Triple Adopt-A-Crag at Indian/Mortar/Cragmont

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

Volunteer Roles

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.

Joe Kinder: Touchstone Climbing Athlete

We're pleased to announce that we will be bringing on Joe Kinder to join our team of Touchstone Athletes. As a recent California transplant, we're happy he's found a home here at Touchstone Climbing. Joe’s personal climbing highpoints include numerous 9a routes, V13 boulder problems, and many first ascents and route development. His work with the Access Fund and other organization in the past year makes him a sage voice in the climbing community. He's been there. He's done that... and he's helping to educate a new generation of climbers. 

He is also a talented videographer and photographer, and we're excited to collaborate with Joe over the course of the year to create videos that give the viewer a inside look at the communities within Touchstone Climbing. Our first project will be a unique look at a day in the life of a route setter. It's an idea that came from seeing first hand what these men and women do day in and day out, and wanting to share that with everyone who samples their products on the walls of our gyms. 

Welcome to the team Joe! 



"Joe Kinder’s first climbing experience was in Estes Park, Colorado on a family vacation when he was 13. It wasn’t until two years later, while living in New Hampshire, that Joe became fully overtaken by the sport of rock climbing. Known for his outrageous personality and infinite psyche, Joe is walking motivation. He eats, sleeps and breathes climbing and stays true to his personal slogan “ALWAYS PSYCHED!!!”.

After graduating college at the Maine College Of Art he became a professional athlete by age 20. A true business man sets him aside form the rest and allows him to travel the world, climb all year long and share his stories through videos and photos which can be seen on the popular Throughout his entire climbing career, consistency has been his forte. J Kinder’s personal philosophies stem from experiences, friendship and travel throughout his life as a climber.

The approach or “One life to live” is how he lives day-to-day and it shows in his positivity, which is infectious. Whether reaching out to people through his well-read, popular blog, or meeting climbers in person at crags around the globe, he is able to share his genuine passion for this sport in an amazing, unforgettable way. No one forgets meeting Joe." 

-Andrew Bisharat, Rock & Ice Magazine


Mystic Hot Springs and Monroe Canyon Trip Report

In October, GWPC Staffers Elena Hershberger and Chris Cuoco embarked on a 1-month road trip throughout the Western United States. It's an enviable itineratry to be sure, so they agreed to report back on their favorite spots! First up is their visit to explore the Mystic Hot Springs, (and the climbing) of Monroe Canyon, Utah.

"Chris and I arrived at Mystic Hot Springs at 3.30 on Friday, October 3rd after about a two hour drive from Provo, where we had stayed the night before," wrote Elena "Mystic sits in sleepy little Monroe, Utah. Monroe has a gas station, a couple sandwich shops and a Family Dollar, all of which close early and aren't open on Sunday. The beer is a state-mandated 4% or lower, so bring some with you if you don't want to subject yourself to bathroom breaks every 15 minutes. 

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But this quaint little town isn't why we came. The real slice of heaven and what we were really after, were the amazing natural hot springs and the surrounding campgrounds, geothermal greenhouses, tropical fish ponds, psychedelic refurbished buses (which are rented out for overnight stays) and pioneer cabin village, all located in the midst of this conservative, rural town. Mystic had a laid back, retro vibe and we were sold on it right away.

The day prior, we had contacted one of the owners of the hot springs through the WWOOFing network to do some work for a few days in exchange for free camping, meals and hot springs. What we got, though, was so much more. We were welcomed in to spend meal times with Mystic Mike himself (who founded the springs in 1995) along with his girlfriend, Aubrey, and their two kids, Xavier and Soleil. We were treated like family. We got to give back by helping to shovel out and deepen the channels which the springs run through. It was hard and steamy work but being able to soak in the hot springs twice a day pretty much erased any muscle tension that had accumulated over our 5 hour work days.

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On our last day there, Mystic Mike let us in on the beta for a local climbing area that was just beginning to be developed. So on our way out, we drove 10 minutes down the main strip and toward the mountains to Monroe Canyon in Fish Lake National Forest. The main crags had several multi pitch and sport routes on either side of the river that flows through the canyon.

