At Touchstone Climbing gyms, we’ve worked hard to build a network of climbing clinics that help our beloved members and guests reach their climbing goals. Each clinic falls into one of three tracks: Bouldering, Rope Climbing, and Outdoor Climbing. They can either be taken in order to build a solid progression of knowledge, or sporadically to hone a particular skill.
“Traditionally, new climbers relied on friends and mentors to learn new skills,” Programs Director Ryan Moon explains, “but with so many people learning to climb in our gyms, we want to help provide the guidance, education, and etiquette that will build a stronger and more informed climbing community in California.”
We caught up with two climbers who have been a huge part of our climbing clinics this year. Both started out at different levels and found that the clinics helped them build the knowledge base and the community they needed to take them to the next level.
Started from the Bottom Now We Here
After family friends introduced her to the sport in late 2014, Elle Brandt joined Diablo Rock Gym in January 2015. She had just turned 42, and was looking for a new challenge. After taking the Intro to Climbing Class, which is always free to new members, she signed up for a Women’s Basic Technique Clinic at Berkeley Ironworks.
“Elle is truly the definition of someone who has a dream that, no matter now big, works toward that dream every day,” said climbing instructor Jessica Wan. “As her goals grew from climbing 5.10, to lead climbing, to climbing outside, Touchstone was there to help her every step of the way.”
After the Basic Tech class, Elle continued to take just about every clinic that we offered. Once she learned to lead climb through our Lead 1 and Lead 2 Clinics, she signed up for Intro to Outdoor Climbing and Outdoor Education. Next was Advanced Lead with Hans Florine and Multi-Pitch Efficiency with Beth Rodden.
“I’m immensely proud to say that she has surpassed my expectations of what is achievable in a year!” said Jessica.
Elle was equally effusive: “All of the clinics and lessons paid off this summer when I lead my first multi-pitch trad climb at Lover’s Leap! I also climbed Cathedral Peak and have visited Owens River Gorge and Tahoe with my husband and kids.”
We’re so proud to have helped someone as enthusiastic as Elle learn the skills that she needed to lead her own adventures, both inside the gym and outside on real rock. After all, that’s what the clinics are all about!
Crushing Boulders with Girl Beta
Randi Johnson had been climbing for about 6 months, but wasn’t hooked until she started bouldering at Dogpatch Boulders.
“I took the Basic Technique Class and it drastically improved my climbing,” said Randi. “I went from climbing V0 to sending some V2’s. The Beta Bouldering Clinic also dramatically improved my climbing over the course of 4 weeks. I was quickly onsighting most V2’s and sending V3’s! I continued to take the climbing clinics that were offered at Dogpatch Boulders because I wanted to grow as a climber. Now, I am a completely different climber both physically and mentally than I was when I started.”
One of the things that Randi loved best about the clinics was their ability to bring new climbers together. Not only was she able to improve her climbing ability, but she found a way to build a community of her own: Randi is now facilitating Girl Beta at Dogpatch Boulders, a monthly meet-up for women of all levels that’s free for members. She has even extended the community online with the Girl Beta Facebook Group, so participants can stay in touch beyond the gym. Randi has shown just how effective the clinics can be for both teaching skills and making connections.
We are so proud of these exceptional women for how far they’ve come and how much they’ve given back to the Touchstone community since taking our clinics. Thank you Elle and Randi for your enthusiastic support and for being a part of the family!
Looking to learn how to become a crusher yourself (and meet some amazing folks along the way)? Be sure to check out any Touchstone gym’s website for current clinic offerings, or ask our friendly desk staff to learn more about our clinic tracks. Can’t wait to see you out there.