set the 5.13 route for women and 5.14 route for men. They set for a much deeper and more elite field of climbers including Chris Sharma, Nalle Hukatavalle, Ashima Shiraishi, Sasha Digulian and other. “The route was hard at the top,” said World Cup winner Sean McColl. “It was perfectly set,”

The style of the climbing is “Not like a route climbing comp,” said executive producer Mike Call. “Or like a long boulder problem comp. It’s a new comp genre in terms of length and fitness. If you want to win you have to climb the wall multiple times and faster than the other person.” The climbers will be raced elimination style.

The women’s field started with young Texas climber Claire Buhrfiend racing Salt Lake local, Jacinda Hunter. The women fought up the wall, completing the route in approximately 3 minutes, hitting wild gaston moves and feet cutting dynos. Claire pulled away to the top and advanced to the next round.

In the first round thirteen year old, Ashima Shirashi seeded against Alex Johnson, a woman twice her age and height. Despite the big differences in size and age, Ashima pulled away, giving the incredible V13 crusher a pass into the next round.

In the last light, Alex Puccio beat out Ashima. In one of the most exciting matches of the night, Buhrfiend raced Puccio in semi finals. The pair topped out a second apart and judges referred to Louder Than 11 footage to catch Buhrfiend’s half second win.

In a rematch of last year’s women’s finals, Redbull forgot to give their sponsored athlete Sasha Digulian wings. Delaney Miller crushed Digulian and advanced to meet fellow Texas climber Buhrfiend for women’s finals.

The first race for the men pitted Isaac Caldiero against Sean McColl. Caldiero suffered a bad fall the previous day. When he fell from high on the wall, he flipped and smashed into the water, hitting the side of his head. He left the pool with poor equilibrium and holding his ear. A doctor diagnosed him with a ruptured ear drum. Despite the injury, the doctor cleared Caldiero, who raced with a large earplug in. The falls rattled some of the competitors. The next day, Daniel Woods suffered serious bruising on his arms from not tucking his arms in when he fell from the wall. There was a serious need for the climbers to fall well into the water. The crowd did countdowns from the top of the wall and many of the competitors did pencil dives into the pool. Climbing on the wall was extremely terrifying to say the least! But at the same time it's exhilarating and a ton of fun. Especially in front of the crowd during finals! “ said Kyra Condie, As the sun set in the quarterfinals between Ashima and Puccio, the women topped out and then down climbed the head wall together to shorten the jump. The heights obviously affected the climbers.

“It's a little bit scary,” said Sean McColl who took a spinning fall the day before. Despite the obvious dangers of the climbing Sean Mccoll dropped his chalkbag at the base and left the competition in his dust. Where the women had completed the route in two minutes, the men ran up the wall in 60 seconds and less. McColl clocked in times of sub 40 seconds on the wall. In a race against last year’s winner Jimmy Webb, McColl campused across the top.

Racing against favored winner, Chris Sharma, McColl performed a footless cross 40 feet above the water. Sharma must have felt the pressure. He threw for the last hold and made a huge splash into the pool.

Racing neck and neck in Men’s semi finals, Daniel Woods barely pulled ahead of Carlo Traversi. This pitted him against McColl for the prize of the Men’s 2014 PsicoComp championship.

In the women’s Delaney Miller fought to take first this year against Claire Buhrfiend to win the women’s. The pair topped out seconds apart. They stood on top held hands and jumped into the water together. Buhrfiend swam out of the pool the winner of this year’s PsicoComp while Miller made a strong second place.

The Men’s final came to McColl and Woods. McColl showed off his consistent performance. He climbed fastest on his last lap on the wall and handily beat Woods for the win.

The PsicoComp brought thousands of climbers to Park City and tens of thousands more watched the live broadcast. The excitement of watching some of the world’s best climbers race up an overhanging wall made the event popular. The competition ran much smoother than last year’s and if climbing can continue on this path, it stands a strong chance of being in the Olympics soon.

Long Weekend Trip to Sonora's Gold Country

Sonora’s Gold Country contains an amazing variety of climbing from limestone bouldering to traditional basalt cracks to blocky sport climbing.  Spring and fall are the best times to climb in Sonora but the overhanging rock of Jailhouse stays dry in even the most savage winter storm.  In the summer, escaping the heat can be easy at the columns of the Grotto. With solid weather throughout the year and an awesome range of climbing, Sonora offers a perfect destination for a long weekend on the rocks. 

