Jay Simpson, a Touchstone Climbing Member and National Geographic Young Explorers Grantee, is currently on a hiking and biking expedition across Oregon and Northern California, retracing the tracks of Oregon’s famous Wolf OR-7. Wolf OR-7 attracted international headlines as the first wild wolf in California since 1924. The Wolf OR-7 Expedition is retracing his GPS route across Oregon and Northern California to explore human and wolf coexistence and the challenges wolves face returning to their historic rangelands. We caught up with him by email this week.
Q: Where are you now and what are you up to?
Jay: This morning I woke up for an early morning trip up to the rim of Crater Lake to see the sunrise—it was a great way to close a six-day section of cycling that has taken us most of the way across Oregon. At this very moment, I’m eating all the breakfasts foods I can manage at the lodge, taking a last grasp at wifi, and packing up for four days of walking the Cascades along part of the Pacific Crest Trail.
Q: What has happened during the expedition so far?
J: Well, my biggest highlight comes at the very start of the trip when we found the tracks of a wolf in fresh snow of the Wallowa Mountains. They were huge, and luckily heading in the opposite direction from our route. My favorite thing about them was being able to walk along side the tracks for about 4 hours as we continued to walk along our planned route. Our entire mission has been about walking 1,200 miles in the tracks of Wolf OR-7, but here we were able to literally retrace the path of a wild, lone wolf in the mountains—mind-blowing.
We’ve also been able to have some great conversations with the state biologist who gave Wolf OR-7 his GPS radio collar, a rancher, a hunter, a National Parks Ranger, and others to hear what they have to say about Wolf OR-7 and the return of wolves to areas they haven’t been for decades.
Q: Has anything really surprised you?
J: I loved seeing and learning about the shared use of some objects like stop signs in forests—we use them to know when to stop, but many animals use them to scent mark and gnaw on. My favorite was a stop sign in a National Forest that tons of sign of bear activity. It had bite marks all over and fur stuck in the splinters from bears rubbing their backs against it. It’s their version of a status update to their friends in their forest, I just got to notice it.
Q: And what’s been your biggest challenge so far?
J: We’ve had some really long cycle days, with lots of sandy/dusty roads, overgrown jeep tracks, huge hills, and goat head thorns that lead to about 30 flat tire repairs. That day was hell in the movement, fun looking back at now. We thought it would be an easy early morning ride (3 hours max) but it took over nine. We’ve carried our lunches and bike lights with us every day since then.
Q: What did you to train or prepare for this?
J: There’s so little you can really do to prepare for month-long, high-endurance expeditions other than be as active as possible. Before I left, I was at Mission Cliffs, Berkley Ironworks, or the Dogpatch multiple times a week so that I could climb, do yoga, cycle training, stair masters or anything else whenever I could. My favorite was a core class that I took at Berkley Ironworks. It was a lot of yoga-inspired exercises, but had a great pace and a challenge-by-choice style of difficulty. My first class I received a lot of tips from an older lady who was in their killing it and now I can do them out here on the trail in the morning for warm ups.
Q: What’s upcoming for the expedition?
J: For the next week and a bit we will be cycling and backpacking across areas of Northern California, getting as far south as Mount Shasta. It’s exciting to be entering California, where Wolf OR-7’s story received so much attention after becoming the first wild wolf in the state in nearly 90 years. He spent a lot of time down there too, so I really can’t wait to get down there to try to figure out why did he stop there? Also, we’ll be ending near Ashland, Oregon on June 14th, and I’m really looking forward to being a little closer to the areas of Oregon where he, his likely mate, and potential pups are hanging out. After spending so much time retracing his route, I feel like there’s an interesting kinship to him now!
In April 2014 Longtime Touchstone Staff Members Michelle Leung and Jeffrey Kosoff travelled to New Zealand to spend a month recreating amongst birthing Volcanoes, glacier carved Mountains, heavily polished limestone, sandfly infested coastlines and the living descendants of Old Gondwana. Check out their jaw-dropping trip report!
