The Sacramento Smoke Stack

Imagine doing an enormous first ascent in the middle of a state's capital city. For some, this is just a dream. For others, it's a bold and symbolic adventure.

The Sacramento City smoke stack rests at the corner of 7th Street and North B, a mere nine blocks from Pipeworks. A few years ago, gym manager Vaughn Medford walked the base of and saw an obvious line of bolts up the formation.

incenarator 2

 

“I assumed the bolts were to be used in case they ever needed to maintenance the structure but apparently not,” said Medford.

A few weeks ago, a fit seventy year old nearly crushed Medford’s hand when he shook it and introduced himself as Bill Smale, the man who made the first ascent of the Sacramento Smoke Stack.

Read more: The Sacramento Smoke Stack

Women's Empowerment at Pipeworks

On March 15th, Women's Empowerment, a non-profit based in Sacramento, made their 50th visit to Pipeworks. We were able to catch up with leaders and participants in this amazing program to get the scoop on their partnership with Pipeworks.

Womens Empowerment1 

"Sacramento Pipeworks has been working with Women's Empowerment since 2004," said Pipeworks manager Vaughn Medford. "They are headquartered only a couple blocks away from the gym, so it is not unusual to see a group of women 10-15 power walking over to the gym on Fridays. They use the gym to work out in the weight area and do cardio. The members have become accustomed to seeing the group, and we're all supportive of such an important cause."

Read more: Women's Empowerment at Pipeworks

SFSU Students at Mission Cliffs

Recently, Ben Kumli, a faculty Lecturer for San Francisco State’s Recreation, Parks and Tourism Department, brought nearly twenty students to Mission Cliffs. The students had a great experience climbing at the gym with many of them speaking about the supportive environment and the challenges they were able to overcome. "They are still talking about how awesome it was!" said Kumli.

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Read more: SFSU Students at Mission Cliffs

Pringle Crushing Spain

Ten days ago, Touchstone athlete, Ethan Pringle nabbed a speedy ascent of Era Vella (5.14d) in Margalef, Spain. Pringle spoke a little bit about the climb.

This phenomenal Margalef test-piece was put up by Chris Sharma in the winter of 2010. Located on one of Maglalef's steepest and tallest walls, Era Vella has become the most frequently repeated 9a in the world. It features fun climbing throughout, big moves between good, comfortable holds and no boulder problem harder than around font 7b+, but with no good rests or easy sections either... it's just a race to the top! Because of it's beauty and pure resistance style, strong climbers flock from all over the world to test themselves on it, and it has been climbed by over 15 people now in the short time since it's FA. Well, after 8 tries on the route, add my name to the list! I was lucky enough to share the experience with good friends at the cliff that day and even have one of them capture the send on video! Enjoy, and get psyched!

 

 

It was such a treat to work Era Vella, a route I could make progress on on every attempt because of its style, and it's a line that every climber who stands at its base marvels at. A true king line!

Besides dispatching Era Vella, Pringle also managed to send an 8c+ (5.14c) second go and has plans to extend his trip so he can work on the infamous Papichulo 5.15a.

Pringle makes the climbing in Spain sound amazing. "Margalef is just stacked with classic routes of all grades. Most of the holds here are pockets though so you better like climbing on pockets if you come here... My skin is pretty sore from them after almost three weeks of climbing here so we might have to go to Rodellar and pull on some tufas to mix things up a bit. Poor us."

Get psyched for more Spain action coming from Pringle soon!

Touchstone Climbers at SCS Open

Last weekend five Touchstone Zero Gravity climbers, Cicada Jenerik, Alexa Nazarian, Hannah Donnelly, Josh Levin and Dylan Barks headed to Boulder, Colorado to exhibit their talent in the USAC SCS Open Nationals where the US Adult National Team is chosen..Zero Gravity climber, Hannah Donnelly wrote a bit about the competition:

There was a substantial amount of both male and female climbers and talent; 44 males and 36 females, including the reigning World Champion, Charlotte Durif.

