My toes dangled over the ledge. I pushed against the tiny sidewalk and shuffled with my back against the wall, staring at the 2,000 foot drop. I fought into a chimney at the end of the narrow “Thank God Ledge.” A few more feet and I’d be done being scared, I hoped.
In June of 1957, Royal Robbins, Mike Sherrick and Jerry Gallwas made the first ascent of the The Regular Northwest Face of Half Dome. Using pitons and tenacity they fought their way up one of the greatest technical rock climbs of the time. The large granite dome remains one of the more difficult rock climbs in Yosemite and an excellent challenge for rock climbers.
The previous day, while I rested and enjoyed riding my bike around the Valley loop, Christina Freschl, a Bay Area teacher and Touchstone crusher, attacked the Cedar Eater, a notorious offwidth boulder problem near Happy Isles. The wide climbing did little to deter the Oakland teacher's psyche and the next morning we biked towards Mirror Lake at 5 am.
I spent the first two hours complaining about the hike as we marched to the base of Half Dome via the infamous Death Slabs. The trail features a number of fixed ropes and requires hiking through a gully. A large white scar on Half Dome taunts climbers hiking up. About a decade ago, a few thousand pounds of rock came off the formation and smashed into the gully, nearly killing two climbers on their way down. I kept complaining and hiked faster to the base.
A small spring runs seasonly at the base of the route and we filled our water and hydrated. Christina took off on the initial pitches, leading the first large chunk of the climb. The route follows alpine rock with difficult route finding through a short bolt ladder and cracks to a large traverse section. I grabbed the rack and hustled through. Christina had been on the lead for nearly four hours.
We swung across a series of bolts, climbed a long section of chimneys and kept pulling on gear through the steep Zig Zags. I wanted to climb the route to scope the potential of free climbing the formation later this year. I realized that I was awfully tired from all the hiking and though the Zig Zags were quite good, the hiking left something to be desired. We continued along the top across the infamous Thank God Ledge. I left my aiders on the ground and pulled on gear when I felt like the free climbing was too hard. We topped out the formation in eight hours. As soon as we began the descent, I started complaining about the hiking.
At the base, a squirrel had attacked my pack, despite my hiding it under rocks. I should have hung it in a tree. We had lost our precious chocolate and nut trail mix. Christina remained in good spirits but I complained as we hiked down the trail. We reached the base in the early evening and celebrated by going to the Ahwahnee bar for dinner. We ate hungrily. Christina headed back to the Bay area the next morning to climb in Tahoe for the weekend and I returned to toiling in Yosemite.
Climbing the route was an awesome adventure with a good friend. Christina got a chance to learn a bit more about jumaring, moving fast over varied terrain and climbing efficiently and I got to complain about the six hours of hiking to the eight hours of climbing we did. And have a great time!
It's that time again! The Touchstone Competition Series, aka #TCS2014, comes to Diablo Rock Gym in Concord this Friday! TCS has visited a Touchstone gym every month this year, alternating between roped climbing and bouldering. TCS2014 at DRG will be a roped climbing comp and climbers of all levels and all ages are welcome to come out and compete!
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 we'll welcome you with open arms.
Competitors get a score card in beginner, intermediate or advanced categories, and self-score their climbs as the night goes on. Sure, you need a witness, but that's what your belay partner is for!
Once you've climbed your brains out, the REAL party starts. Everyone in attendance gets an awesome T-shirt, pizza, and beer from our friends at Strike Brewing. (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! 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. Do whatever it takes.
The Brotherhood of the Traveling Sombrero, a Touchstone Climbing sponsored down hill mountain biking team recently raced the first round of the Oregon endure series held at Hood River. Enduro, popularized in a last few years, is a race format that involves timed downhill stages taking between 3-8 minutes each and untimed transfer stages involving the majority of the climbing. After 2 days of racing and 8 stages, the lowest combined time reins supreme. A few of the team members spoke about the race.
