At Touchstone Climbing, we are dedicated to being an active member of our neighborhood and to giving back to our community. Since we first opened, it has been a high priority for us to reach out to individuals and groups in the communities that we serve. We are committed to offering youth-at-risk and adults-in-need a unique experience where they can push beyond their own preconceived notions of their limits to explore a potential which might otherwise go unrecognized. We are also committed to supporting local schools and other charitable events through donations to a wide variety of fundraisers. Here is a partial list of the groups that Touchstone has made donations to in the past year.
Crocker/Riverside PTACrocket-Deane Ballet SchoolCypress Mandela Inc.Cystic Fibrosis FoundationDaly City Youth Health CenterDanial Webster SchoolDavis Waldorf SchoolDel Paso Manor PTADiscovery Montessori PreschoolDISH - Delivering Innovation in Supportive HousingDogfestDonald Lum ElementaryDowntown Fresno - Over The EdgeDublin Elementary SchoolDudley Elementary SchoolEast Bay Agency For ChildrenEast Bay Asian Youth CenterEast Bay Community Law Center - EBCLCEast Bay Gay Men's ChorusEast bay WaldorfEBALDC - East Bay Asian Local Development Corp.Ebenezer Church of Good RaffleEcology Project InternationalEdna Brewer Middle SchoolEl Camino High SchoolEl Cerrito Preschool Co-opElk Grove Elementary SchoolEmerson ElementaryEvergreen Little LeagueExceptional Parents Unlimited FundraiserFair for FacesFairmont PTAFairmount ElementaryFaith Lutheran ChurchFamily Bridges, Inc.Family Healing CenterFamily HouseFirefighter Chili Cook OffFirst Hill Elementary SchoolFood Bank of Contra Costa and Solano CountyForest Hill ElementaryFrancis House CenterFrederiksen Elementary PFCFrench American International SchoolFresno County Employee Walking ChallengeFresno Fire Chiefs FoundationFresno Gym Co - Taiko RaffleFresno Pacific UniversityFresno Rescue Mission - Golf Tournament RaffleFresno Sheriff's Dept. - Explorers ProgramFresno State Staff Training DayFresno Survivor of Suicide Loss (SOS)Friends of Potrero Hill PreschoolFront Street Animal ShelterFSU - Communication Dept. AuctionFSU - DAAWG ClubFSU - Public Health Services AuctionFSU - Viticulture FundraiserFulton - El Camino Recreation and Park DistrictGates and Bridges PreschoolGay Asian Pacific AllianceGeorge Peabody ElementaryGeorge Washington Carver School of Arts & ScienceGerman Shepherd Rescue of Northern CaliforniaGGU PILFGibson Elementary SchoolGirl Scouts of Northern CaliforniaGirl VenturesGirl Ventures - Walk-a-ThonGlobal ExchangeGlorietta Elementary SchoolGoodwill IndustriesGrace Cooperative PreschoolGrand Lake MontessoriGreater Sacramento Chapter of ALSGreen Hills Elementary SchoolGreen Valley Elementary SchoolGreen Valley Theater Co.Grid AlternativesGrowth and Learning Opportunities (GLO)Grub ClubGSRNC German Shepherd RescueHadassahHappy Days PreschoolHappy Hollow FoundationHarding PTAHarper for KidsHarvey Milk School - Friends of Harvey MilkHastings Public Interest LawHayward High SchoolHearst ElementaryHemophilia Foundation of Northern CaliforniaHercules Running Rebels Track TeamHeron School PTSAHidden Hills Hawks Education FundHillcrest SchoolHoly Angel Elementary SchoolHoly Name SchoolHoly Names UniversityHomeward Bound Golden Retriever RescueHousing Trust Silicon ValleyHuman Trafficking Cheat Sheet/ Polaris ProjectIn Alliance Skills for People with DisabilitiesIndian Valley Elementary SchoolInternational Bird RescueJapanese Bilingual Bicultural ProgramJapanese Culture & Community of Nor. Cal. (JCCCNC)JCC East BayJefferson Elementary SchoolJoaquin Miller Elementary SchoolJob Corps Head StartJohn Muir Elementary SchoolJose Ortega PTAJust For The Fit of It - Lunchbox FundraiserJust for You ParkletJW HouseKensington Hilltop Elementary SchoolKeys SchoolKidstockKingsburg HighKittredge Parents Association (KPA)KIVAKnights of ColumbusKP DragonsLa Clinica de La RazaLakeside Presbyterian Center for ChildrenLana Cafe Golf TournamentLas Juntas Elementary