Father/Son Duo Tours 11 Touchstone Climbing Gyms

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Talk about Father-Son bonding… This spring Robert and Michael Ryan visited each Touchstone Climbing Gym as part of the Berkeley Ironworks Challenge!


Robert has been climbing for 43 years, picking it up along the Potomac River George near Washington DC when he was 40 years old. “Maybe it was a mid-life crisis,” he said with a smile. Soon he was hooked, climbing in the Gunks, and leading every route he got on.

2SacPipeworksWhen he moved to Emeryville in 2010, he joined Berkeley Ironworks, and quickly fell into a group of dedicated Tuesday/ Thursday early morning climbers. “I call it Senior Daycare, but I’m not sure that all of my friends think it is as amusing as I do…” The group involved climbers Paul Gruber, Allen Steck and Bob Colby, along with many more.

Berkeley Ironworks Challenge

“We started the Berkeley Ironworks challenge three years ago after seeing a similar challenge inspire members to take advantage of everything the gym has to offer at Diablo Rock Gym,” said Manager Lyn Barraza.

In 2014, Robert casually completed a few of the challenges with several members of the Tuesday/Thursday group. “We’d been bonding through climbing for years, but the BIW Challenge brought us closer. At first, the best part was discussing the various challenges over lunch, but it became much more than that.”

In 2015, the Challenge conflicted with Robert’s climbing trip to Kalymnos, but he was still able to collect 300 points in three days.

This year was different. Determined to give it a solid try, he booked his trip to Greece around the Challenge. “I really took it seriously this year,” said Ryan. “My original goal was 600 points, and I got over 1100” He completed most of the challenges with his son, Michael.

Tour de Touchstone

“One of our pie in the sky challenges was to visit all 11 Touchstone Climbing Gyms,” said BIW manager Lyn Barazza. “We added it to the list to remind people that there are 11 gyms.” So, Robert and Michael embarked on a journey to complete the Tour de Touchstone!

“The eleven gym tour with Michael was a great experience. Each Touchstone gym is different!” said Robert. “Some gyms are huge, some are purpose built, some are newer, some are older – but no matter where we were, we’d slide our membership cards and in we went!”


What’s Next?

We reached Robert just in Kalymnos, just as he was leaving to run warm-up laps at a sector called Kastelli.  While he’s finished with the BIW challenge, he’s still got plenty of goals! “My immediate challenge is to find a 6b on Kalymnos that I can lead. Ten years ago I redpointed Persephone 6b, so I called it ‘6b at 73.’ This year the challenge is ‘6b at 83.'”

Thanks for sharing your photos and stories with us Robert! Good luck on 6b at 83!