On Saturday, Dogpatch Boulders threw open its doors to climbers from all across the state. Some had literally criss-crossed California in order to attend each and every Touchstone Climbing competition this year. Others missed the memo and thought they were there for a normal day of climbing... Imagine their surprise and delight to find that they were about to participate in the largest bouldering comp in California!
The Touchstone Routesetters had been working since Tuesday to strip, set and perfect comp problems that filled the entire gym. "These were some of the best problems I've ever climbed!" said one Berkeley Ironworks member.
Competitors had from 11:30am till 5pm to complete their climbs and turn in their score cards. "The pace felt nice," said Retail Manager Patti Phillips, who helped run registration. "Saturday comps are great because people have the whole day to climb."
At 6pm, score cards were turned in an participants were encouraged to move to a neighboring building for well deserved pizza and beer. As they were winding down, the route setters jumped into action to strip and then quickly set the on-sight finals problems.
For on-sight finals, the top 3 climbers of the series and the top 3 climbers of the day were pitted head to head on the brand new problems. A tie breaker and wild card entry meant that both men and women had 1 additional climber. The lights were dimmed, the flood lights were focused, and the finals began!
Touchstone's own Ethan Pringle stepped up the the mic to emcee the finals. "When Justin Alarcon offered to let me emcee the comp, I was all for the idea. Once the mic was in my hand, it was a little nerve-wrecking... But once I started talking I got the hang of it and it was fun to engage the crowd a little, get them all psyched up and lend a little insight to what was going on."
"I think having been in a fair amount of finals myself gives me a different perspective than most emcees or commentators," said Pringle. "I can usually see a climber in the finals and know exactly what they're going through. I also know when to shut up and let the climbers concentrate, and what not to say to add more pressure to the them. But still, knowing what to say at the right time is difficult. I have a new found respect for those who emcee and commentate these things! It's super taxing and your brain turns to mush after about an hour."
If you participated, find your scores HERE.
See more photos from the event HERE.
We'd like to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who came out on Saturday and was a part of the fun. Competitions are Touchstone's way of thanking our members for being a part of our community. "It was completely exhausting and overwhelming and crazy... but I can't wait to do it all over again next month at Mission Cliffs!" said staffer Lauryn Claassen. Hope to see you all there! To find out more about our competition schedule, visit our comp page.
Video by Matt Grossman.
Here it is, ladies and gentlemen. The moment all you pebble wrestlers have been waiting for... The Grand Finale of the 2014 Touchstone Climbing Series Bouldering Division! It's been nine months in the making, and over 1000 boulderers from across the state have competed in comps at Berkeley Ironworks, The Studio Climbing, or La Boulders. Saturday will see the same fun-filled competition structure that you've come to know and love, along with a high intensity on-sight finale with the top climbers from the days competition.
Nervous? Never fear! Here is a handy 3 step guide to your Saturday.
1. Get Psyched.
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 open comp, starts at noon and ends at 5pm. You can stop in any time and we'll welcome you with open arms.
Competitors get a score card in beginner, intermediate or advanced categories, and self-score their climbs as the day goes on. Sure, you need a witness, but that's what your spotter 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 Triple Voodoo. (21+, duh) There will be raffle prizes, music, photos and all your favorite people.
From 5pm-6pm we'll let the Touchstone Climbing Routesetters work their magic and they hustle to transform the gym into a thunder dome for the on-sight finale. While they are hard at work, we shall be eating and drinking.. and getting psyched!
At 6pm, On-sight finals begin! We will select the top 3 advanced climbers from the series' bouldering comps, and the top 3 climbers from that DAY, to go head-to-head in the finals. There are three finals problems and the top 6 male and female finalists will have 5 minutes for each of them. There is a cash purse of $1,000 for the 1st place man and woman. $600 for 2nd place, and $350 for third. That's no chump change!
Prizes will also be awarded to the overall winner in all categories. So the more comps you competed in, the better your chances of reaching the podium!
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:
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......