SchoolLaurel Hill Nursery SchoolLeConte elementaryLeukemia & Lymphoma SocietyLGBT Community CenterLiDestri Food & Beverage Co. Employee FairLife HouseLincoln Hills Golf ClubLittle Elephant MontessoriLiveFree Helping Hands ProgramLoco BlocoLongfellow Elementary SchoolLotus Bloom Child & Family Resource CenterLycee Francais De San FranciscoMadera PTAMaitriMaking Waves Education ProgramsManzanita schoolMaple Creek Elementary SchoolMarin Elementary SchoolMathew Turner PTAMatthew Perry - Foundation for Sustainable DevelopmentMercy High SchoolMission Ave Open SchoolMission El Camino Soccer ClubMission Kids PreschoolMission Neighborhood Health CenterMonte Gardens Elementary SchoolMontessori Parents' Committee of Parkside SchoolMonteverde SchoolMt Diablo Unified Elementary Physical Education ProgramMujeres Unidas Y ActivasMurwood ElementaryMustard Seed SchoolMutual Housing CaliforniaNew Spirit Charity AcademyNew Sprouts Chinese SchoolNext Move Sacramento Emergency HousingNia HouseNOCCSNoe Valley Nursery SchoolNorCal Services for Deaf & Hard of HearingNorth Oakland Community Charter SchoolNorthcreek Academy and PreschoolNorthgate High SchoolOak Hill SchoolOakland Fire DepartmentOakland Parks and Recs.Oakland TechOakland Youth ChorusOffice of Student AffairsOne Fifty Parker Avenue SchoolOpportunity CampOpportunity JunctionOracle Health FairOur Lady Grace SchoolOur Lady of Mercy Catholic SchoolPacific Primary PreschoolPacifica Co-op Nursery SchoolParents Association for Catholic Education (PACE)Parkmead Elementary SchoolPayne Home & School ClubPeace Lutheran MinistriesPhoebe Hearst ElementaryPiedmont Tri-SchoolPierce High School FBLAPixie Play School a Parent Cooperative PreschoolPlaymates PreschoolPleasant Hill Elementary SchoolPleasant Hill Middle SchoolPortola SchoolPotrero Hill Democratic ClubPrecita Valley Community CenterPresentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary SchoolPrison University ProjectProject Open Hand'sPros PugPublic Radio AuctionR.E.A.C.H WestRainbow DaycareRancho ElementaryRandy Yamata FoundationReady to Learn Fun FairRedding SchoolRedwood Day SchoolResQpaws Volunteer OrganizationRichmond District Neighborhood CenterRichter Center - FSURio Americano High SchoolRio City LaCrosseRiverview Elementary SchoolRobert Semple Elementary Parent Teacher GroupRocky Mountain Nursery SchoolRonald McDonald HouseRoosevelt Middle SchoolRoseville Community PreschoolRoss Valley Nursery SchoolRudgear Meadows Swim TeamRuraq MakiRusty Bindings Ski ClubS. F. Community SchoolSacramento Area Bicycle AdvocatesSacramento Asian Chamber of CommerceSacramento City Unified School DistrictSacramento Country Day SchoolSacramento Dream CenterSacramento LGBT Family and Friends Picnic DaySacramento Pig Bowl AssociationSacramento PoliceSacramento Salvation Army CitadelSacramento Sheriff's AcademySacramento Veterans Resource CenterSacramento Youth SymphonySacramento Zoological SocietySacred Heart Cathedral PrepSafetyville USASan Francisco Auxiliary for ChildrenSan Francisco BeautifulSan Francisco Waldorf SchoolSan Francisco Women Against RapeSan Francisco's Hep B FreeSan Jose JazzSan Mateo County 4-HSan Ramon Valley High SchoolSanta Clara High School (PTSA)Save Nature.orgScot Jones Medical Benefit ShowSea Crest SchoolSemester at Sea Alumni ChapterSeven Tepees (DYH)SF Bike CoalitionShalom SchoolSierra College FoundationSierra Curtis Neighborhood AssociationSierra Foothill ConservatorySierra Oaks SchoolSkyline PreschoolSonoma County Farm BureauSoroptimistSoroptimist InternationalSpecial Education Enrichment and Development Foundation of LafayetteSpringwood Swim ClubSt. Brendan SchoolSt. Cecilia Mothers' ClubSt. Dominic SchoolSt. FelicitasSt. Francis Elementary SchoolSt. Francis of Assisi Elementary SchoolSt. Ignatius Parish SchoolSt. Ignatius SchoolSt. Isadore school foundationSt. Joseph Notre Dame High SchoolSt. Joseph Notre Dame High SchoolSt. Jude Hospital FundraiserSt. Mary schoolSt. Mary's Center GalaSt. Michael's Episcopal Day SchoolSt. Michaels Episcopal Day SchoolSt. Monica