Day 1 Columbia College Bouldering

The Gold Rush of 1940 unearthed a large amount of precious minerals in the Sierra Foothills. The hydraulic mining also uncovered a mother lode of highly compacted marble boulders near Columbia College in Sonora. The hundreds of problems in the labyrinth of boulders require body tension and a solid ability to climb on sloping holds in a wild setting.  "It's like walking through the Castle Grayskull," said Kim Groebner, a Berkeley boulderer.

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Triple Cracks (V6), which John Sherman described in The Stone Crusade as “possibly the best single limestone problem in the country” sits below the college.  Great problems like The Gold Wall (V4), Lobster Claw (V4), and the All American Finger Crack (V2) reside just meters away.  The high concentration of boulder problems requires a fair amount of navigating and Columbia College Bouldering by Dean Fleming helps significantly.

Poison oak guards many of the boulder problems at Columbia and remains an issue around Sonora.  Be aware of what the plant like and remember even the leafless winter branches can cause an allergic reaction.

 

For more info also check out: Columbia Bouldering

Day 2 The Grotto

 

Grotto

The Grotto features amazing basalt cracks and blocky sport climbing just outside of Lake Melones on Table Mountain.  The BLM land trail outside of Jamestown takes climbers drops them thirty feet into a pit with routes surrounding them.  With trad routes on one side and sport routes on another, the Grotto provides a perfect opportunity for climbing.

The classic compression route AC Devil Dog (5.10c) involves refrigerator style wrestling up a perfect double arête.  Go With the Flow is a perfect 5.9 hand crack to warm up for Rawhide (5.10d). For those looking for more of a challenge, there are extensions that climb the basalt columns and into steeper terrain as well as short challenging routes surrounding the Grotto.  There are a number of more moderate sport climbs as well that provide a great opportunity for the budding lead climber.

The Grotto stays much cooler than the area around it because of its recessed nature and offers a perfect summer escape. 

Denise Jailhouse

Check the MountainProject page for online reference. 

 

Day 3 Jailhouse

One of California’s best sport crags remained locked on private land for years until the Access Fund negotiated with landowners for permanent access.  Now California climbers have nearly a hundred overhanging routes in a giant basalt amphitheater to keep them busy.  The climbing at Jailhouse remains difficult with the easiest route being 5.11d and the average route checking in at 5.13.

Check out the power endurance route Fugitive (5.13a), the sustained Alcatraz (5.13b) and the heart breaking ending of Jailbait (5.13c)Climbers in the 90s invented kneepads, sticking stealth climbing shoe rubber on neoprene pads, to help conquer the overhanging blocky terrain of Jailhouse.  Once seen as a form of aid, kneepads are a standard and almost necessary part of climbing at Jailhouse.      

Due to the easement agreement with landowners, a gate code is required to enter the park.  Check in at the Access Fund website for the code.

Shoes at Jailhouse

For those that want to skip out on the hardman sport climbing, head back for another day of bouldering at Columbia, try more lines at the Grotto, or go swimming at Natural Bridges located off Parrots Ferry Road and across the bridge from Lake Melones.

Mountain Project Jailhouse

How to Get There

Located in the Sierra foothills, Sonora sits two hours east of San Francisco.  Follow the 580E to Highway 120, which merges with Highway 108 and heads directly into Sonora. 

For the Columbia Boulders, drive north through Sonora on highway 49 for 2.3 miles.  Head north on Parrots Ferry road for a tenth of a mile before turning east on Sawmill Mill Flat Road.  Follow signs for 1.2 miles to Columbia College, and purchase a one-dollar student-parking pass.  Campus maps will provide directions to the Lower Arboretum.

To get to the Grotto, drive southwest on highway 108 from Sonora towards Jamestown.  Turn onto Rawhide road and drive west for two miles before turning south on Shell Road.  Drive through two horse gates with a high clearance vehicle at the end of Shell Road or park outside and the gate and walk to the BLM parking area and pit toilet.   

