Member of the Month: John F. Davis
By: Jason Bove
When someone truly cares about themselves and their daily practices, it shines through onto the people that encounter them daily. An interesting human that we see very frequently, because of his practices, is member John F. Davis. He is a gentleman who sees things through the eyes of experience, and is always able to smile and tell you how his day is going. You may have been dazzled by his incredible inversions in a yoga class, or heard him high above you on the climbing wall discussing law and ethics. If there were a way to introduce him to everyone that I know, I would...he is a good friend and an inspiration.
Bove) If you could describe yourself to our readers in a few sentences, what has made you into the man that you are today?
Davis) A great marriage, coupled with steady determination. I have used physical activity to calm and steady myself.
B) Participating in classes such as yoga and rock climbing, you seem to have a very active & healthy lifestyle. Can you tell us about what draws you to these and other activities you enjoy?
D) I like physical activities which are aerobic and use different parts of my body and mind. Having fun and not getting injured are good things. My wife, Chris has been rock climbing for 25 years. I took up rock climbing so that we could do it together.
B) From a professional standpoint, what kind of work have you done/are you doing now that has been enjoyable enough to make a career out of thus far?
D) For more than 30 years I used my law degree to help affluent people. It was rewarding, but incredibly stressful. 14 years ago I switched to doing pro bono legal work to help less advantaged people. I work at Legal Services of Northern California, which is minutes from Pipeworks. I find the work to be very rewarding. I look forward to my work every day.
B) How long have you been a member here at Pipeworks, and how did you find us?
D) I started taking yoga at Pipeworks around 7 years ago. I think I became a member around 4 years ago.
B) Are you a Sacramento native, and what things do you find interesting about this city to keep you living here?
D) I was born in Sacramento. I was raised in L.A. Chris and I moved to Sacramento from Chico in 1984. It is a city that is large enough that both of us can have interesting careers. It is a very diverse place with a wide range of activities we can do.
B) In the past, I have heard you quote Zen Buddhist Monk, Thích Nhất Hạnh. What is it about this teacher, activist, and author that draws you to his teachings?
D) I love his book The Miracle of Mindfulness. It explains in very simple terms how to meditate and maintain an active lifestyle. It has no jargon, and is not trying to sell a lifestyle, seminars, or workshops. It showed me how I could meditate and walk the dog or practice yoga. The mindfulness and meditation make me calmer and allow me to face the challenges in my life more directly and simply.
B) Can you describe some ways you cultivate mindfulness in your everyday life?
D) I practice yoga at home daily, and meditate while I practice. I also meditate when walking and hiking. Meditating while rock climbing , bicycle riding, or practicing law is not possible. Talking about meditation and mindfulness around people who do not practice is not a good idea.
B) I’ve heard you are an avid traveler; what’s next on your list of places to visit?
D) We are going to British Columbia on a fishing trawler for a week in August. We are going to Antarctica in December.
B) How does a “normal” day in the life of Mr. John F. Davis play out?
D) Chris and I get up early and have coffee and talk. I practice yoga for around 20 minutes. I take the dog for a walk. Some mornings I rock climb. Some mornings I ride my bike to work. A little before noon I stop work to go practice noontime yoga. I eat a quick lunch, then return to work. I bike home to Chris and dinner. Chris and I have a second home in Truckee. We usually go there for weekends. We hike, bike, kayak, ski and snowshoe up there. Sacramento is very close to the Sierras, which both of us love.
B) If you could be any animal, what would you be and why?
D) I would be a human. We can change and improve our lives and can work on our sense of humor.
Consumnes River Gorge is just outside of Placerville, about two hours away from the East Bay. Itching for some more experience trad leading, I ventured out for a climb with my friends Sarann and Kotaro on a sunny Sunday in May.
The approach is a fairly gentle 15-25 minute stroll from the car. “I just wear my flip-flops,” Kotaro said. As a beginning trad leader, I enjoyed the shorter walls, the top-ropeable climbs, and the bolted anchors.
We climbed Test Piece (picture on left), did some chimney silliness nearby, and struggled on a route called Unconquerable. And then, Dinkum. Dinkum (pictured below) was my first 5.9 lead.
I had climbed it clean on top-rope, and knew that my little fingers worked to my great advantage at the crux, but I still had to rack up quikly and tie in before I lost my nerve. This was a moment when I had to tell myself not to get caught up in insecurities about what grade I felt capable of climbing and to remember that grades are relative— some of the cracks that average dude fingers find difficult to squeeze into are perfect for my petite digits. And so it was with Dinkum. I sent it without a hitch!
