The Touchstone community fosters a number of great projects from climbers. Recently, Andrea Jensen started Beyond the 100th, a company that produces climbing chalk bags.
Jensen, a seven year veteran at Berkeley Ironworks, climber began making the unique style of Beyond the 100th chalkbags in early 2013.
Using material from old synthetic and down jackets, Jensen sews together stylish and functional chalk bags. “I wanted to have a unique style and just happen to wear puffy coats,” said Jensen. “I garnered feedback from a few friends who are designers for outdoor clothing companies and they loved the idea
The locally crafted bags have gathered a solid following in the Bay area climbing community with climbers in the south and north part of the bay climbing at Cosumnes River Gorge, Castle Rock and across the state with the bags. Jensen has been able to see her hard work in action. “Its a proud moment knowing that I took an idea and saw my idea through the design,” said Jensen, “sourcing of all the materials and finding someone that could sew the bags locally for me! It's been a lot of fun, but a lot of work “
Beyond the 100th refers to beyond the 100th meridian or longitude. “This signifies the American West and where we find adventure in the outdoors,” said Jensen. “Coincidentally this is also the name of a Wallace Stegner book about John Wesley Powell's trek down the Colorado River.”
The bags area available through Beyond the 100th Facebook page where she posts pictures of the bags in action.
Mike Papciak, a well-known Bay Area climber and bodyworker, has been a longtime member of the Touchstone community. Born in Detroit and growing up in Atlanta Georgia, Papciak traveled and climbed across the western United States before arriving in 1992 at Diablo Rock Gym Manager Hans Florine's Bay Area home. Mike has climbed for more than 30 years and has helped climbers with their bodies for the past six. He spoke with the Touchstone blog about climbing and bodywork.
John Vallejo snapped this photo of Mike climbing at Mortar Rock
When did you start climbing?
1983 during the Atlanta years. Westerners might not know it, but Atlanta is in fact a great climbing town. I wish I had more time there.
How did you start climbing?
My high school youth group took a bus trip around the U.S. after freshman year. This included a few days in Yosemite. I saw dudes bouldering in Camp 4 and that was it. We also hiked Half Dome and looked over the edge and that was it, too. I went back home and used the Rockcraft books and the Sierra Club book that was shot at Indian Rock, and taught myself how to climb from those. Mostly bouldering, because there were some funky jungle-covered boulders within biking distance. Usually I climbed alone, no pads, just me and the skeeters. This is probably how I fell in love with The Move. Eventually I found a couple partners and mowed enough lawns to buy some Goldline, a Whillans harness, and some hexes. There were no gyms and we were always keen to climb, so we did weird, nerdy stuff like free-solo skyhooking on the sides of brick buildings, rappelling off the high school at midnight, lots of buildering and traversing on retaining walls. A couple times a month we could take the car and the rain would stop and we'd get out to the excellent crags of North Georgia, Alabama, Chattanooga, etc. My first love has always been bouldering: simple, powerful, social, solitary. I'll never quit.
What are some of the highlights from your climbing career?
France in 1993. I spent a month there, mostly at Ceuse, which is one of the best and most gorgeous crags in the world, at a time before internet media, when little was knowable in advance about these almost-mythical places. Most of the homies who went to France back then did so with a crew of other Americans. They'd rent a house and a car together, climb with the same partners they climbed with at home, and have lots of bickering and drama. Fine and good, but I wanted the cultural sink-or-swim experience, so I went alone, took a train down south from Paris, hitchhiked to the crags (I got an epic ride thru the Hautes-Alpes in a convertible Maserati), and climbed with random Euros. I did some 7c onsights and a few 5.13s in a couple tries each. Brilliant routes on immaculate rock in an exotic setting. Hueco in the late 80s/early 90s was another highlight: open, empty, and quiet. A secret that hadn't been spoiled yet. You would actually be psyched to run into other climbers in the park, because it was so rare, and because it was so cool to run into other climbers who came all the way to west Texas to go bouldering. Like meeting members of the lost tribe. My indoor highlight was winning a couple comps in the mid-90s, which showed me that people who were too cool to talk to you beforehand would come up to you after you won, and kiss your ass -- lame! Locally, my highlight is the second ascent of The Kraken at Mortar in March 1997. Over thirty years of climbing, my first ascent record has been undistinguished: a couple forgettable routes in Arizona and a few eliminates on the local choss around the Bay Area, the best of which is probably Hoop Dreams -- all five feet of it. I'm noticing that all my highlights are from last century! Hilarious and pathetic. Time to go climbing.
