Thanksgiving offers a perfect time of year for a climbing trip. Most people have a long weekend that can easily be extended by a day or two. The options for California climbers are numerous. Amazing bouldering and unbelievable sport climbing sits within a short drive. Unfortunately, the weather in Yosemite looks a bit wet for the weekend but there are some other great options for those looking for a holiday climbing trip.
The weather will be good for the next few days in one of the most beautiful climbing destinations in California. Sunny with highs in the 60s and low 70s this week, Joshua Tree offers great trad climbing as well as amazing bouldering. Hidden Valley Campground provides ideal camping as many of the climbs and boulder problems are mere yards from the campsites. The drive to southern California can be a bit long, the rock in the park can be sharp and the campsite may be crowded but Joshua Tree is a gorgeous place to climb.
California's premiere bouldering area offers great climbing at the Buttermilks and the volcanic tablelands. For those interested in climbing on ropes, the Owen's River Gorge provides a great place for sport climbing from 5.10 to 5.12. The weather on the East Side should be quite inviting with temps similar to Joshua Tree. Expected temps in the high 60s and low 70s for the week. The amenities around Bishop are quite nice but Thanksgiving is the most popular time of year there and climbers flood the boulders and sport destinations. The bakeries in Bishop are not to be missed though.
An equidistant drive as Bishop, Smith offers some of the best sport climbing in the United States. The technical nature of Smith makes it a great option for climbers looking to improve. While the weather report calls for a slight chance of rain, the rock at Smith dries quickly and the desert climate means that percipitation is minimal. Smith also has far fewer climbers than Joshua Tree, Bishop or Vegas. It's a perfect place for those looking to get away from the hoards.
With affordable plane tickets, Vegas makes a great place for a long weekend climbing trip. The casino's provide lots of entertainment and places to stay. The weather there will be nice with temps again in the high 60s and low 70s. There is a significant amount of sport climbing and bouldering close to Vegas in Red Rocks but better than that the limestone of Southern Utah sits a mere hour away. For those looking for a bit of varied sport climbing, the Vegas/Mesquite area makes a great option.
GWPC Staffers Chris & Elena might be back from their month long road trip, but they covered so many miles and saw so much rock! Here's what happened when they passed through the awe-inspiring canyons of Zion National Park.
After traveling three hours from Monroe, Utah, Elena and I were thrilled to see the massive sandstone canyon walls of Zion on either side of us. We stopped at a shell gas station after a few failed attempts at full campgrounds to buy drinking water, beer, and snacks. The lovely lady behind the counter decided to give us the local Springdale camping beta!
The next town over, Rockville, was a very small town. We turned left onto Grafton and traveled about 3.5 miles to a dirt road on the left. The camping was primitive but nonetheless free. The only downsides are that the sites were limited and when the National Park camping is full, locals flock to the area. There were a ton of ants that decided to parade in our tent as well. If you don't mind six-legged creatures as your alarm clock, I highly recommend this spot. If you prefer a bit more fancy location at only $10 per tent site with a hot tub, pool, showers, and a restaurant, Zion Ponderossa Ranch Resort off of 9 east and North Fork road is definitely worth the stop.
The following day we headed to the Zion to hike a bit. Parking during the day is scarce so park in Springdale. On the way in we noticed two fairly tall boulders next to the visitor's center. We decided to hike first and climb later. The first two hikes were The Watchmen followed by the Kayenta Trail to Upper and Lower Emerald pools. Both were easy to moderate and only about two miles each. Angel's Landing was definitely the highlighted hike which was about 7.5 miles over a 1480 ft. elevation change. Then came the bouldering.
Bouldering in Zion is not only gorgeous but very easy on the hands. Elena hopped on a few highball V0 to V2 problems and finished them no problem. I decided to tackle whatever I could manage to get my hands on. The first boulder had very nice warm up problems (about 10 or so) and two anchor bolts on the front of you weren't the soloing type. The second boulder had fewer and shorter problems but a bit harder. A few speculated V5 and V6 problems went down after a few tries. All in all, it was a great place to be. If you are an avid trad climber, this is definitely the place for you. From some short top rope and boulder problems, to big wall multi-pitch trad only routes, this sandstone sanctuary will have you begging for more.
2015 is going to be an exciting year for the LA climbing community! We're happy to announce that we have chosen a name for our Hollywood gym, and are ready to release the exact location!
First off..what's in a name...?