Thank 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.
On Friday the 20th Dogpatch Boulders will be hosting a members-only late night climbing session and barbecue. Summer is here at last, so let's welcome it with style! Dogpatch Boulders manager Justin Alarcon couldn't be happier. "We try to do a fun event every month to thank our members for being so rad," said Alarcon. "This month we're really stepping it up."
On Friday, the doors will stay open till midnight, making it the place to be on Friday Night. Dogpatch Boulders staff will be grilling up grub all night long, and to wet your whistle two local companies are coming to help us celebrate in style. Triple Voodoo, a brewery just blocks from the gym, will be providing beer. And if that wasn't enough, Sutton Cellars and Workhorse Rye will be pouring Vermouth & Soda by Sutton Cellars as well as Bitters & Soda by Workhorse Rye at our barn burner of a barbecue.
This party will also be a double your pleasure - double your fun membership night! Our good friends at the Access Fund will be at the gym to sign you up for a membership with an awesome deal that also gets you an Access Fund t-shirt! Normally only $50 and above memberships get you an Access Fund t-shirt.....but since we love you so much, it will be $35 at our party!
Being an Access Fund member is like raising your hand and saying, 'Yes. I love climbing' and then putting yo' money where yo' mouth is. It also happens to be a great way to join a Touchstone gym. #winwin
Access Fund Members can always join any Touchstone Gym for only $25 initiation. Any day. Any gym. 'Cause that's how we roll, but at our Summer kick off BBQ we're going to waive the initiation fee completely!
So let's recap. Come to the Late Night Barbecue event at Dogpatch Boulders for the fun and frivolity, and walk away with an Access Fund AND a Touchstone Climbing memberships, a full stomach, and the peace of mind knowing that you're helping ensure access to our favorite crags for generation to come.
Spread the word! If you've got friends who are thinking about joining the gym - let them know Friday the 20th is the day to join up for less, and get more.
If you're already a Touchstone Climbing Member but not an Access Fund member - Consider signing up! A membership gets you tons of great discounts and you'll feel all warm and fuzzy by helping support the Access Fund's mission.
So in summary: You can climb all night, join the gym on the cheep, and join the Access Fund. All while eating food and drinking local beverages. Does it really get any better then this? RSVP HERE and invite your friends.
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.
Recently, Dogpatch Desk Staffer, Eric Nakano stepped away from running the kids after school camps for an amazing hiking trip along the Lost Coast trail from Usal Camp to Nadelos Camp. He wrote about his adventure for the Touchstone Blog.
Distance: 29.19 miles
Elevation gain: 10,475 ft.
Elevation loss: 8,699 ft.
Climbing: didn’t find too much.
It was 11:45 PM when we pulled into Garberville. I slowed to a nice 35 MPH pace to avoid any chance of a speeding ticket, and to ensure we wouldn’t accidentally drive past our rendezvous point and end up back on the 101. The last text I received from my friend Matt read, “…Should be in Garberville in about an hour and a half. Gonna check out the local scene…I’m at the Blue Room. It’s towards the north of town.” – Thur, Mar 20, 7:11 PM. As I had imagined, the Blue Room turned out to be the quintessential small town bar, and the only establishment open at that hour. Matt wasn’t hard to spot, even from outside of the bar looking through the front window. He was seated at the center of the bar, staring off into space, with a lowball glass of whiskey on the rocks, and the only other person I could see inside was the bartender shuffling around behind the bar. It was late, so we chose to forgo grabbing a drink, and instead spent the next two hours lost on backcountry roads with no cell reception before finally reaching Nadelos Camp (the northern trailhead) where we spent our first night.
Trip Tip: If a friend is renting a car for the trip, make sure you are the leader of the caravan. Something about that $9 damage insurance will turn an average driver into the Jeff Gordon of the Hyundai Veloster.
Because we chose not to shell out $400 on a shuttle service, the next morning required us to all pile in my car and drive down to Usal Camp (the southern trailhead) to begin our trek.