SchoolSt. Paul's Episcopal SchoolSt. Paul's SchoolSt. Paul’s Preservation FundSt. Peter & Paul ChurchSt. Philip the Apostle SchoolSt. Robert SchoolSt. Theresa SchoolSt. Thomas More School Parents' ClubSt. Timothy SchoolSt. Philomene Church Parish FestivalSTANDStar AcademyStar of the Sea SchoolStone Lake Elementary SchoolStreet Smarts ProgramSts. Peter & PaulSuisun Marsh Natural History AssociationSun Valley SchoolSundown Serenade (SABA)Sunnyside Elementary SchoolSunset Neighborhood Beacon Center (SNBC)Sunset Ranch ElementarySunset Youth ServicesSusan G. Komen FoundationSutro Elementary SchoolSutter Middle SchoolSutter Roseville Medical Center FoundationSweatin' for McKinley - Train Hard or Go HomeSycamore Congregational ChurchSynergy SchoolTeam Horace PTOTeen Challenge InternationalTeevan Productions (LEAP)Telegraph Hill Neighborhood CenterTenants TogetherTerrapins Swim ClubThe Bar Association of San FranciscoThe Berkeley SchoolThe Gay Austin SchoolThe Hilldale SchoolThe Laurel SchoolThe Oral Lee Brown FoundationThe Orion FundThe Saklan SchoolThe Thick Rich OnesThe YMCATheatre Bay AreaTheodore Judah Jog-A-ThonTiny Tots Pre-SchoolTown School for BoysTri Valley Animal RescueTriage Consulting GroupTRISTulen FoundationTweet for a CauseTwo Rivers Elementary SchoolU.C. Davis Medical CenterU.C. Davis School of Bariatric Surgery ProgramU.C. Davis School of Veterinary MedicineU.C. Davis Wine Tasting BenefitUnitarian UniversalistUnited Iu-Mien CommunityUniversity of California BerkeleyUniversity Preparatory School Educational FoundationUOP McGeorgeVacaville Jets Youth Hockey OrganizationValhalla Parent Faculty AssociationValley View Middle SchoolVeggielutionVenetia Valley PTAVictory Christian SchoolVietnamese Youth Development CenterVista Grande ElementaryVoluntary Services CommitteeWagner RanchWah Mei SchoolWalden Center and SchoolWalnut Creek Pony BaseballWalnut Heights PTAWardrobe for OpportunityWashington SchoolWE Care Services for ChildrenWellspring Women's CenterWest Bay Pilipino Multi-Service CenterWild & Scenic Film FestivalWind youth servicesWinship-Robbins Elementary SchoolWomen's Daytime Drop InWomen's EmpowermentXtreme Hike - Cystic Fibrosis FoundationYeah! - Youth Engagement Advocacy HousingYESYgnacio Valley PresbyterianYick Wo Elementary SchoolYMCAYMCA BuchananYMCA YoloYoga at McClatchy SchoolYoung Minds Advocacy (YMAP)Yuppi FridaysYWCA Co-Op Preschool
Chinatown Youth Community CenterMission HighPathways for SuccessImmaculate Conception AcademyBayview YMCAPaul RevereArchbishopSEO ScholarsBurton High SchoolCanon BarcusLick WlimerdingSFSU -Grow through AdventuresFriends SchoolCASA -Children's After School for ArtsIslamic SchoolGateway High SchoolWind SchoolKings Canyon Middle SchoolSanger Boys & Girls ClubWomens EmpowermentOptions For YouthMalcolm X Elementary SchoolHearts Leap SchoolPet Network Humane SocietyPark Day ScoolRoss Valley Nursery SchoolThe Saklan SchoolOakland TechGerman International School of Silicon ValleyPiedmont Children's ChoirProspect SierraHighlands PreschoolBAM PTABlue Skies for ChildrenDisabled Sports USA Far WestMadera Elementary SchoolJoaquin Miller Elementary SchoolEcole Bilingue de BerkeleyBuddhist Church of OaklandJefferson School PTAEl Cerrito PreschoolChildhood Illness SupportEmerson FundVenetia Valley PTAThe Principled AcademyBay Area Rescue MissionWalden Center and SchoolElla Baker Center for Human RightsMonteverde SchoolFamily Catholic EducationChildren's Health GuildLe Conte Elementary PTACamp Kesem berkeleyMontclair Community Play CenterEast Bay Agency For ChildrenEggsterExpanding Your HorizonsGolden Bear Rec CenterNorth Oakland Community Charter SchoolAssociated Parents Club of PiedmontI Run 4 Cal 5kAffordable Housing Assoc.Leukemia and Lymphona SocietySun Valley SchoolSchool of the MadeleineHayward High SchoolGlobal ExchangeSt. James Christian SchoolSt. BaldricksBerkeley Budhist TempleWomens Daytime Drop InFamily bridgesYESHabitot Childrens MuseumThe Berkeley SchoolMarin ElementaryBerkeley Youth OrchestraEscuela BilingueGoodwill IndustriesSWE Society of Women EngineersCEIDJohn Muir SchoolThe Berkeley Chess SchoolMedicine in ActionWillard Middle SchoolPeter Pan NureryAsian Health servicesAsian American Cancer Support NetworkOakland east bay gay men's chorusBerkeley Humane SocietyOakland Fire FightersMustard SeedWind SchoolMustard SeedTherapeutic Rec. ServicesWomens EmpowermentCHP/SWAT