Mike doing body work in Berkeley
What do you do for work?
I'm a bodyworker. The paperwork says "massage therapist," and that term is correct if you want to use it, but there's some baggage around the word "massage" that I don't like, and it also suggests an approach and style of working that's different from what I do. The term bodywork has been in use for a few decades and I like its literalness: I work on bodies. I work with all of your contractile and connective tissue -- muscles, fascia, tendons, ligaments -- to unravel the stored tension, adhesion, and neuromuscular dysfunction that we naturally accumulate with the stress and exertion of modern life. I help with pain or discomfort if you're injured chronically or acutely; I help optimize performance if you're a performing artist or athlete; and I help give you more ease and relaxation in your body. Working closely with different kinds of people and their experience of embodiment is truly special. I love it. My practice is diverse: in a given week, I might see a pro climber, a retiree training for the AIDS ride, a computer professional with hand and wrist problems, a choral singer who needs more ribcage mobility, a yoga teacher, an exhausted parent or two, and a couple folks who are refugees from mediocre massage and want some expert, precise, thorough bodywork, and deep relaxation. I also teach individuals and corporate groups how to self-treat their own aches and pains. I call this muscle hygiene: just like brushing your teeth, you can, in a few minutes' time maybe twice a day, live with less pain, more comfort, and better performance. Take care of your musculature and you will reap astounding benefits.
How does bodywork apply to climbing?
One of my basic messages is: your body's probably not as injured as you think it is. But it needs maintenance. Maintenance takes time, effort, and money. Many climbers and other athletes come to see me after months of despair over what they assume is some kind of slow-healing tendonitis or joint-related problem. Often it turns out that the tendon healed long ago, and the joint is undamaged. Their lingering pain, weakness, and restriction comes from adhesion, dysfunction, and compensation in the surrounding neighborhood of contractile tissue. When those areas are restored to full functionality, the supposed tendon problem dissipates. Another basic message is: even the good stuff makes us tight. This includes our exercise -- climbing, running, even yoga. It's not that these things are bad, or as climbers like to say, "hard on the body" -- our bodies evolved beautifully to do things like run and climb. Instead, where many of us blow it is in the aftercare. We don't do that maintenance. We might do a hasty warmup, throw a few stretches at our hamstrings now and then, and do some pushups, and think we're being all sophisticated and preventing injury. Those pushups won't do anything to release tension from overloaded and imbalanced shoulders. And stretching can actually make us tighter. (This is not to be confused with yoga, which is so much more than stretching. Yoga is one of the best technologies I have encountered for staying healthy in your body, and it is a shoulder re-education like no other. I predict that in the future, yoga will be considered essential cross-training and injury prevention for climbers.) What's missing from many climbers' programs is release work. This is my generic term for therapies that release tension and adhesion in the musculature: bodywork, massage therapy, chiropractic, self-treatment with foam rollers and other tools, etc. I'll leave you with this thought: A tight muscle is a weak muscle. It takes much more effort to use a muscle that's stiff and dysfunctional than to use a muscle that's pliable and responsive. Tight muscles are also slower, less coordinated, and more prone to tearing, spasm, and injury. An athlete who's not getting regular release work from a practitioner and/or doing it on their own is hobbling their performance. Loosen up!
Has climbing helped with your bodywork, and has your bodywork helped with your climbing at all?
Yes in both directions. They're great cross-training for each other. Climbing keeps me strong for working on bodies. Working on bodies five days a week is a kind of manual labor, so after some years of decline, I'm getting stronger again. Now I just gotta take a climbing trip!