The stretch of trail from Usal Camp to Wheeler camp features a good amount of hiking along the cliffs of the coast and winds through a number of forest areas with beautifully lush fern growth. We arrived at the first of a handful of beach access trails around midday and were immediately greeted by a nude man who brought us to the rest of his group on the beach. This group will henceforth be referred to as Pasty White and the Seven Nudes (and yes, there was only one female in the group). We spent some time resting, snacking, exploring the beach for any good bouldering, and decided to get back on the trail just as the Greek wrestling was winding down. It was pretty clear we were not in the same state of consciousness as Pasty White’s group. There was a substantial presence of poison oak along the thin sections of exposed trail and upon arrival at Wheeler Camp we all felt it appropriate to take a dive in the ocean. This is where things started to get a little weird. Brett (an avid surfer) came walking up the beach after taking his turn in the water and called up to us asking Jeff whether he was going in. There was no one named Jeff in our group…So either it was a combination of exhaustion and freezing water scrambling up his brain, or he took whatever our nude friends on the beach were indulging in that day.
The next day we hiked from Wheeler Camp along a portion of the trail featuring almost entirely dense forest and fern undergrowth until the trail opened up into wide bluffs upon reaching our camping destination at Jones Beach. The terrain was much more mellow than the first day, and we had the opportunity to hang out with a herd of elk as the trail cut through a meadow leading down to Bear Harbor and we were to witness part of the herd playing chicken with the waves coming in on the beach. This was the day that sparked the quote, “You went from Elmer’s Glue to bedroom wall.” – Brett regarding Wolf’s tan, and when we learned that Matt had been keeping track of how many people we had seen since we parked the car at Usal Camp. The total for the trip was 48.
The third and final day of the trip included dark, foggy, sinister forest to sunny coastal desert with Manzanita. Additional highlights of the day include: Ice cold Eye of the Hawk at the end of the trail, and somehow fulfilling everyone’s insatiable craving for Taco Bell on the drive home. Honestly, aside from the natural beauty of the trail, that’s all I can really remember of this day.
Trip Tip: Always keep beer and salami in a cooler at the end of the trail for motivation.
This happened to be a first time backpacking trip for my friend Wolf, and I believe this would be a great trip for anyone who is fairly new to backpacking and looking for a nice challenging three day trip just about four hours north of San Francisco.
It's something we've heard time and time again, 'I wish I'd discovered climbing sooner!'
Maybe you totally blew your undergraduate years living in Los Angeles but not visiting Joshua Tree, or you're lamenting the tendons of steal that could have been yours if your parents had only pushed climbing on you instead of violin. Either way, hindsight is 20-20, and we can learn from our pre-climbing lives and do better for the next generation of climbers! If you have kids, get them into climbing!
In 2012, when Dogpatch Boulders was but a twinkle in our eye, we knew that we needed to think about a kids climbing area. With a dedicated kids climbing area the little ones are able to scramble around an awesome castle complete with slide, ladder, shorter slab walls and turrets from which to keep a watchful eye on the front desk! The castle has become a popular part of the gym where members bring their kids to climb, play, run and jump.
We now have several options to kids to climb at Dogpatch Boulders with our friendly and knowledgeable staff. We've worked to develop programs to encourage climbing to kids of all ages. "Kids are natural climbers. Its amazing to see how quickly and intuitively they take on the same moves that challenge adults," said Dogpatch Boulders manager Justin Alarcon. Bring your little one to the gym and see for yourself!
After School Camp
Members $225 | Non-Members $275
Talk about a great after school program! Watch your children build confidence, make friends, and learn to climb in one of our ten week sessions. Bouldering is a great way to get your kids interested in climbing or to help them burn off a little (or a lot) of that excess energy. The next session will begin April 7th! There are still a few spots open, click HERE to register.
