In early September, Ironworks employee Steven Roth, Bay Area photographer Jim Thornburg and Tom Ogasawara cleaned The Emperor’s New Clothes, a sport protected route on the coast near Stinson Beach.
In early September, Ironworks employee Steven Roth, Bay Area photographer Jim Thornburg and Tom Ogasawara cleaned The Emperor’s New Clothes, a sport protected route on the coast near Stinson Beach.
In our ongoing segment - 15 minutes with Doctor Bove - Pipeworks staffer Jason Bove sits down with a member to get to know a little more about what makes them tick.
“You can have 15 minutes with the doctor, but only YOU know what is prescribed for your life.” he says.
Tonight, I sit on the opposite side of a familiar round table to talk with someone who is a long-time Pipeworks member, an influential man behind the camera lens, a smile amongst friends, and a staple of a modern, Sacramento society.
Member of the Month: Nicholas Wray
You ask, “who’s that guy at the end of his rope?” A small play on words has hopefully caught your attention long enough to introduce you to Nicholas Wray. He is, in fact, not at the end of his rope, but sometimes, a rope. More than likely though, he can be found smiling and joking over in the boulder cave while effortlessly sending most peoples’ projects.
Landing in Sacramento by way of Cincinnati in 2006, Nicholas was introduced to both climbing and the Pipeworks community through a friend and co-worker. Little did he know was that he was delving into a land that was completely different than the Civil Engineering world he was living in. With this introduction, Nicholas found a different cast of characters, new friends, and a whole new obsession...rock climbing.
Like most climbers, by way of projected goals and a focus on pulling hard both indoors and out, Nicholas found his new favorite vacation destination, Bishop, California. In this area of the world, things were different, and peoples’ love of nature overtook the necessity to tell you about their day job. Here, it didn’t matter, and it was through this ‘selfish act’ of climbing that everyone found reward. With Bishop being over 4 hours from Sacramento, there needed to be something closer to home to climb on though, so Pipeworks became a weekly ritual. The gym quickly became an escape from daily stress induced by work, and Nicholas says that when he is climbing, “everything else good or bad seems to take a back seat.”
From year to year, what we are seeing in the industry, is that climbing is becoming more mainstream, and increasing attention is being paid to the benefits of it. I asked, “Will this growth in popularity change things for you?” Nicholas responded, “We are drawn to the sport, because it is a very personal challenge, but also for the community. With a smaller, tight-knit circle of motivated individuals, one may find that friends become more like family members. However, I believe that it is the individuals’ personal struggle to climb better or smarter than the last time, and be more efficient, nobody elses’.”
HUGE THANKS to Nicholas Wray for being such a big part of Sacramento Pipeworks. Amongst other things, he is a friend, a local photographer, owner of Sacramento Space, a human being, and a rock climber. Remember to say hello to him while he is busy sending all of those hard problems that we wish we could.
Stay tuned for next months installment of 15 minutes with Doctor Bove!
Fall has fallen, and it's time to start the bouldering season out right! We'll be kicking off a brand new, never before seen 'Bowldering League,' at Dogpatch Boulders. 2 parts fun, 1 part competition, .5 parts fame and .5 parts glory, this competition will run for 10 weeks this fall. Read on to find out more about this exciting new format and find out how to sign up. Here’s what you need to know to get started.
1) Collect a team of four boulderers and one alternate (for weeks when someone can’t make it). All climbing levels are welcome. If you climb V3 and your buddy climbs V10 - great! You can totally be on the same team. The way we score everything will make it fair no matter how hard you climb (we’ll explain below).
2) Come to the front desk and ask for a Dogpatch Bowldering League Registration Form. Registrants will need to be Touchstone Gym Members or 10 Pass Holders; otherwise, they must purchase a day pass for each visit. There will be a $50 registration fee for each team. That means each of your buddies have to fork over a whole $10-$12 each to get your team started! All teams must be registered by September 27th.
3) Once registered, make sure to “Like” our Dogpatch Boulders Facebook Page. We will post weekly updates, share Bowldering League Problems, and announce special weekly SUPER SPECIAL BOWLDERING CHALLENGES that can earn your team extra points.
4) Every other week, as marked on our league calendar, will be a Bowldering League competition. Teams will be matched up against each other with the highest scoring team of the week earning one for the win column. During the Bi-Week, we will set new problems and our staff will calculate your team’s scores and email them to your team captains.
