Young Crusher Hannah Donnelly Profile

Here at Touchstone, we are lucky to be surrounded by such a diverse and talented group of climbers and fitness enthusiasts. Every once and a while we love to sit down and profile a member who's got a great story to tell. Up this month... Hannah Donnelly, a 16 year old Zero Gravity climber. 


Donnelly, a Sacramento Waldorf High School Student and Sacramento resident, began climbing with the youth team nearly 3 years ago in September of 2010. Climbing often at Sacramento Pipeworks and now Diablo Rocks in Concord, the young climber has a solid resume with 4 national championships competitions and a couple of V8 boulder problems!

“I live and breathe climbing,” said Donnelly in a recent conversation with the Touchstone Blog. “Training 4 days a week and trying to hold a 4.0 in school is tough, but in the end it's worth it. I love climbing because....... wow that is hard to put in words. Climbing, for me, is not always about the competition. It is about having amazing moments that you have complete control over every body position; every moment and any second can change the result. When I grab onto a plastic hold or a small edge of granite, everything stops for a moment, letting me take a deep breath... knowing and believing that I am able to move my body and have the strength to complete the thing that in that moment seems like the biggest challenge."

“Hannah is a highly motivated, passionate athlete. She is focused and determined to develop her technical, physical and mental ability to an elite level,” said Zero Gravity Coach Scot Jenerik.

In November 2011, Donnelly trained at Claudiu Vidulesu's US Nationals camp. “I felt wonderful for the two weeks and the time flew by.” Donnelly enjoyed the climbing immensely but then she had an unfortunate injury. “I had a blast, but while warming up my left shoulder started to bother me, I climbed anyways....bad idea. On some move, on some climb... I tore my labrum, front and back, and also slightly tore my bicep.” For fifteen months, Donnelly recovered from surgery on her labrum. “Looking back, I am weirdly kind of happy that I got injured, it allowed me to truly understand the reasons I love to climb, not to win, not to send anything hard (even though those things are great and drive me to train,) but I most of all I enjoy the atmosphere climbing brings; friends, food, laughter, and being outside."


“One of my most exciting achievements [this year] is that I have fully recovered and I'm training at full strength with the goal of competing in Youth World Championships in August 2013. Through the deep dark stages of surgery and recovery, I have learned that even though there are crappy days climbing, embracing them is better than sitting on the couch or watching from the crowd.”

Jenerik reiterated her point, describing Donnelly’s attitude towards recovering from the shoulder injury. “Coming back from shoulder surgery has really tested her resolve, patience and commitment. But it has also shown her that any day climbing is better than any day broken.”

Donnelly climbs outside often, exploring Maple Canyon in Utah, Smith Rocks in Oregon and the bouldering in Bishop and Tahoe. She has numerous goals in her climbing. “My biggest personal goal is to always try hard, give 100% every time I step up to the wall. I also try to stay positive, allowing myself to fail and also allowing myself to get angry... to push my own limits. My performance goals consist of small goals in daily training and big goals competition related . Some daily goals could be finishing all my laps or learning to breath while my pump is getting unbearable. I am able to strive and push myself to the limit each day...even if each day the limit is different."

"My big goals, which are making US national team, competing in a world championships, and climbing 14a, keep me focused on a bigger picture."noname-5

Donnelly provides a perfect example of a climber who balances hard climbing and having fun. We're proud to call Hannah one of our own and can't wait to see where her climbing career is going! Keep up the great work Hannah!

Got a story to share? Tell us all about it! Email your trip reports, bios, and tales of woe to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

East Betas at Indian Rock

Fresh from raising $700 in a bake sale, GWPC teen team, The East Betas, trudged up the Berkeley Hills to test their plastic beast strength on the polished boulders of Indian Rock and Mortar Rock. All the typical gromits were in full attendance led by the good looking, super talented coaches Ryan Moon, Sam Schwartz, and Ari Oppenheimer. Moon, perhaps the MOST modest of the crew, submitted this trip report to the Touchstone Blog. 

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Read more: East Betas at Indian Rock

SFIHS Students at Dogpatch

On May 24th, 45 students from San Francisco International High School, a public school for recent immigrants, headed over to Dogpatch Boulders to check out the new gym. The students, who are adjusting to a new life in the United States, had never been climbing before! We caught up with them to see what they thought of climbing. 

