Local Live Your Dream Grant Winners

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Touchstone Climbing Sponsors Climbing Grant For the past three years we have proudly partnered with the American Alpine Club to help support the Live Your Dream Grant. Designed for the average joe climber, the Live Your Dream Grant is exactly what it sounds like; think of your dream climbing trip, and they’ll help you get there! As the local sponsors of the grant, we’re always excited to see where West Coast winners are headed. We’re especially proud to see a handful of Touchstone Climbing members on the list of grant recipients!

Congratulations to all the winners, we can’t wait to read your trip reports!


Lucas Barth: Ukiah, CA: $200
Lucas Barth has spent the last four years in and out of Yosemite National Park developing his skills—and in doing so he has climbed many of the classic lines in Yosemite Valley and Tuolumne Meadows. His dream has evolved into developing his own lines; adding his vision to the long legacy of Yosemite climbing. Specifically, Barth will focus his attention on first ascents in the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne and Peak 11, 357. His backcountry, multi-pitch first ascents will follow a ground-up ethic.

USA National Team Climber from Dogpatch BouldersNilo Batle: San Francisco, CA: $400
Nilo Batle will be traveling to Arco Italy to complete in the IFSC Youth Bouldering World Cup from August 28 through September 6, 2015. When Nilo began climbing 3 years ago, his only goal was to impress a girl and win her affection. This year, on a whim, he decided to compete in his first ABS season and, to his surprise, qualified for Nationals where he placed 4th in the Male A group, thus qualifying him to compete in the World Cup.

Tara Bhuthimethee: Dublin, CA: $200
Tara Bhuthimethee will be heading to Wyoming to attempt the Grand Teton Lower & Upper Exum routes as well as the Durrance route on Devil’s Tower. Both routes extend beyond her ability level—in length, difficulty, and style. She hopes to apply skills she has developed in the gym and at her local crags to these larger, more committing objectives. Ultimately, she looks to move onto the even more ambitious projects of big wall and alpine climbing.

Brett Bloxom: Bishop, CA: $500
Brett will take his skills to the next level by traveling to the Howser Towers of the Bugaboos with the main objective of All Along The Watchtower on North Howser Tower. His goal is to free climb as much of the route as possible, completing the route in a single push. Other trip objectives include an ascent of the Minaret, a sub peak of South Howser Tower. This trip will take the skills he has developed in the mountains, crags, and boulders of the Eastern Sierra and apply them in one of the premier alpine settings in North America.

Ian Bolliger: Berkeley, CA: $500
Ian’s dream trip unites mountaineering with skiing objectives. Ian will travel to Alaska to attempt the Cassin Ridge on Denali, spending time acclimatizing and skiing the slopes and couloirs around 14k camp. One specific ski objective is the Orient Express. This ascent of Denali and technical ski descents combines skills aggregated through numerous past experiences in the Sierra Nevada and North Cascades.

Peter Carey: Bakersfield, CA: $300
Peter Carey holds the goal of completing the portion of the Palisade Traverse that encompasses the Thunderbolt Peak to Mt. Sill, in a single, one-day push. With the ultimate goal of completing all 15 of California’s 14,000 foot peaks, the Thunderbolt to Sill encompasses the most difficult and technical terrain. This trip will require all of the skills Peter has developed and will challenge him both technically and mentally.

Miguel Diaz: Prescott, AZ: $200
Miguel’s objective is an ascent of Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park via the Casual Route. Dreaming of bigger, longer alpine routes, climbing the Diamond represents a stepping-stone in his climbing experience and personal progression. He will be applying the skills he has been developing on Sedona’s sandstone spires to the committing alpine environment of the Rocky Mountains.

Jonathan Foley: San Francisco, CA: $500
Ben built his climbing skills at the East coast crags of Rumney, the Gunks, the Red River Gorge, and the New River Gorge. After moving west and experiencing the climbing in the Eastern Sierra, Yosemite, and Tahoe, Jonathan has come to view the alpine environment as the testing ground to apply his climbing skills and progress to longer, more challenging objectives. Jonathan will travel to the Wind River Range of Wyoming to attempt the Northeast Face of Pingora Peak and the Wolf’s Head routes located in the Cirque of the Towers.

Logan Fusso: Reno, NV: $250
Logan has always dreamed of establishing his own routes. To fulfill this objective, Logan will travel to the Selkirk Mountains in the Valhalla Range to explore technical route development in a difficult to reach area north of Mt. Gimli. He has developed his skills significantly in some of America’s hardest testing grounds: the Cascades, Yosemite’s big walls, splitter cracks in Canyonlands, and highballs in Bishop. The similarity between all these experiences is that he was climbing someone else’s routes. This new experience in route development will lead Logan to the next level in his climbing career and open the door for him to take his skills into the greater ranges.