Find out more on mikepapciak.com, and Like Mike Papciak Bodywork Facebook to ask questions and receive occasional content about bodywork and your health.
There's just something different in the air. Spring has already sprung, graduate students are looking even more stressed out than usual, and the Tioga Pass is about to open. This could only mean one thing, SUMMER IS HERE!
Over at Touchstone land, we know that summer is a time where everything happens a little differently. Perhaps you're a student back in town for the summer, or a teacher who final has a little 'YOU' time. Whatever the reason, we've got an awesome deal on NOW.
Presenting... our 3 month Summer Membership. This pre-paid special membership is available now at every Touchstone Climbing gym. Stop by, check it out, and make the most out of your summer!
There are often times in life when you enter into an assignment or situation believing that you know exactly how something will turn out, only to find many surprises along the way. These unanticipated circumstances may bring stress to set deadlines, but in the end may yield very exciting and unexpected results. For example, take the story of this month’s member, Brad Sandoval.
When you first lay eyes on Brad, it seems natural to categorize him as a formidable presence with an overwhelmingly serious demeanor. Off the mat, he is a humble and approachable man living with no computer and making time for the things closest to his heart...training for Jiu-Jitsu and enjoying good food.
As the deadline for my story quickly approached, I anxiously checked my email time and time again only to find nothing there. The questions I wrote remained unanswered, and I watched as April was drawing to a close. I almost felt as if the interview would never come to fruition, and THEN THEY CAME!! Brad showed up at the last minute of the last day before the end of the month with 9 pages of torn out yellow notepad paper with his handwritten responses. Each answer was crafted with a genuine heartfelt explanation that could only be attributed to someone who loves what he does. In this case, it was talking about Jiu-Jitsu with you and I, the readers. I can guarantee that once you read the interview, you will want to know more about this man, Brad Sandoval, and the martial art that he holds so dear to his heart. His experience, knowledge, and instruction is offered to you weekly just for being a member at Sacramento Pipeworks! Stop in, take a class, and say “hello”.
Bove: What does a typical Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class consist of and what can I expect if it were my first experience with the sport?
Sandoval: A normal practice session is 1 ½ hours, including a 10-15 minute warm-up/stretch incorporating many of the same movements we use in Jiu-Jitsu, followed by 30-45 minutes of instruction/practice with a partner, aka “drilling”. The last 30-45 minutes we “roll”.
Bove: How would I prepare for the class from a fitness perspective?
Sandoval: As far as physical preparation, I would suggest being well hydrated, because you will sweat! Aside from that, having an open mind and willingness to learn would be at the top of my list. Jiu-Jitsu is like chess in the way that you first learn how each piece moves before you develop strategies to checkmate other players...or a musical instrument where, you practice scales and chords repeatedly to develop mind and muscle memory; with enough practice, you can create music.
B: Is it something suitable for all ages and abilities?
S: Jiu-Jitsu is for all ages, however, at Sacramento Pipeworks we only offer classes for adults. Hopefully, in the future we will expand to offer classes for children. That being said, if a young person is mature enough to take the class they are welcome.
B: Would it make a difference if I wore normal workout clothes, or is there something specific that I should wear to class?
S: We practice with both the Gi (Kimono) and without Gi. For example, shorts and T-shirts. (Please check our class schedule for “Gi” or “No Gi” specification, days and class times.)
B: Is there a martial arts lifestyle and/or philosophy involved in the culture of the practice?
S: When you learn to see Jiu-Jitsu as a whole, you learn to accept a victory or defeat, to forgive your adversary, and to be more humble and balanced.
B: From a historical standpoint, can you tell us more about Jiu-Jitsu and its origin? What makes Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu different from other styles?
