Picture a fun day of climbing with a long time friend. For a pair of Bay area climbers, that meant a quick jaunt up El Capitan.
For the past two decades, Touchstone owner Mark Melvin has tied in with Mill Valley local Chris McNamara. Mark first dragged Chris up the West Face of El Capitan when Chris was 15 years old. Since then the pair have climbed eleven El Cap routes including Lurking Fear, Squeeze Play, Flight of the Albatross, Sea of Dreams and a girdle traverse of the entire formation.
In early May, the pair tied in and began climbing on the fair west side of El Capitan. They started the stop watch at 7:50 am and made a quick 7.5 hour ascent of Lurking Fear. “The climbing went smooth,” said McNamara. “More exciting were the building storm clouds that provided epic summit views: the coolest I have ever seen up there.”
“Lurking Fear is the easiest aid line on El Cap,” says Supertopo. “The lower pitches are beautiful, exposed and straightforward, while the upper part of the route involves wandering, lower-angle free climbing of lesser quality. The hauling on the last seven pitches is bad and punishes parties that bring too much.”
Luckily the pair avoided hauling altogether. They climbed the initial slab pitches quickly then dispatched the beautiful cracks, the traverse and making their way through the final pit of low angle climbing. The pair climbed with minimal gear and water. Using advanced techniques like short fixing, they were able to ascend rapidly up the wall.
Tommy Caldwell and Beth Rodden free climbed the route at 5.13c. The difficulties involve a series of slab pitches low. They make for excellent aiding though and a great adventure. Steve Schneider offers an aid climbing clinic at Berkeley Ironworks for those that want to learn.
Congratulations to Chris and Mark for another successful ascent of El Cap!
The great thing about having nine gym siblings, (and we're expecting!) is that there is ALWAYS something going on. This week it's The Studio Climbing's turn to host a party, and we can't wait! The Touchstone Climbing Series, or #TSC2014 if you speak hashtag, will continue with a bouldering competition. "It's going to be RAD," said Eric Sanchez, the foreman route setter at The Studio. "We're going to set routes that fill the whole gym with awesome problems." TCS2014 will bring Touchstone Climbers from all over the Bay Area to San Jose. And who can say no to beer from Strike Brewing, pizza from Pizza my Heart, and oodles of prizes?!
"A can't wait to host TCS at our gym," said Gym Manager Diane Ortega. "These things are my favorite day of the month - can't wait to see what surprises this comp brings!"
Here is how you can be prepared for the bouldering comp tomorrow:
#1. Print our a paper waiver
It's a Touchstone Comp! Which means you need an signed paper waiver in hand. Do members need them? Yes. Do guests need them? Yes. Does it matter that you've filled one out before.. no! You can print one out right here, or show us you r best John Hancock at the gym when you arrive. Print our a waiver!
#2. Have your comp code in hand
If you have already competed in a Touchstone Climbing Comp in the last 2 years, you already have a 3 letter code. Hopefully it wasn't the same as your ebay password.... To issue you a score card at the gym so you can get yo' climb on, we need that code! If you think you have one... just check. Remember the code and have it ready when you come to the gym. Bonus points will be awarded for people who have their code written atop their waiver!
If this is your first comp - HOLY COW! Get psyched. All you need to do is register to get your code. It takes about.... 2 minutes. Maybe 3 if you didn't pay attention in typing class. Click here to get your code. It should bring you to a screen like this one:
#3. Get psyched!
Seriously. San Jose has one of the best bouldering communities around, and with an entire gym at our disposal, this comp is going to be a blast. Remember to document to fun. Share the magic of the comp, and remember to tag your photos with #TCS2014 and #touchstoneclimbing so we can share in the fun. We'll pick our favorite and you shall earn a special prize!
Find out more about the comp on the 'book.
By Guest Blogger: Jason Bove
This month, we observed Mother’s Day. But, assuming we celebrate, we should not limit ourselves to just one day a year to celebrate our Mothers. With this in mind, it was abundantly clear who we should feature for May: Dustin Raúl Stumpf. Not only does Dustin have a rewarding job as a CrossFit instructor here at Sacramento Pipeworks, but he also has a positive and healthy relationship with his Mom. While there are lots of things that can be attributed to this happiness, the thing that he keeps coming back to is being able to include his mother, Elba, in his ambitious exercise training schedule. I had the chance to talk with Dustin recently about CrossFit, what drives him as an athlete, and, of course, his Mom. Thanks again for being a part of the Pipeworks family, Dustin, and for letting us peer into the life of such an inspiring individual, such as yourself.