The following photos reveal a slice of this journey purposefully excluding sheep, roads and mass tourism all of which are plentiful in this South Seas Switzerland. If you have not yet experienced this beautiful uncrowded country filled with kind enterprising rugby fanatics do yourself a favor and go immediately. No seriously, go now. It ain't getting cheaper!
Michelle traversing volcanic ridge between Tongariro and Ngurahae AKA Mount Doom Tongariro NP, North Island.
Volcanic lakes Tongariro NP
Egmont vert/forest. North Island, Egmont NP Taranaki AKA Misty Mtn. Here we saw a rare glimpse of the symetrical summit cone. Mt. Taranaki is typically hidden in deep cloud cover bathed in constant rain fed by the Tasman sea.
Kaikoura, South Island ruins, a chimney stack at a former whaling station with North Canterbury Ranges to the West. The Kaikoura Peninsula North of Christchurch stretches out into deep water and is populated by seals, penguins and rare seabirds.
Wilderness of Stone, Flock Hill Station, Canterbury, South Island.
To enter this remote private Sheep Station you must register at a nearby lodge. There is no guidebook in print for this absolutely giant boulder field. If you are willing to tackle the arduous 1hr. approach you will be delighted by the silence, immensity and unsullied wilderness feel of this world class boulder field.
Spittle Hill, Castle Hill South Island. This boulder field has great access and many classic problems, consequently the holds are icy slick. This is limestone with few features aside from an occasional pocket or hueco, friction climbing without friction. Approach with humility!
Quantum Field, Castle Hill, South Island. What a sunset!
Weka, Native Rail, Fiordland, South Island
New Zealand is a country of invaders. the original plants and animals have largely disappeared. those that have survived are cheeky and resourceful. The Weka raids campsites poking under rainflys and purloins unattended belongings.
Raikura Track, Stewart Island
Across the Fouveaux Strait south of South Island, with only 400 inhabitants Stewart Island remains largely wilderness and a stronghold for species that have disappeared from both North and South Island.
Veranda sunset over Moorea, Tahiti
On the way home we were holed up in a resort, on Tahiti. To escape the stifling air conditioning and artificial light and sounds of our oppressive suite Michelle insisted that we drag a mattress onto the veranda. We soaked in the humid tropical air, the sounds of crashing waves and the light of the sun descending into the Deep Pacific Ocean.
Do you ever wonder what it's like to live on the road full time? To climb every day? For some this is only a dream. For Touchstone blogger James Lucas this is reality. For the last five years, James lived out of his Saturn station wagon, climbing and traveling. The Saturn recently died and now he's holed up in a cave in Yosemite, climbing fiendishly on El Capitan and trying to live a life on the rocks. Check out the short story that Cedar Wright made about the climber.
By GWPC member Donna Ball
If you are familiar with CrossFit you know that there are a number of workouts (WODs) named for heroes who have died in the line of duty. Most of these are named for military members who have lost their lives, but there are also hero WODs for firemen and policeman and other heroes as well. Murph is named for Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy, a Navy Seal who lost his life on June 28, 2005 in Afghanistan and it has become symbolic to do this workout at CrossFit boxes around the country on Memorial Day. Murph is a brutal workout but it’s fitting that it should be hard and require determination to finish:
Doing a hero WOD has special meaning if you have ever served or know someone who has. Both my son and my daughter served in Iraq and the worst days of my life were the days I said good-bye to them not knowing if I would ever see them again and the days and nights spent worrying whether they would come home. The best days were when they landed once again on American soil. Thousands of American military families with loved ones serving in Iraq and Afghanistan have not been so fortunate and I can’t even begin to compare my worst days with theirs. I will always carry sadness in my heart for those families and I will try to honor them for the rest of my life by remembering their sacrifice in any way that I can. CrossFit hero WODS give me one opportunity.
