Mock Leading: Prepping to Climb 5.13d X

Climbing traditional routes can be terrifying. Will the gear hold? Will you be able to do the moves? Breaking into a different style of climbing can be quite hard. One of the best ways to get into traditional climbing is to mock lead. While this may seem like an elementary climbing skill, it's still used by the best climbers.

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Sonnie makes the crux move on Gunslinger (5.13d R)

A few days ago, traditional climbing guru Sonnie Trotter made the third ascent of Gunslinger, a 5.13d R route at Murrin Park in Squamish. While solid cams protect the crux of the route, the moves to the anchor involve a difficult deadpoint and a potential for hitting the ground. Trotter employed mock leading tactics to make the ascent happen.

The first step to climbing the scary traditional route involved hiking around to the top of the cliff and setting up a toprope. Sonnie wired the moves on toprope, figuring out the difficult sequence, where he needed to rest and the best way to hold the rock.

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Sonnie preps for the mock lead by wearing all the necessary gear including a kneepad and helmet.

He lowered down the route and inspected the crack for possible places for protection. Making a mental note of where and how he would place gear, he prepared for a mock lead of the route. He climbed the route on toprope with another rope attached. He placed the gear and clipped the rope into the protection, checking the rope drag, how the pro would go in and what he would hold on to while he placed the gear. He even pretended to get short roped to simulate the experience.

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Sonnie nears the top, where the action is.

After a rest day, Sonnie returned to the difficult route. He padded the base with a dozen crashpads in case he fell on the final difficult move. He didn’t want to hit the ground and ruin his career as Canada’s best looking climbing. When he finally led the route, he made a flawless ascent, placing the gear well and executing the moves for a great ascent of the route.

 

Member of the Month: Phil Buerk

Oh boy, have I got a story for you! I love that each month I get the opportunity to introduce the readers to someone that I feel is an integral part of our community. I have had the pleasure of knowing Phil Buerk for a number of years now. I am constantly impressed by his accomplishments and grateful for the gift of his friendship. He is (in no particular order) a father, husband, gardener, chef, music & art aficionado, creator, designer, art director, and all-around great guy! You will find yourself in his presence one day, and realize what a treasure he is to have around. For now, I will let you read some of his story...in his own words. Enjoy!

phil.1Member of the Month: Phil Buerk

Bove) I am so excited about this interview; I don’t know where to begin. How long have you been in Sacramento, and what keeps you here?

Phil Buerk) We’ve been in Sacramento for almost 13 years and enjoy the people, the trees, and the definite seasons as opposed to same season Southern California.

B) My meeting you was largely due to your wife, Linda Wagner, who works as a yoga instructor here at Sacramento Pipeworks. Her Anusara style class takes place a couple of times a week, and is inspirational to many attendees (including myself). Can you tell us how you two met, and is yoga a part of your daily routine?

PB) Linda and I met through our work in advertising and graphic design. She was a professional photographer, and I was a designer/art director. We met while we were on an assignment. I did learn yoga while we were in Japan and enjoy it still as I am able, but walking has always been my thing...when Linda taught at a studio near Land Park I used to walk 5.3 miles during her 1.5 hr Saturday A.M. class. I do miss that.

B) Do you have family that live in the area, and if not, where are they residing now?

PB) I have an older sister living in the East Bay area and 3 children and 3 grandchildren (from my 1st marriage) live in Southern California, New York, and New Hampshire.

B) As we know, California is a hotbed for gardening and farming. I have learned over the years that you have been quite an advocate of sustaining a garden of your own to grow crops to feed yourself and your family. Is there a particular vegetable that you would recommend we plant here in Sacramento that is both easy to care for, and delicious to consume?

PB) We have had good luck with summer squash, strawberries, peppers, cucumbers, eggplant and tomatoes grown in raised beds, with minimal drip irrigation.

phil.2B) Like many of us, Walt Disney has had a large effect on my upbringing and life. Can you tell us about your experience working with such a diverse company?