S: Mitsuyo Maeda was a Judo expert and a member of the Kodokan Judo Institute in Japan, and a student of Jikoro Kano, Judo’s founder. Unlike many members of the Kodokan Judo Institute who believed that the art should be demonstrated mainly through teaching and performing Kata, Maeda advocated demonstrating through actual combat. While Judo tends to focus more on throws and takedowns, Maeda’s style highlighted grappling in which Maeda was a specialist adding his innovations and philosophies. Maeda would compete in challenge matches against fighters from around the world, where he was more often than not the smaller combatant. Eventually stories spread of a smaller Asian man defeating larger, stronger opponents of many disciplines,including boxing and wrestling with little effort, rightfully earning Maeda the nickname, Mr. Impossible. Maeda traveled the world making a living through Judo demonstrations and prize fights.
In 1914, Maeda arrived in Brazil where he was befriended by a politician named Gastao Gracie, who at the time was helping Japanese colonies migrate to Brazil. Out of appreciation, Maeda offered to teach Judo to Gastao’s 14 year old son Carlos, who would in turn teach his brothers. Maeda not only passed along his techniques, but also his philosophies on combat. These techniques and philosophies would lay the foundation for Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. The Gracie family would go on to reveal the mysteries of Jiu-Jitsu to the world. Mitsuyo Maeda would never know the impact he made by giving us the gift of his martial art. THANK YOU MITSUYO MAEDA!
B: Where did you study and who was your mentor throughout the years?
S: I began practicing Jiu-Jitsu with Gi in 2001 in Wildomar, CA under then brown belt and great instructor, Jeff Bolton. That gym closed around 2003, so I began training No Gi (without Gi) Jiu-Jitsu, Muy Thai Kickboxing, and wrestling under UFC & Pride Fighting Championship Veteran, Chris Brennan of Next Generation Fight Academy in Temecula, CA until 2005. In 2005 he moved his Academy to Texas, which was unfortunate for my training. It was at this time that I decided to move back to my hometown of Sacramento, where 2003 World Champion professor Cassio Werneck runs his Academy in Citrus Heights. I have practiced at Cassio Werneck’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu academy from 2005 to the present.
B: How and when did someone with your experience and competitive prowess come to be an instructor at Sacramento Pipeworks?
S: About 2 years ago, my friend and fellow student under Cassio Werneck, Wayne Gregory (AKA the white Dave Chappelle), whom I am sure that many of you know from climbing here at Sacramento Pipeworks, asked if I would be interested in teaching here. I said, “Absolutely!” and was introduced to Vaughn Medford, General Manager Extraordinaire of the greatest gym in the world! The rest is history.
B: Do you have any rewarding moments and/or stories about yourself that you can share with us?
S: Some of my most rewarding moments include seeing my students improve and reach their goals.
B: What time/day can we join your class, and how many other people are normally present?
S: We have class Monday-Friday at 6 PM. An average class has 5-10 Jiu-Jitsu players give or take, and growing.
B: If you could be any type of animal, what would you be and why?
S: I would be a Na’vi (Avatar)...how cool would that be?!
On May 10th we will welcome youth climbers from across the state to compete in the SCS Youth Regionals Competition at Berkeley Ironworks.
What Competitors Need to Know
Get psyched kid crushers! For the first time in [possibly] your whole lives, Touchstone Climbing will be hosting climbing comps right here on your home turf! This means that you’ll have the home field advantage while competing in regionals this year. This is a USA Climbing events, which means to compete you must have competed in 2 Local comps registered online.
For those visiting from out of town - welcome! Berkeley Ironworks is easily accessible and has ample street parking. On the day of the event, we'll be on hand and answer any questions regarding parking or food options.
We're very excited to be hosting the event, and we've heard a lot of positive feedback from Touchstone Athletes who are preparing for the comp!