Wow! All I can say is what a race! Driving 8 hours on Thursday and another 2.5 hours to arrive at the Hood River Enduro on Friday around 11:00 was a speedy trip. I did not know what to expect from an endure race. Having raced downhill races, cross country races, dual slalom, and super D I had a little bit of a background to racing but I didn’t know how I was going to tackle 8 stage races within two days! Friday we got shuttled up to the top of the mountains behind Hood River and followed other riders to the beginning of stage 1. We got a little confused and lost but ended up riding stages 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, and 8. By the end of just the first shuttle run, all three of us were pretty dead tired and didn’t feel like going back up to ride stages 3 and 4 deciding to save our energy for race day tomorrow. Saturday came and so did the race excitement! Going into the first stage I decided to hold back just a bit thinking I was going to not be able to recover my strength between stages and saving some for the last stage. I was wrong. I learned I could go all out each stage and be able to recover pretty much 100% in between stages. On stage 2 I got a flat tire but that didn’t slow me down; I peddled it out to the end of the stage and quickly changed my flat. Stages 3 and 4 we ran blind having not practiced on them. Stage 3 I got a good time but stage 4 I ended up crashing, bending my handlebars, brake levers, and seat! Stage 4 wasn’t a proud moment. All in all, the first day of racing enduro I learned a lot: you can ride as fast as possible and be fully recovered by the next stage and to peddle every chance you get!
Sunday came with a new mentality: ride fast and be dead tired after each stage. We rode all stages for Sunday and I knew that they were more downhill oriented which gave me a bit of an advantage having raced downhill quite a few times in the past. The first race of Sunday, Stage 5 was a long one but very fun! Stage 6 had a very steep section that felt like home to me on the bike; steep is where I gain speed! Stages 7 and 8 were both very fast and I ended up finishing 22 out of 50 riders for the entire Hood River Enduro Expert Men 19-39. I’m very satisfied with my results and added onto my bicycling racing experience. I can’t wait to ride my next enduro race knowing what I’m in for.
The race was great fun; the whole vibe of the event was low key, and surprisingly Happy-go-lucky. The whole thing felt like a long ride with friends. That said, the expert men 19-39 field was fast, very fast. With lots of mistakes throughout the 2 days including 2 pedal ejects on rock sections, 2 off track excursions, and thinking stage 6 ended 800 feet before it actually did, meant I had to settle for a 27th. But cold beer on tap, and free lunch helped sooth the fact that my compatriots beat me. On to the next one!
The first Oregon Enduro Series was definitely one of the most fun races I've ever competed in. Probably the most epic part of the race were the trails at Hood River. I had never ridden there before, so showing up to race on unknown territory was a little scary. What we found were trails that were similar to those of our home territory in Marin County. There was ton of flow, some sweet techy sections, and a lot of fast and dry corners. My favorite stage probably had to be the first one- the first half of it was super dry corners with tons of rocks. After a harsh little climb, you then went into a super fast flow section that shot you out into the finish, creating a fun ending to the race- I ended up in 5th on this stage. I'm super pumped we made it out there to the first Oregon Enduro Series and I definitely plan on competing in at least one more this summer. The whole enduro scene is pretty amazing and very chilled out, making it an epic experience each race day.
Looking to improve your climbing with a little... fitness? Look no further than this OFF the wall training for climbers at Berkeley Ironworks. This clinic is designed to teach intermediate and advanced climbers how to train effectively in the weight room to maximize climbing performance by increasing pulling capacity. Topics will include:
- Climber injury prevention and assessment: Why your elbow hurts
- Glenohumeral Joint: The origin of climber strength
- Brachiation - The art of hanging
- Working short-end and long range of muscle contraction for explosive strength
You will also be provided with a 6 week take home program provided to guarantee 2-3 level advancement.
About the Instructor: Sean Mapoles is a climber, personal trainer and gymnastics coach based in San Francisco, California. Sean's coaching focuses heavily on simplifying complex movements across modalities. For example, he believes rock climbers can maximize power from doing gymnastics strength and conditioning with targeted mobility. He has observed that for most climbers a lack of pure strength prevents the natural progress of harder and harder routes. Sean enjoys creating power for climbers that traditional avoid inverted, mantle, stem, dyno and other power-mandatory routes.
He has a formal background in gymnastics strength and conditioning and has worked extensively with Junior Olympic Gymnastics Coach Christopher Sommer and Orench Lagman. Sean holds a sports nutrition certificate from Dr. John Berardi and Precision Nutrition, as well as a Core Power Yoga Trainer Certificate. Personally, Sean enjoys a wide variety of movement. Gymnastics, rock climbing, and olympic lifting (with strict attention to form and progression) are part of Sean's daily training practice.
Sean takes a hybrid approach with each client to maximize their areas of interest with his specialty. Whether a client is looking to lose weight, gain muscle, be able to bend like a pretzel, or climb Mt. Everest, his intention is that every client prioritizes their health in a way that is sustainable over the long term. Breath, eat, sleep, move, repeat.
Price: This clinic is available to Touchstone Members only! $50
Space is still availible, to register click here.
