On Sunday, December 30, 2012, the Senate met for a rare Sunday session during which they passed a bipartisan bill creating a new 25,000 acre park. Pinnacles National Monument will be joining Joshua Tree, Yosemite, Zion, and over 50 other destinations as a national park. In 1908 at the urging of environmentalist John Muir, President Theodore Roosevelt established 2,500 acres 80 miles southeast of San Francisco in the Gabilan Mountains as a National Monument. Since Pinnacles’ inception, the area has served as hub for rock climbing.
The New Year provides a great time to reflect on the previous season’s climbing goals and equipment.
After enough time climbing, the rubber on climbing shoes wears thin, ropes become frayed, and harnesses become worn. Identifying a hole in the shoe or a soft spot rope provide an easy way to know when to retire them. Climbing harnesses provide another challenge. Even experts make mistakes when retiring gear and unfortunately the costs are significant.
Every year, hundreds vow to change their lives with the New Year. In January, the number of new members at the Touchstone gyms increases greatly as people fight off the holiday weight. Exercising more and losing weight are two of the most common New Year’s resolutions. Achieving these resolutions can be easier by remembering a few steps.
Everyone wants to improve at his or her passion. Michael White, a Berkeley resident and Sydney Australia native, began his climbing career during Christmas of 2009. Though a new climber, White wanted to perform better at climbing. He wanted stronger fingers but worried that excessive hang board training would damage the tendons and pulleys in his fingers. The freelance web developer and consultant wanted to make a better training device. After playing with different devices attached to the cable pulley machines at his local gym, he invented the Gripster.
White's work on the Gripster started on Thanksgiving of 2010. Since his early models, White has been the sole employee of Gripster, creating three different shapes, building an online store, designing t-shirts, and creating a significant amount of marketing work.
The initial prototypes utilized a wooden box with campus strips. While the box could be attached to a cable pulley and used on any amount of weight, the beginning molds lacked the shape that White wanted. White played with the polyurethane resin used to make climbing holds, shaping with foam and making molds. After a few attempts, White made a 3D scan of a mold and adjusted the shape.
“Eventually I got to a point where I was happy with the shape,” said White. He created a final laser cut mold with a logo and URL embedded into them.
Unlike conventional hang boards, which utilize a single static position, the Gripster’s connection point allows for dynamic resistance as well as static positions. The three different molds can be attached to a cable pulley in the gym or hung from a pull up bar. This allows for different amounts of weight in a variety of positions to be used. Attaching the Gripster to a cable pulley allows for pulling on a vertical or horizontal axis. “Basically your imagination is the only limitation,” said White.
Check out this video of some basic exercises that you can do with three of the different shapes that White has developed.
Want to work on weak fingers by doing monos at a low weight or bulk up with additional weight on big holds? The Gripster provides a perfect solution to these climbing demands. Currently, the three different models are available for demos at Berkeley Ironworks, Diablo Rock Gym, and GWPC.
White’s Indie GoGo page offers a great place to support White and the Gripster! We're so pleased to have seen this invention from conception to implementation! Good Luck!
Daniel O'Shea joined the GWPC community 2 years ago with the intent (like many others) to change his life and get healthy. For him, the means to this end was CrossFit. Since starting CrossFit in February 2011, Daniel has dropped 80 pounds, and more than doubled his strength gains. He recently performed a strict pull-up for the first time, which was one of his personal fitness goals for 2012.
GWPC spent a few minutes with Daniel to talk about his physical journey, training regimen and opinions on “The Sport of Fitness”.
GW: Daniel, first off thanks for agreeing to meet with us, and congratulations on getting your first pull-up!
DO: Thanks, it was one of my last fitness goals for 2012, so I’m glad I was able to get it before the end of the year.
GW: How did you find out about our CrossFit Program?
DO: I had been curious about CrossFit for a while, since I have some friends who had tried it and seen very good results. I was initially pretty reluctant to try it because it seemed very intense, I was so out of shape, and I thought I would hurt myself. I knew that to be successful, I was going to need help, especially since it had been 5+ years since I had worked out with any sort of intensity/focus, and I wanted one on one instruction to see if CrossFit was right for me. While I was still looking for a gym/trainer, I found the CrossFit East Bay website (crossfiteastbay.com), and got in touch with Max Lewin (CFEB Owner & Program Manager at GWPC). He responded really quickly, and since the gym was close to my office, I walked over the next day to check it out and loved the place. I signed up for a membership on the spot.