I want to tell you how grateful we are that Touchstone agreed to host SCS Regionals! It is so nice for all the climbers and their families in Northern California to stay at home and avoid the time and expense of traveling for the comp. I also know our friends in the Pacific Northwest are also looking to coming here for the comp, climbing in a new gym and spending some time checking out the City. I’m excited that other climbers will get to check out our 2 favorite ropes gyms. Our kids have been wearing Touchstone on their uniforms for years. Now they get to compete there. Thanks!! - Jim Rogers
Thank you, thank you! We are so thrilled that Touchstone is hosting the upcoming youth Regionals and Divisionals. This not only gives us a chance to show off our fabulous home gyms, but it also is a great advantage for our home team - Zero Gravity. In recent years, our team members have had to get up before 6 am to drive to comps, or even worse, fly somewhere and stay in a hotel. This time they get to sleep in their own beds and climb in their own beloved gyms. And they are going to crush it!!! Thanks a ton! - Annie Leonard
Having regionals at Ironworks is a huge improvement to our region as far as gyms go. The walls are perfect for competition, the setters are all quality setters, and the spaciousness of the gym allows for a relaxed environment rather than a closed-in room. Touchstone being so close is another plus, as well as the familiarity of the place for Zero Gravity and the other local competitors. -Nick
What Members Need to Know:
You are more than welcome to come to the gym in Saturday to watch the young guns crush your proj. But be warned: The gym will be very busy and while bouldering and climbing on the back slabs will be open.. this miiight be a day to visit another gym. But be SURE to come to the gym on Sunday, May 11th. (Be sure to call your mother first and wish her a happy Mother's Day!)
We'll have an informal self-scoring ropes comp so all us big kids can take the brand new competition style routes for a spin. We will also be BBQ'ing out front so bring your game face for the comp routes and your hungry face for the BBQ. RSVP on our Facebook page so we know how much grub to grill!
In early April The SF Park and Recreation department shut down climbing at the 'localest of local' crags, the Beaver Street Wall and Glen Canyon. While a reasons are unconfirmed, we are hoping to work with Bay Area Climbers Coalition, Access Fund and other local climbers to help re-open these areas.
Bay Area climbers Matt Ulery and Tresa Black have been working with the Parks and Rec department to set up a meeting and discuss how the climbing community can work with the city to preserve and protect these areas. "Sure it's small crag," said Ulery. "But if we let the little ones go, then what happens when a larger area is threatened?"
Touchstone Climbing has created post cards with the following text that are available at Mission Cliffs and Dogpatch Boulders.
I am concerned about the proposal to eliminate or prohibit rock climbing activity at Beaver Street Wall and Glen Canyon. Recreation in urban environments like San Francisco is limited, almost non-existant for rock climbers. These are valuable resources to the climbing community. Whether reported complaints are substantiated or not, the climbing community is as firmly against any form of modification to the rock or the associated environment as anyone. We can be part of any solution, if there really is a problem. Please don't restrict rock climbing at Beaver Street Wall and Glen Canyon.
We will be collecting completed cards to present to the Parks and Recreation Department. Please consider stopping by the gym to express your support and try to keep responsible outdoor climbing in San Francisco a reality!
Never been to the crag? Check out the description from Mountain Project:
Located in the city of San Francisco, this area is part of the San Francisco Parks system, so access is not a concern. You're in San Francisco, so the weather can be wonderful, but is most likely going to be foggy and windy. This small area holds some interesting climbing on very glasslike rock, that can be quite tough on the hands, and in places almost impossible to smear. On the harder routes, if you can find it a grip, finger hold, nub, anything, you'll probably need it.
This crag contains some great balancy moves, despite it's limited number of climbs. The area holds several climbs that are topropeable, and also several could potentially be climbed trad, though it would be a frightening lead on the tougher routes. To setup a toprope, walk around the left side of the rock and climb the loose rock in the trees for 20 feet or so. This will lead you to fence and a path, which will lead up to some rusty (but solid) chains that are directly above the main crack. Conceivably you could also top rope other sections using the fence for an anchor. If you're not comfortable with the 20 ft scramble and traverse over potentially slick grass and mud, the chains can be reached via a staircase and walk that ascend toward the Randall Museum about 5 or 6 houses south from Beaver Street. Just bear right as the Museum comes into view above the tennis courts.
Earlier this spring, a group of Berkeley climbers headed to one of the best rock climbing destinations in Oregon. Ben Steel wrote a bit about the group's trip for the Touchstone blog.