Everything! We decided to name this gym after the iconic city it calls home. Hollywood Boulders. It's got a nice ring to it, right? Hollywood is a city known the world over for big dreams and bright lights. Hollywood Boulders will be a destination gym for people who want to climb on the cutting edge of industry standards and make their mark.
Hollywood Boulders is a 17,000 sq ft facility, with 11,000 sq feet of climbing terrain, making it the largest bouldering-only gym in Southern California. We are currently under construction, getting the building ready and working with Walltopia to design bouldering terrain like you've never seen. Along with climbing, we will have a programing room for yoga and fitness classes, along with cardio equipment, a weight room, and saunas.
Remi Moehring, the manager of LA Boulders says that excitement has been building for the new gyms. "We’ve set the bar high at LA.B and people know what it means when we say a Touchstone gym is coming to town."
"Our goal in Los Angeles was not to simply build a gym. Our objective was to be a catalyst in the development of the indoor climbing community," said Touchstone CEO Mark Melvin. “It takes multiple exceptional gyms in close proximity with reciprocity to do the job right, and Hollywood Boulders will be an exceptional gym in a great location."
“We are hopeful that we can open both Hollywood Boulders and Cliffs of Id in mid 2015,” said Sr. Manager Markham Connolly. Just think - by this time next year Touchstone members will have four locations to choose from! We'll be announcing details about construction, employment opportunities, and wall designs on the Hollywood Boulders facebook page, so give it a follow!
We're doing SO much in LA right now, it's easy to miss something! If you want to stay in the loop, subscribe to our Southern California newsletter. We promise to only send you stuff we think you'll love!
Dogpatch Boulders is offering a new clinic series on increasing endurance through bouldering. Veteran instructor Ashley Hockersmith is teaching this new clinic, which starts on Sunday, Nov. 23rd and will meet on the two following Sundays. We decided to have a chat with Ashley to learn a little bit about how Ashley found climbing and what it has meant to her. Enjoy!
Touchstone: Tell us a little about yourself and how you got started climbing.
Ashley H: I started climbing about 9 yrs ago, when I started working at a sporting goods store. One of my coworkers, who soon became a really good friend of mine, was really passionate about climbing. After months of pestering her about climbing, she finally caved, and put me on my first climb (which was a sport 5.6) at the local crag, Mt Williamson. It took me at least an hour to get to the top, and I definitely freaked out more then once, but by the end of it I was totally hooked. Being in Southern California, we had ample opportunity to take days trips to climb on real rock. I climbed my first slab, and traversed my first boulder in J-tree, and learned anchors and rope management in Malibu. We had a local gym in Arcadia called the ARC, and while it was kinda dark and pretty dirty, it was an enjoyable space to gain some strength and pass the time.
T: Describe some of your most enjoyable/meaningful experiences you've had because of climbing.
AH: My favorite thing about climbing has always been its ability to take me to new and beautiful spaces, and to meet really fantastic people. When I am in the gym, I am pretty focused on movement and numbers, but when I am outside, I don't care how many climbs I get in; I more enjoy just being in the natural environment, and getting to fully experience that space. In the Fall of 2012, I had the opportunity to spend a week at Castle Hill in New Zealand. Castle Hill is a place with infinitely rolling hills of green and gold grasses, that is littered with hundreds upon hundreds of perfectly smooth (yet textured) silver limestone boulders. I climbed 6 of the 7 days that I was there, and while I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of climbing, I spent a good half of my time, nestled in between the rock, just breathing and enjoying the quiet and landscape.
T: How did you learn your good technique?
AH: I was really fortunate that my friend who got me into climbing was also a stickler for proper technique and communication. During that first day, when we were driving to Williamson, she made me repeat the On-Belay/Belay-On call and response etiquette for at least 30 unbroken minutes. She was always very aware of the risks associated with climbing as well as the consequences of poor technique/Belaying. She wanted to make sure I was aware of the seriousness of my role as her climbing partner. So because of this, I always want to make sure I am passing on good technique, and well as responsible climbing habits, to the people I teach and climb with. I am a stickler when it comes to belaying; if someone is being unsafe, I refuse to climb with them. I feel similarly when it comes to "spotting".
T: Explain why bouldering is such a great medium for training endurance.