On Mondays, a group of children from three to fifteen years old head to Sacramento Pipeworks for the afternoon. Mustard Seed, a free, private school, provides a safe nurturing and structured environment for children who do not attend school because of their homelessness state. The climbing gym provides a great venue for the kids.
“The older kids are having such great experiences that now the younger kids are begging to come too!” said Maedlyn Tomolillo, a fourth/fifth grade teacher at Mustard Seed. “Their self-confidence, willingness to face their fears, and interest in physical fitness has all drastically improved!”
A number of students wrote to Pipeworks about why they enjoyed their gym visits. “I like Pipeworks because it is really fun and there are very nice people there. Plus you get to exercise and you get to learn how to trust people,” said Justin, an eleven year old Mustard Seed student. “We also learn how to be patient and we learn a lot of things so in the future we will know what to do.”
“I like Pipeworks because it is very fun and it is very good exercise,” added Reymundo, a 10 year old student. “We look forward to it every Monday. It helps us do stretches and helps us grow strong bodies and hard bones. We really appreciate you guys for letting us come to Pipeworks every Monday, and letting us climb and boulder. Pipeworks is important to me because I like P.E. and exercise.”
“I like Pipeworks because it helps us overcome our fears and it's really fun,” said Noah an eleven year old student. “I think it's important because it helps us stay fit and in good shape. It also makes us build up our muscles and helps us learn to trust the person holding us. It helps us with stretches and makes you think about what rocks you have to climb.”
Mustard Seed provides an excellent place for the kids to grow and their visits to Pipeworks add an element of fun and exercise to the program. “Their faces really light up when they talk about Pipeworks and all they have accomplished there. They even talk about participating in climbing competitions someday,” added Tomolillo.
Chances are, without knowing it, you've climbed in an area that Access Fund has protected and kept accessible for climbers. With regionally significant successes as the Jailhouse Rock Conservation Easement of 2010, Access Fund has been hard at work keeping the gates open to our favorite crags. This is no easy task, and as with most organizations of this nature, raising money can be a daunting task. That's why Berkeley Ironworks is calling November 'Access Fund Month' with a goal of raising $10,000. We know, it sounds tough. If you've been to BIW recently, you may have noticed some tables near the front desk. They represent three ways you can donate to our Access Fund Month' AND get a little sumptin'-sumptin' in return. Here's what they've got going on: HOLDS TABLE: The Touchstone Climbing routesetters are parting with old grips, and our loss is your gain! You won't find a better or cheaper way to get SWEET holds for your home climbing wall. RAFFLE TABLE: Did we catch your eye with the amazing goodies on this table? Donate a mere $5/ticket to get a chance to win, win, WIN! SILENT AUCTION (last, but not least): Have you seen these faces? Of course you have. They want to climb with YOU! They really, really do. For a small/medium/big bid, you can experience the rare opportunity to climb with a literal 'rock star' and have him/her share their almighty technical advice. Athletes include Alex Honnold, Beth Rodden, Joe Kinder, and Ethan Pringle!Get it while you can! Remember, this all goes towards an organization that keeps the future of climbing alive! Bidding ends December 1st!