PB) My Disney history dates way back to high school. My senior year, I volunteered to help decorate the floats for the Pasadena Rose Parade, and that particular year the parade theme happened to be Disney. So, almost every participant had at least one Disney character on their float. I ran into a Disney creative director who found out I was creative. He asked me to help him run a team of adults who, along with him, would do all the faces of each Disney character (because they had to be spot-on correct or Walt would not agree to allow them to be used). Our team covered each and every character face out of rose petals to get the skin colors, as well as the expression just right. I guess the Disney guy liked my abilities, because he invited me to meet with him at the studio, which I did, and toured the set of 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. He offered me a job when I graduated. If I had taken that job, I’d probably be a millionaire by now from all the stock splits and bonuses! 30 years (or so) later, successfully spent in advertising, I was hired by Disney to head up their Asia Pacific Creative Department in Hong Kong. After 2 years of establishing that, I moved to Tokyo to be Creative Director of Walt Disney/Japan. There, I headed up a group of 42 character artists, illustrators, and designers (most of which had been trained at Disney, US), and many of which were bi-lingual. It turned out to be the best job I ever had--the most fun, most interesting, and most challenging way I can imagine to wrap up a creative career!

B) Do you have a favorite Disney character/creation, and why do you find them to be so intriguing?

PB) Oh yeah, I do! Bambi, of course, and Dumbo (‘cause I had big ears as a boy too). But, my favorite was Jiminy Cricket (he was Pinocchio's conscience) and I guess he sort of became mine, along with my paternal Grandmother who looks down on me from on high.

B) I know that you enjoy music, and find ways to weave it into your daily life. Are there any particular genres of music that you are consistently drawn to?

PB) I love classical music, jazz, some rocky top, and some western and mountain music. I’m still drawn to 50s modern jazz, Brubeck, etc., and some contemporary folks too, like Sting etc. But, I always seem to go back to the classical for real enjoyment!

phil.3B) If there were a major shift we could make as a civilization in regards to new technology, which way would you like to see the changes go? Why?

PB) Part of me thinks that we may have come too far, too fast. While society loves the instant gratification, I’m not sure any of us is prepared for the eventual colossal cost of what we have lost. I long for simplicity in life, and I think that’s one reason why I like cooking. It’s “hands on”, requires simple concentration, creativity, decisions, and proven methods, and you get to eat the results. Bingo!

B) Do you have a favorite artist or illustrator? What do you enjoy most about their work?

PB) I like Andrew Wyeth’s work and most of the Impressionist Artists and Sculptors. Probably as a result of being in-and-around advertising and design for much of my life, I also enjoy American illustrators such as Norman Rockwell (and too many others to mention). Most of these artists speak to me on such a personal level that I feel as though I knew them. I usually have a good time in a decent museum, like the Crocker.

B) If you could be any cartoon character, what would you be and why?

PB) Probably Donald Duck, because he is so irascible, and some days I can really get behind that. Know what I mean?

Bag of Tricks for Climbing

Half of the time, granite climbing stumps me. The other half of the time, I’m unsure what to do. Despite spending years climbing in Yosemite, Squamish, Index, Tahoe and granite crags across the US, I am almost always perplexed by the best method to climb the features. The main lesson I’ve learned in granite is to make sure to have a huge arsenal of tricks. Here’s a few ideas for how to approach different climbing.

Stem Corners:

Corners offer some of the coolest climbing around and unbelievable aesthetics. Stemming provides the best way to climb these features. Paste your feet against the walls, trust the rubber and use your palms to slowly move your feet up the wall. Unfortunately, I’m horrible at stemming. I have the flexibility of a steel girder. Granite master, Tommy Caldwell developed a technique to beat the calf pump of stemming. Caldwell climbs the corners like a chimney, putting his back against one side and feet against the other. Though more physical than stemming, the technique saves your calves and can be easier. Numerous difficult crack climbs have fallen to the advanced chimney tactic including Book of Hate (5.13d).

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Walker Emerson stemming on the Shadow in Squamish (5.13-)

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Vancouverite Allen Roberts chimneying the same section that Walker stemmed.

Offwidths:

Is that crack too wide? Are you struggling to get inside? Beat the offwidth dance by laybacking the feature. Climb faster by pasting your feet against the wall and hurdling up the rock. Just be extremely careful doing this. I have core shot my rope twice laybacking and falling out of the Harding Slot and then on the Scotty Burke offwidth on El Capitan. Yikes! Laybacking can be hard to place gear as well. Be sareful and think about toproping if you want to layback the offwidth

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Laybacking the Harding Slot on toprope. I attempted to lead the pitch like this because I hated being inside the squeeze chimney. I should have been a little more prudent with my rope.

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Underclings:

Is that undercling just a bit too big? Try stuffing your knee in the crack. The technique is not just for sport climbing. The University Wall in Squamish features a number of offset wide cracks and kneebars. The Enduro Corner on the Salathe, which many people layback and stem, can be dumbed down by kneebars. Underclinging and laybacking  provides a great way to ascend the rock but kneebarring can offer a more static and arm saving way to get up the route. Learn the skill through sport climbing and apply it to granite.