AH: I think Bouldering is a great way to train endurance for a number of reasons. First, the climber doesn't have to sacrifice their strength in order to focus on extending stamina. The power aspect of bouldering can be directly incorporated into the focus on increased stamina. Second, by training on boulders instead of ropes, the climber can focus on a particular style, or type of movement that goes beyond the wall shape. Lastly, the climber can train on their own schedule, since bouldering doesn't require a partner. I would still encouraging working with another person, as a tool to push your climbing, but the flexibility of not needing a partner is a great asset.
T: Quick Fire questions... Favorite spot to rope outside?
AH: New River Gorge
T: Favorite place to boulder outside?
T: Favorite wall at Dogpatch Boulders?
AH: Back Slab top-out (Green Monster)
T: Best Food near DogPatch?
AH: Long Bridge Pizza
T: Tell us something about yourself we'd never know from seeing you around the gym.
AH: I consistently want ice cream at 11pm at night.
T: We'd never have guessed... Thanks Ashley!
Ready to increase your endurnace through bouldering? You'd better jump on it! Spots are going fast for this three week clinic.
The time change and the fall season means short days. In Yosemite, darkness falls in the Valley at 5:30. If you are driving out from the bay or sleep in at all, that translates to very little time to climb. The best way to make the most of your trip is to climb at night. If you're into alpine starts to climb El Capitan, you will probably need to do a fair bit of night climbing. Not only will a night session extend your climbing time but it will kill the long boring hours before bed, it allows for better temps and more time to get up the wall.
John Dickey photo of Paul Barraza on Yabo Roof
Get A Good Headlamp:
There's a variety of options for headlamps out there. Use the brightest one possible. Grab some fresh batteries. Better is to use a rechargable headlamp. Bay Area climber Dan Freschl produced the escellent Bosavi headlamp, which recharges with a USB cable. Also check out the Black Diamond Sprinter headlamp.
Look at Your Feet:
Be extra precise with your footwork when climbing at night. Shine the headlamp in small circles to double check on shadows. Move carefully. The temps tend to be significantly better and your feet will stick way better at night if you take time to place them well.
Bring a Lantern:
While you can't exactly swing a Coleman lantern half way up El Capitan, you can bring a lantern to the boulders. Get a propane lantern. They tend to be brighter than the battery operated variety. Some companies sell sticks to hang lanterns or find a tree. Make sure you hang the lantern in the spot that casts the least shadows on the wall.
John Dickey jumaring the Stoveleg pitches at 3am
Know Where You're Going:
Earlier this fall, I climbed to Dolt Tower on the Nose with photographer John Dickey for a sunrise photo shoot. I got lost looking for a pendulum point because I failed to see the bolt in the dark. I checked the topo a few times and found the spot where I needed to swing to the Stoveleg Cracks. If you're out bouldering, know where the problem is, how to get off and what the holds are. Knowing where you're going helps significantly. It's easy to get lost in the dark.
The colder conditions may make climbing easier but it also gets a lot cooler when you're inactive. Grab a thermos of hot tea for bouldering and a belay jacket for longer routes.
Staying warm with plenty of light, knowing where you're going and climbing well will add to a succesful night of climbing. If you want practice, the gyms periodically have night climbing sessions. Stay tuned for the next event, bring your headlamp and have fun.
Big news out of Culver City, California!
For those of you who have been living under a rock..or maybe on a rock... we are currently in the design, permitting, and construction phase of not one, not two, but THREE brand new world class gyms in Southern California. We are extremely excited to be moving forward on all three projects.
In today's news, we are ready to announce the exact location and name of our Culver City gym!
We have decided to name our new, 25,000 sq ft gym, the Cliffs of Id.
If you're a patron of Touchstone Climbing gyms, you know that most of the time we pay homage to the original building by deriving the gym name from its history. Great Western Power Company in Oakland was once a power and electric plant, Berkeley Ironworks was an iron refinery and warehouse, etc... But for Culver City, we decided to do something a little different.
"The name is a slightly nerdy reference to Reyner Banham's Four Ecologies of Los Angeles," said Dogpatch Boulders manger Justin Alarcon. "It's an interesting book and defense of LA architecture / urbanism / ecology. Culver City is in the region described by Banham as the Plains of Id."
One quote really stood out, 'The Plains of Id are where the crudest urban lusts and most fundamental aspirations are created, manipulated and, with luck, satisfied.' "Changing 'Plains' to 'Cliffs' was kind of a no-brainer," said Alarcon.