Park in student parking Rawhide to shell and a couple horse gates you can park outside the horse gates

To get to Jailhouse, follow the 108 south for 8 miles, turn west on O’Byrne’s Ferry Rd/ CO Rd E15, this is less than a mile after the Yosemite Junction, where Highways 108 and 120 diverge. Drive 3.7 miles and turn right at a double gate. Enter the gate code and close the gate behind the vehicle. Do not park outside this gate at any time, as the owner does not want to draw attention to this gate. Turn left and follow the dirt road ¼ of a mile to a fenced parking area on the right and close the gate after entry.  Horses graze the land surrounding Jailhouse.  Be considerate of the animals.

Where to Stay

First settled in 1848 by Mexican miners, Sonora remains a bit of a rough and tumble town with a historic feeling. Century old brick buildings line downtown.  The town offers modern conveniences and provides a solid feel of California Gold Rush times.    

The Sonora Inn in downtown offers nice hotel rooms ranging from $60 to $80 a night. 

Tuttle Town Campground, located above Lake Melones, charges a more modest $22 and provides flush toilets, showers, drinking water, picnic tables and fire rings at each campsite.  Bring a tent and sleeping bag for the car camping there. 

 What to Bring

A crash pad or two would be ideal for bouldering around Columbia College.  For the roped climbing, a sixty-meter rope, climbing shoes, harness, belay device, and a set of quick draws will get you up the majority of the routes at the Grotto.  A double set of cams and some stoppers will help with the traditionally protected routes. A seventy-meter rope will allow you to lower off most routes at Jailhouse.  Bring kneepads for the overhanging rock.  90% of the routes are fixed and only a dog draw is necessary.

Wear lightweight long pants as the Sonora area has a significant amount of poison oak. 

Sierra Nevada Adventure Company, located on Washington Street in downtown Sonora, offers great supplies for climbers and hikers.  SNAC sells copies of A Climber’s Guide to Sonora Pass by Brad Young, which offers route topos to the Grotto, Columbia College Bouldering by Dean Fleming provides navigation for the limestone bouldering, and Bay Area Rock by Jim Thornburg contains an overview of each area as well as the only topo to Jailhouse. 

Food & Drink

The Diamondback Grill, located on Washington Street in downtown Sonora, offers steak, salmon, great burgers, vegetarian options, and the best dining around the area.  Mellow with a solid range of beer and wine options, The Diamondback Grill provides a perfect post climb dinner.  Washington Street’s Bagel Bin provides great breakfast sandwiches, bagels, and coffee. A few Mexican restaurants dot Sonora and C & C’s taqueria in Jamestown offers cheap eats near the Grotto.  Groceries and supplies can be purchased at the grocery stores in Sonora.   

 

The Quick & Dirty

Where to Climb: The Grotto
Where to Stay: Tuttletown Campground

Where to Eat: Diamondback Grill

 

New Yoga Class at GWPC

unnamed-9Ever wondered what to do on Thursday evening after getting off work in downtown Oakland? Your worries are over! Great Western Power Company is now offering a yoga class to balance the long day hunched over that desk typing on the keyboard. Even if you don't hunch over your desk, this still might be the thing for you...

The class, starting at 7.15 PM, will be challenging, make you sweat and stretch you out. Avram's influences include Laura Camp and the Monkey Yoga Shala, Ashtanga and Vinyasa styles as well as B.K.S. Iyengar's classic book Light on Yoga. Avram has been teaching since 2010 and practicing since 2000, and has really enjoyed teaching the Tuesday yoga class at GWPC.

In addition to the yoga classes, Avram has also been teaching the Core Conditioning class for a number of years. Core Conditioning is fundamental to a healthy yoga practice, and might be just what you need to finally get that V6 you are working on.

The goal is for everyone to be challenged, but not discouraged. Some members will come to both core and yoga in the same evening (the double dip). Both Tuesday and Thursday are set up this way, come by and give it a shot.

Tuesday

Core @ 5pm - 6pm

Yoga @ 6:05pm-7:20pm

Thursday

Core @ 6:10pm-7:10pm

Yoga @ 7:15pm-8:30pm

 

 

Touchstone Climbing in Hollywood

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Happy Monday! ...Or as it has come to be known here at Touchstone Climbing, Happy New Gym Announcement Day!

That's right people, we have secured a location for a state of the art indoor climbing gym in Hollywood, California. This will be our 3rd project currently underway in the Greater Los Angeles Area. Once again, Touchstone worked with the team at Creative Space to find a ‘needle in a haystack’ location that addressed all of the unique requirements of a Touchstone climbing gym. The Hollywood gym is located near the 101 and will offer over 17,000 sq ft of climbing terrain, making it the largest bouldering-only gym in Southern California.