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Walker kneebarring his way up the University Wall

Slabs:

Are the holds way too far apart? Try dynoing! Actually, I’m kidding. There’s no good option to get up a smooth granite slab other than to use your feet. But if you plan on campusing up a Yosemite slab, let me know. I’ll make you a YouTube sensation.

Better Know a Setter: Zach Wright

They're up with the sun, chain coffee-drinking and working hard to bring you the routes you love to send, project, and crush. 'Touchstone Routesetting' is an industry term for excellence, and each member of the crew brings a little somethin' somethin' to the team. In our ongoing segment, Better Know a Setter, we bring you a closer look at what makes 'em tick. In this weeks installment, we sat down with our summer setter, Zach Wright. Zach returns to school this fall, but will be wielding a drill again in 2015. 

unnamed-6How long have you been route setting?

I started setting for Touchstone at the beginning of this summer. Before that, when I worked desk at The Studio, I would finagle my way into setting a boulder problem here and there when the setters came around.

How did you get into route setting?

Before I worked for Touchstone, I coached a competitive climbing team, so imagining/training competition style movement was part of my job. Getting to see the routesetting at the national level was always inspiring; there's a level of aesthetics, hold selection, and movement variety you rarely see in commercial gyms. Being exposed to that level of routesetting and working with a competitive team made me want to try my hand at creating the routes, rather than just consuming them.

What is your favorite gym to set at and why?

LA Boulders. They have the best hold selection and the best walls of any gym I've set at.

What are you route setting pet peeves?

That moment where the bolt is too short, and then the T-nut is stripped, and I left my drill on the ground, and my tape won't tear quite right, and my tape angles are off, and none of my moves are forced, and I missed my grade, and my route is a turd.

What is in your route setting bag right now?

Several beers, a pint of gelato, an episode of Breaking Bad, a puppy and 8 hours of sleep.

What inspires your routes?

Mega-slappin' beats, Gregor Pierce's winning smile, caffeine, the weekend.

unnamed-7What is your favorite memory setting with the Touchstone Crew?

My first time setting Pipeworks. It was my 5th day on the job and I ended up having to set the steepest line out of the arch. I had never set on a steep wall in my life. Basically I struggled harder getting through that arch than on any climb or day of work in my life. I distinctly remember getting stuck in an aid bolt in the roof, and I'm there and struggling and trying to like, lift my bag with one arm and get myself out of the bolt with my other arm, and I'm just spinning in the roof and I'm like “Literally I'm gonna puke in this roof, 40 ft. off the ground and then pass out.” But I didn't. I made it through, eventually. Then I went home and drank beer and ate gelato and passed out at like 8 PM.

Where is your favorite place to climb outside?

The bouldering areas near Truckee are pretty dope, and of course Bishop is rad in the winter. But I'm also psyched to hit up Mortar and session with some friends and then hit the skatepark or something. They're all fun for their own reasons.

How many burritos do you eat every week?

No burritos. I rock the Berkeley Bowl specialty sandos. The turkey club panini is on point, I basically live off of those.

How many cups of coffee?

2 espressos minimum to get out the door in the morning, then however much I need to be like, a functional human being for the rest of the day. And hella kombucha, cause I like to stay cultured.

What is your advice for aspiring setters?

Routesetting gets easier once it stops being so damn hard. Also, don't take yourself too seriously. Seriously.

 

Moon on Blackwater: How to send your outdoor project

Ryan Moon stepped on the granite edge, curling his fingers on polished granite. The Ironworks employee crimped his way to a bulge. The sequence above stumped him. He went right hand. Then left. He fought the crux and the lactic acid in his forearms. A few minutes later, Bay area hardman Jordan Shackelford stepped up to the crux. Their different climbing styles and knowledge of the route led to a big difference in outcomes.

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The Squamish Select Rockclimbing guide lists Blackwater, a 5.12a at Murrin Park’s Petryifying Wall, as one of the top 100 routes in the Sea to Sky corridor. With amazing granite edges on a vertical wall, the climb features technical climbing and well spaced bolts. The initial section involves pumpy edges to a difficult polished crux, a hard redpoint move and then cruiser jugs to the anchors. 