Chelsea Gelbart: Mill Valley, CA: $600
Chelsea Gelbart intends to travel to the Graian Alps of Europe to summit Mt. Blanc via the L’aiguille du Grouter route. Chelsea has only been climbing seriously for one year. This trip will require all of the skills she has since accumulated sport climbing in the Owen’s River Gorge, trad climbing in the granite of Tahoe, and mountaineering in and around Mt. Shasta. Mt. Blanc will be her first 15,000’ peak and will represent the first step on her larger dream of completing the Seven Summits.

Allyson Gunsallus: Pacifica, CA: $600
Allyson dreams of climbing long, technical routes in South America. In December, she will head to Southern Patagonia to the Fitz Roy range to attempt Aguja Guillamet, a tower in the Chalten massif. She has been building her skillset in Yosemite sending routes on Washington Column, El Capitan, and Half Dome. To help prepare for Patagonia, she will continue to train in a more alpine setting with objectives in the Eastern Sierra, Mt. Baker, Mt. Shasta, and Rainier. This dream trip to the Fitz Roy will encompass all of her skillset, push her into new, unknown terrain, and open up a new world of technically and logistically difficult alpine climbing.

Lars Hedin: Santa Barbara, CA: $350
Lars has been dreaming of his personal, ultimate test piece: climbing The Nose and the Salathe Wall on Yosemite Valley’s El Capitan. For the past two years he has been training and building his skills on the South Face and the Prow of Washington Column, the West Face of Leaning Tower; on dozens of long free climbs; on hundreds of laps on the local Santa Barbara bolt ladder. During this learning period he has overcome numerous challenges on the wall, endured two broken ankles, and numerous dawn patrols. He finally feels ready to apply these skills to the Captain, and ultimately, to longer, more difficult routes in the future.

Eric Hengesbaugh: La Mesa, CA: $300
Eric will travel to the Eastern Sierra and fully plunge himself into the world of alpine climbing. The Palisades beckon him with longer and harder routes than anything he has previously experienced. Further, he will spend a month attempting the classic and hidden first ascents of Sierra pioneer Don Jensen, a late family relative, and will attempt to relive one of Don’s last summers in the Sierra. Eric’s dream combines pushing his climbing skills into new terrain, uncovering some lost Sierra climbing history, and retracing a family members legacy.

Diana Hitchen: Tahoe Vista, CA: $200
Diana seeks to improve her climbing technique, focusing on sandstone splitter cracks in the desert of Southern Utah, by attempting three challenging towers on the Bridger Jack Mesa: Thunderbolts on Easter Island, the East Face of Sunflower Tower, and Wild West Show on Hummingbird Spire. These routes are technically harder than any climb she has attempted before and, coming from a mainly granite based climbing career, these climbs represent stepping further into uncharted sandstone territory.

Nathan Kalish: Tempe, AZ: $400
Nathan Kalish, a desert rat from Tempe, Arizona, seeks experience in the alpine environment. He will travel to the Bugaboos to attempt the Beckey-Chouinard route on the South Howser Tower, with smaller, secondary objectives filling out his time in the mountains. He ultimately dreams of climbing in Patagonia, and experiencing the smaller glacial travel and more committing and remote routes of the Bugaboos will act a logical stepping stone in his personal progression.

Paul Koubek: Yosemite, CA: $650
In 2014, Paul was awarded a Live Your Dream grant to develop his ice climbing skills in Ouray with the specific objective of climbing WI4 routes and a greater, ultimate objective of traveling to the Ruth Gorge in Alaska to apply his rock and new ice skills in a serious alpine testing ground. Since then, Paul has gone to further build his ice climbing skills completing WI5+ routes. He will combine these skills with those he has learned as a longtime Yosemite Search and Rescue team member to head to Alaska’s Moose’s Tooth on the Ruth Gorge to attempt “Shaken Not Stirred” and “Ham and Eggs.”

Kate McHugh: Tucson, AZ: $400
Kate’s objective is to learn aid and big wall climbing techniques with the goal of progressing to a higher technical level of climbing in an alpine environment. As an Outward Bound mountaineering instructor with 14 years of climbing experience, she has progressed from sport climbing to trad climbing easily enough, but lacks the complex problem solving and skillset required for big wall aid climbing. She will travel to Zion National Park to attempt Space Shot (5.7 C2 IV), Moonlight Buttress (5.8 C2), Touchstone Wall (5.9 C2 V), Tricks of the Trade (5.10+ C2+ VI), and Desert Shield (5.11a C3 V). Each of these routes will represent her learning progress as she works from 5.8 C2 to 5.11a C3.

Hari Mix: Palo Alto, CA: $850
Hari Mix will travel to the Karakoram to attempt Broad Peak (8047m), Gasherbrum I (8068m), and Gasherbrum II (8035m) climbing as a team of two with partner Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, all without supplemental oxygen. This expedition represents the nexus of high alpine skills and altitude experience he has developed through five expeditions to the Himalaya, Tien Shan and Pamier. This trip provides Hari the opportunity to assemble all of his skill set and apply them to technical routes like the Japanese Couloir on Gasherbrum I in alpine style.