Member of the Month: Dustin Raúl Stumpf
Bove- First off, what drew you to personally pursue CrossFit as a way of life, and what are a few of the major benefits of the workout regimen itself?
Stumpf- What drew me to CrossFit as a way of life was the fact I would never get bored with my workouts ever again! After ending my College Athletic Career, I needed another challenge to conquer! The benefits are endless with CrossFit because it exposes your weaknesses and makes you focus on them in order to become a better coach/athlete.
B- How long have you been a CrossFit instructor and where did you receive training to become one?
S- I have been a Level 1 Certified CrossFit instructor for 2 years. Before becoming Level 1 Certified, I started my own internship program at American River CrossFit in 2011 while fulfilling units at Sacramento State’s Kinesiology program. ARC is where I learned the fundamentals of teaching CrossFit classes under the supervision of trained professional instructors. After graduating from Sac State in 2012, I used all of my savings to take the weekend long CrossFit Level 1 Course at NorCal CrossFit, under the watchful eyes of Jason Khalipa (currently 2nd man in the world in CrossFit!).
B- What kind of athletes/workout enthusiasts are attracted to your classes for CrossFit, and what makes these classes different from normal workout routines? Is Crossfit for everyone?
S- The types of exercise enthusiasts who are attracted to my classes are people who love learning and perfecting Gymnastics, Power/Olympic Lifting, and Plyometrics. What makes these classes so much different from a “normal workout routine” is that A.) It is always in a class setting. By working out with others, people are more motivated to perform better amongst fellow athletes for the friendly competition aspect. B.) All movements and weights are modifiable for different fitness levels. C.) Most of our workouts are short and sweet! CrossFit is meant for anyone looking to better their current fitness level--anyone willing to work very hard. In my experience of coaching, I have found that the people who do best and excel the quickest in CrossFit (regardless of age) make it to class routinely and live a healthy lifestyle outside of the gym.
B- What should I know before attending class? How should I prepare?
S- CrossFit is very challenging both mentally and physically! One should prepare by being open minded to a brand new methodology of exercise. Having a positive attitude is a MUST when learning CrossFit. I repeat, the BEST WAY any CrossFitter will excel is to remain open minded.
B- As you know, the month of May contains Mother’s Day! I notice that sometimes your Mom comes to your class. Has she been an advocate of your training since you were young?
S- My mother, Elba, has always been my #1 Fan when it came to sports and athletic events! She has always supported my training efforts on and off the Baseball field since I was young. I got her into CrossFit 2 years ago, and she is AMAZING!
B- It’s great to see a mother and son working out together! How has this influenced your mother-son relationship?
S- Doing CrossFit with my Mother has made our relationship that much stronger. We always talk about workouts and how to improve ourselves as athletes. We are both competitive by nature, so we talk about how we did in recent competitions. My Mother is the epitome of what a 55-year old athlete can accomplish with proper instruction and a hard work ethic! She makes it to all of my Seminars and has seen drastic improvements in all of her movements! She can now perform 5 unassisted pull-ups NO PROBLEM!
B- There are 10 Onramp classes that need to be fulfilled before someone can attend any regularly scheduled class. What can I expect to be doing during the session?
S- Beginners attending Onramp classes can expect learning the fundamentals of all CrossFit movements. Here at CrossFit Pipeworks, we are all about making new members feel welcome, and we give them the opportunity to create relationships with our training staff and fellow athletes.
B- How do these classes differ from a normal one?
S- OnRamp classes differ from regular classes in that we focus on lighter weight and less volume in our WODs (workout of the day). We also focus on introducing new movements and reviewing exercises recently covered in prior classes.
B- What other hobbies and activities do you enjoy outside of CrossFit?
S- I am an avid Outdoorsman and LOVE to fish! I try to get out of town at least once every 2 weeks to go slay some fish and give myself a break from my intense training routine.
B- Is there a specific event or clinic that you are hosting that you would like to tell us about?
S- I try to host Seminars at CrossFit Pipeworks at least once every 2-3 months, to allow members the opportunity to get better at practicing more complex movements.
B- I have seen that you feature an Athlete of the Week on the Pipeworks facebook page. Can you tell me more about this special shout out? How would I become featured?