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Ryan ended up hanging on a bolt below the crux. He deciphered the difficult moves then climbed through to the anchor. On his way down, he felt the crux holds again. Ryan usually climbs routes a lot before heading on a route climbing trip but he wanted to focus on bouldering for this trip.

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Jordan Shackelford recently returned from Ten Sleep, where he had been climbing on a number of technical routes. Jordan’s endurance helped him greatly when he started climbing. He also received helped from the Beta Fairy, who hung on a rope next to the route and gave guidance on which holds to grab.

Jordan climbed faster to the crux than Ryan and arrived less pumped. With knowledge of the crux holds and encouragement from the Beta Fairy, he grabbed the correct holds and fought through the difficult sequence. At the redpoint crux, he piano keyed his fingers onto a granite sidepull and managed to pull out a solid ascent. Good thing the Beta Fairy brought the camera because Jordan brought the Flash.

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A few minutes later, Ryan attempted the route again. One the ground, he practiced the crux sequence, remembering the moves so he could execute them well. With a dialed sequence and experience from his previous attempt, he climbed faster and arrived to the crux less pumped. Before the redpoint crux, he shook out and moved through the difficult upper section with authority.  

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Having the sequence figured out, climbing faster and having the draws hanging all made the ascent much easier for Ryan. Jordan’s route fitness and the Beta Fairy helped him succeed. Take some tips from these two Bay area hardman and send your next project.

Tips on Learning to Trad Climb

Traditional climbing offers the chance to scale large formations, to take a set of gear and climb to the top without the need of another party establishing the route. It is one of the most exciting types of climbing- summits, self reliance and huge formations. Trad climbing can be very intimidating though. There’s a lot involved and when many experienced climbers start placing gear they feel like they’re learning how to rock climb all over again. The climbing requires a significant amount of technique and finding adequate protection gear can be challenging. There are a few things you can do to make the transition to trad easier.

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Find a good route

Many traditional routes have run outs, difficult moves and hard to place gear. Do a bit of research and find a route with straightforward placements and climbing within your limits. Leading 5.10 sport may rarely translates well to 5.10 traditional routes. Set the bar low and move up.

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Practice the gear on toprope

This tactic stays true for routes of all grades. Bay area rock star, Walker Emerson climbed Flight of the Challenger, a 5.12c in Squamish, but practiced placing the gear on toprope first. He fiddled with the cams, deciding where he would need the small gear and where he should save the bigger pieces. After he dialed out all the gear placements on toprope, he lead the route.  

Climb with an experienced partner

Learning from a veteran trad climber makes and enormous difference. They can help you make the decision between using a cam or placing a stopper. They can evaluate your gear placements. If things go array, they can also escape the belay and provide instruction on how to retreat safely.

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Be prepared

Wear the correct type of shoes. Bouldering and sport climbing shoes are significantly different than trad shoes. Your feet will be happier and you’ll be able to climb better with appropriate footwear. Minimize the amount of gear dangling from your harness. Keep the experience as simple as possible. Climb in the shade on hot sunny days to maximize friction. Head to the sun only if it’s cold outside.

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Have Fun

Trad climbing can be scary. There’s a ton of new things to learn- the gear, the climbing, the anchors, etc. Be relaxed and have fun. It will make things go way smoother. 

Better Know a Setter: Kat Gentry

They're up with the sun, chain coffee-drinking and working hard to bring you the routes you love to send, project, and crush. 'Touchstone Routesetting' is an industry term for excellence, and each member of the crew brings a little somethin' somethin' to the team. In our ongoing segment, Better Know a Setter, we bring you a closer look at what makes 'em tick. In this weeks installment, we sat down with our newest setter, Kat Gentry.

How long have you been route setting?

This is my third week...

How did you get into route setting?

It's always been something I've wanted to do. It's kind of like my dream job. My goal is to set climbs that people find fun and challenging. I love it when you find a climb that's just your style- but at the peak of your ability and you project it almost every day and never get tired of it. I want to make climbs like that for someone else. I've been climbing and competing for years and setting just seemed like the next logical step for me. I'm taking a year off from school before going to college, so it seemed like the perfect time to start setting.

246785 10151123324974926 1603640846 nCan you talk a little bit about your comp climbing experience?