5) Beginning on Monday of a League competition week, scorecards will be available at the front desk.. Your team will only be allowed one day to fill out the scorecard, but it can be any day within the competition week that your team chooses. All team members must be present to receive a scorecard. There are no do-overs, if your team does not turn in its scorecard they will receive 0 points that week.
6) On competition days, teams will be responsible for keeping track of what problems they have climbed and handle their own scorecards. Be sure to note whether the ascents were flashes or redpoints following the instruction on the scorecard. We will be using the honor system, so please be honest when you mark down your sends. Cheaters will be run out onto the street and forced to do Crossfit. Don’t forget to turn in your scorecard at the end of the night so we can tally up your points!
8) After 5 competition weeks we will host a final Dogpatch Bowldering League World Championship Tournament of Champions! (DBLWCTC) On December 7th, teams with the best win/loss records will be pitted against each other in a bracket-style elimination competition. The two best teams at the end of the day will compete for the GRAND PRIZE and the Title “Dogpatch Bouldering League Champions of the Universe!”
Registration is open from September 1st to September 27th!
Scoring in the bouldering league will be based on a handicap system. Handicapping will allow teams of noobs to compete alongside teams composed of v12 mega-crushers. Our system rewards personal achievement while prioritizing fun and camaraderie.
Handicapping is actually fairly simple. When a competitor registers they will be asked what their regular climbing level is (what V-grade do you climb). We want to know what the hardest grade you regularly climb is, that’s it. You can usually get up at least one v6 per visit? Great, you’re a v6 handicap. Usually you climb v3, but once every couple of weeks you get a v4? You’re a v3 handicap. You can climb v8 once a week or so, but a year and a half ago you climbed v10? Guess what, you’re a v8 handicap. If you have any trouble deciding on your handicap, just ask a staff person and they can help you out.
Handicaps can change throughout the competition; so don’t get too hung up on them. If you have a breakthrough and start regularly climbing a grade harder than before, our scorekeepers will adjust your handicap. Likewise, if you go through a rough patch when you can’t seem to get up the same problems you used to, we’ll adjust that as well.
Each competition week the scorecard will have 20 Bowldering League sanctioned problems from v0-v10+. The goal as an individual is to try and flash or redpoint problems at or above your handicap to garner the most points. Flashing means a problem is climbed on the first attempt. A redpoint in this competition means a climb has been completed after the first attempt. For a more complete explanation of the term redpoint please visit Wikipedia.
A competitor will receive full points for a problem redpointed at the level of their handicap. Flashing a problem earns you half a point extra. Climbing a problem below your handicap costs you a point, while climbing above your handicap get’s you an extra point (remember handicaps will be adjusted and sandbaggers will be punished severely.)
For the purposes of this competition a ‘flash’ will be considered the first attempt of a problem on the competition day. Many of the competition boulder problems will be chosen from the many problems already on our walls so it is very likely that competitors, prior to competition week, will have tried the boulder problems. So for competition purposes a competitor may very well flash a climb they had done on a previous visit, this is well within the rules.
The top three scores from each competitor on a team will be added together to get the team score. If your team score is higher than your opposition’s score your team earns the win that week. At the end of league play the teams with the best win-loss records will have the highest seeding in the Dogpatch Bowldering League World Championship Tournament of Champions! (DBLWCTC)
The Reel Rock Tour will be coming to California soon. This year Hazel Findlay and Emily Harrington star in a short about their big wall adventure in Morocco. Daniel Woods learns about climbing from master climber Yuji Hirayama. The Stonemasters of Yosemite come to life with tales of a plane crash filled with a dirtbag's dream and Ueli Steck captures the stage with his life on Everest.
Forty-three-year-old Yuji Hirayama is one of the great legends of modern climbing. Near retirement, he plans one big swan-song mission to complete a project, one of his hardest ever, at the spectacular summit of Mount Kinabalu, on the island of Borneo. But first he must find the right partner.
Enter Daniel Woods, the young American boulderer who is one of the strongest humans in the climbing world, but lacks mountain experience. Daniel-San travels to Japan to prove himself worthy of Hirayama’s mentorship, and the unlikely duo team up for the expedition of a lifetime.
The UK climbing scene is known for its strict traditional ethic, yielding dangerous routes and a competitive machismo among the driven young climbers risking it all to prove their boldness. It’s the last place you’d expect to find a nice little blond girl putting all the lads to shame, but Hazel Findlay is doing just that.