For those following along at home, we announced that we had found a location for a Pasadena gym in January, and a Culver City location last week. “Now that we’ve been here for 6 months and people can really see what we’re made of, announcing other locations is HUGE,” said LA Boulders General Manager Remi Moehring. “We’ve set the bar high and people know what we mean when we say a Touchstone gym is coming to town.”

"Our goal in coming to Los Angeles was not to simply add a gym, which we did with LA.B this year. Our objective is to be a catalyst in the development of an indoor climbing community, said Touchstone Climbing CEO Mark Melvin. “It takes multiple exceptional gyms in close proximity with reciprocity, to do the job right, and this new location is essential. We are very excited to be in the greater Los Angeles area."

Offering the climbing and fitness community a network of gyms is a pillar of our success in Northern California. And now it's only a matter of time until our Southern California members can enjoy the same perks! “We are hopeful that we can open both Hollywood and Culver City in the first half of 2015,” said Sr. Manager Markham Connolly.

We will once again be working with our friends at Walltopia to design the walls, and Flashed Climbing to build the state of the art flooring. #dreamteam

Creating a network of gyms in the LA Basin will not only increase the number of gyms and amount of terrain for the climbing and fitness community, it allows Touchstone to ramp up their infrastructure in the area. “I'm really excited to develop a crew in LA that will bring the Touchstone caliber of route setting to the climbing gym scene,” said Head Touchstone Routesetter Jeremy Ho. “I’ll be hiring full time setting crew that will set at all four locations, bringing our quality and cohesive style to each gym.”

Touchstone is currently working through the permitting process on their 3 newest projects in Pasadena, Culver City and Hollywood and will have more information come fall. Keep it tuned here for more information! 

 

TCS2014 Scores

The Touchstone Climbing Series, AKA TCS2014, has been bringing beer, pizza, climbing, prizes and 'da party' to each of our six of our nine gyms over the past year. The comp series rotates back and forth between rope climbing and bouldering, with on-sight finals at Mission Cliffs and Dogpatch Boulders.

There is one last Friday night comp left at Great Western Power Company in Oakland. Be sure to come on Friday, August 22nd ftom 5pm-10pm to compete. As always, this comp is FREE to our beloved members and only $10 for guests.

If you weren't around for the finales last year, here is a breakdown of what to expect. 

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The bouldering comp and on-sight finals will be held a Dogpatch Boulders on Saturday, September 27th. It will be an open comp from 12pm-5pm, which is just like any other comp you've come to know and love. Anyone can compete in beginner, intermediate or advanced categories. There will be pizza, beer, food trucks for snacks, and more. 

Once the clock strikes 5, it's finals time! We will select the TOP 3 advanced climbers from the entire series, and the top 3 climbers from the day, to go head to head in On-sight finals. 

There are three finals problems and the top 6 male and female finalists will have 5 minutes for each of them. "It's pretty exciting," said Routesetter Ben Polanco. "Bouldering finals at Dogpatch are super fun to watch."

There is a cash purse of $1,000 for 1st place men and women. $600 for 2nd place, and $350 for third. 

Prizes will also be awarded to the overall winner in all categories. So the more comps you went to, the better your chances of reaching the podium!

To check your overall rope standings, click here:

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TP1A1644 copy- small for websRopes

The roped comp and on-sight finals will take place on October 25th at Mission Cliffs. The new expansion walls lend themselves perfectly to competition climbing and spectating. 

The comp will function in the same format. Open climbing will take place throughout the day between 12pm and 5pm. We will select the TOP 3 advanced climbers from the entire series, and the top 2 climbers from the day, to go head to head in On-sight finals.

Each competitor will have 1 chance to climb 1 route, and the climber with the highest 'highpoint' wins. If there is a draw, there will be a tie breaker route. 

There is a cash purse of $1,000 for 1st place men and women. $600 for 2nd place, and $350 for third.

Prizes will also be awarded to the overall winner in all categories. So the more comps you went to, the better your chances of reaching the podium!

Screen Shot 2014-08-01 at 3.30.43 PM

 

 

 

 

Scoring

For bouldering and roped standings, we take your top two or three results, respectively, for the series, add them together, and rank you within your computed category. If you were ever bumped during the series during a bouldering/roped comp, you are "bumped" for the series.