Members $200 | Non-Members $250
Kids get a chance to meet for 1 week with our amazing instructors to build skills, make friends and have a blast! Participants will learn the fundamentals of climbing movement, spotting, falling and route reading. Our experienced and supportive staff emphasize personal responsibility and encourage each camper to develop greater self confidence throughout the session. Weekly classes start in mid June and run through mid August for children ages 7-12 at Dogpatch Boulders. Sign up for five days of climbing from 10am to 1pm. Beginner, intermediate, and advanced level climbers are welcome. Please arrange to pick up your children promptly and please send your children to class with a healthy lunch or money to purchase snacks. Please Note: Under-enrolled summer camps may be canceled 7 days prior to start date.
Plan your next climbing birthday party at Dogpatch Boulders! Are you tired of having your child’s birthday party at a jump house, or worse… Your house? Then a rock climbing party is for you! Our staff provides basic instruction and climbing gear for all party participants. The kids will be climb, learn games, and... just PLAY. What a concept, right?! Be sure to encourage the kids to wear comfortable clothing and close toed shoes. We're happy to be collaborating with our neighbors, Kara's Cupcakes, to make Birthday Parties at Dogpatch Boulders fun and easy for parents too. When you book your party online, you'll have an option to order yummy cupcakes that can be delivered right to the gym! Click HERE to book a Birthday Party at Dogpatch Boulders.
Dogpatch Boulders desk staffer Alex recently injured himself while bouldering in Oregon. He took the time to write up an article for the Touchstone Blog about the accident, along with tips for smart climbing.
When I heard, rather felt, the crack in my left ankle as it rolled sideways off the crash pad, I immediately found myself in a state of denial. My ankle was fine, just badly twisted. Heck, working full time at a climbing gym I see this with relative frequency, I can comfortably say that most of the accidents I encounter are just badly rolled ankles. The crack must’ve just been a pop, a tendon being pulled too hard, something mundane.
I felt my pride well up in my chest and I pushed to contain it as fellow gymgoers asked me if I was okay. I writhed around, holding my ankle, assuring everyone I was fine, that it was “just a bad roll.” When I’ve faced an injury like this at work, I’ve often thought that most of these injuries could have been avoided. Adjustments in pad placement, body awareness, confidence, control, and general safety when pushing your body into the unknown seem are ostensibly lacking. Yet, here I was, having disregarded all of that and in the exact same position. Instead of worrying about myself, all I could think was that I had made a silly mistake and I felt guilty for imposing any stress on the gym’s staff.
Fortunately, the staff didn’t show an ounce of resentment or stress; everyone there was more than accommodating. I hobbled my way over to their café where my girlfriend was working on an essay. I felt guilty for being selfish, for being so stupid. It was her 21st to hit the breweries that evening, but now I had completely usurped her day. I thought back to the problem I had fallen on… I remember telling myself, even the guys I was bouldering with that I was pretty burnt and ready to head out soon. I hadn’t climbed in a few days and I felt my ego push me to get in a couple more attempts, to really make sure I was spent. Well, gravity was quick to assure me that I, indeed, was done with my session.
The end of a climbing workout is typically when my technique goes out the window and I’m just trying to burn my muscles out. I had started making desperate throws without much forearm juice in reserve. Not only was my body incapable of performing the moves I was forcing it to attempt, I was also ignoring the gym’s padding situation.
Since climbing at Dogpatch Boulders, I’ve conditioned myself to become ballsier indoors. I’ve become more willing to make moves and attempt climbs I believe to be above my limit, at times in very precarious positions or at potentially dangerous heights. The floors are so good that I’ve never felt close to hurting myself. Even my worst falls have been softly cushioned by our beautiful Flashed flooring system. With this mentality, I didn’t even consider the padding situation at the oldschool gym I was climbing in was not nearly as forgiving as the one back home. Looking back, there were red flags everywhere. Old crash pads littered the floor. Underneath the roof I was climbing lay a dilapidated old mattress, and at the lip where I fell the pads were a few feet too far back to protect a fall. I didn’t once adjust a pad throughout my session.