S- I introduced athlete of the week on the CrossFit Pipeworks Facebook page to get our members involved. In order to become Athlete of the Week, one must show exceptional work ethic, dedication, and leadership characteristics. These three traits allow others to try and follow in their footsteps in a POSITIVE manner.
Well, I guess THAT cat is in the bag! See you in class!!
Ever wondered what it takes to turn a wrench? Wonder no more! Dogpatch Boulders is hosting their first ever Route Setting Clinic. The clinic, which will be held THIS Saturday, will cover the nitty gritty details of setting. But the REAL secret will be the basic movement principles that give you a sneak peak at WHY our routes are known and loved the world over. This is a great clinic to take if you are thinking of getting into route setting, or just want to gain a little more respect for the crew who labors day in and day out to bring you problems to project, curse, and send.
Sign up here.
One of the most dangerous parts of rock climbing is loose rock. Climbing on new terrain, in the mountains, or even being unaware of the rock around can create a serious hazard. At times, loose rock can hurt more than just the party climbing. It is vital to learn from these experiences.
On May 10th, a pair of climbers down climbed from Mammoth terraces to Heart Ledges on El Capitan. The pair were hoping to make a free ascent of the Golden Gate and wanted to free climb a loose section of rock between the two ledges. The first climber placed gear and the second climber down lead. While the second climber pulled the gear, he surfed a man-sized block off the wall. He took a forty-foot lead fall and badly sprained his ankle. The rock fell on a party of climbers below and broke the legs of an aid climber on the Muir. YOSAR arrived quickly and helped the parties off the wall.
A few important lessons can be learned from this accident.
1. Avoid loose rock. Even on the commonly traveled pitches on El Capitan, there is still a significant amount of loose rock. Just because something has chalk on it, doesn’t mean it’s safe. Avoid loose rock where possible. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Coil ropes so that they don’t knock debris off ledges. Be extra attentive when rappelling to keep from pulling rocks off when the ropes come down.
2. Watch out for climbers around you. Being high off the ground means that you can kill someone below you just by knocking off a small rock. This also means dropping gear. Be very aware of who is around you. Climbing a loose route on a busy Saturday during the height of El Capitan season means that there’s likely to be people below you and on the wall as well. This accident could have been prevented if the free climbing party had waited for the climbers below to clear the area. Wear a helmet if there are climbers above you and consider if you want to climb a route when there are people around. Better to be safe than sorry.
3. Move very carefully on loose rock. If it looks loose- tap gently on the rock. Listen for a hollow sound. Climb very carefully on the rock, especially if it moves. If it’s safe, have your partner pull it off after, when the ropes are clear. Make sure that the area below is clear. The rocks are often bigger than you think they are.
Rock climbing is inherently dangerous. Be conscious of what you are climbing. Even in the gym, holds can spin and falls can be erratic. Know the difference between solid and loose rock. Be aware of loose rock and help prevent accidents.
MetalMark Climbing and Fitness, located in the heart of central California, is a 1 hour drive from Yosemite National Park. AKA, one of the worlds most famous climbing destinations. The staff at MetalMark, being avid climbers themselves, have been running MetalMark Outdoors for over a year. Two staff members will organize group trips, pick a local desination, and get their climb on - outside! This past month, MetalMark staff members Danny and Jake, took a group of members to Tollhouse to climbing at Cap Rock. "It was a great trip," said member Carlos Holguin. "The group size was ideal and we had enough ropes so that everyone could get a ton of climbing in. I look forward to climbing outside again soon!"
Here are some photos from the event. If you're in the Fresno area and would like to join the group next month, swing by the front desk for more information!
In late April five members of the Touchstone’s family ventured to Colombia for a little adventure and a healthy dose of climbing. Justin Alarcon the manager of Dogpatch Boulders, Lauryn Claassen the director of Social Media and Marketing, and Ryan Moon from the Berkeley Ironworks team were joined by Justin’s wife Becky and longtime member and friend Eric Vergne. Justin, Lauryn, and Ryan offer some insights into their travels.
How’d this trip come about?
Ryan: After pretty much committing to a trip to Kentucky's Red River Gorge, I bumped into a BIW member friend of mine (Camilo Lopez) who had just returned from Colombia. He mentioned the price of the plane ticket, how far the US dollar goes, and last, but not least, the adventure.