I have been doing Crossfit for less than two years and still can not do a pull-up and can only run-jog the mile but I came to the box today determined to do the best Murph I could and to finish even if it took me all day. I slogged my way through the mile runs thinking of Murph’s mother, I did jumping pull-ups in place of ‘real’ pull-ups, and when I thought I couldn’t do another squat I thought of Murph and those like him who didn’t give up even as they faced death. I managed to give it my best today not only for Lieutenant Murphy and all of those who have served and died, but also for Murph’s mother and father and the families of all of those who haven’t returned. And I finished.
To find out more about CrossFit V16, visit their website or ask us at the front desk!
Trip Report By Avram Pearlman
Tioga Pass is Open! I know there are many other ways into the eastern Sierra, but there is nothing like driving through Tuolumne Meadows to get to a near endless supply of sport, trad and bouldering. Oh, and did I mention free camping and hot springs? And, unlike Yosemite, dogs are OK too...
To make the drive home a little easier after climbing in the Gorge we checked out a spot called Clark Canyon. The approach is easy (15 minutes on a slight incline) and the routes are nestled in the trees providing shade and a wind break as needed. The Canyon was chock full of moderate sport climbs (for me that means the 5.7-5.9 range), and many more in the 5.10s as well.
The rock is volcanic tuff, with a slight orange patina. Lots of pockets for hands and feet, as well as some decent cracks. We set up in a section called Area 13 and completed three routes each in an afternoon.
On the Center Wall we started with a 5.8 called Chop Chop. A combo of face climbing, side pulls and cracks that could be climbed clipping the bolts or placing gear (smaller pieces only). We set up a top rope and then climbed the route about two feet to the left, a dihedral 5.8 crack line called Scorpio. Towards the top of Scorpio, the crack got a little bigger and there was a perfect hold (out of sight) right where I needed it to be!
Finishing the day with a super fun and mellow 5.7 four star route called Ugly, Fat and Mean, Come to Mammoth, Be a Queen. Nine bolts to anchors with an amazing view! The bolts and anchors on all the routes were in really good condition, at most a few years old. Next time we head back there I would like to try a two-pitch 3.5 star 5.10a route called Cholito. It looked like a sweet line, with 17 bolts.
The parking area for the Canyon is less than an hour to the Mobile station in Lee Vining. In fact, Google maps estimates five hours and fifteen minutes from Touchstone's own Great Western Power Company to the trail head. Most of the forest service road was fine, but there was one section of road that we were glad to have a high clearance vehicle.
Big Springs Campground is only a few miles from the Clark Canyon trailhead, and is a free, established campground if you don't mind being close to your neighbors. Clark Canyon is all Inyo national forest so dispersed camping is allowed. The brush is thick in places, but there are plenty of flat spots for a truck or tent.
The staff at the gear shop in Mammoth dropped rumors of a new version of Mammoth Area Rock Climbs, by Marty Lewis and John Moynier. The coming book is to include many of the now established lines not listed in the 3rd edition. After being pressed for a release date for the guide, the guy behind the desk just shrugged. “Who knows when it will be out, we are talking about climbers here...”
The Step and Repeat, provided by American Signs, made it's first Touchstone Climbing Series debut last weekend in San Jose. The back drop, which free standing and folds down to the size of a large tent, was a huge hit at the comp. "It's been a fun thing to add to our already robust bag o' tricks," said staff member Lauryn Claassen. "Photo booths are a great way for people to remember how much fun they had with their friends at our comps, and now we have this perfect backdrop that is so easy to get from gym to gym!"
Competitors at The Studio Climbing also got to ham it up with Automatic Supermodel Photoshoot to get just the right shot. Each group got five prompts from the Photo Booth to pose in different ways. So, when you stepped in front of the backdrop, you were given ideas of how behave. Not like most people needed prompting...