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Read more: SFIHS Students at Dogpatch

Pringle Tears Spain Apart

This spring, from March 26th until May 14th, Touchstone climber Ethan Pringle headed to the Spanish of Oliana for some of the incredible climbing. Pringle crushed the sport routes on the steep rock and wrote a bit about his trip for the blog.

So... Oliana! First off, I was supposed to leave Spain on April 30th with most of our American crew, but I decided extend my trip for two extra weeks to climb at Oliana, and Walker did the same. Unfortunately it rained for like four days straight right before we moved from Magalef to Oliana, so a bunch of the cliff was drenched when we got there, but it dries relatively quickly.

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Read more: Pringle Tears Spain Apart

Climbing Half Dome for the Wounded Warrior Project

Memorial Day weekend is a time to remember the soldiers who have given their lives to protect our nation, but why stop there? Various programs focus on supporting our veterans year round. The Wounded Warrior Project dedicates itself to helping soldiers of America’s Armed Forces that have been wounded in war by raising awareness, providing aid and creating programs for returned soldiers. 

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Read more: Climbing Half Dome for the Wounded Warrior Project

Zero Gravity at Regional Championships

The Touchstone Zero Gravity Climbing Team just won their eighth straight USA Climbing Sport Climbing Series (SCS) Regional Championship. The competition was held at City Beach in Fremont,  on May 11. To say that Zero Gravity dominated the competition is an understatement. Out of the 20 age categories (10 Sport, 10 Speed, where only one competitor per category is scored), the team brought home 14 gold and 4 silver medals. In total, the team brought home 14 gold, 8 silver, and 7 bronze medals. In addition, of the 30 athletes on Zero Gravity, 26 of them will be moving on to the Division 1 Championships which will be held in Seattle on June 15th and 16th. 


Read more: Zero Gravity at Regional Championships

Patience and Persistence

Touchstone Climbing is always eager to support local organizations in our community. This year, we are proud to sponsor Team Specialized Racing, a Junior development team based in the Bay Area. Larry Nolan, the Team Specialized Junior Director, profiled three riders because of their 'Patience and Persistence.' "Development, confidence and humility are values that we discuss as a team," said Nolan. "But reminders are always a good thing! In sharing these three stories I hope to remind our juniors to be patient, yet persistent with their dreams and goals."

Matt"Cycling, like any sport, comes with frustration, anger, determination and glory. This season, I have raced my bike 36 times and have only won once. 36 times where I can say I gave it my all, and tried my best. Even though winning one race so far this season seems to be discouraging, it actually helps put things in perspective. I know I am on the right path to achieving my goals. The win came at Cat’s Hill Classic in the Juniors 17-18 Category last weekend. Although it is not the biggest and most important race of the year, it is surely one of my favorites as I now have won this race two years in a row. This win meant more to me than the last because I was determined to win it the “Billy Innes” way - ride away solo from the field by attacking on the climb, which I did. The win at Cat’s Hill Classic has fueled me to work harder, to never give up and to keep on pedaling." said team rider Matthew Valencia.


Read more: Patience and Persistence

Yosemite's Peregrine Falcons

220px-Falco peregrinus_nest_USFWSYosemite National Park has has been able to foster one of the most symbiotic relationships between peregrine falcons and climbers in the world. Sarah Stock, the wildlife biologist who oversees the bird and mammal projects for the park, works with other ornithologists to monitor the nests and breeding activity of the birds. Since 2009, Crystal Barnes, the full-time raptor monitor in Yosemite, has been assisting Stock with monitoring and managing the climbing closures in the park.

Currently, there are 14 pairs of birds in the park. 10 pairs are breeding and 9 of their nests, known as eyries, have been located. “Of the nesting pairs, 4 have successfully hatched young on The Rostrum, Rhombus Wall, Arch Rock, and Cascade Cliffs. The nest at Wapama Cliffs is suspected to have hatched young, and all other nesting pairs are still incubating with late breeding being observed at El Capitan’s SE Face. This pair is one month behind the typical egg-laying period for peregrines in Yosemite National Park,” said Crystal Barnes.