Lauryn: You know [when] people are talking about a trip, but nobody is pulling the trigger... it's just not meant to be. After Ryan ran into Camilo tickets were booked within the week. I love spanish, collecting passport stamps, and trips that include exploring new cultures along with climbing.
What did you know about Colombia before departing?
Justin: Aside from a little soccer history and a dangerous reputation, not much. Of course I researched the climbing as best I could before we left but there is not a ton of information out there. A few videos and trip reports, but that’s it really.
Ryan: I literally had very few expectations. The general lack of information I had about Colombian climbing had me feeling pretty in-the-dark about the experience as a whole. However, I knew whom I was traveling with (awesome girlfriend + great friends) and that Colombia had become MUCH safer than it's reputation suggests.
How were you surprised on the trip?
Lauryn: I was surprised by how friendly every. single. person. in Colombia was. EVERYONE. People would just ignore you and let you go about you day, until the moment that you stopped to ask for directions or needed help. Then they would go out of their way to help you out. I was also surprised how safe I felt. Walking down the street in the booming metropolis of Bogota or the small town of Sesquile, it didn’t matter. This country is amazing and everyone should go and feel bad about thinking it's a dangerous place.
Ryan: I forgot what 9,000 feet of elevation felt like. I had heard that Colombians were super nice, but they even were nice than that. Unfortunately, unpleasantly surprised at how lack luster the food was. Although it wasn't "terrible", sampling local cuisine on travels abroad is one of my favorite things to do. I can eat chicken and french fries back at home.
Justin: We did have two amazing meals in Bogotá.
How did you like the climbing? What would you recommend to other climbers looking to travel to Colombia?
Justin: We spent all of our climbing time in Suesca. The rock quality was great, but lines weren’t worth writing home about in my opinion. Unfortunately, due to the short duration of our trip and a combination of lost luggage and poor planning we weren’t able to check out some of the many other areas in Colombia that, in my opinion, look far better than Suesca.
Ryan: The climbing was, dare I say "fun". Unless I'm cleaning boulders, it's not very easy to get me on a rope. Although a lot of the climbs were pretty short by sport climbing standards, this made switching gears into endurance mode a wee bit easier. It seemed like most of the climbs were fairly easy moves separated by hard-ish boulder problems and get-everything-back ledge rests. While quality of rock was high, quantity was low. I most likely will not be revisiting Suesca (the climbing area) having done most of what I can do.
Lauryn: If you're going to go on a climbing trip to Colombia, you should bring gear. We only brought sport gear by accident, but we needed cams too.
What were some non-climbing activities you would most recommend?
Lauryn: Museums! Bogota! Lake filled with gold! Practicing Spanish! Watching soccer! Buses!
Justin: Plan to spend at least part of your trip in Cartegena. Take the gondola to the top of the mountain in Bogotá for amazing views of the city and get your picture taken on the back of an alpaca.
Ryan: Check out the Botero museum — best paintings of chubby people ever!
Did anyone eat any bad empanadas?
Justin: Two of us caught a belly demon towards the end of the trip.
Ryan: Bring extra underwear.
Women's Empowerment, a non-profit based in Sacramento, made their 53rd visit to Pipeworks. We were able to catch up with leaders and participants in this amazing program to get the scoop on their partnership with Pipeworks.
"Sacramento Pipeworks has been working with Women's Empowerment since 2004," said Pipeworks manager Vaughn Medford. "They are headquartered only a couple blocks away from the gym, so it is not unusual to see a group of women 10-15 power walking over to the gym. They use the gym to work out in the weight area and do cardio. The members have become accustomed to seeing the group, and we're all supportive of such an important cause." "On our morning walks to Pipeworks, the ladies share their excitement and enthusiasm for the opportunity to focus on themselves for that one hour," said Nancy Nguyen, the program assistant at Women's Empowerment. "By attending Fitness Fridays, the ladies step out of their everyday lives and enter a world that allows them to make a change for themselves and their children."
The group assists women who are homeless, jobless or in abusive situations. Women’s Empowerment has served 916 women and their 1,376 children. In May 2009, they were named Nonprofit of the Year by the Nonprofit Resource Center, one of the highest honors a nonprofit can receive in the Sacramento region. Over 1115 women have graduated from our program.