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Read more: Touchstone Climbers at SCS Open

Mission Cliffs Expansion

For the past two years, Touchstone has worked hard on expanding San Francisco’s Mission Cliff’s. After dealing with the hurdles of building permits and securing the location next to the current gym, the Mission Cliffs expansion is set to dramatically change the face to Touchstone's original gym.  The expansion plans include an enormous roped climbing expansion, new flooring in the bouldering area, a new Yoga studio, additional weight and cardio space, a new cycling room and more.

The Mission Cliffs expansion includes 5,000 feet of space dedicated to more top roping and lead climbing. Walltopia, the company whom we worked with on the design and construction of Dogpatch Boulders, plans to include two adjustable crack systems and a 50 feet cresting wave wall.

Climbing

Read more: Mission Cliffs Expansion

Girls Climbing Trip Video

Recently six Touchstone climbers took a trip to Joe's Valley, a bouldering mecca located three hours south of Salt Lake City, Utah.
The climbed, they camped, they crushed. All normal for a week long trip.

But THIS trip was anything but normal.

This was a GIRLS TRIP.

The Touchstone Blog has been granted viewing rights to this video, along with exclusive commentary from the chix themselves. Watch the video, be amazed, and then read on to find out what happens when six girls are stuck in the desert on a rest day with nothing but a camera and a penchant for late 80's music and lip syncing. 

Chix B4 Dix: Girls from Becky Trafecanty on Vimeo.


Yeah. Go on. You can watch it again. We'll wait....

The 'Chix B4 Dix' trip idea was the brain child of Monica Aranda. "I had been feeling that my psych for climbing was waining, and I wanted to get it back. So I proposed a Girls Only trip to Joe's Valley, and it didn't take long until the team was assembled. During the trip psych was gained, along with hours of embarrassing footage that will now be immortalised on the Internet forever," said Aranda. 

Kim Groebner, who owns the 2006 Dodge Sprinter where some initial scenes were shot, has this to say about the video. "'Girls' - directed, filmed and edited by Becky Alarcón - is a collaborative work exposing women's struggle for identity within our society's patriarchal stronghold. Inspired by the satirical theme of our girls-only climbing trip, Chix B4 Dix, we have shown that we are not merely bad-ass rock climbers. Through dance, pantomime, and the art of lip-synching we have, and will continue to, challenge the status quo." The Touchstone Blog feels a duty to inform our readers that Ms. Groebner went to art school. 

Alarcón, who indeed directed, filmed and edited the video in under 12 hours, is no stranger to amature video production. An impressive catologue of her work can be found on her Vimeo Page. 

It was around the camp fire one night that the girls discovered her talents and demanded they they make a music video. Lindsey Tjian, international super model and Wills of Fire mega crusher, expressed her humility at being being involved in a project of such caliber. "I knew there were lots of stars out there in the universe," said Tjian. "But I never knew I would have the privilege of working with 5 of the best in the making of our music video." Tjian was also responsible for the unnervingly convincing pipe cleaner and felt facial hair, along with the dragon neck tattoos that can be seen throughout the video. 

The video embodied the sense of fun and camaraderie that was experienced on the trip. Lauryn Claassen, who never quite got the hang of a 'sexy face' reported that "This was the perfect way to spend the days when our tips were shot, our muscles ached, and Kim made an amazing batch of margaritas. Too many times climbing videos have too much... climbing. I'd like to see more rest day videos."

Camille Kerr, who left a good luck charm for dude climber Kyle O'Meara at the camp site, was humbled by the experience. "As a relative newcomer to this group of ultra-burly ladies with unparalleled sex-appeal, I was naturally intimated. I realized that my contribution would not come from being the funniest or prettiest, but instead being the most willing fall flat on my face with the camera rolling. [minute 1:58] Having achieved that, I now feel like part of the crew, and I look forward to our many adventures to come. The release of this video is a proud moment for me, my mother, and every woman who has helped me get where I am today" said Kerr. 