By Jason Bove
If you have come in to Pipeworks on a weekday at 9 pm or later, there is no doubt that you have met and/or had a worthwhile conversation with Rudy Meyers. Amongst other things, he is a father, local photographer, music lover, wine aficionado, and a beacon of insight and knowledge of all things cool. His thoughtful answers to my simple questions left me thinking about inviting him to all of my future dinner parties, so that we could always have something interesting to talk about! Without further adieu, meet…
Member of the Month: Rudy Meyers
Bove- How long have you been a member at Sacramento Pipeworks, and what keeps you motivated to keep coming back, time and time again?
Meyers- I have been a member for about six years and retarding the aging process is the main reason I consistently come. Plus, climbing is simply more fun than most other forms of athletic endeavor.
Are you a Sacramento native, and what is your favorite thing about living in Sacramento?
Well, I’m not exactly a Sacramento native. I was born in San Francisco and raised in the foothills of Northern California. In no particular order, I like these things about Sacramento: Trees, and lots of them!, Great weather, The long, warm summer evenings, Acres of free parking, And yes, the proximity to the Sierras and The Bay Area as well
Can you tell us a bit more about your professional career in photography, and where we are able to see some of the work you have done?
I do corporate/commercial work which means I shoot virtually anything that walks in front of my lens. We are guns for hire and every day is different, so that literarily can mean we are shooting trains, planes, & automobiles (like the movie), people, and products A-Z. If you had to pin me down, I would say that in essence, what we do mostly is create images that sell our clients goods or services. It can be artsy, but it has to have a message.
What new projects are you currently working on, and what lies in store for the rest of 2014?
We are currently in the planning stages for the following shoots: An Intel shoot, a three day shoot for a new casino client, two new law firms, a new restaurant client and a new construction client
All these shoots are multi-day shoots with a lot of moving pieces. We are a fairly busy studio and we do a lot of big projects. Part of the reason for that is that I have an amazing staff that is good at keeping me focused and on point. When you are a visual person and when you see something unexpectedly great, then your job is to shoot it and ask questions later. In 2014 we are focused on continuing to build a broad base, and servicing our existing clientele while also focusing on growth in favorite industries like food, wine and travel.
check Rudy Meyers Photography here
It is really great to see that you workout with you son. How old is he, and is he your only child? Have you found that working out together strengthens your family bond?
Yes, I bring my son every time I can. He is a few days shy of 15. He is my only child and I am his only parent. It is by this nature a very close relationship, where I get to wear all the parental hats. Now he really enjoys climbing and sees that through hard work and dedication he can actually get better. I dabble in a serious manner, but I suck and he climbs circles around me. It is nice to see him grow in the sport and I hope he will continue to see the value in intense physical activity. He knows that quality of life depends on keeping a balance between the physical, mental and spiritual aspects—they are all important.
As you know, June is the month that Father’s Day is celebrated. Do you have big plans for the day, and what other kinds of activities do you enjoy doing with your son?
We have had two big vacations this year, one to the desert and one to New York City for 17 days. So, a quick trip to San Francisco might be it for Father's Day (every day is kids day, they just don't know it). We always have fun in The City! We are foodies and museum freaks, so we always have stuff to do in SF; it is a world class city with world class offerings. We really are lucky to have it so close to Sacramento; we could be living somewhere with little art and culture, and no climbing. We both like to shop the Mission and Hayes Valley. We even climb at Dogpatch!
I know that you greatly enjoy outdoor activities. Can you recommend any hikes or trails that we should experience in our lifetime?
For over 20 years I guided Class V whitewater here and overseas. The rivers in California are some of the best in the world, with challenging whitewater and beautiful scenery. Running rivers was a fun gig and the guys I boated with are all alive and kicking, and for that I am thankful. In 20 years of boating we ran something like 300+ Class V runs. Then, I got Lucien and I felt like I had to cool my jets. I had my fun in that adventure land, and I was ready for Disneyland and Star Wars.
Hiking is still cool and relatively safe, but we go off trail all of the time. A journey to Precipice Lake on the Kaweah Gap trail, an amazing lake made famous by Ansel Adams, is on our list for this summer. I hiked this in my early 20's, before I became or even knew I would be a photographer, but it was an amazing trail built by the California Conservation Corps and blasted out of solid rock—it feels like a Hobbit trail. If you have time, head to Moose Lake as well.