The Step and Repeat was also used at the SCS Regionals Competition as a background for the youth finalists. "It looks great!" said one parent. "It's a nice touch." Big thanks for to Mark Allen for providing the sign for Touchstone Climbing. American Signs also manufactured the awesome sign the graces the entrance of LA Boulders in Los Angeles.
Be sure to come to the TCS comp at Diablo Rock Gym - and have your blue steel pose ready for the photo booth! To see more photos from the comp - click here!
The great thing about having nine gym siblings, (and we're expecting!) is that there is ALWAYS something going on. This week it's The Studio Climbing's turn to host a party, and we can't wait! The Touchstone Climbing Series, or #TSC2014 if you speak hashtag, will continue with a bouldering competition. "It's going to be RAD," said Eric Sanchez, the foreman route setter at The Studio. "We're going to set routes that fill the whole gym with awesome problems." TCS2014 will bring Touchstone Climbers from all over the Bay Area to San Jose. And who can say no to beer from Strike Brewing, pizza from Pizza my Heart, and oodles of prizes?!
"A can't wait to host TCS at our gym," said Gym Manager Diane Ortega. "These things are my favorite day of the month - can't wait to see what surprises this comp brings!"
Here is how you can be prepared for the bouldering comp tomorrow:
#1. Print our a paper waiver
It's a Touchstone Comp! Which means you need an signed paper waiver in hand. Do members need them? Yes. Do guests need them? Yes. Does it matter that you've filled one out before.. no! You can print one out right here, or show us you r best John Hancock at the gym when you arrive. Print our a waiver!
#2. Have your comp code in hand
If you have already competed in a Touchstone Climbing Comp in the last 2 years, you already have a 3 letter code. Hopefully it wasn't the same as your ebay password.... To issue you a score card at the gym so you can get yo' climb on, we need that code! If you think you have one... just check. Remember the code and have it ready when you come to the gym. Bonus points will be awarded for people who have their code written atop their waiver!
If this is your first comp - HOLY COW! Get psyched. All you need to do is register to get your code. It takes about.... 2 minutes. Maybe 3 if you didn't pay attention in typing class. Click here to get your code. It should bring you to a screen like this one:
#3. Get psyched!
Seriously. San Jose has one of the best bouldering communities around, and with an entire gym at our disposal, this comp is going to be a blast. Remember to document to fun. Share the magic of the comp, and remember to tag your photos with #TCS2014 and #touchstoneclimbing so we can share in the fun. We'll pick our favorite and you shall earn a special prize!
Find out more about the comp on the 'book.
By Guest Blogger: Jason Bove
This month, we observed Mother’s Day. But, assuming we celebrate, we should not limit ourselves to just one day a year to celebrate our Mothers. With this in mind, it was abundantly clear who we should feature for May: Dustin Raúl Stumpf. Not only does Dustin have a rewarding job as a CrossFit instructor here at Sacramento Pipeworks, but he also has a positive and healthy relationship with his Mom. While there are lots of things that can be attributed to this happiness, the thing that he keeps coming back to is being able to include his mother, Elba, in his ambitious exercise training schedule. I had the chance to talk with Dustin recently about CrossFit, what drives him as an athlete, and, of course, his Mom. Thanks again for being a part of the Pipeworks family, Dustin, and for letting us peer into the life of such an inspiring individual, such as yourself.
Member of the Month: Dustin Raúl Stumpf
Bove- First off, what drew you to personally pursue CrossFit as a way of life, and what are a few of the major benefits of the workout regimen itself?
Stumpf- What drew me to CrossFit as a way of life was the fact I would never get bored with my workouts ever again! After ending my College Athletic Career, I needed another challenge to conquer! The benefits are endless with CrossFit because it exposes your weaknesses and makes you focus on them in order to become a better coach/athlete.
B- How long have you been a CrossFit instructor and where did you receive training to become one?