I competed in USA Climbing's Youth SCS and ABS on Zero Gravity Climbing Team for 4 years starting. I've also competed in all the Touchstone Climbing Ceries, which are always tons of fun. Competing in SCS and ABS was nerve-racking at first. It was such an amazing experience to get to climb with some of the strongest, best young crushers in the U.S. I also had extremely talented and supportive coaches (shout out to Scot and Scott and Cicada!), and I have learned so much from them. Throughout my competing years I would train with the team 3 times a week for 3 hours and by myself or with my brother and friends anywhere from 1 to 3 times a week. I improved so quickly because of it! Getting to train and bond with strong climbers my age really helped me to push my limits. It is so inspiring to see what my generation is capable of! As I became a more experienced competitor and got a couple years under my belt I really started to enjoy the competitions and be able to perform on the spot in front of a crowd. Competition climbing is my absolute favorite now because the routes and problems are so carefully set to be fun, exciting and challenging in a way that makes you want to succeed and give it your absolute best. I look forward to becoming a more experienced setter so that I can set really cool comp climbs!

How does your competition and coaching experience influence your setting?

I think it has given me a big advantage, because in order to compete and coach you have to understand the movement really well. I've put in the hours and effort to learn the movement and technique. Competing and training for competitions has taught me how to read routes and find the intended beta. Because of this, I try to be careful about forcing beta when I set a climb--it's harder than you'd think!

Coaching was really an amazing experience for me, mostly because of my wonderful co-coach, Ben, and the amazingly kind and strong kids I got to work with! Being a good coach means you have to really know how to read and analyze a climb from the ground, and try to help a kid figure out a route just by looking at it. Coaching really made me focus on explaining climbing without demonstarting. This helped me out since during a lot of the setting process you are busy drilling in holds and jugging up routes--you save the climbing for the end. So you have to have some idea of what flows without getting to try the movements first.

What is your favorite gym to set at and why?

I actually haven't even set at all of the Touchstone gyms yet! I've never even been to Metalmark, The LAB, The Studio, or Pipeworks! I can't wait to get to check them out! So far I really like setting on the Mission Cliffs expansion wall. 

1922501 10203207239884177 1028478298 n-1What is in your route setting bag right now?

All my setting gear, my climbing harness and shoes, Advil, tape, and an inhaler.

What inspires your routes?

I try to make my routes fun and challenging. I like to switch things up and break the left-right-left-right ladder sequence. I get inspired by particular climbs or moves I've done in the past and sometimes try to recreate them in my own style. I also get inspired by certain holds or a certain area of the wall that might particularly appeal to me as something with a lot of potential.

What is your favorite memory setting with the Touchstone Crew?

This past Fourth of July I went up to Tahoe with some of the setters to climb and celebrate a birthday. I injured my finger but still ended up having tons of fun. The best part was the rest day we took. We all hung out on a dock on Donner Lake in the sun and had food and good laughs and played on some paddle boards. Definitely one of the best days I've had in a long time.

Where is your favorite place to climb outside?

Maple Canyon, Utah. The rock is conglomerate and creates really cool pockets. There are a lot of massive, super over-hung caves and those are my favorite places to climb. The routes are long and require a lot of endurance but also a lot of strength and burl. It's kind of similar to gym climbing. The rock isn't sharp or slippery like granite or sandstone. It's also a camping paradise. It's this beautiful shady canyon with lots of river and super green trees. It's beautiful. Just watch out for flash floods and thunderstorms!

What is your advice for aspiring setters?

Make it happen! If you think you'll like it and are passionate and willing to work HARD, it's probably the job for you. Just keep in mind that it can be extremely exhausting at first, as I am now experiencing first-hand. But is also extremely rewarding. Learn from everyone around you: be observant. One of the most important things is to be able to learn and grow as a setter, which means you have to be good at listening and receiving feedback.

One thing I found I love about it is how much we work together as a team. We're always doing favors for one another--it would be so much more difficult if we all tried to fend for ourselves! Don't be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help or clarification. It's always best to double-check even if you think you know the answer to your question. Don't get discouraged if you set a turd. Keep working at it and before you know it, you'll have created a gem!

1499603 10203207238964154 1509501643 n-1Do you have any advice for female route setters?

Yes! Be confident in yourself and your voice. If you are a female route setter or aspiring route setter, you are in a small minority, which means it is easy to get intimidated or shy--especially when you are also the youngest and the one with the least amount of experience..... like me! Know that being confident and standing up for yourself does not mean you are being cocky or full of yourself. As long as you are also able to take feedback and responsibility and admit when you are wrong, confidence and strength is a good thing! Be confident that you will improve with time and hard work.