GW: How long have you been doing CrossFit?
DO: I started in February 2011, so almost 2 years. My weight when I started CrossFit was 265 lbs. and I am currently at 185.
GW: What’s your favorite workout?
DO: My favorite workout is “Karen” (150 wall ball reps with 20# ball to a 10’ target for time) because it was the first workout that I could do Rx (as prescribed).
GW: A lot of folks are intimidated by CrossFit, especially given the aggressive nature of the workouts. What would you say to someone who asked you about the culture of CrossFit and more specifically, the CFEB community?
DO: I’d say that it’s just that, a community. I’ve found the people to be highly supportive and encouraging. Of course it helps that we have similar fitness goals, but outside of that, most of the people I’ve met have just been good people.
GW: Do you have any goals for 2013?
DO: Well, there are 3 “core” skills that I still haven’t gotten yet: Double Unders, Handstand Pushups and Muscle Ups. Ideally I’d like to get all three next year, but if I were able to do any of them, I’d still be psyched. Also, I’d like to try climbing (bouldering) next year.
GW: Thanks again Daniel, we’re psyched to have been a part of your transformation, and wish you continued success with CrossFit (and hopefully soon, climbing)!
DO: No problem, thanks to all my trainers and workout buddies at CrossFit East Bay and GWPC!
Picture being alone on a sea of granite for over a week. Climbing one of the world's largest granite formations by yourself is an intimidating prospect, and for Alice Ng, a Berkeley Ironworks member, it was quite the adventure.
Over 10.5 days in the end of September and early October, Alice Ng made her second ascent of El Cap, rope soloing the Zodiac of El Capitan. Though her big wall resume includes the Leaning Tower, Washington’s Column, and The Nose of El Capitan, this was her first big wall solo.
Climbing El Cap requires an enormous amount of labor. Often, hauling and jumaring take more energy than the actual climbing. “I think anyone can climb a big wall, they just have to learn the systems and want it bad enough,” said Alice Ng. Still, climbing El Cap takes a lot of tenacity and remains a big goal in itself. To solo the formation is another feat entirely.
Every year young climbers from across North America, from Canada, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela, Brazil and the USA gather together for the Pan American Championships. This fall, a number of talented bay area climbers traveled to South America for the competition.
On November 22nd until the 25th, Touchstone’s Zero Gravity youth team members, as part of the US National team, traveled to Santiago, Chile for the Youth Pan American Championships. The competition consisted of Sport, Bouldering and Speed for the 14-19 year old age group and Sport and Speed for the 12-13 year old age group.
Over Thanksgiving weekend, Lyn Barraza made the arduous hike to the Druid Boulders in Bishop, California. After warming up with a highly attentive spot from her husband Paul, Lyn fired Brother Law, an aethestic V3 arête near the Skye Stone. The technical problem required hours of effort from the other climbers at the boulders... and no one else was 7 months pregnant.
Over the years, I have seen a number of women climb hard during their pregnancies. In Squamish, Thomasina Pidgeon danced up 5.10+ slab routes while very pregnant with her daughter. In Rifle Colorado, Lauren Lee hiked my 5.12+ sport project on toprope while 7 months pregnant.
For Justin Alarcon this fall has been a very good season. On October 27th, he married his long time love Becky Trafecanty. Then on October 29th, the Giants swept the world series. A week later, he went to Kalymnos, Greece for a honeymoon sport climbing trip. And upon his return, Touchstone announced that Alarcon had been selected as the Manager of Dogpatch Boulders, our newest gym.
“Should I buy a lottery ticket before the year is over!?” Alarcon joked in an interview with the Touchstone blog.
Picture one of California's best climbing areas. A place with nearly a hundred routes, that is climbable through rainy winter days, and features some of the most difficult climbing in the state. Now, imagine the access to that amazing crag was in trouble of being closed. For nearly 20 years, Jailhouse Rock has struggled with access issues. But recently, thanks to a few individuals and a large amount of support from the climbing community, access to Jailhouse has been unlocked.
The Access Fund made a great video about unlocking the crag.
Looking for holiday gift ideas for the climber in your life? All Touchstone gyms carry a wide array of items. From stocking stuffers to that amazing present, stop by your favorite gym and check out some of our goods!
For stocking stuffers, the gyms sell small items like chalk, Clif and Luna bars, and hand warmers. Headlamps also make a great small gift item. There are a number of amazing chalk bags available that can become stocking themselves!