For the series standings, we take each of your scores, divide it by the maximum possible points for that competition, and multiply it by 10000. That is your "normalized" score for the competition. We take your top 5 normalized scores, add them together, and that is your series score. Then you are ranked by gender and category.

 

Outreach Program at Berkeley Ironworks

DD.6.2011 1At Berkeley Ironworks, we have always believed in serving and reaching out to our Bay Area community. As one of the largest indoor climbing gyms in the area—with towering, 45-foot climbing walls and a caring, supportive staff—we have a unique facility, and we love to share it with community organizations like yours.

We offer organizations who work with underserved, special needs, and at-risk youth (and other qualifying groups) heavily subsidized, fully staffed group events – no strings attached. Our only goal is to get your organization climbing! Over the last few years we have worked with organizations like Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program (BORP) and Lighthouse for the Blind, hosted children with incarcerated parent and served Soccer Without Borders, an organization that connects newly arrived immigrants to one another and to the community.

Here are some testimonials from groups that have visited Berkeley Ironworks in the past year.

"There was so much encouragement and energy for each other that it made it great to see how much you all have grown to care for each other and see the value in the success of someone else. That was amazing."  

Trooper Johnson, BORP. 

photo 1 1"The students were given freedom to explore and boulder as well as try climbing on rope. It was not only the first time for all of the kids to climb, it was some students' first time outside of Richmond. The environment, patrons of the gym as well as all the staff were highly accommodating and supported us feeling safe and capable of trying new things, taking on personal challenges and allowed the students to have an incredible experience outside of their typical daily lives. We thank Ironworks and the staff for the wonderful opportunity to give us a place to explore and reach new heights!"

Katherine Bruce, Gateway Project

"Those of us who have rock climbed with kids know that it is one of those activities that immediately draws them in, gets them excited and challenges their minds and their bodies. What happens when you bring a group of recently arrived refugees and asylum seekers from all over the world to a climbing gym? Fun and adventure."

Dan Robinson, Soccer Without Borders

As a lifelong climber, I can attest to the challenge, excitement, and joy that is rock climbing. It is a physical challenge appropriate for all ability levels and a mental challenge that requires and develops problem solving skills. It offers a sense of accomplishment and the opportunity to confront and conquer our fears. It fosters social connections, helps build trust, and is a wonderful team-building tool.
If your organization is looking for a new activity—and a new challenge—in a controlled, fun, and supportive environment, contact us!

Best regards,

Jeffrey Kosoff
Outreach Coordinator
Berkeley Ironworks
Touchstone Climbing

To contact Jeffery regarding a group event, please email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Better Know a Setter: Jeremy Ho

They'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 Head Routesetter Jeremy Ho.

DSC 0257-2-EditHow long have you been route setting?
5 years

How did you get into route setting?
I had been working at Berkeley Ironworks for a couple years and always wanted to try out setting. Eventually there was an open spot on the crew, I applied and was hired. It was all down hill from there...

What is your favorite gym to set at and why?
I'm a big fan of setting at Dogpatch Boulders. I'm predominantly a boulderer but lately I've been excited about setting routes and the Mission Cliffs expansion space is top notch for that.

What are your route setting pet peeves?
As the Head Routesetter, my biggest setting pet peeves are spinning holds (under tightened holds) and tape angles being off. As just a routsetter aesthetics are really important to me, matching hold sets and similar feet make a huge difference to me.

What is in your route setting bag right now?
Makita 18v impact driver, Ratchet T-wrench, Metolius Waldo big wall harness, Petzl Sama sport harness, At least 2 Petzl Grigri's, Petzl Pro Traction, Multiple locking and non locking carabiners, Petzl Ascender, Metolius 4 step aider, 2 Metolius Quick Fix, 2 quick draws, A tap, Multiple bits (for set screws and regular 5/16 hex head bits), Chalk bag with brushes, my NEW SoiLL Bucket... Oh and sharpies out the wazoo

What inspires your routes?
Rock climbing. I love everything about it and route setting allows me to create movement for others that will hopefully get them to love the sport as much as I do. Watching people enjoy something you set is a great feeling.

What is your favorite memory setting with the Touchstone Crew?
Probably Eric Sanchez shucking the pole challenge at Dogpatch for the first time.