"The mission of Women’s Empowerment is to educate and empower women who are homeless with the skills and confidence necessary to get a job, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and regain a home for themselves and their children. Our partnership with Pipeworks has become essential to the fulfillment of that mission," said Nguyen. Women's Empowerment runs eight week sessions in which a new group of women learns the importance of caring for their bodies through exercise and healthy eating.
“I joined Fitness Wednesdays at Pipeworks because it was an opportunity for me to focus on myself and to be healthier. I wanted to get back into a consistent schedule because that’s what being back in the workforce is like,” said Sharon McGuire a graduate from Session 53. “When I first entered the building, the front desk staff members were so friendly. They greeted us and gave us assistance in filling out first-time waivers. During our workout sessions, I often used the treadmill. While I spent most of the hour on this machine, I reflected a lot because it reminded me to keep my goals in perspective. I had so much fun during this time and felt extremely rejuvenated after I finished my workout.”
Sharon continues to strive towards her main three goals: to keep her recovery, secure permanent housing, and to see her daughter graduate from high school and enter college. “I truly needed this program because it’s part of my recovery process. The process encourages us to make time for ourselves and Fitness Wednesdays allowed me to do that. I highly recommend Pipeworks!” said Sharon.
Pipeworks makes it possible for her to continue on our journey towards a positive and healthier lifestyle.
Home of Partner Parties and On-sight Nights, The Studio Climbing staff can’t help but invent and host one-of-kind events and clinics tailored for its loyal climbers. The latest is a “How to Climb a 5.12” series brought to you by the legendary Charles “Swoll Chuck” Chang of Great Western Power Company. The first (and only so far) 5.12 clinic at the Studio is a series of three specialized classes geared to address and improve the skill level of avid climbers aiming to pass the 5.11-5.12 threshold more efficiently and with more control. Going into the first session, all of the students had everything they needed to climb harder, including capability, desire, focus and intent and strength. So what was preventing them from climbing 5.12s? That’s what this class was created to answer.
Charles said the clinic wasn’t about training for power or endurance because these climbers were capable doing that on their own. Rather, he focused on helping the students recognize their climbing inefficiencies by feel and finding ways to make it better. “Toward the end of the class, students were able to not just better recognize where they were inefficient after they have climbing something (to the top), but knew before making a move so they can find different ways,” says Charles. He also went over beta for sending a route that weren’t exclusive to climbing, such as breathing techniques used for deep water diving to improve lung capacity and keeping a low heart rate.
“Breathing was cool!” says Logan Cummings. “We went over remembering to breathe during hard sections and the importance of breathing to aid recovery during rests.” Logan also mentioned he learned to stay mindful about his climbing, like when to slow down, be aggressive or dyno past a crux. “The hard thing for me was to slow down and back off if I was climbing sloppily.”
For student Eric Andersen, concentrating on perfecting each move was the most challenging part; he worked on focusing on individual moves rather than just making it to the top. “I never paid much attention to the tension being created when climbing between my arms and legs, but Charles was able to explain this concept very clearly and taught me how to use it to my advantage,” says Eric. “I'm not just grabbing holds and climbing blind anymore, but studying the route, making precise, purposeful moves.”
Charles had the team of climbers practicing holding still poses on the walls and making solid, thoughtful moves on bouldering problems before roping up on 5.12s.
“I had little problem with the start, a tricky compression move when we bouldered it,” says Logan. “But as soon as I roped up I was flat unable to make it. Charles worked with me on the rest of the route, which I got good practice on, and got super pumped. Later he had me try the start again off rope, still pumped, and I was able to do it again without difficulty. This was a good demonstration of the power of your environment, set, setting, etc. to affect your performance. I'm working on that.”
Student Racquel Esqueda said everything she thought she knew about climbing was readdressed in the clinic. She said she grew frustrated at times, catching herself slipping into old habits and the urge to just make it to the top rather than embrace Charles’ static-versus-dynamic climbing methods. “What I learned is that there is no magic class that will instantly transform me into a better climber, but Charles offers a unique style of climbing that has been eye-opening for me. If I am able to forget everything I know and focus on developing the skills offered, I can see myself getting over the ceilings that I set for myself. Before I felt that I should be improving, but I was spinning my wheels climbing the same way on the same grades, but now I see how I am climbing and why I am stuck at the same grade and why The Studio Climbing is a great place to practice these new techniques.”
This clinic is offered at The Studio Climbing in San Jose and Great Western Power Company in Oakland. Stay tuned for the next clinic date.