Climbing the Wide with Pride: The Freschl Special

Imagine seeing your fifth grade teacher inverted inside a horrendous wide crack in Yosemite. What kind of homework would she give you? For many students this would be just your normal nightmare. For the kids in Christina Freschl’s fifth grade class in Layfette, the homework must be horrible.


Christina Freschl, a 31 year old Berkeley resident climbed in Yosemite for the first time in 2004. While battling on English Breakfast Crack, a 5.10c at Arch Rock, Freschl became excited and confused by the idea of squeezing into the notorious wide climb. “I got my first bloody elbow and was hooked.” Over ten years, Freschl amassed a solid resume of Yosemite offwidths: Twilight Zone, 1096, Mental Block, Blind Faith, Death Crack, Easy Wind. She spoke with the Touchstone blog a bit about her love.

Why are you obsessed with offwidths?

Maybe because I am a little masochistic... No, but seriously it is a demanding full mind and body challenge. It also requires no crimp strength, which I literally don't remember how to do. Also, the community is pretty great, small but psyched. Last October, I went to an offwidth weekend hosted by some local Fresno climbers. We climbed at Balch Flake on Jay Anderson's Wide World of Sports. I got to go right after Jay, himself went.


How can someone improve at OWs?

When you are first learning how to climb the wide, remember, it will hurt. You are doing movements that your body has probably never done before. Once you successfully move in new ways, your body remembers and it gets less painful. Learning the correct ways to tape your hands, ankles, cover knees and elbows,can also greatly increase your pain tolerance and can make the whole experience more enjoyable. Yes, I did say enjoyable:)


Do you have any tricks to keep your legs from bruising?

Knee pads work amazingly well. I have two pairs, one for squeeze chimneys (volleyball ones with a hard pad) and thinner, tighter ones, for the cracks between 5-6 inches. Be warned, don't wear these in #4 cracks or even #5 cracks if you have big knees; your knee will get stuck.



What gym training can you do to prepare for the wide?

Core exercises are the best thing to do. Also, seek out the most physically grueling, awkward, big-sloper, bouldering problems. Don't be afraid to use your whole body, knee included and definitely avoid crimps:)

What are the best spots to practice wide climbing?

Just look in the guide book for any 1 star dirty things and go climb them. They are most likely offwidths. Yosemite is pretty close to the bay and you can start by toproping some things, Generator (climb it twice, each side in) Bad-Ass Momma, Then climb everything at Arch Rock and Cookie that has wide. English Breakfast, Entrance Exam, Vendetta, Twilight Zone, Midterm. Each climb will teach you something new about how to move in an offwidth and you will be super fit from carrying around all those big cams.

Get ready Oakland!

255232 10150947140947725 1150634894 nIt's that time again! The Touchstone Competition Series, aka #TCS2014, comes to Great Western Power Co in Oakland this Friday! TCS has visited a Touchstone gym every month this year, alternating between roped climbing and bouldering. TCS2014 at GWPC will be a roped climbing comp and climbers of all levels and all ages are welcome to come out and compete!

Never been to a Touchstone Climbing Comp? Never fear! Here is a handy 3 step guide for the best Friday night of your life.

1. Know what you're in for

FUN! Seriously. While some people might hear the word 'competition' and get S.A.T. nerves, tranquillo amigo! Putting on Touchstone Comps is our way of saying thank to our members for being awesome. This is a FREE event for Touchstone members! Guests pay ONLY $10. (Which is a screamin' deal) The party, er, we mean comp, starts at 5pm and ends at 10pm. You can stop in any time and we'll welcome you with open arms. 

Competitors (that's you!) get a score card in beginner, intermediate or advanced categories, and self-score their climbs as the night goes on. Sure, you need a witness, but that's what your belay partner is for! 

Once you've climbed your brains out, the REAL party starts. Everyone in attendance gets an awesome T-shirt, pizza, and beer from our friends at Strike Brewing. (21+, duh) There will be raffle prizes, music, a photo booth and all your favorite people.

What did we tell you?! FUN!

2. Come prepared 

Don't worry. It's not that hard. If you ignore this step and skip right to #3, we'll still be psyched to see you.... we'll just send you to the back of the line. 

To get a score card, you need a 3 letter Touchstone Comp Code. To get a Touchstone Comp Code, you need to register. You can do that here. It's going to look like this:

Screen Shot 2014-08-18 at 8.58.31 AM

If you've been to ANY Touchstone Climbing Comp in the past 2 years, then you're already registered! Click 'Lookup' to find your 3 letter code. If this is your first time, don't worry. We'll be gentle. Click on 'Register' and it will be over before you know it. Now's the tricky part. You've got to remember the code, or all this was for naught. If only there was a piece of paper that you needed to bring to the comp anyways that you could write the code on, as to not forget it...... 