You recently set at SCS Nationals in Atlanta. Tell us about that.
It was incredible. It was an amazing opportunity and it's inspiring to know that the Touchstone standard of routesetting can hold up on a national level. It was great learning experience to spend so much time around a great group of setters from all over the US.

And we hear your route won 2nd place in a peer review?
Yeah, I only lost 1st place by ONE vote! Note to self; next time I need to vote for my own route! 

Where is your favorite place to climb outside?
I really love the climbing in Bishop and the eastern Sierras are just beautiful. Yosemite Valley is real close to the top too.

What is your proudest send?
Definitely topping out Evilution Direct ground up (a 60' boulder problem on the Grandpa Peabody boulder in Bishop). I think only a handful of people have climbed that thing without checking out the top section on a rope. (my only claim to fame. HA!)

What is your advice for aspiring setters?
Don't get discouraged. Your routes will likely be bad at first. Nail down the basics before trying to set crazy technical moves. Keep you mind open to suggested changes to your routes and learn from your mistakes. Continue to learn as much as possible about rock climbing movement and stay active in setting (you CAN get rusty.)

How many Kombuchas do you drink per week?
A sh*t ton. At least 2 per day. But that's a secret don't tell anyone. 

Your secret is safe with us, JHo!

 

Mission Cliffs to get New Logo

Mission Cliffs, which is about to celebrate it's 20th anniversary, has been undergoing a massive expansion project for the past two years. The gyms has added 9,000 ft of roped climbing terrain, gained a stretching and viewing mezzanine, moved the front desk, and is currently finishing construction on two brand new programming rooms. "It's been a crazy year," said General Manager Donna Hawkins. "But it's so cool to be able to grow with our membership base. The Mission Cliffs expansion has transformed the gym from what was the best 20 years ago, to what will be the best for years to come."

copr DesignisPlay MetalMark pasteupWe knew that with such a dramatic change to the physical gym, the logo could use a little makeover as well. So of course, we turned to our friends Mark Fox and Angie Wang of Design is Play.

Mark has been climbing at Touchstone Gym's since 1993 and the two of them joined Mission Cliffs in 2009. Not only are they regular crushers around the gym, they are talented designers as well. They have worked with us to design the identities for our past four gyms; MetalMark 2010, The Studio Climbing in 2011, Dogpatch in 2012, LA. Boulders in 2013, and now Mission Cliffs in 2014. The MetalMark, The Studio, and the LA. Boulders identities all include original typeface.

We're also proud to find out that their trademark for Dogpatch Boulders is included in the Graphis Design Annual 2015!

"Out of all nine Touchstone Gym logos, you can definitely tell which ones Mark and Angie designed," said Sr. Manager Markham Connolly. "They are clean, bold, and easily identifiable. You can really see that that each unique logo is a part of the same company."

MarkFoxThe two are highly renowned designers in the Bay Area. Mark was President of the San Francisco chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) from 1995–1996, and served on the board of the Architecture + Design Forum of SFMOMA from 1998–2000. In 1995 Fox chaired the Design Lecture Series: “5ive Iconoclasts” featured Tibor Kalman, Vaughan Oliver, the Guerrilla Girls, Jenny Holzer, and Diller + Scofidio. In 2004 Fox was designated a Fellow of the San Francisco AIGA for personal and professional contributions to the San Francisco design community.

Fox is a Professor of Graphic Design at California College of the Arts (CCA) in San Francisco where he has taught since 1993. He served as Chair of Graphic Design at CCA on two occasions, from 2003 to 2007, and most recently from 2013 to 2014. He earned a B.A. in Fine Arts from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1985, graduating magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa.

AngieWangAngie's work for March Pantry, Anson Mills, One Catering, and others has won numerous awards from the Type Directors Club, Communication Arts, Graphis, AIGA, and Print magazine. In 2013, Design is Play was one of forty-four design firms interviewed for Steven Heller and Lita Talarico’s book Design Firms Open for Business (Allworth Press).

More recently, Angie is quoted in Design School Wisdom, an anthology of tips from veterans in the industry (Chronicle Books). Her work is also featured in New Modernist Type (Thames & Hudson); Typography Essentials: 100 Design Principles for Working with Type (Rockport); and Typography Sketchbooks (Princeton Architectural Press.) In 2014, Angie served as one of five jurors for Communication Arts’ Design Annual, an international competition of the best design created over the last year.