I suppose the first thing I should do is apologize to you for the misleading title. I haven’t been hiding this trip report away for 5 years just so I can spring it on you now; it’s just that “Spring Break Oh-Nine” has a much better ring to it than “Spring Break Twenty-Fourteen” when you scream it along the base of the crag. Or at least that’s what “Red Ben” Corbett said the first day we were there. We had heard some other spring breakers screaming the chronologically correct, age-old mantra of college students everywhere and he thought it could use some sprucing up.
Regardless of how we titled it, we were on spring break from UC Berkeley, and were up at Smith Rock to sample some of the United State’s finest “sport” climbing. I put sport in quotations since the bolt spacing at Smith is a far cry from the gym. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy small runouts; they induce a moderate level of terror and make the climbing take on an adventurous feel, which is ironic seeing that I was often clipping pre-hung draws after a 5-10 minute walk from the car. The great Cal Climbing herd and all around madhouse.
Photo Ben Steel
Anyway, for this trip we managed to bring along quite a large number of folks from the Cal Climbing Team. I believe the final tally was with 27 people, 15 tents and 7 cars, all crammed into one sweet (not) group campsite. Since only two people in our group had ever been to Smith before it was everyone else’s first time there. And, as with most of our group trips, this one involved a lot of other “firsts” as well. There were a handful of “first times climbing outside”, “first leads”, “first harness purchases”, “first trad leads”, and even my personal favorite “first time freezing your ass off in that insufficient sleeping bag you brought.” This is one of my favorite parts about being on the climbing team, being able to introduce new people to climbing outdoors and new types of climbing that they may not have been able to experience had they not come along on one of our trips. For example, a couple of people on the team had never climbed more than single pitch routes, and they got to climb this sweet multipich 5.7 along with some of the more experienced leaders.
Riding the arête on The Last Waltz 5.12c. Photo Casey Zak
Climbing at Smith was quite different from the trips I’m used to taking to places like Yosemite or the Needles. In the valley we usually (always) end up hiking (way) farther than we anticipated for some climb that’s not necessarily on the beaten path. Smith on the other hand is a 6 minute drive from the campground and a 7 minute walk from the parking lot, has nicely built and maintained trails, and has toilets at the crag! That’s right, if you had to cut down to sending weight before your next burn you didn’t even have to make the 7 minute walk back to the bathroom at the parking lot, you could just saunter over and take care of business in comfort and privacy. Also, the main area is literally littered with classic climbs of all grades. There are 5.14’s two climbs away from 5.10’s, which are four climbs away from 5.12’s, which are right next to 5.6’s. My climbing partner Casey always says that one of the things that makes climbing so great is how elite climbers are so accessible and easy to interact with for the everyday climber. Now it’s not as if I swapped belays with Ondra or anything, but basically climbers of all levels were climbing within spitting distance of each other all day. I always find watching climbers who are better than me is a great way to generate psych, and I must say that it helped me to try hard on my routes when I knew that right around the corner someone was climbing 5.14.
Ana Stirniman on Chain Reaction 5.12c Photo by Casey Zak
But I’m getting ahead of myself. With an alpine start time of 8:30 PM, we drove through Friday night, crammed into Casey’s Pathfinder (affectionately named Lonestar) like a bunch of sardines. We were so wrecked by the drive we couldn’t really sleep much, but were up and getting ready to climb by 8am. In terms of being comfortable and well rested for the trip I’d say we nailed it.
Apparently a lot of schools had spring break that first weekend so the main area was packed that first day! The full range of climbers, from crusher to first timer, was out in full force and basically every route with over 2 stars had a line to climb it. On top of that, the beautiful scenery attracts non-climbers from far and wide. With 2 hours of sleep and a swarming mass of climbers, dogs, children, backpacks, hikers, runners, walkers, joggers, and families to contend with I felt okay with only climbing 5 routes over the span of 8 or so hours. However, we did manage to get on some pretty cool stuff that day. The highlight was when Casey flashed a notoriously stiff 12a that was essentially a long series of slopey crimps that sucked away all hope as soon as you touched them. Somehow he held on through the crux and battled his way up the top headwall to the anchors for a proud send. Back at camp that night we were so exhausted we went to bed at 8.