Chris and I had only packed enough gear to boulder and found a couple of roadside routes easily. Serendipitously marked with the word 'HERE' in white paint on the slate grey volcanic rock, we pulled over and plopped our crash pad down right underneath. We bouldered the bottom of a few (speculated) 5.10+ routes which were well-lined with bolts. Unfortunately, without our full compliment of gear, we were left to drool over the mere possibilities what might have been if we had decided to bring all of our gear. We set off to our next destination with our bodies rested and our hopes high for the promise of even more climbing."

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Member of the Month: Marissa Treece

Have YOU still found yourself wanting to get in better shape and try CrossFit, but not doing so for one reason or another? Have you waited for some kind of inspiration to find you first? Well, WAIT NO LONGER! Perhaps, our October member of the month, Marissa Treece, can inspire all of us to personally succeed even when life tends to get in the way.

From Michigan farm girl to Division 1 athlete for the University of Notre Dame, we learn something from tree forts to teletransit, and almost everything else in-between.


Member of the Month: Marissa Treece


    Bove) Can you tell us a bit about your childhood, and where you grew up?

Treece) I grew up on a farm in Northern Michigan and was always outside, doing “kid” stuff, which was probably the start to my interest in physical activity. That, and my older brother always set me up to lose when I played video games with him; so, I guess I can thank him for my interest in EVERYthing else. Growing up, my parents always kept me playing some sort of sport...starting with soccer at age 5. Outside of athletics, I grew up riding horses, building tree forts, and raising cattle and pigs for 4-H.


  1. Was there a particular life experience that you found, would set you forth on the demanding path of fitness that you pursue today?

T) I’m an incredibly competitive person, so I think athletics was just a natural path for me. Even when I was just a kid, I can remember a ridiculous drive to win a race on the playground, jump farther off the swing set, clean my room faster than my brother (yes… can see where my parents used this to their advantage as well!) When I was in 5th grade, I convinced my parents to let me play Pop-Warner football with all the boys; making a boy cry was what I considered a successful day at practice.

My path from playing sports to actually competing came during my freshman year in high school. My high school was very small and didn’t have a soccer team (which is what I was originally naively convinced I was going to go pro in), so I joined the track team. With relatively minimal training, I won the State Championships in the 1600m and 3200m. At this point, I thought I might actually have a shot at being a real athlete, if I dedicated myself to sports. The real focus on my track and field endeavours came during my junior year, when I lost my first two state championships to the same girl by less than a second combined. At this point, I decided I needed to focus on my training, if I wanted to pursue a collegiate or professional career.  This is where things really clicked for me. Again,…losing isn’t really my thing.


  1. While studying at the University of Notre Dame and competing in Cross Country running, you have accrued many noteworthy achievements and awards. Is there a favorite amongst them, and why?

T) In 2008, I competed in the Cross Country Junior Nationals and placed 4th, earning a spot to represent the United States at the World Junior Cross Country Championships in Edinburgh, Scotland. This is one of my favorite achievements because: (1) it was an experience that was unprecedented by anyone that I knew on my team; 2) it was my first opportunity to race abroad; and,(3) while I didn’t perform well at Worlds, I was able to perform when I needed to in order to qualify for a, what I would later realize, once in a lifetime experience.


  1. Despite your other pursuits, you maintain a professional career as a Director of Design at Digital Firefly Marketing. Do you find that your commitment to such intense athletic endeavors make your professional life easier or more difficult?

T) Fortunately, I have an amazing boss who understands athletic drive and dedication. He was a world champion rower and olympic hopeful in the 90s! Obviously, I would love to dedicate more of my day to moving from a CrossFit hopeful to a (semi) professional CrossFit athlete, but I consider myself fortunate for having such a flexible schedule. I do think having a professional career helps me maintain a good life-balance, and honestly, I really love what I do. It also helps me to not take my training for granted, and allows me to continuously look forward to the gym.

  1. What is an example of a workout routine you feel would challenge you most? Why?

T) In terms of a CrossFit workout… you’ll always hear people talking about “working your weakness” and the more serious I dive into it as a sport, the more weaknesses I find. I would say my biggest weaknesses are anything overhead and my gymnastic abilities. I was involved in gymnastics as a kid, but I think I’ve lost EVERY ounce of that training ;)

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  1. Many people speak of you as an instructor at Crossfit Pipeworks, and how you inspire them to be better at their sports. Do you have any motivational advice for them?