Angie is a Senior Adjunct Professor at California College of the Arts in San Francisco where she has been teaching in the Graphic Design Program since 2005. She has taught “Typography 3: The Book,” created the curriculum for the foundational course “Typography 1: Form,” and co-taught the Summer study abroad class “Amsterdam: Dutch Utopia” with Mark Fox. She graduated magna cum laude from UC Berkeley, and with distinction from the California College of Arts and Crafts (CCAC). She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

copr DesignisPlay LA.B inking"We climb at Mission Cliffs, as do our children Elias, Cate, and Lukas," said Angie. "MC is a bit of a second home for us, so to design an identity for a place and a community of people that we have an affinity for is an honor"

We asked the pair to give us a bit of insight to how they tackle the task of creating our gym logos. "Our process is fairly simple: we sketch at a small size. If a sketch works at half an inch, it typically works well as a finished symbol. Extraneous details are eliminated, and the essential structure of the symbol is clearly established," said Mark. "Once a sketch shows promise, we refine it further and then ink the refinement at a size of 3.5 inches with a Rapidograph pen. We then build the symbol in Illustrator for presentation; if the client selects it, we typically hone the design further, re­inking the symbol at a size of 7 inches, and rebuilding it in Illustrator. Our process is laborious, but we believe it yields superior results."

"One final note: we can’t do great work without great partners. We have to thank and acknowledge Mark Melvin, in particular, for entrusting us with this assignment," said Angie. 

copr DesignisPlay Studio inkingSeveral of the original concepts were presented to a team at Touchstone, who then decided on the winning design. "Working with Mark and Angie to select the final identity for Mission Cliffs was such an honor, said Touchstone Graphic Designer Heather Campbell. "Their experience and professionalism really shone through. I can't WAIT to use this new logo!"

The new logo, which will be unveiled in the coming months, has an urban, industrial feel: concrete floors, steel I­beams, and that massive crane hook—20 tons of capacity! "We thought the identity should feel empathetic and so we relied on simple, constructed forms," said Angie. "The design is the kind of no­nonsense trademark that could be stamped out of metal, or stenciled on a machine."

We owe a HUGE thank you to Mark and Angie for not only working with us on our previous gym identities, but for taking on the challenge of re-creating an existing logo. We're SO happy with the final product and we can't wait to see it in use. 

...So do you want to see the new logo?! 

Patience young padawans. It's coming soon! 

 

 

Building a Pyramid for Better Climbing

Every year I stare at the enormous formations of Yosemite Valley. They tower above me. I know that I want to climb them. I also know to do so I need to become a much better rock climber.

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Bouldering on Tatonka in Squamish

Bouldering provides one of the fastest ways to improve technique in climbing. This summer I plan on bouldering in Squamish British Columbia in preparation for the fall Yosemite season. Attacking the boulders haphazardly and receiving enormous gains in my climbing would be awesome but is also unrealistic. The best way to steadily improve at climbing is to build a pyramid. The idea of creating a route or boulder problem pyramid has been around for two decades. In 1993 Dale Goddard and Udo Neumann wrote about using a route pyramid to structure progression through the grades in Performance Rock Climbing, “Experience shows that improvement progresses best when the difficulty of routes you have done forms a stable pyramid”.

My goal while climbing in Squamish is to send a V7. To make a bouldering pyramid involves knowing first what you want to accomplish. I’ll be in Squamish for five weeks. The weather may be funky and I might end up climbing routes some days so I decided to make the top of my bouldering pyramid be a V7. My bouldering pyramid would look something like this:

V7

V6 V6

V5 V5 V5 V5

V4 V4 V4 V4 V4 V4

V3 V3 V3 V3 V3 V3 V3 V3

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Climbing on Drone Militia in Bishop

The problems fall into three different categories: Projects, Volume problems and Warm-ups. My projects would be the first and second levels of the pyramid, the V7s and V6s. My Volume problems would be the second levels of the pyramid, the V5s and V4s. My Warm-ups would be the bottom of the pyramid, the V3s.