S- I have been a Level 1 Certified CrossFit instructor for 2 years. Before becoming Level 1 Certified, I started my own internship program at American River CrossFit in 2011 while fulfilling units at Sacramento State’s Kinesiology program. ARC is where I learned the fundamentals of teaching CrossFit classes under the supervision of trained professional instructors. After graduating from Sac State in 2012, I used all of my savings to take the weekend long CrossFit Level 1 Course at NorCal CrossFit, under the watchful eyes of Jason Khalipa (currently 2nd man in the world in CrossFit!).
B- What kind of athletes/workout enthusiasts are attracted to your classes for CrossFit, and what makes these classes different from normal workout routines? Is Crossfit for everyone?
S- The types of exercise enthusiasts who are attracted to my classes are people who love learning and perfecting Gymnastics, Power/Olympic Lifting, and Plyometrics. What makes these classes so much different from a “normal workout routine” is that A.) It is always in a class setting. By working out with others, people are more motivated to perform better amongst fellow athletes for the friendly competition aspect. B.) All movements and weights are modifiable for different fitness levels. C.) Most of our workouts are short and sweet! CrossFit is meant for anyone looking to better their current fitness level--anyone willing to work very hard. In my experience of coaching, I have found that the people who do best and excel the quickest in CrossFit (regardless of age) make it to class routinely and live a healthy lifestyle outside of the gym.
B- What should I know before attending class? How should I prepare?
S- CrossFit is very challenging both mentally and physically! One should prepare by being open minded to a brand new methodology of exercise. Having a positive attitude is a MUST when learning CrossFit. I repeat, the BEST WAY any CrossFitter will excel is to remain open minded.
B- As you know, the month of May contains Mother’s Day! I notice that sometimes your Mom comes to your class. Has she been an advocate of your training since you were young?
S- My mother, Elba, has always been my #1 Fan when it came to sports and athletic events! She has always supported my training efforts on and off the Baseball field since I was young. I got her into CrossFit 2 years ago, and she is AMAZING!
B- It’s great to see a mother and son working out together! How has this influenced your mother-son relationship?
S- Doing CrossFit with my Mother has made our relationship that much stronger. We always talk about workouts and how to improve ourselves as athletes. We are both competitive by nature, so we talk about how we did in recent competitions. My Mother is the epitome of what a 55-year old athlete can accomplish with proper instruction and a hard work ethic! She makes it to all of my Seminars and has seen drastic improvements in all of her movements! She can now perform 5 unassisted pull-ups NO PROBLEM!
B- There are 10 Onramp classes that need to be fulfilled before someone can attend any regularly scheduled class. What can I expect to be doing during the session?
S- Beginners attending Onramp classes can expect learning the fundamentals of all CrossFit movements. Here at CrossFit Pipeworks, we are all about making new members feel welcome, and we give them the opportunity to create relationships with our training staff and fellow athletes.
B- How do these classes differ from a normal one?
S- OnRamp classes differ from regular classes in that we focus on lighter weight and less volume in our WODs (workout of the day). We also focus on introducing new movements and reviewing exercises recently covered in prior classes.
B- What other hobbies and activities do you enjoy outside of CrossFit?
S- I am an avid Outdoorsman and LOVE to fish! I try to get out of town at least once every 2 weeks to go slay some fish and give myself a break from my intense training routine.
B- Is there a specific event or clinic that you are hosting that you would like to tell us about?
S- I try to host Seminars at CrossFit Pipeworks at least once every 2-3 months, to allow members the opportunity to get better at practicing more complex movements.
B- I have seen that you feature an Athlete of the Week on the Pipeworks facebook page. Can you tell me more about this special shout out? How would I become featured?
S- I introduced athlete of the week on the CrossFit Pipeworks Facebook page to get our members involved. In order to become Athlete of the Week, one must show exceptional work ethic, dedication, and leadership characteristics. These three traits allow others to try and follow in their footsteps in a POSITIVE manner.
Well, I guess THAT cat is in the bag! See you in class!!