Remy Orvis, a front desk staffer from The Studio, will be participating in an awesome event in Downtown San Jose. She submitted this report to the Touchstone Blog.
It’s a powerless feeling to know someone with a real addiction and not be able to get through to them. It’s even worse to watch them slowly slip into a deepened abyss away from family, friends, and everyone who ever depended on them for support. As climbers, we can relate to relying on people because we are dependent on our belayers to catch us when we fall. And I fall often because I keep climbing things that are a bit dangerous. So what’s that old saying? Beat addictions with addictions? Let’s do that. On December 5, I am going to rappel down the Marriot building in San Jose to help families of real addiction. Please join me in raising $500 to support them with Shatterproof – a nonprofit organization paired with Canadian-based Over the Edge that aims to create a country too tough for addiction through pledges and exciting events, such as descending city structures. It is money that families need to get through tough times, and the rappel is a symbolic act to show that Touchstone Climbing and the Studio are in the battle against addiction. That’s why the rappel-for-a-cause trend in San Jose is so great! What better way to emphasize our love for those lost to addiction by rappelling down the side of a major city skyscraper? And what better way to show those that we might lose to addiction that we care by rappelling down the side of a major city skyscraper? Call me crazy, I think it’s romantic. Also, I really want to rappel down the side of a major city skyscraper. So join me, Touchstone Climbing, and Shatterproof for the amazing outreach opportunity by pledging for these families so that they may become shatterproof against addiction!Click here to donate! Thanks Remy!
Recently 8 students from BUILD, a 4 year program for low-income high school students, went to Mission Cliffs. BUILD uses entrepreneurship to re-engage students in their education who are at-risk of dropping out and set them on the path to college. "These students work with mentors--volunteers that Build recruits from the community--to develop and manufacture a unique product/business idea,"said Hannah Rosales, a BUILD employee. The program has served 560 students in the Bay area and over 1,000 students nationwide.
"Effective working relationships, trust, and motivation drive our challenging and exciting work with the young people we serve. Rock climbing is an excellent way for our team to practice what we preach with our students - challenging ourselves, learning new skills, and having fun while climbing to new heights!" said Tarik Scott who works with the Oakland office team. "BUILD believes the power of student ideas in action drives youth to reach their fullest potential in school and beyond. That’s why we help our students develop their own business ideas, write business plans, pitch to funders and launch real businesses. As they reap the rewards—from keeping their profits to gaining self-confidence—they clearly see the connection between the classroom and career success."
The BUILD students will be selling their products at the 7th Annual Holiday Sales Bazaar which will take place Thursday, December 5th at the Scottish Rite Center in Oakland. They will also be back at Mission Cliffs, motivating themselves towards success.
The Touchstone Gyms have had amazing opportunities to transform people's lives through fitness. "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 on Fridays. 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 October 20 and 21th from 10 am until 4 pm, a group of local climbers will be organizing a raffle, free food and a chance to clean up the famous Indian Rock area. The climbing there is well known to Bay area boulderers. It's been well documented as the place where Berkeley climbers developed the dynamic belay. Just above Indian Rock is the infamous Mortar Rock.
“It’s like Cresciano but better,” said Bay area climber Ethan Pringle. Pringle’s tongue in cheek comment of the local climbing area represents the common view of Mortar Rock. There’s a solid history of climbers who are unable to resist the park’s charm.
Set in a residential area in the Berkeley hills, Mortar Rock hosts the largest concentration of difficult climbing per square foot in California. Approximately 100 feet long and 25 feet tall at its apex, the median boulder problem on the sharp rhyolite falls in the solid double V digit range. “As a boulderer in the bay area, it's a pretty awesome place to work on advancing your skills. Some seriously stout problems, and a shit ton of climbable days throughout the year,” said Mortar rock first ascentionist Randy Puro. Perhaps the most interesting bit about Mortar is the history of the bouldering there.