Alix Morris: Irvine, CA: $350
Alix’s dream and objective is to travel to the Bugaboos and send All Along the Watchtower on North Howser Tower in a single day push. She has been building and developing her climbing and alpine skills across varied terrain in locations such as Yosemite Valley, Red Rocks, the High Sierra, and Squamish. All Along the Watchtower will test her abilities to climb light and fact and as free as possible on remote big walls in the mountains. With this trip she hopes to gain more experience on mountainous terrain and take those skills into the greater ranges of Patagonia in the winter of 2015/16, and in the future, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Greenland, and Baffin.

Tomasz Podkanowicz: Sunnyvale, CA: $300
Tomasz had dreamed of climbing all of California’s 14,000’ peaks. To this end, he has completed all but the toughest section: the Thunderbolt to Mt. Sill traverse in the Palisades of the Sierra Nevada. He has worked hard to get comfortable on exposed rock, developing trad leading skills to 5.10+ with some ascents of various multi-pitch routes in Yosemite Valley. After completing the California 14ers, Tomasz seeks the next level in his personal climbing progression: routes in the North Cascades and Teton range.

Bernadette Regan: Joshua Tree, CA: $600
Bernadette will travel to the Waddington Range of British Columbia, Canada to complete the first free ascent of the West Buttress of the Golden Klattasine. She intends to climb alpine-style and will install no fixed hardware. With little available route information, the Klattasine represents the most remote and committing objective Bernadette has yet faced. It will require a culmination of skills in both technical rock climbing and alpine adventuring and sits as the next progressive step in her personal climbing career.

Alex Rosenthal: Berkeley, CA: $700
Alex will fly to Argentina’s Andes mountain range to attempt the challenging Polish Direct route on Aconcagua. This route represents a climbing progression which began with Sierra 14ers, enveloped multiple routes on Mt. Shasta, saw him to the top of Rainier, to summits in the German Alps, and finally to Denali. Expanding on this path, the Polish Direct route on Aconcagua will challenge his abilities and help him identify weaknesses in his skillset. He looks to ultimately tackle major objectives in the greater ranges.

Bouldering in CaliforniaJordan Shackelford: Oakland, CA: $300
Primarily a boulderer, but harboring alpine ambitions, Jordan dreams of climbing the Evolution Traverse in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, in one-push, alpine-style, as fast as possible. While Jordan has developed strong climbing skills and sent V10 boulder problems, he has littler experience on alpine rock—save a few ascents around Tuolumne and elsewhere. He seeks to test himself on what Peter Croft has called, “way harder than climbing El Cap in a day,” and also, “the best ridge traverse I have ever done.” Long, serious, and requiring both skills and speed, the Evolution Traverse is the perfect progression for a strong bouldering looking to move into serious alpine environments.

Sarah Steele: Oakland, CA: $450
Sarah Steele will attempt the Swiss Route on Les Courtes in Chamonix in the Fall of 2015. This route represents a significant step up in her climbing progression, being both more sustained in difficulty and longer than any climb she has previously attempted. She will be applying her significant experience in ice climbing, rock climbing, and bouldering to accomplish her goal. Ultimately she hopes this trip will open her eyes to greater possibilities mountaineering in the greater ranges.

Brandon Thau: Santa Maria, CA: $850
Brandon will travel to the Gangotri region of the Northern Indian Himalaya with the goal of establishing a free ascent of the West Pillar of Bhagirathi III. His new free route will roughly follow the Catalan line called, “Impossible Star.” This climb on Bhagirathi III features a 3000’ granite wall capped by a 600’ alpine ice climb to the summit. While Brandon has extensive climbing experience—he’s tacked over 24 grade V/VI ascents in Yosemite with 13 of them being in-a-push—this will be his first expedition to the greater ranges of the Himalaya and his first time climbing at 6000m+. This climb will build off his past experiences of big wall climbing and open the doors to further expeditions and route development in remote, committing locations.

Bob Thompson: Santa Monica, CA: $500
Bob will head to Bugaboos Provincial Park in British Columbia to attempt to climb the Becky-Chouinard route on South Howser Tower and the Northeast Ridge on Bugaboo Spire. Bob has been working hard the past few seasons to become comfortable leading trad routes and has developed his skills to the 5.9/5.10 level. This trip will test his abilities in leading beyond of his ability level, all in a more committing alpine environment.

Keegan Wilson: Reno, NV: $300
Keegan Wilson and partner Ben Brunsvold will travel to Bugaboo Provincial Park in British Columbia, Canada to attempt the Becky-Choiunard, the Sunshine Crack, and the North Summit Direct on Snowpatch Spire. They are also seeking to explore more remote peaks such as Wallack Peak, Mount Kelvin, and Howser Peak. This trip will allow Keegan to gain more experience in glacial approaches while attempting long, committing alpine rock routes. In 2016 he is planning a trip to Baffin Island with an attempt on Mt. Asgard and a possible FA attempt on Mt. Northumbria. This trip is a stepping-stone to his aspiration to climbing alpine rock north of the Arctic Circle and in the Karakoram.