Now, here I am. Fractured tibia. Surgery imminent. Three days post-accident, waiting for my ankle to stop hurting so I can maneuver my old, manual transmission van down from Eugene, Oregon to the Bay Area. Now, my life that is usually full of climbing, running, and hiking has been stymied. Percolating up from the depths questions arise, what does climbing means to me, what led me to this unfortunate circumstance.
Over the past few days I’ve found myself struggling to accept the truth. My ego is what brought me here. My ego is what led me to think that I was strong enough not to fall, that even if I did I would be fine, that I’m invincible. My ego is what led me to keep pushing my session, even though my body was telling me I was done. My ego is what made the climbing injuries I had witnessed back home so frustrating. My ego led me to believe I was somehow different from the people I’ve seen get injured, that I somehow couldn’t be hurt.
While most of this is just a stream-of-consciousness reflection, there’s an undercurrent message that I hope to share with anyone else in my position—those of you that love climbing in and outside the gym. As fun as climbing is, as amazing as it is to push yourself constantly to new limits, to test your mental and physical prowess, to reach beautiful flow states, there’s a cost to ignoring the practical side of what we do. Let my accident remind you that safety should not be ignored in the race to the top. Vigilantly analyze your surroundings, your climbing partners’, be mindful of your body and mind before, during, and after your climbing session. Even if it means you bag the route for another go another day, that’s okay. The problem will still be there when you get back. And even if it isn’t, there’ll be something else just as fun, exciting, and challenging waiting for you to find it.
The price we pay for being overeager and ignoring general safety precautions can be hefty. For me, my single-minded desire to climb one last problem resulted in a lot of forced downtime. I only hope that my accident can help some of you become more aware of safety as a primary concern when entering any climbing environment, be it inside or out.
Here are some easy safety tips that I think could’ve prevented my injury had I considered them:
Pad Placement – When present, check for proper pad placement. When you’re going for a hard move, you want to be confident that your landing is sufficiently padded.
Spotting - Sometimes it’s great to have a solo session, but if you’re going for a move that may result in an uncontrolled fall, look around and ask someone to give you a spot. Even if you feel pretty confident with the move, our bodies swing in unpredictable ways. Having someone ready to resquare you with the mat can be an ankle saver!
Body Awareness - Be aware that as you lose strength, you lose movement becomes uncoordinated and sloppy. They symptoms can be subtle but a fatigued climber’s movements will often appear more dynamic, impulsive, or lethargic. Being mindful of one’s body a climber can focus on problems that fit their current energy level. The more your try that really hard move in a progressively weakened state, the more vulnerable you are to injury.
Ego - Don’t let your confidence get you in trouble. It’s okay to ask for a spot. It’s okay to admit defeat and let a problem go for another day. It’s okay to be off or to feel weak. Climbing can be a lifelong pastime. For me, the key to staying motivated is to remember to enjoy every step as you walk down path of rock climbing. To heck with the grades, the difficulty, the strength or weakness, all of that stuff comes secondary to just enjoying the sensation of climbing. That’s what it’s all about.
Bay Area Bouldering 2013 from Phaedrus on Vimeo.
Here is a video of happier times! We're wishing you a speedy recovery!
Fall has fallen, and it's time to start the bouldering season out right! We'll be kicking off a brand new, never before seen 'Bowldering League,' at Dogpatch Boulders. 2 parts fun, 1 part competition, .5 parts fame and .5 parts glory, this competition will run for 10 weeks this fall. Read on to find out more about this exciting new format and find out how to sign up. Here’s what you need to know to get started.
1) Collect a team of four boulderers and one alternate (for weeks when someone can’t make it). All climbing levels are welcome. If you climb V3 and your buddy climbs V10 - great! You can totally be on the same team. The way we score everything will make it fair no matter how hard you climb (we’ll explain below).
2) Come to the front desk and ask for a Dogpatch Bowldering League Registration Form. Registrants will need to be Touchstone Gym Members or 10 Pass Holders; otherwise, they must purchase a day pass for each visit. There will be a $50 registration fee for each team. That means each of your buddies have to fork over a whole $10-$12 each to get your team started! All teams must be registered by September 27th.