Read more: Yosemite's Peregrine Falcons

Partner Parties at GWPC

Working at the front desk at the gym means you hear this question a lot. 'How do I find a belay partner?' While bouldering is easy to jump into, finding a belay partner to rope up with can be more of a challenge. "It's such a shame when people cancel their membership because their belay partner has moved or is injured," said Berkeley Ironworks staff Monica Aranda. "Especially when I know we get requests for belay partners nightly. I can't think of anyone who wouldn't be psyched for a new climbing partner!"

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Stephanie Jim, who works at Great Western Power Company as the Kids Camp director, is trying to tackle the problem. "When I was younger, I loved watching the TV show Cheers," said Stephanie. "It made me happy to see a place where someone knows your name. I see this gym as my very own Cheers. It's a not just a work out facility or my job, it's a community. I want everyone to feel like a part of it." This was the motivation behind 'Partner Parties'; fun events where members and guests can meet new climbing partners. 

GWPC Partner Party 

If you're interested in participating, the next Partner Party at GWPC is on May 22nd from 6pm-8pm. If you're a member, swipe your magical membership card and you're in! If you're a guest, simply pony up for your day pass and no one will be the wiser. To get started, head over to the smoke stack in the middle of the rope walls. There, you'll find snacks to lure you in, and new friends to keep you coming back for more! 

"One you pick up a partner card, and write your name on the top," explains Stephanie. " For each new person you climb or belay with, you'l write their names down and check in at the partner table to get a raffle ticket." Boulderers are also encouraged to come out! For each new person you meet in the bouldering area (ie. give beta to, high five, etc), add their name to the card and exchange it for a ticket. Raffle winners will be announced every 20 - 30 minutes. You'll win anything from a t-shirt to a chalk bag!

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This is just one example of the fun events that Touchstone employees put on for their communities. "Wouldn't it be great if the minute you stepped into the gym, you recognized 5-10 friendly faces that immediately made you feel at home?" said Stephanie. To find out more about the upcoming Partner Party at GWPC, be sure to check out the Facebook page and invite your friends. 

Other partner finding events are on the calendar at The Studio in San Jose, Berkeley Ironworks, Mission Cliffs and Diablo Rock Gym. Find new partners and make the gym a place where everyone knows your name! 


Crush Cancer Climb-A-Thon

Want to go climbing and help save lives? (The correct answer is 'YES!')

On Saturday, May 25 Berkeley Ironworks is hosting a Climb-A-Thon to raise funds for the Women's Cancer Resource Center and the HERA Foundation. This amazing event is all thanks to the hard work of long time desk staffer Clari. "I've lost three sisters to cancer, and when I was diagnosed it came as a shock. Combining my love of climbing with raising money for such an important cause is my way of fighting back." Clari has been in remission for over a year, and is doing well! 



The Women's Cancer Resource Center creates opportunities for women with cancer to improve their quality of life through education, supportive services and practical assistance. The HERA Foundation seeks to stop the loss of women from ovarian cancer by promoting Health, Empowerment, Research, and Awareness. Both organizations have provided countless services to women with cancer and are important to support.


"This event will be a fun chance to get in a ton of climbing for a great cause. Remember Jog-a-thons? The structure is very similar," said Clari. To participate, climbers can collect pledges per climb, or a flat amount for participating in the event. Pledge sheets, along with envelopes for money, are available at the front desk at Berkeley Ironworks. Register, collect sponsors, and then climb or boulder your heart out! You can register as a group or individual. A minimum of $50 per participant must be turned in at the time of the event. 


Everyone is encouraged to come out and climb! Raffle tickets are on sale now at Berkeley Ironworks, and prizes include So iLL swag, Jim Thornburg guidebooks, and more! We are also looking for volunteers with belay cards to belay. Be sure to email Clari at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  if you are interested in volunteering for the event. 

When it comes to raising money for cancer - everyone is a winner. But Touchstone Climbing will be offering prizes for those who raise the most money to sweeten the deal. 

1st Place- 3 months free membership

2nd Place- 2 months free membership

3rd Place- 1 month free membership

We're so happy to be hosting such an important fundraising event! Encourage your friends to come out and climb to CRUSH cancer! 

BIW belayer

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