My first climbing partner said to me once "If you can climb it clean on top rope, you should lead it." It felt good to decide to do it, pushing past the nervousness. Afterward, it was also good to have a more experienced climber check out my placements, and Kotaro said they were fine. Whew!
When the noon sun got too hot, we retreated down to the icy cold river to cool our toes. I jumped in and splashed around in the freezing water, but I couldn’t convince the boys to do the same. We made our retreat in the late afternoon, when the mosquitos started biting ever more fervently.
Consumnes River Gorge made for a nice, mellow day of climbing and lounging, and is somewhere I’d even dare take non-climbing friends along. It was nice to get a few more leads under my belt on the less-committing shorter walls. Now that summer’s here and I’ve blown a paycheck on a basic rack, I’ll be roaming farther northward toward Tahoe and Lover’s Leap. And of course, there’s Yosemite looming. Heading out? Take me with you. I’ll climb all the thin pitches.
Narinda Heng has been hanging out in Babytown (aka Child Care) at Berkeley Ironworks since 2013. When she’s not doing that or climbing, she is usually found working or volunteering with GirlVentures, drinking Raxakoul coffee, writing, and driving to Los Angeles.
While many find the Climber’s Book of Etiquette to be thin and flimsy, the actual nuances of proper climber behavior are plentiful and important. A faux pas at the crag can mean the difference between getting helpful beta from locals or having them throw rocks at your head. The majority of climbing etiquette comes down to basic courtesy, safety and genial human behavior. For those that need a few extra hints, below are a few extra tips.
Fun times at Cathedral outside of Las vegas
Minimize Your Impact
Picking up Clif Bar wrappers, climbing tape, and keeping chalk in your chalk bag remain the basic essentials of crag etiquette. Tiny bits of tape easily escape people’s fingers and back packs. As do old tape gloves. When leaving the crag, sweep through and pick up the little bits of debris, the ends of the rope, the banana peels, and other trash. Showing up and leaving trash everywhere is what people do at their parent’s house. It’s unacceptable at the crag. Carefully dispose of human waste. Never use the bathroom underneath a route or boulder problem. That just stinks. When arriving at a climbing area, keep from throwing your crash pads, back packs, and ropes in the vegetation. Stay on trails when hiking to and from the climbing zone. Protecting the climbing area will ensure that people welcome you back.
Turn Down The Volume
Many climbers head to the crags to escape the loud grind of their daily lives. Noise remains one of the most over looked forms of crag pollution. From bumping the latest Miley Cyrus twerking hit to screaming beta, loud climbers affect the people around them. If you want music at the crag, wear headphones. Providing tips on how to do a move on a route can be helpful but screaming them across the wall annoys everyone around you. Know when your beat spray is unsolicited. Not every climber wants to hear the nuances of the route you’ve been projecting for five years. Unless you’re sport climbing at the Virgin River Gorge, where the sound of sound of a four lane highway and jackhammers will drown your screams of “Mono, mono, gaston!,” keep the volume to a minimum. Throwing wobblers, emotional temper tantrums, is never acceptable. It’s just rock climbing. Keep the crag peaceful by turning down your volume.
This is a climber's truck that exploded due to excessively loud beta spray. Keep the volume down
Know the Area
Every crag has a specific style and etiquette. At some crags, the locals will scald you for breathing through your mouth in a cave. “It increases humidity!” They’ll scream. Other areas, locals will wonder why you forgot to bring the circus of pads, videographers, and production assistants. Know the history of the area and who the locals are. Treating the locals with respect helps avoid problems. Also, be especially considerate when making a first ascent. Gluing, cleaning rock, and bolting are all hugely important to the local community. The majority of climbing guides contain a section on local ethics in the introduction. Read these tiny nuggets and they’ll help you stay out of trouble. Being informed about the area you’re climbing at will help minimize social blunders.
Ron learns a little about batting practice after a lengthy discussion of local ethics.
Consider Other Climbers
Think about other people climbing on the same routes as you. If you’re out bouldering, put chalk on your hands before you touch the holds. This keeps the rock from getting greasy after you finished your salami sandwich. Brush the holds after you climb and erase tick marks. Most people like the adventure of deciphering a climb. Tick marks can be confusing and an eyesore. If someone is climbing below you on a trad route, be careful not to drop anything or kick loose works. Keep from rappelling onto their heads. Be as organized as possible when meeting other parties on routes, this will facilitate the process of moving around each other. Pick routes or problems that you will be able to climb quickly and efficiently to avoid congestion on popular routes. Leaving a top rope on a climb all day can be serious poor form. If you have a rope on a route, be actively climbing on it. Also, be willing to share anchors with other parties on nearby routes. Separate your gear as much as possible to avoid problems. Being considerate of other climbers will allow them and you to enjoy the climbing more.