A few days ago I met with Steve Maisch, a climber with 23 years experience and a long time working as a climbing trainer. Maisch provided me with a bit of insight into bouldering specific pyramids. “On a bouldering trip it is usually necessary to take more rest days for skin and general strength reasons. A three day a week bouldering schedule is probably more effective. Also because doing a boulder problem takes less time more problems can be done and attempted in a day. More rest days and the ability to do more problems in a given day allows for the boulderer to project and do volume on the same day.”

Maisch suggested Day 1 I work on Hard bouldering. I warm-up by doing a few easy Warm-up problems and then a warm up problem. Then I try a top of my pyramid project. “Once you start to power down on the project stop trying and go back to camp,” said Maisch who said that it only causes worn skin.

Colton 1

Colton climbing in Yosemite at Happy Isles

I take a rest day and let my skin regrow.

Day 2, I warm up and try my second tier projects, my v6s. If I finish them, then I continue onto my volume climbing and building out my pyramid.

I take a rest day.

Day 3, I warm up and then try my top tier project. Even if I don’t finish it, I try my second tier projects.

I then take two days of rest and repeat the cycle.

I have utilized a pyramid style climbing structure on a number of climbing trips. I saw great results in Hueco, in Ten Sleep and in Rifle. I may go to Squamish and find out that my goals are over ambitious so I will bump my pyramid down a letter. Or I may find that I easily dispatch my pyramid so I can bump my pyramid up a little. Either way, I'll be building a solid base to becoming a better climber. While I have less outstanding climbing days, I do manage to perform on a consistently improving basis.

For more information check out Maisch’s training page.

 

Climbing Team Tryouts at The Studio

unnamed-5The Studio Climbing, our gym in San Jose, is starting their first Teen Climbing Team! Climbing is a great activity for kids or all ages and ability levels, and we're so happy to see a team forming! 

Tabitha Enanoria, who has been working at The Studio Climbing for over a year, will be coaching the team. "It's something I've been thinking about for a while now," said Tabitha. "Now that we've got more youth climbers around the gym - the time has come! I'm really excited to make the Climbing Team a really positive experience for everyone."

The Studio will hold two informal try outs for the team for kids to come and get a feel for what to expect. It's more like an Open House to check out the team. "All participants will be evaluated on three different aspects of climbing. Climbing ability, willingness to learn, and displaying the ability be apart of a friendly team environment. In order to be considered for the team you must attend at least one or both tryout days for the full two-hour session. We understand everyone starts at different levels with contrasting abilities; which is why all levels are welcome. 

If you have a child that is interested in checking out the program, come on down! This is a FREE event and a great way to learn more about youth climbing at The Studio. 

What: The Studio Climbing Team Tryouts

When: Tuesday, August 5th 6:00pm-8:00pm.

          Thursday, August 7th  6:00pm-8:00pm.

Where: 396 S 1st St, San Jose, CA 95113

Who: Boys and Girls Ages 7-19 years old

RSVP: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you have further questions, please call the front desk at 408.998.4000

 

Touchstone Climbing in Culver City

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Well, folks. Big news. The Touchstone family is about to get even bigger...

We are thrilled to announce that we have secured a location for a state of the art indoor climbing gym in Culver City. Our first Southern California location, LA Boulders, opened in the Arts District of Los Angeles in late 2013. We're happy to have found a location that will bring a Touchstone Climbing caliber gym to the West Side. The exact location is still hush hush, but let's just say it's VERY close to the 10. 

“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.”

The Culver City gym has a 25,000 sq ft footprint, which would make it one of the largest indoor climbing gyms in the country. “We are still in the planning stages of the project, but we know we are building a very large bouldering gym. We are still exploring the idea of raising the roof to add a rope climbing area,” said Touchstone Climbing CEO Mark Melvin. 

Culver City will be a full service gym, with designated areas for programs 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!

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 are cautiously confident that this project can be completed within the first half of 2015,” said Melvin. (!!!)

The Culver City gym will be the our 11th location in California. As you may remember, we announced a Pasadena location last March, which is still in the planning phase. “We are continuing to work with the city and will be announcing our progress in the coming months,” said Melvin. “These three locations give us a good start on serving the entire L.A. basin climbing community. Multiple locations in close proximity is one of the things that separates Touchstone from its competitors. When completed, one Touchstone membership will provide access to over 50,000 sq. ft. of climbing within a 20 minute drive."

Boo. Yah. Get ready for a REALLY exciting year. 

 

 

Past blog entries can be found at  http://touchstoneclimbing.blogspot.com/

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