Also, don't let colorful jokes and constantly being made fun of get the best of you! It's part of setting with a large crew of 20-some males. Remember it's not a competition or a race. Take your time setting to make sure your routes are quality. Finally, trust yourself and find your own style! Play around with it until you get in the rhythm of things, and switch it up every so often to keep things fresh. Every setter has their trademark moves, favorite holds and preferred terrain. Ultimately, setting is not about who can climb the hardest or do the most pushups. It's about improving through hard work so that you can set some fun, quality routes for your fellow climbers!

How many burritos do you eat every week?

One to two since I started setting! I used to only have about one per every two months!

How many cups of coffee?

At least 2. Setting is exhausting work to say the least! It's important to keep yourself energized not only by drinking lots of coffee but also by eating healthy and often, drinking lots of water, and getting lots of sleep! Since I started setting, I've been going to bed between 8 and 9:30 every weeknight! I think it will get less tiring overtime, though.

Climbing the Wide with Pride: The Freschl Special

Imagine seeing your fifth grade teacher inverted inside a horrendous wide crack in Yosemite. What kind of homework would she give you? For many students this would be just your normal nightmare. For the kids in Christina Freschl’s fifth grade class in Layfette, the homework must be horrible.

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Christina Freschl, a 31 year old Berkeley resident climbed in Yosemite for the first time in 2004. While battling on English Breakfast Crack, a 5.10c at Arch Rock, Freschl became excited and confused by the idea of squeezing into the notorious wide climb. “I got my first bloody elbow and was hooked.” Over ten years, Freschl amassed a solid resume of Yosemite offwidths: Twilight Zone, 1096, Mental Block, Blind Faith, Death Crack, Easy Wind. She spoke with the Touchstone blog a bit about her love.

Why are you obsessed with offwidths?

Maybe because I am a little masochistic... No, but seriously it is a demanding full mind and body challenge. It also requires no crimp strength, which I literally don't remember how to do. Also, the community is pretty great, small but psyched. Last October, I went to an offwidth weekend hosted by some local Fresno climbers. We climbed at Balch Flake on Jay Anderson's Wide World of Sports. I got to go right after Jay, himself went.

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How can someone improve at OWs?

When you are first learning how to climb the wide, remember, it will hurt. You are doing movements that your body has probably never done before. Once you successfully move in new ways, your body remembers and it gets less painful. Learning the correct ways to tape your hands, ankles, cover knees and elbows,can also greatly increase your pain tolerance and can make the whole experience more enjoyable. Yes, I did say enjoyable:)

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Do you have any tricks to keep your legs from bruising?

Knee pads work amazingly well. I have two pairs, one for squeeze chimneys (volleyball ones with a hard pad) and thinner, tighter ones, for the cracks between 5-6 inches. Be warned, don't wear these in #4 cracks or even #5 cracks if you have big knees; your knee will get stuck.

 

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What gym training can you do to prepare for the wide?

Core exercises are the best thing to do. Also, seek out the most physically grueling, awkward, big-sloper, bouldering problems. Don't be afraid to use your whole body, knee included and definitely avoid crimps:)

What are the best spots to practice wide climbing?

Just look in the guide book for any 1 star dirty things and go climb them. They are most likely offwidths. Yosemite is pretty close to the bay and you can start by toproping some things, Generator (climb it twice, each side in) Bad-Ass Momma, Then climb everything at Arch Rock and Cookie that has wide. English Breakfast, Entrance Exam, Vendetta, Twilight Zone, Midterm. Each climb will teach you something new about how to move in an offwidth and you will be super fit from carrying around all those big cams.

Get ready Oakland!

255232 10150947140947725 1150634894 nIt's that time again! The Touchstone Competition Series, aka #TCS2014, comes to Great Western Power Co in Oakland this Friday! TCS has visited a Touchstone gym every month this year, alternating between roped climbing and bouldering. TCS2014 at GWPC will be a roped climbing comp and climbers of all levels and all ages are welcome to come out and compete!

Never been to a Touchstone Climbing Comp? Never fear! Here is a handy 3 step guide for the best Friday night of your life.

1. Know what you're in for

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 comp, starts at 5pm and ends at 10pm. You can stop in any time and we'll welcome you with open arms. 

Competitors (that's you!) get a score card in beginner, intermediate or advanced categories, and self-score their climbs as the night goes on. Sure, you need a witness, but that's what your belay partner 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 Strike Brewing. (21+, duh) There will be raffle prizes, music, a photo booth and all your favorite people.

What did we tell you?! FUN!

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:

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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...... 

ALIU-FIXE-7583 copyThank 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. 