Casey: stoked to climb on our first day or delirious from lack of sleep? Photo Ben Steel
The second day we decided to ditch the crowds and climb on the Monkey’s Face instead. Unlike many climbing destinations, at Smith, avoiding crowds is as simple as walking to the other side of the formation. The Monkey’s Face is one of the most iconic sights in all of Oregon and is definitely worth the extra 15-minutes of hiking (did I mention how much I liked the approaches at Smith?). It’s a super rad formation that, depending on the angle you view it from, looks either like a perfect monkey’s face (duh) or disturbingly phallic.
Guess which view this is! Northwest Corner (green) and The Backbone (red) on the Monkey’s Face. Photo Ben Steel
Casey and Steven climbed the Backbone (13a) while David and myself tackled the Northwest Corner (12a). The Northwest Corner was frickin’ amazing! The first two pitches can be led in one massive 50-meter pitch up through the band of red rock to end on the biggest cave/ledge you can imagine. The route involves long reaches between perfect fingerlocks and sweet laybacks on gear with 3 bolts sprinkled into the mix. After a fun and semi-cruiser bottom section I ended up making it through what I thought was the crux and was able to catch my breath on some okay jugs with bad feet. Once somewhat recovered, I launched into the “easy” section above only to find the actual crux of the route, get pumped out of my mind, and take a nice big whipper to put me in my place. Trying it again, I soon found myself shaking with fatigue above a couple of well-spaced and suspect cam placements while staring at a bolt guarded by a mantle-highstep move with a smeary foot…It was a full exhilarating (read: terrifying) minute before I committed, scrunched my knee into my face, and got to better holds. The rest of the day was a blast, except when some other party dropped the rope that I had left fixed so Steven and Casey could do a double rope rappel from the top of the formation. Luckily I saw it happen and nobody ended up stuck on top of the Monkey. I will say, whenever you come across a fixed line, provided it’s not dangerous, you should always leave it where it is and simply be thankful that you can speed up your rappelling.
Over the next few days we checked out the Lower Gorge, which has some simply amazing basalt column climbing, took a rest day in Bend where we sampled the local brews, and tried to get on as many of the classic climbs in the main area as we could.
For me, one of the most memorable and impressive parts of the rest of the trip was watching fellow Touchstone employee Steven Roth put in some hard work on Scarface, the first 5.14 (now 13d) done by an American (Scott Franklin in 1988). It climbs a shallow corner in this really cool, sweeping wall, before pulling onto a scary looking slab above. The movement is really cool looking, involving massive moves between two finger pockets. The only thing is, Steven’s fingers are so thick that for him it’s massive moves between monos. In an overhang. With bad feet. I guess that’s why it’s 5.13+/14-. Watching him climb was one of the craziest displays of strength I’ve ever witnessed, especially when he made some of the aforementioned moves look relatively casual.
We ended the trip on Thursday, since I had work Friday and the weather was supposed to take a massive dump on Smith the next day. Once again, we drove from 8PM to 5AM, and once again it was one of the most uncomfortable 9 hours I’ve ever spent. However, I’d gladly endure that heinous car ride again since Smith is definitively one of the best climbing destinations out there.
If you ever do find yourself at Smith (and you should), here’s a list of the climbs I’d put on the must do list:
9 gallon buckets (5.10, morning glory wall )
Churning in the Wake (5.13a, morning glory wall) Supposedly the extension, Churning in the Sky is even better and still only 13a
The Last Waltz (5.12c, the dihedrals) Super rad!
Northwest Corner(5.12a, monkey face) also Mega rad!
Pure Palm (5.11a, lower gorge)
The Pearl (5.11b, lower gorge)
Chain Reaction (5.12c, dihedrals)
Crossfire (5.12b, dihedrals)
Spiderman(5.7, three pitches)