ALIU-FIXE-7583 copyThank goodness for the waiver. Print it here. Fill is out. Write that code somewhere we can find it and BAM! You're ready to go. 

3. Invite all your friends

Seriously, how bummed are your buddies gonna be when they see their feed blowing up with photos of you having the time of your life and you didn't invite them. It's an awkward and avoidable conversation to have. Let the people know! RSVP to the event on the 'book. Post a photo. Hashtag #TCS2014. Call them on the telephone. Do whatever it takes. 



Member of the Month: Suleka Sun-Lindley

By: Jason Bove

This month, I proudly introduce...Suleka Sun-Lindley. You may have seen her upside-down in a yoga class, climbing, cooking, painting, designing, smiling, or bringing the local community together through some other ambitious pursuit. I have had the pleasure of knowing Suleka for many years now, and I am constantly impressed that one woman can accomplish so many things, while keeping a positive attitude and staying grounded. She is, among many other things, the owner/manager of Thai Basil; a restaurant voted “Best Thai Restaurant” by readers of Sacramento News and Review consecutively since 2001.

Member of the Month: Suleka Sun-Lindley

unnamed-16How long have you been a member here at Sacramento Pipeworks, and how did you initially find out about us?
Suleka) I started practicing yoga at Pipeworks in 2009, and I became a member a year after. Two of my favorite yoga teachers are at Pipeworks, and had invited me to practice there. I loved the space so much, I became a member.

You have a very active lifestyle that includes both yoga & climbing. Are there any other hobbies that you enjoy as much as these?
I like all outdoor activities: camping, backpacking, etc. I love Snowboarding a lot! I recently tried paddle boarding and really like it too. I windsurfed and kitesurfed, and I look forward to trying it again. And, of course cooking is one of my passions, along with painting whenever I have time.

Recently you went on an outdoor excursion to Bishop, CA with Blue Aspen Adventures. Do you wish to highlight any exceptional moments of the trip?
The trip was awesome! It was so low key. Everyone was easy going, and no one stressed out about anything, even when we had two cars with flat tires in the middle of nowhere and had to change a tire in the dark. Another car broke down twice in one night. Robert and Rich were great and fun. I helped out with cooking, and everyone was really appreciative. We climbed all day and went to Wild Willie Hot Spring at night. It was epic.

unnamed-12In Sacramento, you own/manage a restaurant, Thai Basil. Would you care to tell us how you came to the restaurant business by way of a background in architecture?
After graduating from UC Davis with a degree in environmental design, I was working as a designer/project manager for various architecture firms for 12 years. My sister and my mom asked me to help them to open a restaurant. I thought I was just helping with the design and construction, but when we opened Thai Basil in Roseville in 1994, I realized I was needed to run both the front and the back of the house. We later opened another one in Elk Grove in 1998, and one in Midtown in 2001. (We decided not to stay in Elk Grove when the lease was up in November of last year).

Since there are many locations to enjoy the authentic Thai cuisine offered to us by Thai Basil, are there any differences between the menu options/ambiance at each location?
There are currently three locations in the Sacramento area: Roseville, Cameron Park and Midtown. Each location is individually owned and operated by each sister, and offers different specialties and unique ambiance. The key items from the original menu are offered at all locations.

Level Up is a lounge that exists upstairs from the midtown restaurant. The lounge includes a full bar and great happy hour specials! More than that, it supports local music, local art, and our local community. What musicians and artists do you find inspirational as of recent, and why?
As part of the Midtown community, we embrace the local art and music. One of our favorite artists is John Krempel, who was our 1st featured artist when we opened Level Up seven years ago. And, Clemon Charles is our favorite musician. Both John and Clemon are very professional and have great personalities, which makes them fun and easy to work with.

unnamed-13Do you make frequent trips back to Thailand, and do you still have friends/family living there?
My mom moved back about 8 years ago, after she retired. I have been visiting Thailand about every three years. This year, I plan on going in November and staying there for a few months, and possibly planning a cooking and yoga retreat.

Your daughter, Hanna, seems to enjoy similar athletic endeavors as yourself. Does she find climbing to be fun?
She is a very active young girl, and I have to work hard to keep up with her. We enjoy snowboarding together. She likes climbing whenever I bring her to Pipeworks.

There is a cute dog that accompanies you on your visits to the gym sometimes. What is the name of the animal, and what does a normal day in the life your pet entail?
“Charcoal” is a three-year-old terrier/poodle mix. He’s friendly and loves riding in the car with me. He’s a mommy’s boy; you can hear his whimper sound when I start climbing. We adopted him from a rescue center in Walnut Creek when he was 6 months old. He goes to the gym with me sometimes, and to the restaurant on the day I work in the office. He also has a play date with his BF, Charlie, down the street on Wednesdays. Our neighbor, Libby, picks him up for a dog run at 6 am on Sat. & Sun. He’s a busy boy!

