Climbing Half Dome for the Wounded Warrior Project

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. 

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Read more: Climbing Half Dome for the Wounded Warrior Project

Zero Gravity at Regional Championships

The Touchstone Zero Gravity Climbing Team just won their eighth straight USA Climbing Sport Climbing Series (SCS) Regional Championship. The competition was held at City Beach in Fremont,  on May 11. To say that Zero Gravity dominated the competition is an understatement. Out of the 20 age categories (10 Sport, 10 Speed, where only one competitor per category is scored), the team brought home 14 gold and 4 silver medals. In total, the team brought home 14 gold, 8 silver, and 7 bronze medals. In addition, of the 30 athletes on Zero Gravity, 26 of them will be moving on to the Division 1 Championships which will be held in Seattle on June 15th and 16th. 


Read more: Zero Gravity at Regional Championships

Patience and Persistence

Touchstone Climbing is always eager to support local organizations in our community. This year, we are proud to sponsor Team Specialized Racing, a Junior development team based in the Bay Area. Larry Nolan, the Team Specialized Junior Director, profiled three riders because of their 'Patience and Persistence.' "Development, confidence and humility are values that we discuss as a team," said Nolan. "But reminders are always a good thing! In sharing these three stories I hope to remind our juniors to be patient, yet persistent with their dreams and goals."

Matt"Cycling, like any sport, comes with frustration, anger, determination and glory. This season, I have raced my bike 36 times and have only won once. 36 times where I can say I gave it my all, and tried my best. Even though winning one race so far this season seems to be discouraging, it actually helps put things in perspective. I know I am on the right path to achieving my goals. The win came at Cat’s Hill Classic in the Juniors 17-18 Category last weekend. Although it is not the biggest and most important race of the year, it is surely one of my favorites as I now have won this race two years in a row. This win meant more to me than the last because I was determined to win it the “Billy Innes” way - ride away solo from the field by attacking on the climb, which I did. The win at Cat’s Hill Classic has fueled me to work harder, to never give up and to keep on pedaling." said team rider Matthew Valencia.


Read more: Patience and Persistence

Yosemite's Peregrine Falcons

220px-Falco peregrinus_nest_USFWSYosemite National Park has has been able to foster one of the most symbiotic relationships between peregrine falcons and climbers in the world. Sarah Stock, the wildlife biologist who oversees the bird and mammal projects for the park, works with other ornithologists to monitor the nests and breeding activity of the birds. Since 2009, Crystal Barnes, the full-time raptor monitor in Yosemite, has been assisting Stock with monitoring and managing the climbing closures in the park.

Currently, there are 14 pairs of birds in the park. 10 pairs are breeding and 9 of their nests, known as eyries, have been located. “Of the nesting pairs, 4 have successfully hatched young on The Rostrum, Rhombus Wall, Arch Rock, and Cascade Cliffs. The nest at Wapama Cliffs is suspected to have hatched young, and all other nesting pairs are still incubating with late breeding being observed at El Capitan’s SE Face. This pair is one month behind the typical egg-laying period for peregrines in Yosemite National Park,” said Crystal Barnes.

Read more: Yosemite's Peregrine Falcons

Partner Parties at GWPC

Working at the front desk at the gym means you hear this question a lot. 'How do I find a belay partner?' While bouldering is easy to jump into, finding a belay partner to rope up with can be more of a challenge. "It's such a shame when people cancel their membership because their belay partner has moved or is injured," said Berkeley Ironworks staff Monica Aranda. "Especially when I know we get requests for belay partners nightly. I can't think of anyone who wouldn't be psyched for a new climbing partner!"

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Stephanie Jim, who works at Great Western Power Company as the Kids Camp director, is trying to tackle the problem. "When I was younger, I loved watching the TV show Cheers," said Stephanie. "It made me happy to see a place where someone knows your name. I see this gym as my very own Cheers. It's a not just a work out facility or my job, it's a community. I want everyone to feel like a part of it." This was the motivation behind 'Partner Parties'; fun events where members and guests can meet new climbing partners. 

GWPC Partner Party 

If you're interested in participating, the next Partner Party at GWPC is on May 22nd from 6pm-8pm. If you're a member, swipe your magical membership card and you're in! If you're a guest, simply pony up for your day pass and no one will be the wiser. To get started, head over to the smoke stack in the middle of the rope walls. There, you'll find snacks to lure you in, and new friends to keep you coming back for more! 