 

 

Member of the Month: Suleka Sun-Lindley

By: Jason Bove

This month, I proudly introduce...Suleka Sun-Lindley. You may have seen her upside-down in a yoga class, climbing, cooking, painting, designing, smiling, or bringing the local community together through some other ambitious pursuit. I have had the pleasure of knowing Suleka for many years now, and I am constantly impressed that one woman can accomplish so many things, while keeping a positive attitude and staying grounded. She is, among many other things, the owner/manager of Thai Basil; a restaurant voted “Best Thai Restaurant” by readers of Sacramento News and Review consecutively since 2001.

Member of the Month: Suleka Sun-Lindley

unnamed-16How long have you been a member here at Sacramento Pipeworks, and how did you initially find out about us?
Suleka) I started practicing yoga at Pipeworks in 2009, and I became a member a year after. Two of my favorite yoga teachers are at Pipeworks, and had invited me to practice there. I loved the space so much, I became a member.

You have a very active lifestyle that includes both yoga & climbing. Are there any other hobbies that you enjoy as much as these?
I like all outdoor activities: camping, backpacking, etc. I love Snowboarding a lot! I recently tried paddle boarding and really like it too. I windsurfed and kitesurfed, and I look forward to trying it again. And, of course cooking is one of my passions, along with painting whenever I have time.

Recently you went on an outdoor excursion to Bishop, CA with Blue Aspen Adventures. Do you wish to highlight any exceptional moments of the trip?
The trip was awesome! It was so low key. Everyone was easy going, and no one stressed out about anything, even when we had two cars with flat tires in the middle of nowhere and had to change a tire in the dark. Another car broke down twice in one night. Robert and Rich were great and fun. I helped out with cooking, and everyone was really appreciative. We climbed all day and went to Wild Willie Hot Spring at night. It was epic.

unnamed-12In Sacramento, you own/manage a restaurant, Thai Basil. Would you care to tell us how you came to the restaurant business by way of a background in architecture?
After graduating from UC Davis with a degree in environmental design, I was working as a designer/project manager for various architecture firms for 12 years. My sister and my mom asked me to help them to open a restaurant. I thought I was just helping with the design and construction, but when we opened Thai Basil in Roseville in 1994, I realized I was needed to run both the front and the back of the house. We later opened another one in Elk Grove in 1998, and one in Midtown in 2001. (We decided not to stay in Elk Grove when the lease was up in November of last year).

Since there are many locations to enjoy the authentic Thai cuisine offered to us by Thai Basil, are there any differences between the menu options/ambiance at each location?
There are currently three locations in the Sacramento area: Roseville, Cameron Park and Midtown. Each location is individually owned and operated by each sister, and offers different specialties and unique ambiance. The key items from the original menu are offered at all locations.

Level Up is a lounge that exists upstairs from the midtown restaurant. The lounge includes a full bar and great happy hour specials! More than that, it supports local music, local art, and our local community. What musicians and artists do you find inspirational as of recent, and why?
As part of the Midtown community, we embrace the local art and music. One of our favorite artists is John Krempel, who was our 1st featured artist when we opened Level Up seven years ago. And, Clemon Charles is our favorite musician. Both John and Clemon are very professional and have great personalities, which makes them fun and easy to work with.

unnamed-13Do you make frequent trips back to Thailand, and do you still have friends/family living there?
My mom moved back about 8 years ago, after she retired. I have been visiting Thailand about every three years. This year, I plan on going in November and staying there for a few months, and possibly planning a cooking and yoga retreat.

Your daughter, Hanna, seems to enjoy similar athletic endeavors as yourself. Does she find climbing to be fun?
She is a very active young girl, and I have to work hard to keep up with her. We enjoy snowboarding together. She likes climbing whenever I bring her to Pipeworks.

There is a cute dog that accompanies you on your visits to the gym sometimes. What is the name of the animal, and what does a normal day in the life your pet entail?
“Charcoal” is a three-year-old terrier/poodle mix. He’s friendly and loves riding in the car with me. He’s a mommy’s boy; you can hear his whimper sound when I start climbing. We adopted him from a rescue center in Walnut Creek when he was 6 months old. He goes to the gym with me sometimes, and to the restaurant on the day I work in the office. He also has a play date with his BF, Charlie, down the street on Wednesdays. Our neighbor, Libby, picks him up for a dog run at 6 am on Sat. & Sun. He’s a busy boy!