The first woman to climb the British grade of E9 (super hard, super sketchy), Hazel is a connoisseur of loose rock, dodgy gear, and big runouts. Having mastered the scrappy seacliffs at home she teams up with Emily Harrington to tackle the massive, untamed bigwalls of Taghia Gorge, Morocco.
Sender Films is currently working on a feature documentary about the counterculture climbing scene in Yosemite over the last 50 years. Provisionally titled “Valley Uprising,” the film brings all the legends to life: from Royal Robbins’ epic battle with Warren Harding to the fabled drug plane crash of 1977 and the escalating tensions between climbers and national park rangers.
This year’s REEL ROCK Film Tour will include a teaser clip from the film that focuses on the sex-drugs-n-rock era of Jim Bridwell and the Stonemasters.
Mount Everest made headlines around the world this year when it was reported that Ueli Steck and Simone Moro, one of the strongest duos in alpinism, were attacked by a crowd of angry sherpas at Camp 2 while attempting a cutting edge new route on the highest — and most crowded — mountain in the world. Fearing for their lives, the climbers fled the mountain, and the incident sparked a flurry of gasps and angry recrimination: sherpas, western climbers, guiding companies, even the legendary mountain itself were pounded with criticism from all sides.
Amidst the bizarre event, REEL ROCK was embedded with the climbing team and given an exclusive look at what happened that day, and why.
The Reel Rock Tour will be hitting a number of the Touchstone Gyms. Check out the dates below:
October 5th San Jose The Studio
October 12th Fresno Metal Mark
October 19th Sacramentto Pipeworks
October 26th Concord Diablo Rock Gym
January 5th Oakland GWPC
We are happy to announce that long time Touchstone employee Jeremy Ho has been brought on as Head Route Setter. The Head Setter position was held by Craig McClenahan for many years and more recently by Kyle Robinson and Jeffery Bowling, and now Ho is ready to step up to the plate. He's been working with Touchstone for over 6 years, and has done everything from belaying birthday parties to route setting. "I'm so psyched to be moving forward with the company," Ho said.
On September 7th, Diablo Rock Gym will be hosting the Educate Ethiopia Climb-A-Thon. Patagonian ambassador Majka Burhardt, a well-known climber and dynamic inspirational speaker, will be presenting a speaker/slide show in the evening. Along with a raffle and silent auction with gear from The North Face, Patagonia, Mountain Hardware, and the AAC, there will be Ethiopian food and an awesome presentation.
Touchstone Blogger James Lucas spent the past summer in Rifle, climbing and baking pies for the annual Carbondale Pie Baking Contest. He wrote a bit about his exploits for the blog.
“She’s a psychopath,” Ryan said. The Carbondale local introduced himself over beers at the Pour House bar when he heard talk of the pie baking contest. “My mom’s been judging the contest for years. I’ve heard of Judy Harvey. She’s absolutely obsessed. If you win, she may kill you.”
Two years ago, I was Fruit Number 1. During a summer of Rifle sport climbing, I dropped off a butter crust Granny Smith apple pie, the first entry into the fruit category at the Carbondale Mountain Fair annual pie baking contest. I dreamed of being on the cover of Martha Stewart’s Home Living, wearing an apron and holding an apple pie. I dreamed of being a handsome climber boy killing it in the kitchen.
This spring, my long term girlfriend and I broke up. To deal with it, I threw myself at free climbing a new big wall route in Yosemite. I toiled, tried, and worked. After a few months, the route fell to my tenacity. With no goals left, no girlfriend, and no direction, I felt lost.
Remembering my dream, I packed quick draws, a harness, shoes, a rolling pin and my pastry blender into my Saturn station wagon with plans of returning to Colorado. The competition in Carbondale would provide direction in my life, somewhere to invest my energy, and a chance to be a cover model.
Before leaving, I prepped for the contest by baking a chicken pot pie in Yosemite. Traveling east, my friends in Salt Lake City loaned me their kitchens to bake a mixed fruit pie, an apple pie, and a strawberry rhubarb pie.
On the road, I studied endlessly, listening to an audiobook version of the Joy of Cooking and searching the ends of the Internet for recipes and pie baking tips. On July 1st, The New York Times published an article about tarts, crisps and most importantly, summer pie recipes. I read the piece fifteen times. In Salt Lake, my friend’s mom provided beta on cold butter, on shredding apples and how to crimp the edges for the best presentation. When she was out of the kitchen, I snapped pictures of her grandmother’s 100 year old apple pie recipe.
