This has been one heck of a year, friends! We started new partnerships while strengthening old ones, threw some incredible events, from our second annual Woman Up Festival and Battle of the Bay Bouldering Comp to our first Pride Parties, and had the honor of working alongside some of the hardest working orgs in the business. But it was you, our lovely members, who have made all of this possible.
We wanted to share some of the great things we accomplished together in 2018. While it’s hard to summarize an entire year’s worth of amazing events and collaborations, here are just a few highlights from 2018 at Touchstone Climbing.
Working with underrepresented and underprivileged communities is one of our foundational tenets, and every Touchstone gym has its own regular outreach events throughout the year. In addition to that, we worked especially hard in 2018 to develop sustainable programming to address more systemic barriers to climbing.
We’re especially proud of this year’s collaboration with 1Climb and the Los Angeles Boyle Heights Variety Boys & Girls Club. We all share the same belief: EVERYONE should climb! Of course, not everyone is given the opportunity, whether due to financial barriers, lack of mentorship, or lack of exposure to the sport.
Enter: 1Climb. The nonprofit brainchild of pro climber Kevin Jorgeson and Soill owner Dan Chancellor, 1Climb works to connect Boys & Girls Clubs with nearby climbing gyms to form lifelong partnerships and bring climbing to kids who might otherwise have never even heard of it.
With YOUR help through fundraising efforts across our SoCal gyms and additional financial backing from TOMS Shoes, we built a climbing wall with 1Climb at VBGC that acts as a sister facility to LA Boulders. We send LA.B staff to VBGC multiple times a month to coach the kids on their own climbing wall, as well as host regular climbing sessions at LA.B. It’s pretty sensational seeing the kids gaining confidence in and passion for our favorite activity. You can find photos from the Grand Opening event here.
We’re biased, but we think Touchstone members are some of the most interesting, compassionate, and ambitious folx around, and we fully believe that everyone who joins us will be able to find their people. Still, across busy lives and packed schedules, it can be tough relying entirely on serendipity to meet other climbers.
That’s where our incredible community leaders come in! We have members, staff, and even managers running regular meetup groups so that everyone can find their fam at our gyms. 2018 saw the creation of multiple Queer Crush LGBTQ+ meetups in LA, San Francisco, and the East Bay, the POC climbing group Soul Ascension Crew at Sacramento Pipeworks, and the expansion of womxn’s meetups to more gyms. These events are fantastic opportunities to meet new climbing partners, whether it’s just for the evening or for your next outdoor adventures. Be sure to check your gym’s calendar to stay on top of upcoming events!
The Brown Ascenders meetups are still going strong in the Bay Area, and we were thrilled to celebrate with them at an after hours party at Great Western Power Co. (You can check out pictures from the event on our Facebook album.) They have done so much to support climbers of color in our communities; we are honored to do whatever we can to help them expand and grow with every year. They’ve got big plans for 2019, and we can’t wait!
We’re proud to offer adaptive climbing opportunities at most of our rope facilities, and especially of the regular adaptive meetups at Berkeley Ironworks and MetalMark. We worked to expand our adaptive programs in 2018, including hosting adaptive climbing parties at Cliffs of Id and Berkeley Ironworks for The North Face Global Climbing Day events—Alex Honnold even got involved in Berkeley! Get in touch with us if you’re interested in volunteering or bringing adaptive climbing to your Touchstone gym.
We throw a pretty mean party here at Touchstone, from the Bay to LA and everywhere in between. Two of our largest events saw their second years in 2018, and they were, dare we say, EVEN BETTER than the last!
Woman Up Climbing Festival
The Woman Up Climbing Festival is unlike any other climbing event in the world. This two-day celebration is dedicated to the incredible womxn present in every aspect of rock climbing—from routesetters to weekend warriors to professional athletes—and is the only climbing festival set entirely by professional female routesetters. After an all-womxn’s comp, including an Open category with a $5,000 cash purse, we followed up the next day with clinics, panels, and presentations by top female athletes, routesetters, and industry leaders. Every aspect of Woman Up is geared towards encouraging participants to acquire new skills, find their community, and open up conversations about womxn in climbing.
This year’s festival at Cliffs of Id was truly beautiful, with an intergenerational Finals featuring climbers like Lisa Rands, Alex Johnson, and Brooke Raboutou, a fascinating panel with female and nonbinary climbers of all abilities, a special and deeply personal keynote by Beth Rodden, and 10% of all proceeds going to our friends at Brown Girls Climb. You can find full recaps of previous years and learn more about Woman Up on our website.
Battle of the Bay
Battle of the Bay 2018 at Dogpatch Boulders was the biggest and best attended indoor climbing comp in the country. The $10,000 cash purse drew top competitors from all over the US to try their hardest and put on an incredible show in the Finals Round. But as much as we loved watching the pros duke it out, we had even more fun during the all-levels Citizens Comp, where we handed out a record number of t-shirts, pizza slices, and smiles. Check out our blog post for a full recap of the event.
Our Pride Month celebrations this year were bigger than ever with after hours Pride Parties at Dogpatch Boulders and Cliffs of Id and month-long fundraisers going to the LA LGBT Center and SF LGBT Center. Creating safe, welcoming, and inclusive spaces for everyone at our gyms is a priority for us, and so is honoring the rainbow of humans that make our gyms so special. Pride Month is all year round here, so check out your local Queer Crush meetup schedule to keep the party going!
Touchstone Climbing Series 2018
And what would Touchstone be without our beloved Touchstone Climbing Series events? TCS is so much more than just a comp—it’s a mega-party we throw to celebrate you, our beautiful members and friends, for being a part of our community. 2018 was Verdigo Boulders‘ very first TCS comp, and we hope everyone in Burbank had as great a time as we did!
While we love climbing in the gyms, we love climbing outside too! It is our belief that we are responsible for the amazing outdoor spaces in which we recreate. All year round we promote proper outdoor ethics, Access Fund events and fundraisers, and collaborative cleanups with local organizations to encourage anyone going outside to do so responsibly.
Gym to Crag
We hosted nine gym-to-crag events across our gyms in 2018, featuring guest speakers from pros like Beth Rodden to local experts like Matt Dooley, the author of the new LA County bouldering guidebook. In October, Friends of the Inyo toured through LA Boulders, Hollywood Boulders, Mission Cliffs, and Great Western Power Co. to talk about how to recreate responsibly in our beloved Eastern Sierras.
In addition to speaker events, we sponsored local cleanups like our Gym-to-Crag Bishop clean up in February, where we dismantled 13 illegal fire rings, raked parking areas and trails, and hauled out a whopping 320 pounds of trash!
And of course, our love for Bishop bouldering didn’t end there this year. Through an amazing collaboration with BLM, Friends of the Inyo, Payahuunadu Alliance, and Bishop Area Climbers Coalition, we designed, built, and installed the new Buttermilks kiosk to meet people at the source and encourage best practices to all climbers visiting this special place.
We couldn’t have done ANY of these amazing things without you, our Touchstone family. From those of you who’ve been with us since the very beginning in 1995, to those of you who just joined this month, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Together, we’re more than just a bunch of gyms—we are a community. We can’t wait to see what 2019 brings.