T) Honestly, I’m humbled to hear people are inspired by my involvement at Crossfit Pipeworks. I LOVE helping people, especially women, reach their potential. I think much confidence can be cultivated from a consistent positive workout routine. When people see gains in their fitness, or perform at a level that surpasses their own expectations, that confidence affects not only their workouts, but so many other areas of their lives.

To actually answer the question: I’ve done just about every fitness routine there is...from running, cycling, yoga, (a bit of zumba) CrossFit etc. My advice is to find something that works for you and matches up with your fitness goals. If you think running sucks, DON’T BE A RUNNER! Once you’ve found what you like, it is significantly easier to dedicate yourself.


The second thing is, find a reason to do it. This is different for everyone, for instance, I CrossFit because I want to do well at competitions. Some people do it because they’ve developed a good group of friends who also do it. The good thing about our Box is that we have a very energetic group of coaches and members, so if you immerse yourself in our culture, it’s hard to stay away.

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  1. Although you have only done Crossfit for a nominal amount of time, you recently placed first in the Bat Cave games at Crossfit Natomas. From the sound of it, you crushed lots of other tough competitors. Can you tell us more about this proud win?

T) I had an amazing time at the Bat Cave Games and had a HUGE group of CFPW supporters who came to watch. It was the first time I had competed in the sport, and the first time since college that I had done any sort of competition at all.


I think it was a great way to get back into “the game”; my competitiveness just sort of takes over when I compete. I think there is a level of pain ignorance that occurs and I can just shut that part of my brain off when I compete. But the competition was great! It was a great opportunity to represent Pipeworks and our coaching/programming abilities, and I look forward to MANY more comps in the future--namely, the CF Roseville Women’s Gauntlett on Nov. 1, with my teammate Abbie Crews.

Bat Cave 2

  1. As our facility at Sacramento Pipeworks grows in the next couple of months, what can we expect to see happen to the Crossfit space? Will there be any differences in the program once the box gets larger?


T) Well, I’d expect to see a huge space and expect some growing pains. I think it will take a few months to settle in, but a lot of positive growth in the long run. I doubt we’ll see a direct change in the programming, but we will have some additional space to use some of equipment we aren’t optimized for right now. What I hope to see is more inspiration! With one of the largest facilities in the area, I hope people continue to explore the possibilities CrossFit Pipeworks can provide for them. 1

  1. When you are not busy with your professional life and athletic career, how do you utilize your free time? Do you have any other hobbies that you enjoy?

T) I dabble in a bunch of things. I had mentioned “life-balance” earlier, and over the years, I’ve found it to be essential in my life, so I try to make sure I stay involved in other activities.

First of all, I have a dog who LOVES to fetch and swim, so we kinda like to spend a lot of time at the river in the summer. Collan and I have recently re-discovered mountain biking, which serves as the perfect amount of adrenaline and “active recovery.” I’ve been known to slackline a bit, although I’m still pretty bad at it. I really enjoy cooking (and eating), and lately have been really into this traveling thing.


  1. If you could possess one superpower that is not considered to be of natural means, what would it be, and how would you use it?

T) Teletransit...for three reasons.

  1. Cars are eliminated. Zero Carbon Emissions (plus I have serious motion sickness issues).

  2. I’m forgetful. Like when I forget my keys at the gym and have already ridden my bike ALL THE WAY HOME. I never have to double check for anything.

  3. When you get home at 8:30 and you’re starving but don't want to cook. And the good Taqueria is on the other side of town. Problem solved.


TCS2014 Finale

After 9 months, 9 gyms, and over 5,000 competitors, the Touchstone Rope Series 2014 competition ended with a bang last Friday at Mission Cliffs. Over 400 men and women came to compete in beginner, intermediate, or advanced categories at our origional gym in the heart of San Francisco. Climbers had 5 hours to climb their hardest, with the top men and women competing in on-sight finals at 6pm. 

Head Routesetter Jeremey Ho, who leaned back in his chair and thoughtfully stroked his fu manchu beard when we asked him for comment said, "It went about as smoothly as it possibly could! Through our recent USAC experiences, we've learned a lot about the organizational aspects of running on-sight finals."