I also took my son on an amazing backpack/horse pack trip to Evolution Valley high in Kings Canyon National Park. It was a beautiful nine day trip. At one time, we were 26 miles from trailhead. The valley itself can almost rival Yosemite Valley; it is just more remote, but it has monolithic rock formations, peaks that rise to 14,000 feet and shimmering waterfalls—all surrounding a long, lush, high Sierra meadow with a beautiful river running through it. You are far enough in that you will not see a lot of people. If you are a Muir Trail nut (you know who you are) then you already know about this place. You can also stay a night or two, depending on availability, at The Muir Trail Ranch (a wilderness hotel). I recommend staying because they have naturally occurring hot springs. More to the point, they have built soaking tubs in charming log structures that are all gardened and in the feng shui swing of things. It is not cheap, but it is rustic and they will feed you. Plus, you get to sleep in a bed too! The ranch is a relatively easy five mile hike in. They can also rent horses and guides from the ranch. The hike to Evolution Valley is still 15 miles away and (dauntingly) it is another 4500 feet up. We took horses, it was my son's first multi-day hike and I did not want it to be his last.
We are desert lovers. One of our favorite places to go is Eureka Valley, situated in the northern end of Death Valley and about an hour and half out of Bishop. The dunes lay up against a fault block range called the Last Chance Range. The exposed layers are 350 to 500 million years old, way before the age of the dinosaur. The formation is massive, with dunes rising to 700 ft and spreading out over an area of several square miles. Climbing them can be a chore; five steps up and three steps back can be discouraging. If you make it to the top though, you have to follow the ridge line south until you get to the highest and steepest dune. Why? Because you have worked so hard that you now deserve some fun. Run straight down the dunes and jump in turns like you are skiing and see how soft the landing is and how exhilarating the experience is. At the bottom you can look up and decide that you are not doing it again—too damn much work! If you go during the spring of a wet year you will be surprised and possibly overwhelmed by the number of desert flowers. Yes, the desert does bloom and when it does it is nothing short of breathtaking! Take water because there is none, know that sand will get everywhere, but the beauty is worth the effort.
If you could offer any kind of advice from the perspective of starting and running your own business nowadays, what would it be?
My advice to aspiring entrepreneurs would be:
Be prepared for long hours
Learn your craft
Be honorable in all personal and professional relationships
Build and maintain a reputation based on quality and professionalism
Lose money before you deliver a crummy product—don't lose money and always deliver a quality product
Take nothing for granted
Never rest on your laurels
Have goals that are daily, weekly, and long term
I have never had a plan b; it remains photography or die
Most importantly, do not be afraid to fail; you learn more in failure then you will ever learn in success
I have quite a few sayings that I tell my son and employees, but a few get repeated all the time:
I live in a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world
When's the next race?
True character is what you do when no one is looking
By Jeff Blum
As everyone knows the LA Boulders is Touchstone Climbing's newest gym and first in Los Angeles. Not only is this awesome all bouldering gym an amazing facility with great wall angles, climbing and staff, but they also host great events. Over the past months there have been gear swaps, late night climbing sessions, and more.
Recently I sampled one of these events with the clinic called “Climb 2 v Grades Harder”. This was a workshop taught by Douglas Hunter who co-authored the Self Coached Climber. Douglas has a long and distinguished background as a climber and a coach. He brought a unique and coherent approach to optimizing ones climbing by structuring our time spent at the gym. This class was valuable to me as I am trying to push into double digits, as well as for the people that just started climbing last month.
The workshop opened up with a lecture section as we all gathered on the couches atop the top out boulder. After going through some of the material that Douglas provided, he diagrammed up some examples of movement and balance on the LAB’s TV. Then we got down to work practicing and learning some of the workouts we had just discussed.
One of the components of the class was to build a strong base for climbing, ie. being able to consistently climb at a grade on all angles and styles. Having the wonderful facility of the LAB to practice with we were all able to work on exactly what we needed to raise our climbing to the next level. Douglas walked around checking in on everyone providing support and taking questions about how the workouts were functioning.
After putting the workouts into practice we all had a better idea of where our current fitness level was and what we could do to optimizing our workouts moving forward. Douglas brought us together and we powwowed sharing what we had learned with each other. All in all it was a great class that taught me something new, re-motivated me, and was just a heck of a lot of fun. It’s exciting to see that the LAB is not just an amazing facility but is also bringing awesome people and events to the LA climbing community.
Jeff Blum is a member at LA Boulders who took one of the gyms first climbing technique clinic last week. He submitted this review to the Touchstone Climbing Blog. Stay tuned for upcoming clinics and events at LA Boulders on their Facebook Page.
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!