A small posse of climbers started the action at Mortar Rock. Scott Frye, Nat Smale, Harrison Dekker, John Sherman, Chris Vandiver and others, tired of the regular circuit down at Indian Rock walked up the hill to Mortar Rock. “We suffered through years and years of eliminates,” said Frye. “Like the kids got tired of street tricks and found swimming pools to skate board in, we found more physical more dynamic climbing after we’d put in our years working footwork and crimp strength.”
The initial development of Mortar Rock included just a few problems on the rock itself. The crew stole a bench from a nearby park and placed it beneath the right side of the wall creating the appropriately named Bench Wall. When the city moved the bench, the climbers moved it back. “The bench was an immediate hit. We even jokingly used to refer to giving each other "psychic spots" because we were too comfortable on the bench to get up and give a proper spot,” said Harrison Dekker. On a small boulder next to Mortar, Dekker and Vandiver competed for the first ascent of the Pipeline Traverse. A few days after working the problem with Vandiver, Dekker found a matchbook cover folded inside out and placed on the starting holds. The words “Done –CV” and the date marked the completion of the coveted ascent. A few weeks later, Dekker sent a TR problem above the Pit at Indian Rock before Chris was able to do it. He scrawled “Done” in 12-inch chalk letters on the wall. These types of competitive tactics were common in the early days. The boulderers were young and prone to hassling each other. At one point Steve Moyle chalked a couple of desperate holds, thinking the line was impossible. He lied to Nat Smale, telling him the boulder problem had gone. A few weeks later Nat climbed the problem and Nat’s Lieback was born.
The boulderers continued to try to keep up Nat Smale when he made the first ascent of Nat’s Traverse, which in 1976 was one of the most physically difficult climbs in the United States. John Sherman added the top rope problem The Impossible Wall and the group continued with a series of difficult eliminate problems. The locals focused heavily on repeating Nat’s Traverse and when they had that problem dialed, they climbed it backwards, they climbed it while drinking a beer, and they climbed it placing a cookie on each hold and stopping to eat the cookie.
Just to the right of the Ramp, the finish to Nat’s Traverse, sits Jungle Fever. Frye named the boulder problem after the root he grabbed at the top when he completed the problem in 1977. Vines covered the entire wall from Jungle Fever to the Bench Wall. “The vines were weird thick things and over the Impossible Wall they arched away from the wall then curved back in towards the base,” said Harrison Dekker. You could get inside them and see that there were holds and problems to be done.”
The thick vines remained for many years until Greg Loh arrived at Mortar. Loh worked his way through the established problems, climbing Nat’s Traverse, the Pipeline, and making a rare boulder ascent of The Impossible Wall, which had a large tree underneath it at the time and a dangerous landing. “One rainy afternoon I got a wild hair and decided to pull a few of the vines down. Once I started to see the wall, I began to pull more down. All told, I spent about 2 weeks digging, cutting, and removing any trace of vegetation on the wall,” said Loh. In the summer of 1996, Loh completed New Wave, the first problem on this uncovered section of the wall. “New Wave to me was literally that,” said Scott Frye, “A new wave.”
The removal of the vines brought about a whole new area. “This opened up new possibilities for “fresh” lines, a pretty rare opportunity at an urban bouldering area that has been climbed on for several decades,” said Tom Richardson. Richardson added Egypt Air, a highball finish to the Impossible Wall and the difficult Don’t Worry Be Snappy. Loh continued his development with The Kraken, Mission Impossible, and Beached Whale. Further deforestation, this time the removal of the tree beneath the Impossible Wall by the city of Berkeley, resulted in another flurry of new problems including Loh’s lower start to Impossible Wall dubbed the Chinese Connection and the ascent of the obvious and extremely difficult Impossible Wall Traverse, a line that has seen only two ascents by Chris Sharma and by local Mortar rocker Brian Hedrick. Randy Puro added a few additional lines in most recent years, “I myself have added a handful of sit starts to the existing lines. Simply additional challenges, more of the same really, a toolset for developing a descent blend of finger strength, technique, and power (and skin) which can go a fair distance in helping someone move forward in the sport.” To a large extent the plums of the newly cleaned Mortar had been picked.