Check out the on-sight finals in this awesome video by member Matt Grossman. 

Between 5pm and 6pm emcee extraordinaire Zach Wright kept the crowd entertained as the route setters worked to unveil comp routes for men and women. Huge thanks to Blue Water Ropes, prAna, evolv, Stone Age Climbing, Alite, Boreal, and many more for donating prizes to raffle out to anyone who competed. It definitely paid big time to climb in the event!

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"Mission Cliffs was the perfect venue for the ropes finale," said manager Donna Hawkins. "I can't remember how we used to do it before our Walltopia expansion!" The expansion of the gym, which added over 9,000 sq ft of climbing to Mission Cliffs, allowed competitors to spread out and decreased waiting time between comp routes. Huge thanks to staff, routesetters, management, and our many members and guests to came out to make this finale one for the books. We're so happy to be able to host such a popular comp series, and we wouldn't be able to do it without you! 

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To check your scores from the comp - click here.

To check out the full gallery of photos by Jeff Rueppel - click here


Women Racing up El Capitan

Shortly after the sun crested Half Dome this morning (October 28th), two of the Valley’s fastest women began the Yosemite Grand Prix- The Nose of El Capitan. Libby Sauter and Mayan Smith-Gobat hit the stop watch at 7:18 am and charged up the big wall.

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Tom Evans photo of Mayan Smith-Gobat leading while Libby follows under the Great Roof of the Nose.


Libby Sauter pulling on cams through a section of 5.10 wide climbing to Dolt Tower

The pair climbed the 3,000 foot route in two blocks with Sauter leading the first half to Boot Flake and Smith-Gobat taking the reins to the summit. Though they planned to take a “practice” run, the women climbed quickly. A loud cheer broke the meadow when Sauter snagged the tree, joining Smith-Gobat at the summit in a mere 5 hours 2 minutes- a new women's speed record.


Smith-Gobat stops to hydrate during the 5 hour ascent

This past season, women have dominated El Capitan speed climbing. Earlier in the year, Sauter and her partner Quinn Brett climbed El Capitan twice in a day via the Nose and Lurking Fear. They are the first female pair to climb two El Cap routes in a day and one of very few teams who have climbed El Cap more than once in a day.

El Cap

On Sauter and Smith-Gobat's speed ascent, they moved quite well. They had a major setback when they lost an aider and Sauter had to follow with one aider. It's quite clear that the women's speed record could drop well below 5 hours.


Climbing so quickly requires a solid climbing ability. The women climbed 5.11 with enormous death loops of rope out and set the standard for bold climbing on El Capitan. Congratulations to the team.

Chalk Talk: Route Setting with Jeremy Ho

Every wonder what establishing new routes on over 100,000 square feet of climbing terrain would be like? Head routesetter, Jeremy Ho spoke with the Chalk Talk podcast recently to discuss managing one of the world's biggest teams of route setters, bringing comps to the Touchstone climbing gyms, the theory of setting, expansion plans for Touchstone and dealing with the physical problems of route setting. Ho has been setting for the Touchstone gyms for over 5 years and is a level 3 USA Climbing certified setter who has set for a number of national competitions. Check out this great podcast about setting for the Touchstone gyms

10 Things you might not know about #TCS2014

The Touchstone Climbing Series Rope Finale is this Saturday at Mission Cliffs! Read on to find out 10 fun facts about our comp series! 

10. The logo was created by our Graphic Designer. 

Heather Campbell, who is the bees knees, created the baller logo and t-shirt design that can be seen on the backs of climbers all over the state, nay the WORLD!! We've given out over 2,000 comp t-shirts this year... one for every competitor. 

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9. We're trying to make the comp a zero waste event. 

All cups will be recycled. All pizza crusts, paper plates and napkins will be composted. Nothing needs to go to the landfill! We'll have signage up around the gym if you don't know what goes where. 

8. Yes, you need a paper waiver in hand.

Even if you're a member. Even if you've signed an electronic waiver. Everyone gets a new waiver on comp day. You can print one HERE. We'll also have them avaible on the day of the event.. but if you come prepared we'll let you skip the line.