With a solid technical foundation, I drove to my friend Hayden’s house by the confluence in Carbondale. Hayden’s kitchen provided a perfect place to bake a second apple pie, a bourbon pecan pie and a chocolate bourbon pecan. I tailored my Rifle climbing towards pie baking.
The steep limestone routes provided core training. The small edges allowed me to crimp until my fingers cracked. The sidepulls worked my hand strength. By the end of the month, I used an ab roller to press out the pie crust. I crimped the edges of the pie to perfection. I broke apples in half. Beyond the training, I sought advice from master bakers.
For the past 20 years Judy Harvey has dominated the Carbondale Mountain Fair pie baking contest. White and dark chocolate mousse. Boysen berries. Caramel coconut creams peaked with translucent amber spikes of macadamia nut brittle. Judy mastered these recipes and the subtleties of pie baking. In 2005, the Aspen Times featured Judy in an article about the contest. Her husband, Roger spoke of Judy’s determination describing trial run pies stuffing their garage refrigerator and inviting friends over at all hours to test the pies. On competition days, Harvey wakes at 4 am to begin baking. I wanted her obsession.
The Carbondale phone book provided her number. Judy shied away when I first rang. “My family is setting up camp for the 4th of July. Can I call you back?” she said. After 3 days of silence, I dialed again. The call went straight to her voicemail. The master baker ignored my pie enthusiasm.
Despite Judy’s reluctance to share pie secrets and the rumor of her homicidal tendencies, my mission to bake the perfect pie held true to course. A climber’s BBQ offered a chance to serve a strawberry rhubarb pie and a third apple pie. Jen and Andrew, a pair of local Rifle climbers, invited me to bake a peach pie at their house. I baked until I only saw imperfections in the pies. I obsessed on the crust that Andrew left, the extra peaches that Jen pushed to the side, and the fact that Hayden stopped. I baked until I hated pie. My climbing schedule, my life revolved around my next chance to bake. I transformed into the obsessive Judy Harvey.
In between baking pies and climbing rocks, my headlamp lit the trail around Thompson Lake. The summit ridge to Mount Sopris, the highest peak in Carbondale’s Elk Range, hid behind the impending sunrise. A week of insomnia wrecked me. The alpine hiking helped alleviate my angst and aimlessness. While wandering lost around the lake at 3am, I fixated on a conversation a fellow lifestyle climber and I had.
“Don’t you think it’s weird that you just climb all the time?” Colette asked me. Sopris filled the skyline above the confluence, where we split the last piece of chocolate bourbon pecan pie. A full-time climber, Colette had begun a transition towards a career, a life beyond rock. I poked at the pie crust, unsure of how to answer. This trip was supposed to be about more than just climbing. My travels east, the pie baking contest were supposed to provide direction, to provide a distraction while I found something more permanent. After the contest, I’d be back where I started- driving my car to climb at another sport crag, to find more boulders, or explore new big walls. Climbing, like pie baking, is amazing but ultimately pointless. There must be more to life than rock climbing and pie baking. What was it?
On Saturday, July 28th at 6 am, I hustled over to Hayden’s house, where I preheated the oven. The butter cut into the flour perfectly. The chocolate melted over the pecans. Maple syrup provided sweetness and the bourbon gave the pie kick. For an hour, the 9 inch pie pan full of Kentucky Derby pie baked. At 10:30, I joined a half dozen entries in the exotic category at the Carbondale Mountain Fair Annual Pie Baking Contest. A meat pie with hotdogs woven into the lattice seemed suspect. The other pecan pie appeared weak next to mine. The meringue. That looked good. The fruit category contained nearly a dozen pies from apple to cherry to pear. The crème category held just a few pies. I nervously waited for the judges results.
That night, climbers from across the US gathered in a Carbondale barn for Jen and Andrew’s wedding. Thunder, lightning and afternoon showers dissipated moments before the ceremony. Jen’s father walked her down the aisle. Andrew’s father gave a heart felt speech about new love and old love. The two climbers made a life long union, they were making more of their lives than just the rocks they climbed. It was beautiful.
The wedding offered me a chance to stop fixating on the contest. Watching these two friends in love helped me realize that perhaps there was more to life than climbing and baking. Jen and Andrew discovered something special in their relationship. Climbing, while pointless, had brought the two together. My respite ended quickly. In between the ceremony and the dancing, a dozen different climbers asked me about the competition.