“I hear you’re developing a new wall in Berkeley,” a Bay Area climber said to Scott Frye. There was some truth to the rumors. In the past few years, Frye has utilized the French Fry, the Putting Green, the Milk Shake, and the Lettuce Leaf to create hundreds of different combinations of eliminate boulder problems on the ten foot wide section of Mortar called the Garbage Can Wall. “There had been a garbage can and we removed it,” said Frye, “We called an ultra eliminate session garbage canning. It became about the lowest sit start. That’s how we grew up at Indian rock. If we did it with our left hand than we’d do it with our right.”
While the limits of variations and eliminate boulder problems are endless, there remains a few proud test pieces including a link of Nat’s Traverse to the Impossible Wall Traverse, estimated at a solid 9a+. Randy Puro stated the best part of the Mortar Rock experience, “Most anyone who gets the genuine bouldering bug can find a real growth experience there as a climber, and still to this day, you'd have to be something pretty special to climb the place out, even after years of trying.”
Come out to the clean-up. Please be sure to register online at the Indian Rock Clean-up event page. We want to make sure to have enough food and tools for everyone who is volunteering.
Last Sunday, the Children's Hospital Adaptive Sports Program stopped by MetalMark. The climbing at the Fresno gym is an integral part of the program, which provides recreational and athletic experiences for those with disabilities.
Every Spring and Fall, Great Western Power Company, our Oakland location, hosts “Girlz Climb On”, a climbing adventure program for young women, administered and organized by GirlVentures. Since they have another session coming up this Fall, we decided to check in with the GirlVentures Team to learn more about this amazing program! Can you describe your program (Girlz Climb On) to someone who isn't already familiar with it? GirlVentures’ signature after-school program provides meaningful one-on-one mentorships and rock climbing experience for girls in grades 6-9. Trained female volunteer mentors and girls meet after school for 2.5 hours a week for twelve consecutive weeks at two Touchstone ClimbingGyms, GWPC in Oakland and Mission Cliffs in San Francisco. These mentors coach girls on both climbing skills and the transference of character-building experiences of climbing into girls’ broader lives. Girls learn trust, perseverance, self-confidence, communication/self-express and team collaboration. They enjoy improved self-esteem and gain access to a nontraditional, male dominated sport that is financially inaccessible to many families. How many kids do you service in this program? Are there any requirements/qualifications to participate? We serve 20 girls from 6th-9th grade (10 at GWPC, 10 at Mission Cliffs) twice a year during our fall and spring sessions. There are no requirements for participants except for an eagerness to learn! Are there scholarships available for families who cannot afford the program fees? Yes! To ensure that ALL girls have the opportunity to participate in our programs, we award financial aid to two-thirds of all participants. What types of skills do the girls typically learn? Is it just a climbing program, or are there other elements to it? Each week we work on developing technical climbing skills: everything from tying a figure-8 follow-thru knot and belaying to techniques like smearing and edging. We also focus on issues that connect rock climbing with a strength a girl already has or would like to improve on like building relationships with friends, trust, leadership, self-expression, working as a group, communication and resolving conflicts. We begin with a one-day ropes course at Fort Miley, practice indoors for 10-12 weeks, and conclude with a weekend outdoor climb at Castle Rock State Park. Where do your program mentors come from? Is there a way for interested members to get involved with this program? GirlVentures mentors are a diverse group of women from all walks of life and climbing experience. Generally, we seek mentors who have the following qualifications, though they are not required: Coaching, teaching or mentoring experience with adolescents
(informal experience with friends & family counts...) Diversity/anti-oppression training or experience
(women of color strongly encouraged to apply) Passion for empowering young women
(i.e.: a desire to share your belief that girls can do anything) Climbing/belaying experiencing
(if you have belayed and/or can climb a 5.8 or higher we are already impressed) Strong candidates without climbing experience are considered IF they are able to commit to taking a belay class AND practice climbing at the gym a few times prior to the start of the program. Touchstone members can certainly get involved! Interested members can learn more about the mentorship role and commitments here. Girlz Climb On for mentors begins on September 16, 2013 and for girls on September 21, 2013. The program runs for 10 weeks from 4-7 p.m. on Mondays at Mission Cliffs and Wednesdays at GWPC.
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
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!
In late February, Eric Foley, the case manager at the Hatien Center for the Blind, brought several visually impaired students to the climbing gym. The students climbed by feeling the textures of the walls and the holds.