The Cliffs of Id is directly off the 10, on Fairfax Avenue near Venice Blvd and La Cienega and has ample parking. We are also right next to the Metro Station, hip hip hooray! We KNOW all you West Siders will be psyched on this location! “LA Boulders has changed the climbing gym market in Los Angeles,” said Sr. Manager Jeffery Bowling. “This new gym allows us to serve Culver City, Santa Monica, and beyond. We’re very excited about the location of the gym and thrilled by the warm welcome we have received from the L.A. climbing community.”
Cliffs of Id will be a HUGE rope climbing gym, which is great news for everyone who prefers to tie in. The gym will have about an even split between rope climbing and bouldering. "We will be building the gym in two phases," said Jeffery. "Bouldering first, then our rope walls a few months later."
This will also be a full service gym with designated areas for program rooms, fitness equipment and a training area. “Offering premier climbing, fitness and classes like yoga and kickboxing has become synonymous with the Touchstone Climbing brand,” said Director of Marketing Lauryn Claassen. “Bringing a full service gym to Culver City will be huge for both the climbing and fitness communities.” That's right people, your climbing gym membership can also be your yoga studio membership, which will double as your home away from home! Additionally, ALL Touchstone Climbing memberships are created equal. If you are already a member at LA Boulders, you are also a member at Cliffs of Id and vice versa. Reciprocal memberships for the WIN!
We will once again be working with Walltopia, a leading climbing wall manufacturer and our BFFs, to build the gym. "This is our 5th project together and our partnership with Walltopia becomes stronger with each gym,” said Bowling, who visited Walltopia headquarters in Bulgaria in June. “We are ready to bring something truly innovative to the greater Los Angeles area.”
We anticipate opening in mid 2015. To stay tuned on the play by play, give our Cliffs of Id Facebook page a follow. We'll be releasing our new logo, wall designs and construction updates in the following months. When it comes time to hire staff, we'll post announcements there.
The temperatures in Yosemite Valley have been slowly dropping. The fall storms have been light and sporadic. Conditions have been slowly improving in America's best granite bouldering destination.
One of the best parts of bouldering in Yosemite this fall has been climbing on all of the newer boulder problems around the Valley. Since the last printing of a bouldering guide, the volume of problems in Yosemite has nearly doubled. Areas like Bridalveil have been developed by the BetaBase crew and have yielded awesome moderate and difficult climbs.
Bridalveil Pogo sits just a few hundred feet from the parking lot on the massive boulder. A heel hook to an undercling, a huge slap to a sloping hold and a difficult jump mark this height dependent classic. The problem's dynamic nature marks a stark contrast from the traditional static style of most Yosemite boulders. Further up the hill are the awesome Meat N Potato climbs.
The left arete, Meat features a difficult move over a bulge, surmounted with either kneebar trickery or a calf hook. The climbing afterwards involves balancey liebacking up the arete to a good hold. At V4 and just up the hill from the Bridalveil Pogo, this is another not to be missed Yosemite problem. The adjacent Potatoes (V5) is also quite good.
Outside of the Bridalveil circuit are more new problems like Avocado. Slab crusher Beth Rodden made the first ascent of this Curry Village slab testpiece, clocking it in at a very conservative V6. A few climbers have repeated the problem guessing it to be closer to the V9 range. In this photo, Ironworks manager Lyn Barraza crimps down on the tiny holds high above the pads. This problem is another great new addition to the Valley slab circuit.
Beyond the new problems are the old Camp 4 classics like The Force. Jerry Moffatt established The Force during a trip to Yosemite in the mid 90s, naming the line after one of the first lines in the Michael Jackson hit "Don't Stop Til You Get Enough." In the chart topper, Michael sings, "Because the force, it's got a lot of power." In this picture, Robin Puro is climbing The Farce, a slight variation to the Force. Moffat started just left of Thriller and climbed straight up, making a powerful move and then gastoning a reinforced hold. Most climbers now use the second hold on Thriller, which splits hairs and makes the problem a bit easier.
One of the classic and often overlooked aretes in Yosemite, Fish Eye arete rests just next to the Hexentric at the Cathedral boulders. Orginally given the sandbagged V4 rating, the problem sees very few repeats. Here, Tommy Caldwell shows how it's done. He sit starts the problem, goes high right hand to a crimp, slap the arete then crushes to the top.
The temperatures are dropping low this weekend and conditions will only continue to improve. Head out to Yosemite soon to see the best new problems and some of the classics.