If YOU could be any animal, what would it be and why?
Big smile ;)! My daughter thinks I should be a mama bear, because I like taking care of people and making them happy. But, I think I would be a big Whale. It would be cool to explore the undersea, where no man has gone, and not be eaten by sharks.


The Wounded Warrior Project: Climbing Half Dome for Veterans

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. 


In the second week of September, Bay Area natives, Brian Santilena and Jimmy Redo will climb the shear Northwest Face of Half Dome. The 2,000 foot granite wall sits 4700 feet above the Valley floor. First climbed by Royal Robbins, Mike Sherrick, and Jerry Gallwas in 1957, the route is considered a classic in the world and remains an imposing challenge. The team is taking donations to raise money and awareness for the Wounded Warrior Project through their climb. As of August 1st, the pair have raised over $3,000 for the WWP.

Jim and I 1

Brian Santilena, 44, and Jimmy Redo, 46, grew up together in Alameda and became close friends. They were excited about the opportunity to raise awareness about The Wounded Warrior Project and to climb an amazing granite face in the process. 

Jim and I 2

“Jim is quite experienced and did the route 20 years ago,” said Brian. The team plans to spend a few nights on the wall, carrying haulbags and bivy gear with them on their ascent. “Having fun, realizing a dream and helping people along the way is what this adventure is all about."  


The pair attempted the climb last year but had to bail when Brian hurt his left arm. "I'm trying to train and strengthen around it and I'd say I'm back to 90%." Brian has fought to recover from the injury and be more fit to attempt the climb this year. "I'm working on both strength and cardio. I'm climbing 2-3 times a week at Ironworks plus walking the Oakland hills with a 40lb. pack on. I'm going to Mt. Diablo, Pinnacles, Yosemite and I'm heading to Boulder CO in 2 weeks for a dry run gear-practice"

Donating as little as 3 cents per foot will help the Wounded Warrior Project immensely. "I've never done anything like this before," Brian said. "But if some of these injured heroes wounded over there are pushing themselves to merely walk across the room, scared or not I sure as hell can't see any reason why I can't make it up that mountain." "The climb is a personal challenge and adventure plus a chance to raise a few bucks for a great cause," said Brian. "I have a brother that was a Marine and is currently in the Army National Guard and other family members that were active in WW2, Vietnam, Iraq 1 & 2 and Afghanistan. I'm very fortunate to have dodged that bullet but I have a ton of gratitude to them and other Vets." Check out Brian's page about ways to donate.

For a more direct way to donate, check out their Go Fund Me Page

Have an adventure coming up? Be sure to let us know! Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to keep us up to date on your adventures. 


Adventure Race at Diablo Rock Gym

At Diablo Rock Gym in Concord, fitness is fun again. If you don't believe us, just take a look at what they've got planned in September! 

"We've done an Adventure Race around the gym for the past two years," said Manager Hans Florine. "It's a great way for our members to see how much HARD WORK you can get done right here at DRG. Plus - it's a ton of fun." Check out the video from last years race! 

Diablo Rock Gym Adventure Race 2013 from Paul Hara on Vimeo.

'Climb, Run, Bike, Lift, Hop, Balance, Climb, Crawl, Drag, Row, Jump, Pull, Step, Climb, Throw, Carry, Run, and more' screams the posters - and they couldn't be closer to the truth. Along with having far and away the most productive morning of your gym life, there are OODLES of prizes up for grabs. "Sponsors near and far are stepping up to sweeten the pot,' said Florine. "I'd say that participating means you are getting more in prizes than you paid to register!" Ready to sign up? Don't wait! There is only room for 30 teams for this event which goes down Saturday, September 6th. Diablo Rock Gym is accepting Teams of Two in the following categories: 

-Combined age under 40

-Combined age over 80

-Two females

-Two males

-One female and one male



$50 per team for the first 20 teams 

$100 per team for the remaining 10 slots. 

Additional $25 per team mate for non-members. 

Don't miss out on those coveted early bird price slots! Sign up at the front desk or call the gym right NOW to sign up your team!

925 602-1000

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.

390762 10150471623728609 646533585 n


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



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.


Core @ 5pm - 6pm

Yoga @ 6:05pm-7:20pm


Core @ 6:10pm-7:10pm

Yoga @ 7:15pm-8:30pm



Touchstone Climbing in Hollywood


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. 

400592 544506992268437 2072778659 nBouldering 

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:

Screen Shot 2014-08-01 at 3.30.28 PM





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






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. .

Past blog entries can be found at



Latest News

  • Thanksgiving Climbing Options MORE >>
  • Southwest Loop - Part 2: Zion MORE >>
  • Hollywood Boulders Location Announcement MORE >>

Latest Routes

  • MM 13 Problems, V1-V8
  • MM 12 Problems, V0-V9
  • MC 30 new boulder problems V0 - V9

Touchstone's Instagram

Tag your instagram photos with: #touchstoneclimbing