Big Wall Climbing with Blonde Ambition

"It's not about being blonde, it's about having more fun." - That's the motto that Steve Schneider has lived by since he began his guide service- Blonde Ambition Guiding. Naming his guide service after Madonna's hugely successful 1990 tour of America, Steve and his blonde haired partner, Hans Florine, began to guide clients across the globe. As one of the few guides in the Bay area with American Guide Association status, Steve has a vast amount of experience in teaching the nuances of rock climbing. He has made over a hundred ascents of El Capitan and has spent as many nights on Yosemite's colossal granite wall.

Steve climbing Lurking Fear with Touchstone setters Cuz and Jim

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Training for Climbing

Has your climbing hit a plateau? Are you looking for new ways to improve? Touchstone climbing is offering a new workshop taught by one of the companies best climbers.

Justin Alarcon, a 31 year old climber from Berkeley, has climbed the extremely difficult double digit Yosemite boulder problems Pine Box, Yabo Roof, and Narcissus, the latter of which he climbed at 1:20 am on a July morning without spotters.  Besides having climbed 8a on three different continents, a number of long Yosemite routes,  5.13 sport routes, and having coached climbing since the early 2000s, Alarcon is finishing up his NASM personal training certification.  Most notably, Justin’s climbing has continuously improved over his 12+ years on rock.   Part of Justin’s success stems from his training.

 Justin Mickeys SexPorp 002

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Lyn Barraza: Ironworks's Manager

“I heard a clink clink clink.” Lyn Barraza, the manager of Berkeley Ironworks was not excited about the noise. Lyn was high on the Steck-Salathe on Yosemite’s Sentinel and exiting the notorious chimeney section of the Narrows. “My #6, my one and only piece of pro, had come out while I was climbing around in there trying to figure out how to exit.”

How in the world did a person whom college friends called conservative and straight edged ever find herself in such a predicament? Lyn’s trip to the base of the Sentinel began in 2001 when her son Cam started kindergarten.


Young Cam

While Cam was at school, Lyn was learning to climb at Berkeley Ironworks. A year after starting to rock climb, Lyn began working the desk at Touchstone’s Class 5 gym in Marin. Lyn was hooked.

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Yosemite Falcon Closures

Beginning March 1st, a number of Yosemite crags will be closed until the end of summer for Peregrine Falcon preservation.

Peregrine falcons are recovering from population decline. To protect this species, the Superintendent of Yosemite National Park is designating peregrine nesting cliffs as areas closed to visitor use, including climbing and slack-lining activities, until peregrine chicks have fledged and dispersed from those areas in 2012.

By order of the Superintendent of Yosemite National Park and under authority of Title 36, Code of Federal Regulations, Section 1.5(a) and Section (a)(1): The following areas are identified as cliffs closed to visitor use, including climbing activities beginning March 1, 2012 and remaining in effect until August 1, 2012, or until further notice:


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Big Oak Flat Closure

On January 22, 2012, an enormous bouder fell across the Big Oak Flat Road just west of the highway 120/140 junction. The National Park Service made a recent announcement that they will be closing the road for a six week period to fix the damage.  The road closure begins on February 29th and is expected to continue until early April. 
Big Oak Flat Road

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Yoga For Beginners

Want some strenghth and flexibility? Need an active way to stay fit and healthy? Berkeley Ironworks is offering a 4 weeks series of classes called Yoga for Beginners.  The class will be taught by Eleni Gekas.

The Yoga for Beginners Series is perfect for people who are new to the practice of yoga as well as more seasoned students who want to review the basics. The classes will build on each other and will include basic postures, alignment, breathing and meditation techniques.  Yoga is an ancient tool for self-awareness, strength, and flexibility; it is a way to explore, open, and calm bodies and minds

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Bishop Access Concerns

The Access Fund recently released an important note about the climbing on the East Side of the Sierra.  Bishop area is seeing more and more climbers every year as its popularity continues to grow. Increased use is causing concern for sensitive cultural and natural resources, especially in the Tableland area north of Bishop. The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Bishop Field Office is calling on the climbing community to help protect these resources and to ensure continued climbing access. We need your help to answer the call. Climbers can drastically reduce impacts at Bishop by educating themselves and by following some simple guidelines:

Bishop post

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Grip Competition at DRG

Friday night at Diablo Rock Gym, a dozen people headed over to the weight section of the gym and had the first Bay Area Grip Competition. 


Grip 2


The competition comprised of four different activities; grippers, two hand pinch, apollon's axle deadlift, and a overall strength test.Contestants had four tries to close the hardest gripper they could.  The two hand pinch involved lifting the most weight on a decive.  This focused on contestant's thumb strength.  The apollon's axle deadligt required a deadlift on a solid 2" bar for the most weight out of four tries.  The overall strength test required 38 different excercises that tested many aspects of hand and lower arm strength.  From pinch lifts, nail bending, card tearing, to sledge slevering the competitior had 4 minutes to complete the most items before time ran out.

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Adaptive Sports at MetalMark

A few weeks ago, 12 kids from the Children's Hospital Adaptive Sports program headed over to MetalMark in Fresno. The program provides recreational and athletic experiences for those with disabilities. The kids that came out had an excellent time, fighting their way up the walls.


This young girl was a parapalgeic who managed to campus her way up the wall. The individuals in the groups have physical and health impairments ranging from cerebral palsy to spinal cord injuries. Through hard work and determination, the kids learn that they are able to have athletic lives.
Adaptive sports 2

The students have taken multiple trips to MetalMark and plan on returning again soon. This truly inspiring group had a blast at MetalMark.


Hueco Tanks with Ho and Bagby

Imagine a place with perfect bouldering. Think world class. Think huge holds, perfect rock, and highly concentrated. Now think of Hueco Tanks. That’s the spot.

Jeremy Ho, a 27 year old route setter at Touchstone, and Alison Bagby, a 31 year old manager of the vegan San Francisco restaurant Millenium, headed down to the Texas state park outside of El Paso.


Ho 7

Bagby climbing on North Mountain's Fern Roof.

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Michael Reynolds at Ironworks

Michael Reynolds, a bay area born and raised photographer has a series of fantastic photographs adorning the walls of Berkeley Ironworks currently.  The east bay gym's artist of the month, Reynolds began hiking and climbing in Yosemite and the Sierra as a teenager.  “My photography was an out-growth of going the mountains and exploring.  I was also a bit of a photography geek in high school.  I was the kid with the camera, taking pictures for the high school yearbook, fussing around in the darkroom, etc.  It really started as a vehicle for sharing my vision of the outdoors.”

Reynolds photography includes images from the Southwest, the mountains of the western United States and the Pacific coastal areas.

Half Dome Moon

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The Man Who Can Fly: Dean Potter

There's never been a better time to be a free soloist. If you're willing to put it all on the line and climb without ropes, there's a ton of amazing footage of the world's best unroped climbers out there. On February 12th, the National Geographic Channel will be airing a short piece about Dean Potter, one of the world's bravest individuals.


Potter climbed traversed from Thanksgiving Ledge on Lurking Fear to Round Table Ledge on The Freerider. The footage of him climbing ropeless on El Cap involves some seriously exposed 5.11+ granite ninja work. National Geographic also put together a short piece about making the piece.

Read more: The Man Who Can Fly: Dean Potter

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