A familiar face around the GWPC yoga and climbing community, Avram Pearlman sent in this trip report of his first time at Lover's Leap. When he submitted this post, Summer was coming to a close. At time of publishing, winter has yet to show it's face, so the Leap is still climbable! Read on to find out more of the play by play beta on this classic California climbing destination.
In late summer, we took at trip to Tahoe for a little climbing. Having never been up Highway 50 to climb the multitude of routes in that direction, I didn't know what to expect. After only a weekend I am hooked, and can't wait to get back! A friend of mine had always recommended the Leap as a great place to start traditional multipitch climbing. The abundance of routes from 5.5 to 5.9 make it a great place to focus on gear placement, anchor building, topo reading, route finding, and setting up a belay station. The granite is gray in color, and includes features similar to those found in the valley.
Getting there is fairly easy, as long as there is not an abundance of traffic in the Sacramento area. Water is available at the parking area, however parking is limited. There are 20 walk in campsites, with space for one car per campsite. The day use parking area is also limited, and can be taken up with overflow from the campers. The campground is first come first serve for $10/night with 14 nights max. There is running water, fire rings, and pit toilettes. Day use fees are $5/day per vehicle.
With our rack and some borrowed pieces, myself and my partner Marie hiked out to try a few routes on the Hogs Back. This wall is slightly shorter than the main wall, and allows for two and three pitch routes. Knapsack, our first choice, was more congested than the 880 during rush hour. Instead we walked right up to Manic Depressive, a two pitch 5.5 that was really fun!
After getting a little more comfortable with the idea of switching leads, placing gear, and dealing with the rope, we got on Deception. Deception is a 5.6 route that included a 5.8 crack variation (extremely scary), lay backs, stacked blocks, and a scary slab traverse move with no hands near the end of the second pitch. The exposure made me realize how short the routes in the gym really are...
Many of the classic routes are referenced on Mountain Project, but this place is pretty big. Highway 50 is littered with spots around the Leap, some even include free camping! It's not a bad idea to get your hands on a copy of South Lake Tahoe Climbing, by Chris McNamara (Supertopo 2004). Although ten years old, this book was still a great to have in hand.
Join the Bay Area Climbers Coalition, the Cal Hiking and Outdoor Society (CHAOS), and Cal Climbing for the first annual Berkeley Triple! On Saturday, November 8, 2014 from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, the groups will be participating in an Adopt-A-Crag at Indian Rock, Mortar Rock and Cragmont in Berkeley.
These three organizations will be joining forces to take on the cleaning of three (yes three) of the Berkeley Rock Parks in one day - Indian Rock, Mortar Rock, and Cragmont Park - and you are invited to join us!
Sign up for the event at Event Brite
It is extremely important that the climbing community support our outdoor climbing areas - the maintenance and conservation of these areas is our responsibility. These types of stewardship events go a long way in maintaining relationships with land managers and ensure our continued access.
Please be sure to sign-up for which "team" you want to join: Indian/Mortar - Volunteer - No Experience Required - we will train you
Cragmont - Volunteer - No Experience Required - we will train you
Cragmont - Trail Building - Experienced Trail Builders Only
Volunteers are needed to help with the following projects at the three sites:
Glass and Trash Clean-Up
Clearing of Pathways Around Park
Trail Maintenance and Building - Experience Required for Cragmont
General Park Beautification and Landscaping Work
Where are these Rock Parks?
Indian/Mortar Rock = Mountain Project website provides a great overview and directions.
Cragmont Park = Mountain Project website provides a great overview and directions.
Safety - We are HUGE on safety! There will be a safety talk at 10am on the day of the event. Please note that we require all participants to be present for the safety talk and wear closed toe shoes. Unfortunately, we cannot allow anyone to participate that does not wear closed toe shoes and/or attend the safety talk.
Parking - These crags are nestled within the neighborhoods of the Berkeley Hills - so while the parking is free, it is limited. Our suggestion would be to try and carpool. If this is not possible, please be patient and know that you might need to park a block or two away - the walk over will be a great warm-up.
Food - Lunch has been graciously sponsored by BUILD Pizzeria in Downtown Berkeley. Their pizza is amazing and we encourage all of you to check them out and support the business that support our community.
Water - There are drinking fountains available at Indian Rock and Cragmont Park - please be sure to bring a water bottle.
Tools - we will be getting tools and gloves from the City of Berkeley Parks department, you are also welcome to bring your own lucky shovel, push broom, or gloves.