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.
Read more: Zodiac Solo with Alice Ng
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.
Read more: Youth Pan American Games
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.
Lyn crushing v7 3 months pregnant
Read more: Climbing Through Pregnancy
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.
Read more: Dogpatch Boulders Manager Justin Alarcon
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.
Read more: Unlocking Jailhouse
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!
Read more: Christmas Gift Ideas
Thanksgiving came fast this year. For those looking to sneak in to the gym before and after the holiday meals, the times of the gyms have changed slightly.
Diablo Rock Gym- Open November 22, Thanksgiving Day, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Berkeley Ironworks- Closed November 22, Thanksgiving Day Weekend hours on Friday, November 23
Great Western Power Company- Closed November 22, Thanksgiving Day- *CrossFit will be doing a special Thanksgiving trail run: 9AM @ Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve, Friday, November 23: NO CLASSES, gym hours 10AM to 6PM (*CrossFit will have 10am, Noon & 5pm Classes)
Sacramento Pipeworks- Closed November 22, Thanksgiving Day, Open Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The Studio- Closed November 22, Thanksgiving Day, Open Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
MetalMark- Closed November 22, Thanksgiving Day, Open Friday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
For some, climbing is a hobby. For people like Monica Aranda, climbing is a passion.
Monica, a 26 year old Berkeley Ironworks desk staffer, instructorer, graphic designer, and woman of all trades has worked for Touchstone for the past 7 years. She began climbing over 8 years ago when she joined a summer rock climbing camp and went top roping at Castle Rock in Saratoga. After high school, Monica signed up at Diablo Rock Gym and began a solid and prolific bouldering passion.
Monica’s passion for climbing comes from three distinct aspects of the sport.
Read more: Monica Aranda: BIW Staffer
Climbing at night can be unbelievably fun. The temps for climbing get better in the dark hours. Utilizing a headlamp means there is no exposure beyond the distance of the light. Also, climbers tend to keep it a little more light hearted when climbing at night. It's just fun!
To share in this nocturnal fun, once a month, MetalMarks holds a Black Out Night. All of the lights in the gym turn off. The boulders and routes light with headlamps and members have a great time. The desk staff sells headlamps for 10% off. The big open windows let in some natural lighting but the gym itself is dark. Next month MetalMark will show a movie in the cycling room during Black Out Night- another reason to join the fun.
Read more: Night Climbing