3) Once registered, make sure to “Like” our Dogpatch Boulders Facebook Page. We will post weekly updates, share Bowldering League Problems, and announce special weekly SUPER SPECIAL BOWLDERING CHALLENGES that can earn your team extra points.
4) Every other week, as marked on our league calendar, will be a Bowldering League competition. Teams will be matched up against each other with the highest scoring team of the week earning one for the win column. During the Bi-Week, we will set new problems and our staff will calculate your team’s scores and email them to your team captains.
5) Beginning on Monday of a League competition week, scorecards will be available at the front desk.. Your team will only be allowed one day to fill out the scorecard, but it can be any day within the competition week that your team chooses. All team members must be present to receive a scorecard. There are no do-overs, if your team does not turn in its scorecard they will receive 0 points that week.
6) On competition days, teams will be responsible for keeping track of what problems they have climbed and handle their own scorecards. Be sure to note whether the ascents were flashes or redpoints following the instruction on the scorecard. We will be using the honor system, so please be honest when you mark down your sends. Cheaters will be run out onto the street and forced to do Crossfit. Don’t forget to turn in your scorecard at the end of the night so we can tally up your points!
8) After 5 competition weeks we will host a final Dogpatch Bowldering League World Championship Tournament of Champions! (DBLWCTC) On December 7th, teams with the best win/loss records will be pitted against each other in a bracket-style elimination competition. The two best teams at the end of the day will compete for the GRAND PRIZE and the Title “Dogpatch Bouldering League Champions of the Universe!”
Registration is open from September 1st to September 27th!
Scoring in the bouldering league will be based on a handicap system. Handicapping will allow teams of noobs to compete alongside teams composed of v12 mega-crushers. Our system rewards personal achievement while prioritizing fun and camaraderie.
Handicapping is actually fairly simple. When a competitor registers they will be asked what their regular climbing level is (what V-grade do you climb). We want to know what the hardest grade you regularly climb is, that’s it. You can usually get up at least one v6 per visit? Great, you’re a v6 handicap. Usually you climb v3, but once every couple of weeks you get a v4? You’re a v3 handicap. You can climb v8 once a week or so, but a year and a half ago you climbed v10? Guess what, you’re a v8 handicap. If you have any trouble deciding on your handicap, just ask a staff person and they can help you out.
Handicaps can change throughout the competition; so don’t get too hung up on them. If you have a breakthrough and start regularly climbing a grade harder than before, our scorekeepers will adjust your handicap. Likewise, if you go through a rough patch when you can’t seem to get up the same problems you used to, we’ll adjust that as well.
Each competition week the scorecard will have 20 Bowldering League sanctioned problems from v0-v10+. The goal as an individual is to try and flash or redpoint problems at or above your handicap to garner the most points. Flashing means a problem is climbed on the first attempt. A redpoint in this competition means a climb has been completed after the first attempt. For a more complete explanation of the term redpoint please visit Wikipedia.
A competitor will receive full points for a problem redpointed at the level of their handicap. Flashing a problem earns you half a point extra. Climbing a problem below your handicap costs you a point, while climbing above your handicap get’s you an extra point (remember handicaps will be adjusted and sandbaggers will be punished severely.)
For the purposes of this competition a ‘flash’ will be considered the first attempt of a problem on the competition day. Many of the competition boulder problems will be chosen from the many problems already on our walls so it is very likely that competitors, prior to competition week, will have tried the boulder problems. So for competition purposes a competitor may very well flash a climb they had done on a previous visit, this is well within the rules.
The top three scores from each competitor on a team will be added together to get the team score. If your team score is higher than your opposition’s score your team earns the win that week. At the end of league play the teams with the best win-loss records will have the highest seeding in the Dogpatch Bowldering League World Championship Tournament of Champions! (DBLWCTC)