Tyson heads to The Grail to avoid crowds and have a mellow experience.
The most popular routes often have a ton of people climbing on them. If there are other people in line to climb a route, think about trying something different. This goes for climbing long traditional routes as well. Be considerate of the queue. Climb the most popular routes on weekdays to avoid crowds. Climb something different if there are people already on the route. Avoid congestion at the warm-ups by starting your climbing day early. If you decide to climb a route with another party on it, be patient. The climbers ahead of you have the right of way. Keep from chatting too much with the belayer as this often causes them to lose focus and could lead to an accident. Enjoy the outdoors and be patient while you’re out climbing.
Hayden relaxes on a weekend, going for a bit of a later start to the crag to avoid the crowds.
Control Your Junk Show
Having three crash pads, two stick brushes, and eight chalk buckets directly below the start of a boulder problem aggravates everyone who wants to climb. Keep your climbing gear orderly and in a central location. Keep control of your junk show. If you bring an animal to the crag, make sure your pet is leashed and on good behavior before you take them out. Dogfights at the crag stink for everyone involved. There can be vet bills and general chaos from the fights. If you’re dog is nosing around in other climber’s gear, tie it up. I’ve seen dogs eat climber lunches. This makes for a horrible situation, as there’s nothing worse than a starving sport climber. They get really angry. Just like with human waste, clean up dog poop at the crag and pack it out. If you’re bringing children to the crag, make sure they are quiet and obedient. Crags are dangerous places with rocks and gear falling constantly. Be careful with your children. Keep a handle on your equipment, your pets, and your children to avoid trouble and irritating other climbers.
It's that time again! The Touchstone Competition Series, aka #TCS2014, comes to LA Boulders in el corazon de Los Angeles this Friday! TCS has visited a Touchstone gym every month this year, alternating between roped climbing and bouldering. TCS2014 at the LA.B will be a bouldering climbing comp and climbers of all levels and all ages are welcome to come out and compete! That means YOU!
Never been to a Touchstone Climbing Comp? Never fear! Here is a handy 3 step guide to your Friday night.
1. Know what you're in for
FUN! Seriously. While some people might hear the word 'competition' and get S.A.T. nerves, tranquillo amigo! Putting on Touchstone Comps' is our way of saying thank to our members for being awesome. This is a FREE event for Touchstone members. Guests pay ONLY $10. (Which is a screamin' deal) The party, er, we mean comp, starts at 5pm and ends at 10pm. You can stop in any time and your friendly neighborhood desk staffer will welcome you with open arms.
On the night of the event competitors pick a score card in beginner, intermediate or advanced categories, and self-score their climbing as the night goes on. Sure, you need a witness, but that's what your spotter is for! Here is the breakdown on the categories.
Again, YOU pick your category. And don't sweat this either. Say you're being modest, and you register in beginner. But then you have an out-of-body-CRUSHING-experience and send some v4's. NBD homie. You'll be bumped into intermediate and go home a happy camper.
Once you've climbed your brains out, the REAL party starts. Everyone in attendance gets an awesome T-shirt, pizza, and beer. (21+, duh) There will be raffle prizes, music, photos and all your favorite people.
What did we tell you?! FUN!
2. Come prepared
Don't worry. It's not that hard. If you ignore this step and skip right to #3, we'll still be psyched to see you.... we'll just send you to the back of the line.
To get a score card, you need a 3 letter Touchstone Comp Code. To get a Touchstone Comp Code, you need to register. You can do that here. It's going to look like this:
If you've been to ANY Touchstone Climbing Comp in the past 2 years, then you're already registered! If you came to the Grand Opening Sha-Bang, you already have a code and are already registered! Click 'Lookup' to find your 3 letter code. If this is your first time, don't worry. We'll be gentle. Click on 'Register' and it will be over before you know it.
Now's the tricky part. You've got to remember the code, or all this was for naught. If only there was a piece of paper that you needed to bring to the comp anyways that you could write the code on, as to not forget it......
Thank goodness for the waiver. Print it here. Fill is out. Write that code somewhere we can find it and BAM! You're ready to go.