“Did you win?” “Did you beat the blue-haired grandmas?” “You send the gnar at the fair bro?”
“No.” “No.” No.” I answered, explaining the training, my alpine start, and performing my best. Baking pies while living out of a station wagon proved difficult. My lackluster excuses did little to negate my loss. The hard part to explain was my desire, not to win, but to find direction. If I’d been asked if I was still aimless, then I could have answered, “Yes.”
For six weeks, baking and climbing consumed my life. I expected an answer to my aimlessness, one that would come without having to consciously think about why I was wandering. I expected an epiphany while rolling out pie crust. Flashes of inspiration happen slower than that. They are the product of circling around an idea, drawing closer and closer to it.
While Judy Harvey sat in her kitchen shuffling through recipes for next year’s contest, I packed my Saturn station and prepared to orbit another climbing destination. I buried my pastry blender beneath my ropes. I left my pie pan at Jen and Andrew’s house. The weather in Yosemite would cool soon. I drove east from Colorado knowing Judy and I would continue our pointless obsessions. Maybe someday, we’d figure out why we did it.
One of the best feelings in climbing is walking up to a piece of rock and climbing it onsight, going from the ground to the top without falling and without any knowledge of the route. Onsight climbing, though the ideal style, is one of the hardest parts of climbing to master as it involves solid mental and physical strength. There are a few things that can help with your next onsight.
Beth Rodden on her impressive onsight of The Phoenix a 5.13 crack in Yosemite
Climbing with your kids can be one of the most rewarding experiences out there. Watching your youngster scramble up the boulders on their way to being the next great climber can be amazing. But there’s lots to consider when taking your child out to the crag.
Find a Third
Having a third kid-friendly person is essential to actually climbing. This way there’s always someone to watch the child while the parent belays or climbs. Heading to the crag with another family can help this situation immensely as you can take turns climbing and watch the kids. Susie Christensen has climbed with her daughter Ainsley from Yosemite and the Grotto in Sonora to the Verdon Gorge in France and Wilderswill in Switzerland. " It makes a huge difference to have a minimum of one extra person available to commit their attention to the kid. When Ainsley was a baby it was really critical to have an extra person who wasn't climbing or belaying that could hold her or feed her if she was crying. Now that she's older, a third person is helpful to keep her from wandering to dangerous areas (under other climbers, steep rocks/slopes, poison oak) and to keep her entertained."
Technique is for the weak. Or so seems when you see the footloose climbing in the gym. Unfortunately, big muscles and an ability to campus do little on harder routes. Precise footwork and an ability to climb well will get you much farther. One of the best ways to improve your footwork is to slab climb. While climbing lower angle rocks isn't in vogue, it can be really really fun. Take the time to learn proper technique and the steep routes will be easier with your precise footwork.
James Lucas tries hard to keep from skinning his knee while slab climbing in Squamish
Recently, Pipeworks manager Vaughn Medford sat down with long time Touchstone member John Martinez, who has undergone a huge transformation at the Sacramento gym. Check out the great write up about John.
We are sad to bid farewell to our friend and long-time member John Martinez, who is being asked to relocate out of town for work. John started his career with the California Conservation Corp in 1978 and for 30+ years he has been promoted through the ranks, spending a good portion of that time at CCC headquarters located here in Sacramento. Recently however he was offered a big promotion: managing a field office and crew in the CCC’s brand new facility located in South Lake Tahoe.
You saw the climber from across the gym. Maybe they set up the pads perfectly beneath that Bishop highball. Maybe they were crushing that spicy trad route at the Cookie Cliff in Yosemite. However you saw them, you realized that they were the perfect partner. Looks can be decieving though and reality can be even harsher. Sometimes. despite your best intentions, your partner may not be that into you. Here’s a few signs to look out for.
1.Your partner claims they’re not ready for committing routes
This is a classic escape route. While the step from climbing at Dogpatch Boulders climbing gym to five days on El Capitan is big enough to scare anyone, most partners should be willing to commit to some adventure. If a partner tells you they’re not ready for a committing climb, what they really mean is that they’re not into a committing climb with you. For whatever reason, they don’t see you as a solid partner. Don’t stick around hoping that things will change. They may move into longer routes some day but you probably won’t be holding the rope.