7. Your 3-letter comp code is yours forever. 

Like a finger print. Or an embarrassing Facebook photo from High School. If you've competed in a Touchstone Climbing Competition in the last two years, you have the same 3-letter comp code. If you've forgotten it, or if this is your first competition, find it here:

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6. 3 overall advanced finalist and 3 finalists the day of the comp will compete in on-sight finals. 

You've climbed your heart out, now sit back, sip a beer, and watch the big guns compete for cash prizes! 

5. Beer will be provided by Strike Brewing.

Our buddies over at Strike will be pouring their tasty brews starting at 4:20pm. For the 21 and under crowd, don't worry. We'll have beverages for you to imbibe as well. 

4. There will be prizes. 

Big ups to BlueWater Ropes, prAna, SoiLL, Maxim Ropes, Five Ten, Evolv, Alite and many more or donating comp prizes. If you climb in the comp and turn in a score card, it becomes your raffle ticket. Stick around till 5pm, and you'll be in the running to score some sa-WEET shwag. 

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3. The Access Fund and The American Alpine Club will be there. 

As much as we love pulling on plastic, we REALLY love ensuring that our wilderness areas remain as awesome as they can for as long as they can. Stop by their tables to say hello, sign up for a membership, and learn more about how to get involved.

2. It takes 29 routesetters to get the gym ready for the comp.  

8 setters on the first day. 13 setters on the second day. And 8 guys on the third day. Our full time routesetting team is the largest in the country, so even during comp week when they are literally resetting an entire gym, satellite crews are maintaining the schedule at other locations. It's a crazy job but somebody's gotta do it. 

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1. The comp is FREE to members and only $10 for guests. 

Comps are always free for members because we L-bomb you, for reals. And it's only $10 for guests, which is the cheapest day pass in existence, because we bet you're pretty great too. You can RSVP via the 'book, tell your friends on twitter, or call them on the telephone to invite them. See you Saturday! 


Redpointing Clinic with Derek Powell

The best way to push your climbing to your absolute limits is to redpoint, to practice a route and then climb it without falling. The tactics involved in redpointing are numerous and deciphering them all can be quite difficult. Luckily there's help.


On November 13th, Berkeley Ironworks will be offering a free clinic for members of all ability levels who want to improve their redpointing skills and strategies. “The class will cover a range of topics including the psychology of performance, route selection, mental strategies, practical redpoint techniques, and general approaches to training,” said instructor Derek Powell.


Class will be structured as a lecture with ongoing Q and A, and demonstrations of practical skills. Climbers will learn how to analyze their own climbing strengths and weaknesses, create strategies to improve redpoint abilities and achieve new personal bests.


Powell, a climber of over 20 years, has climbed all over the world. From a half dozen ascents of El Capitan to bouldering in Europe to 5.14 first ascents in California, Powell’s solid resume of climbing makes him a perfect instructor for the class. The 44 year old Berkeley firefighter and paramedic splits his time working, spending time with his wife and son, and climbing at an elite level.


Powell will be discussing mental tactics, different types of training, route selection and practical tcatics for harder redpointing. Using his experience on Steep Climb Named Desire, a 5.14a at Star Wall in Tahoe, Ubermensch, a 5.14 at Pinnacles National Monument, and Death Sentence, a 5.14b at Jailhouse, Powell will elaborate on being honest about what you can climb, finding good partners, listening to your body, how to improve without injury, and how to identify and solve problems in your climbing. This clinic is a great opportunity for all climbers. Stop by BIW and check it out!

This clinic is at 7pm. If you'd like to get on list, register here:

Remembering the Topo in Yosemite

Adventure comes in hundreds of ways in Yosemite. Most of the time, the fun starts when something essential is forgotten. Leaving the head lamp, the water, or the topo can all lead to more adventure than planned. This fall taught me the importance of bringing and following the directions on a route.

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Stoner's Highway climbs the left, sunny side of Middle Cathedral.