If YOU could be any animal, what would it be and why?
Big smile ;)! My daughter thinks I should be a mama bear, because I like taking care of people and making them happy. But, I think I would be a big Whale. It would be cool to explore the undersea, where no man has gone, and not be eaten by sharks.

 

The Wounded Warrior Project: Climbing Half Dome for Veterans

Memorial Day weekend is a time to remember the soldiers who have given their lives to protect our nation, but why stop there? Various programs focus on supporting our veterans year round. The Wounded Warrior Project dedicates itself to helping soldiers of America’s Armed Forces that have been wounded in war by raising awareness, providing aid and creating programs for returned soldiers. 

halfdomeroute

In the second week of September, Bay Area natives, Brian Santilena and Jimmy Redo will climb the shear Northwest Face of Half Dome. The 2,000 foot granite wall sits 4700 feet above the Valley floor. First climbed by Royal Robbins, Mike Sherrick, and Jerry Gallwas in 1957, the route is considered a classic in the world and remains an imposing challenge. The team is taking donations to raise money and awareness for the Wounded Warrior Project through their climb. As of August 1st, the pair have raised over $3,000 for the WWP.

Jim and I 1

Brian Santilena, 44, and Jimmy Redo, 46, grew up together in Alameda and became close friends. They were excited about the opportunity to raise awareness about The Wounded Warrior Project and to climb an amazing granite face in the process. 

Jim and I 2

“Jim is quite experienced and did the route 20 years ago,” said Brian. The team plans to spend a few nights on the wall, carrying haulbags and bivy gear with them on their ascent. “Having fun, realizing a dream and helping people along the way is what this adventure is all about."  

XRay

The pair attempted the climb last year but had to bail when Brian hurt his left arm. "I'm trying to train and strengthen around it and I'd say I'm back to 90%." Brian has fought to recover from the injury and be more fit to attempt the climb this year. "I'm working on both strength and cardio. I'm climbing 2-3 times a week at Ironworks plus walking the Oakland hills with a 40lb. pack on. I'm going to Mt. Diablo, Pinnacles, Yosemite and I'm heading to Boulder CO in 2 weeks for a dry run gear-practice"

Donating as little as 3 cents per foot will help the Wounded Warrior Project immensely. "I've never done anything like this before," Brian said. "But if some of these injured heroes wounded over there are pushing themselves to merely walk across the room, scared or not I sure as hell can't see any reason why I can't make it up that mountain." "The climb is a personal challenge and adventure plus a chance to raise a few bucks for a great cause," said Brian. "I have a brother that was a Marine and is currently in the Army National Guard and other family members that were active in WW2, Vietnam, Iraq 1 & 2 and Afghanistan. I'm very fortunate to have dodged that bullet but I have a ton of gratitude to them and other Vets." Check out Brian's page about ways to donate.

For a more direct way to donate, check out their Go Fund Me Page

Have an adventure coming up? Be sure to let us know! Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to keep us up to date on your adventures. 

 

Adventure Race at Diablo Rock Gym

At Diablo Rock Gym in Concord, fitness is fun again. If you don't believe us, just take a look at what they've got planned in September! 

"We've done an Adventure Race around the gym for the past two years," said Manager Hans Florine. "It's a great way for our members to see how much HARD WORK you can get done right here at DRG. Plus - it's a ton of fun." Check out the video from last years race! 

Diablo Rock Gym Adventure Race 2013 from Paul Hara on Vimeo.

'Climb, Run, Bike, Lift, Hop, Balance, Climb, Crawl, Drag, Row, Jump, Pull, Step, Climb, Throw, Carry, Run, and more' screams the posters - and they couldn't be closer to the truth. Along with having far and away the most productive morning of your gym life, there are OODLES of prizes up for grabs. "Sponsors near and far are stepping up to sweeten the pot,' said Florine. "I'd say that participating means you are getting more in prizes than you paid to register!" Ready to sign up? Don't wait! There is only room for 30 teams for this event which goes down Saturday, September 6th. Diablo Rock Gym is accepting Teams of Two in the following categories: 

-Combined age under 40

-Combined age over 80

-Two females

-Two males

-One female and one male

unnamed-17

Price:

$50 per team for the first 20 teams 

$100 per team for the remaining 10 slots. 

Additional $25 per team mate for non-members. 

Don't miss out on those coveted early bird price slots! Sign up at the front desk or call the gym right NOW to sign up your team!

925 602-1000

Past blog entries can be found at  http://touchstoneclimbing.blogspot.com/

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