3. Invite all your friends
Seriously, how bummed are your buddies gonna be when they see their feed blowing up with photos of you having the time of your life and you didn't invite them. It's an awkward and avoidable conversation to have. Let the people know! RSVP to the event on the 'book. Post a photo. Hashtag #TCS2014. Call them on the telephone. Fax them on a floppy disk while you go for the high score on your Atari. Do whatever it takes.
They're up with the sun, chain coffee-drinking and working hard to bring you the routes you love to send, project, and crush. 'Touchstone Routesetting' is an industry term for excellence, and each member of the crew brings a little somethin' somethin' to the team. In our ongoing segment, Better Know a Setter, we bring you a closer look at what makes 'em tick. In this weeks installment, we sat down with Wes Miraglio.
How long have you been route setting?
5 years total, 1 year with Touchstone this September.
How did you get into route setting?
My friend, Chris Bloch. Thanks buddy for giving some punk kid a chance to learn.
What is your favorite gym to set at and why?
Dogpatch and LA Boulders. Yeah, the floors and the boards can be heinous at times, but I think the terrain and layout of the gyms are cool.
What are you route setting pet peeves?
Striped bolts and t-nuts. It's the hate.
What is in your route setting bag right now?
Wrench, harness, drill, charger and extra battery, shoes, chalkbags for bolts and regular chalk, headphones, gri gris, jumar and aider, dogging draw, sweatshirt, extra shirt, shorts, phone charger.
What inspires your routes?
I don't know. I just strip and screw for a living. Seriously. I wish I could say "Oh this route inspires this moves or that problem got me psyched to try this" but I can't. I maybe have a thought then forget it. It's kinda bad.
What is your favorite memory setting with the Touchstone Crew?
The Bishop trip last year. Just don't let Flea get a hold of a BB gun...
Where is your favorite place to climb outside?
Anywhere in California really, specifically Bishop and/Tahoe areas. Hueco is cool, but you have to put up with the restrictions and being in Wanda's World and the rangers. Colorado you have to deal with the snow the attitude of the Boulder climbers. Vegas is a shitshow. I'd say California has it pretty much made. Tahoe, Yosemite, Tuolumne, Eastside, and other areas make it hard on other areas.
What is your proudest send?
You mean something I'm proud of? On a rope it's easily "Warp Factor"( 5.13a) at Donner Summit. But whatever. On to the next one.
What is your advice for aspiring setters?
Ask questions, be open to change. And take credit for your not so good routes. Turds happen from time to time. But in reality, don't ask me. I don't know shit.
In May, MetalMark staffer Riley Kane helped Boy Scout Troop 125 work to earn their Rock Climbing Merit Badges. Riley submitted this report to the Touchstone Climbing blog chronically the days adventures.
Sean, Tiberius, Sunny, Cooper, Liam, Matin, Alex, Christian, Matthew, Darius, Garrett and Cory lined up to take a group photo. Some were pushing each other to get better spots, others were putting their arms around each other. I walked to the middle back as their scout masters claimed the back left and right. Troop 125 closed in around me as if I was apart of the team. Click.
These twelve boys of different ages had just gone through the Intro to Climbing Class taught at MetalMark Climbing and Fitness, slightly amended for Boy Scouts. They learned how to put on a harness, how to tie a figure-eight follow-through knot, how to belay, and how to lower their partner safely back to the ground. Within an hour on the practice ropes they were ready to do the real thing. When I asked for volunteers, some shied away, but four spoke up. I had two of them set up on a 5.6 and the other two set up on a nearby 5.7. After seeing each of the twelve individually belay and instructing them one-on-one, and after each of them got to climb and be lowered without fuss, I was confident they had the knowledge needed to turn their mental skills to practical skills. Pairs of them broke off around the gym trying routes that at first appeared too difficult, but within an hour became possible. As their eagerness overtook my instruction, I knew it was time to set up the rappel line.
I set up the rappel near a 5.6 in the gym. One by one, I called upon each scout to climb the 5.6, set up their rappel, and rappel themselves to the ground while i backed them up. Some scouts had no problem with it. Others needed to practice setting up their rappel on the ground a few times. A few needed to repeat the exercise before grasping the concept. Some rappelled fast, some slow, some choppy, but all made it down. And within a few attempts, the fast, the slow and the choppy became smooth rappels. What more could an instructor ask for? There were multiple boys that came up to ask when they would coming back....
Riley is seen above leading a MetalMark Outdoors Trip, a program he helped found at MetalMark.
with trip reports, tales of adventure, or fascinating fresno stories!