Stoner’s Highway follows discontinuous features on the immaculate rock of Middle Cathedral. Though the route sits only a few hundred feet from the splitter cracks of Central Pillar of Frenzy, the two routes could not differ more. Where Central Pillar involves well protected jamming, Stoner’s Highway follows technical slab climbing between highly spaced bolts and sparse gear. I snapped a picture of the topo with my iPhone and quested up the slab. I followed a few bolts, saw a feature, climbed back to some bolts and built an anchor forty meters from the ground. When I pulled my phone out to check the topo, I saw a dead battery. That’s when the adventure began.

Bronson and I knew that the route wasn’t harder than 5.10 plus so I quested, looking for any signs of life. I spotted an old piton and followed a dirty corner and bad rock. At the end of the corner, a new bolt marked the route 40 feet to my left. I slung a piece of rock and gently lowered down and then reclimbed the route to the correct path. After a few more harrowing pitches, we rappelled after four pitches.

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I read the topo for The Lurch and though it showed a crack system up higher, it said to traverse onto the face. I followed the topo and soon realized why they avoided the cracks. The corner was formed by a pair of instable stacked blocks. I'm glad I read the topo and didn't blindly follow the corner.

A few days later, British climbing ace, Dan Mcmanus and I hiked towards Widow’s Tears. A pair of local climbers established The Lurch ,a 5.12c/d seven pitch route, earlier this spring. I took a picture of the topo and locked my screen to save battery. We managed to make our way up the route with few problems. I fell on the first 5.12 pitch and did some tactful skirting around loose rock on the fourth pitch. On the crux pitch, we took the name of the route to be literal and did a wild Lurch move across the wall. Dan began descending but instead of following the anchors for the previous pitch, he attempted to link the rappels. He had to build an anchor in the middle of the wall. I rappelled the traversing last pitch, prussiked back to the anchor, pulled the directional and descended again. I pulled the rope and picked up Dan. We continued our descent with less problems.

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Doing the crux sequence on the Lurch, which involves a wild move to the arete.

A few days later, Dan and I woke in the dark and hiked to Liberty Cap to climb Mahtah, a new 14 pitch 5.12+ route. We treaded carefully across the ledge to the start. A climber had died falling off the ledge the previous spring. We started the route at sunrise and dispatched the difficult right facing corners. This time, I took a picture of the topo with my phone and we followed it exactly. We found the grades to be a bit generous, which was nice since we’d hiked so far. The route took us all day to climb and the hike down took awhile as well but of my Valley adventures, though it was the biggest day, it was the least epic.

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The Crack of God pitch on Mahtah is a 130 foot dead horizontal traverse which links the corners of Mahtah with the Harding route.


Dan Mcmanus following one of the 5.12 corner pitches on Mahtah.

One of the big lessons I learned this fall in Yosemite was to follow the topo. It makes route’s significantly easier, far less dangerous, and allows you to have bigger adventures.

Touchstone Partners with Big Brothers Big Sisters

LB Julian Pike-Smith BB Gere GervisWe've got exciting news for our members involved in Big Brothers Big Sisters! 

Touchstone Climbing and Big Brothers Big Sisters Bay Area are happy to announce a partnership that will make it easier for volunteers to bring kids climbing. Active Littles are now FREE on their Big Brother or Sisters Touchstone Climbing membership. This means that if you are a Big Brother or Sister, you can bring your little climbing as often as you'd like, and still have your guest passes left over for friends or family.

Until recently, Big Brothers and Big sisters could use one of their two free monthly guest passes to bring their Littles climbing. "But we wanted to do more!" said Membership Services Director Monica Arranda who helped to launch the program. >

If you are part of BBBS, bring your Little to the gym along with your active membership cards, and we'll sign them up as a free member on your account. The next time the two of you come climbing, check-in will be fast and simple.

Rob, a Touchstone Climbing member, is also a mentor with BBBS. To share one of his own passions with his 'little,' Patrick, he started taking him climbing. "He has loved climbing, and started asking me every week if we can go." 

"I'm so excited for this opportunity to bring him more often!" said Rob. "And so is Patrick." 

LB Derrick Nelson BB Bill Oconnor 3On Sunday, October 12th, Dogpatch Boulders hosted a Meet Up to kick off the new program. 9 Big Brothers and 9 Little Brothers came to the gym and had a great time. 