While the girls feigned flattery at the insinuation that they always travel to the desert with sparkly dressed stuffed into their duffels next to their antihydral and climbing shoes, such is not the case. The 'girly' attire, flannel robes, and bubbles were purchased while on a trip to the booming metropolis of Price, Utah on a rest day.

"What I loved about making this video is doing all of the silly things and acting like a complete clown," said Alarcon. "You really have to be willing to make a complete fool of yourself knowing that people will see you in ridiculous costumes and doing ridiculous things. I can't count how many times I was in stitches from laughter on those days when we were filming. Editing the video was very difficult for me because there were so many equally funny scenes that we had to cut since the song was so short." [Examples deleted in the interest of a sequel] "I'll look fondly on this video for the rest of my life and remember our awesome girls trip to Joe's Valley and Ibex."

All in all, the trips was a huge success. Meals were shared, projects were sent, and friendships were solidified. The girls would like to thank the following companies they wish they were sponsored by:

Organic Climbing 
Verve Climbing Apparel
Dodge 
Chicks Rock'n Roost 
The Food Ranch
Climbing Narc
La Sportiva
Five Ten 
Top Ramen 

The Touchstone Blog is always interested in hearing from our members. Remember to send videos, trip reports, and bribes to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Spring Shoe Demos

Each Touchstone Climbing gym is equipped year round with an impressive arsenal of climbing shoes to rent or purchase. But twice a year, we pull out all the stops. Our shoe demo's are always a huge attraction, and they're fast approaching! 

This year the reps from 5.10, Evolv, and La Sportiva will be making the rounds to four of our gyms. Whether you're blowing out your Teams or are still using rental shoes - this night is for YOU. Our reps from each company will bring with them their entire demo fleet - which means you get to test the shoes on the wall to make sure you fit your footsies just right. Ask all your pressing questions. Get all your answers.
PLUS - all shoes purchased or ordered on Demo Night will be 20% off!

Here is the line up! Click on your closest gym to be directed to the Facebook to RSVP. 

The Studio Climbing
April 29th



ShoeDemo Studio



Dogpatch Boulders
April 30th 

ShoeDemo Dogpatch



Sacramento Pipeworks
May 1st

ShoeDemo Pipeworks



Berkeley Ironworks
May 2nd

ShoeDemo BIW


Boyscouts Repurpose Ropes

Ever wonder what happens to the ropes after the gyms use them?  Touchstone repurposes retired ropes in various ways.

Recently, Mission Cliffs donated some ropes to a local Boy Scout Troop unit 29, based at the Buddhist Church of San Francisco. The troop has approximately 30 boys, ranging from 11-17 years old, and 5 adult leaders who help run the program.

BoyScoutTroop
 

"The core mission of the Boy Scouts is to teach character, citizenship, and fitness, and we often use the outdoors as our classroom," said Troop Leader Brian Chu. "As someone who knows the lessons that climbing can teach about courage and perseverance, I wanted to share that with the boys,  None of them have been climbing before, so it'll be an exciting experience for all."

The boy scouts use the retired ropes to practice knots and belay technique before venturing to the climbing gym.   "If it goes well, we'll plan an outdoor trip to Pinnacles or Castle Rock this summer," said Chu.

Reasons to Date a Climber

For many climbers, the gyms are a meat market, a place to go pick up the latest bouldering stud or sport climbing babe. For others, the climbing gyms are more of a butcher shop, a place to get shut down.  Either way, there's often good comedy surrounding the dating scene and rock climbing.  Climber relationships may be difficult at times but it's a great idea to be able to share your passion with your partner.  Here's some of the best reasons to date a climber:
 

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Read more: Reasons to Date a Climber

Think Outside the Bottle

There’s thousands of ways to help save the environment. One of the best ways, is to reuse water bottles and keep from using harmful plastic bottles.

Think Outside the Bottle, a coalition of environmentalists, businesses and nonprofit organizations, began a campaign to eliminate the sale of bottled water. Currently, the sale of bottled water is banned in 14 national parks. Think Outside the Bottle hopes to add the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Yosemite National Park as the next two parks to the growing list.

AWater bottle

Read more: Think Outside the Bottle

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

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