"One you pick up a partner card, and write your name on the top," explains Stephanie. " For each new person you climb or belay with, you'l write their names down and check in at the partner table to get a raffle ticket." Boulderers are also encouraged to come out! For each new person you meet in the bouldering area (ie. give beta to, high five, etc), add their name to the card and exchange it for a ticket. Raffle winners will be announced every 20 - 30 minutes. You'll win anything from a t-shirt to a chalk bag!

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This is just one example of the fun events that Touchstone employees put on for their communities. "Wouldn't it be great if the minute you stepped into the gym, you recognized 5-10 friendly faces that immediately made you feel at home?" said Stephanie. To find out more about the upcoming Partner Party at GWPC, be sure to check out the Facebook page and invite your friends. 

Other partner finding events are on the calendar at The Studio in San Jose, Berkeley Ironworks, Mission Cliffs and Diablo Rock Gym. Find new partners and make the gym a place where everyone knows your name! 


Crush Cancer Climb-A-Thon

Want to go climbing and help save lives? (The correct answer is 'YES!')

On Saturday, May 25 Berkeley Ironworks is hosting a Climb-A-Thon to raise funds for the Women's Cancer Resource Center and the HERA Foundation. This amazing event is all thanks to the hard work of long time desk staffer Clari. "I've lost three sisters to cancer, and when I was diagnosed it came as a shock. Combining my love of climbing with raising money for such an important cause is my way of fighting back." Clari has been in remission for over a year, and is doing well! 



The Women's Cancer Resource Center creates opportunities for women with cancer to improve their quality of life through education, supportive services and practical assistance. The HERA Foundation seeks to stop the loss of women from ovarian cancer by promoting Health, Empowerment, Research, and Awareness. Both organizations have provided countless services to women with cancer and are important to support.


"This event will be a fun chance to get in a ton of climbing for a great cause. Remember Jog-a-thons? The structure is very similar," said Clari. To participate, climbers can collect pledges per climb, or a flat amount for participating in the event. Pledge sheets, along with envelopes for money, are available at the front desk at Berkeley Ironworks. Register, collect sponsors, and then climb or boulder your heart out! You can register as a group or individual. A minimum of $50 per participant must be turned in at the time of the event. 


Everyone is encouraged to come out and climb! Raffle tickets are on sale now at Berkeley Ironworks, and prizes include So iLL swag, Jim Thornburg guidebooks, and more! We are also looking for volunteers with belay cards to belay. Be sure to email Clari at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  if you are interested in volunteering for the event. 

When it comes to raising money for cancer - everyone is a winner. But Touchstone Climbing will be offering prizes for those who raise the most money to sweeten the deal. 

1st Place- 3 months free membership

2nd Place- 2 months free membership

3rd Place- 1 month free membership

We're so happy to be hosting such an important fundraising event! Encourage your friends to come out and climb to CRUSH cancer! 

BIW belayer

How to be Prepared for TBS8

TBS8 at Dogpatch Boulders is just days away! The ambassadors of psych here at Touchstone Headquarters have put together a handy check list to ensure that you are prepared for all the fun and frivolities. Follow these easy steps and you'll be ready to roll from the moment you walk in! 

#1. Know what TBS8 is.

Over 8 years ago, when some of the Zero Gravity crushers were still in diapers, Touchstone Climbing started a bouldering competition. The comp series toured each of our gyms, bringing new problems, food, and fun to each location. This gave us a chance to throw our members a huge party while encouraging them to journey to surrounding gyms and meet their counterparts. The tradition has continued, and with 8 gyms in the Touchstone Dynasty, TBS8 has been in full swing for the last 7 months. 

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Our comp series are open to climbers of all levels, and competitors can register in the beginner, intermediate, or advanced categories. The event will run from 12pm-5pm on Saturday, May 4th and you are can climb and turn in score cards anytime through the event. TBS8 is FREE to members and only $10 for guests. Winners in the advanced categories will go on to compete in finals at 6pm. 

#2. Print out a Waiver!  

You already signed a waiver, but competitions are special and we'd like another one. Touchstone Climbing Waiver. <--- Print this up and proceed to step 3. 

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#3. Find your Touchstone Competition ID number.

We are pretty legit when it comes to competitions. Each competitor has a unique 3 letter code for registration and scoring. Knowing your code ahead of time will help conserve your energy for all the climbing you are about to do. You need the 3 letter code to get a score card. TBS8 Registration It will look a little something like what you see below. If this is your FIRST competition in over a year, register for the comp to find your code. If you have been to a comp in the past year, look up your code. 


After you have your three letter code, write it atop your waiver. It should look a little something like this:  

TBS8 Registration

#4. Get psyched. This is gonna be huge. See you Saturday! 

For more information check out our Facebook Event Page for TBS8 at Dogpatch Boulders

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.

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“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

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