"Bringing kids to the climbing gym is such a phenomenal bonding experience," said Dogpatch Boulders manager Justin Alarcon. "People tend to break out of their shells when they are moving, challenging themselves, and toping out boulders together!"

Founded in California in 1958, BBBS Bay Area serves Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara Counties. Since 1958 they have carefully matched over 11,000 children with a mentor and provided ongoing support and guidance to ensure optimum outcomes. They currently serve about 1,000 children each year and have set a goal bumping that number up to 2,000 children yearly by 2018. Children between the ages of 6 and 16 and they are eligible to stay in the program until graduation at 18.

"Male mentors are currently needed in Fresno, the East Bay, South Bay and the Peninsula,' said Match Support Specialist Hannah Rudsten. There is a pressing need for healthy male role models to be matched with enrolled boys in these areas. According to their website, 700 at-risk children are currently on the waiting list, and 82% are boys.

LB Derrick Nelson BB Bill Oconnor 2If there's one thing that a climbing gym has plenty of, it's eligible bros! If you're interesting in becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister, find out more about volunteering!

The benefits of mentorship are undeniable. Surveys of mentors and parents/guardians whose Little had been matched 12 months or more reported the following results:

  • 100% improved GPA’s if they were struggling in school
  • 96% improved their ability to avoid using physical violence
  • 92% improved self-confidence
  • 85% improved peer relationships
  • 81% improved attitudes towards school
  • 74% improved their outlook for the future
  • 72% increased their trust in adults to help with problems

We're happy to find more ways to involve underserved youth in our neighborhoods in climbing and a healthy lifestyle. Big thanks to BBBS for working with us to give volunteers an easy way to bring their kids to the gym to share the joys of climbing! 









By Hans Florine

10495863 751097324938796 4582372467713915728 oThis weekend I headed out at 5:45 am Sunday morning from the stables parking lot with the goal of climbing The South Face of Mt Watkins with friends Will and Naomi. Between 'reading' descriptions from The Super Topo guide and Yosemite Bigwalls guide by Erik and Roger, we figured that we would be at the base of the route around 8:30 am. 

I put 'reading' in quotes above because I only skimmed the directions in regards to the approach, and peaked at the maps. After all it’s MT WATKINS right? – How could you walk up Tenaya canyon and miss it? – Well we did miss it, until we made 4 hours of mistakes in wrong turns and misguided steep scrambling. 

Six hours and 2 minutes after leaving the stables parking lot we arrived at the base of the route! We decided against climbing out of the ditch given how late we arrived at the base. (Translation: “topping out on Watkins, El Cap, or Leaning Tower, is just crawling out of The Ditch, so really do have to “enjoy the journey.”) So, we had a great adventure, exploring various slopes and tiny trails in Tenaya canyon, found a cool water hole, our legs are super fit -or will be when we recover, and we now have a gallon of water stashed at the base of The South Face Route!

I just got through presenting stories to The AAC International Climbing Meet Friday evening. I was telling them how we have these incredible wild walls here in Yosemite AND they are so accessible and close to your car door. –Funny sort of “foot in mouth” adventure for Sunday.- I don’t call 6 hours close to the car door.

Points to remember: 
-bring people with you that like to adventure. We had an adventure, the outcome was unknown. We got to explore around a beautiful canyon, in a beautiful place. Our group was joking and laughing and having a good time.
-Read CAREFULLY a couple sentences from past travelers, guidebooks, intermet forums, etc. and save yourself 2 hours, or 4 or maybe days.
-Love the journey.

I had a great time sharing stories with the AAC group on Friday evening and super time instructing some of them at the base of El Cap on Saturday morning. I learned a few things “teaching” these experienced climbers. How lucky am I?- Getting to teach a class at the base of El Cap? Big Thanks to Carol Kotchek and the American Alpine Club for inviting me to participate!


Saturday afternoon I got to go up five pitches on The East Buttress of Middle Cathedral with Diane Payes. Again, we didn’t top out or even get out of The Ditch. That was better then OK for us, we got to climb on awesome granite terrain, with a beautiful alpine glow light on El Cap across the valley, and earn our meal with The AAC group later that evening.

I hope you got to summit something this weekend, or crawl out of a ditch, or just embark on something where you didn’t know the outcome before starting.



Past blog entries can be found at



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