• Beth Rodden

    Beth was born in San Francisco and grew up in Davis, California. The mountains were always important to her family and she spent most of her family vacations exploring the Sierras. At the age of... 14 she started climbing in her local climbing gym. She quickly rose to the top of competitions, winning Junior Nationals three years in a row and traveling to World Cups across the globe. Mission Cliffs became one of her favorite training spots during her teenage years. After five years of competitions she turned her focus to outdoor climbing. She redpointed To Bolt Or Not To Be (5.14a) during her “semester off” of college, becoming the youngest female at the time to redpoint a 5.14. She never went back to UC Davis, instead taking the opportunity to travel to Madagascar with her climbing idol Lynn Hill. Over the years she has become one of the most accomplished climbers out there. She’s free climbed three El Cap routes (Lurking Fear, The Nose and El Corazon), established 5.14 sport climbs, and established one of the hardest traditional climbs in the world, Meltdown (5.14c) in Yosemite Valley. She’s currently focused on her hardest pursuit yet, motherhood. When she’s not chasing after Theo, she can be found either in Berkeley or Yosemite.
  • Canaan Vallejos

    Canaan has been a Touchstone member since 2014, has worked the front desk at Dogpatch Boulders on and off since 2015, and is now Touchstone’s first running athlete. He grew up in southern Colorado where... he discovered running at age 13. By age 15, he had earned four performances at the USATF Junior Olympic National Championships with three Top 12 finishes in the two events. He continued training and improving, eventually gaining invites from various collegiate teams. Although Western Colorado University and Adams State University were his favorite invites, Canaan chose to run NCAA Division 2 on scholarship with the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs; but in 2005 during his Freshman year, he sustained an injury that took him out of the sport completely. Canaan relocated to California in 2013, where he was introduced to cycling and climbing. He quickly became obsessed with cycling and spent the majority of his free time riding gravel and pavement. All that changed on December 25, 2016 when he suffered a serious cycling accident. After months with a busted body and a totaled bike, Canaan needed to find some stoke—so he strapped on a pair of running shoes for the first time in 12 years. Missing the gravel, he took it slow on trails and diligently practiced his PT exercises. On June 23rd, 2018 he competed in the Rodeo Valley Trail Run 50k, where he finished with a winning time that got him accepted into the Elite field of one of the country’s most competitive trail races, The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championship. All of the sudden, he’s back in it and couldn’t be more thankful.
  • Elliott Nguyen

    Growing up, studying the piano was Elliott’s focus. Outdoor sports weren’t his thing. But, in his late teens, Elliott was diagnosed with a degenerative motor neuron disease called hereditary spastic ataxia, dashing his aspirations for... a professional career in music. At a pivotal moment in handling his diagnosis, Elliott realized that while he couldn’t become a professional pianist, he could still find genuine community and build a life around fulfilling experiences. And where better to have them from the top of a mountain? Since then, Elliott has spent every spare moment pushing his body to its limit. In 2015, in his first ever race, Elliott won the wheelchair category of the Philadelphia Half-Marathon. In 2018, he thru-hiked the 170 mile Tahoe Rim Trail. 2021 was his first year doing comp paraclimbing, where he finished the season coming in 4th at the LA Paraclimbing World Cup. Currently, Elliott’s passion lies in introducing people to outdoor adventures and marine conservation. You’re likely to see him placing gear in Pinnacles choss and quaking on slabs in the Sierras. He volunteers weekly at the Bay Institute, helping with animal husbandry for their giant sea bass, wolf eels, sevengill sharks and bat rays on SCUBA. Elliott also does citizen science survey dives for Reef Check off the Monterey coast. He is founder of an inclusive, traditional scouting program for youth with disabilities in the Bay Area through Outdoor Service Guides, and he sits on the board of ParaCliffHangers. In his spare time, Elliott is Head of People at an Oakland-based healthcare technology startup. Elliott can be found at Touchstone ParaCliffHanger’s adaptive meetups. Come say hi!
  • Emily Seelenfreund

    After a successful collegiate athletic career as a three-time National Championship winner with the University of Alabama’s wheelchair basketball team, graduating Harvard Law School and establishing herself as a disability rights lawyer, Emily was looking... for a new challenge. But the first time she rolled into a climbing gym, she had no idea if this sport would be accessible for her. Growing up with Osteogenesis Imperfecta and using a wheelchair or crutches for mobility, she was used to lots of fitness opportunities being off-limits. She quickly realized that climbing was different and fell in love with a sport that was inclusive of pretty much everybody. Emily dove into the competitive world of paraclimbing, most recently placing first in her category at the 2021 USA paraclimbing nationals and third at the 2021 Los Angeles paraclimbing world cup. Her climbing goals include making a podium at the next paraclimbing world championship, conquering her fear of lead climbing, and finally mastering a one-armed pull-up. Beyond her personal climbing goals, she is incredibly passionate about expanding access to adaptive climbing; Emily co-founded the 501(c)(3) non-profit ParaCliffHangers in 2019, an organization whose mission is to foster community, strength, adventure, inclusion, and equality through rock climbing by providing opportunities for people with all types of disabilities to overcome mountains. Thanks to the support of Touchstone she has been able to establish a weekly adaptive climbing night at Berkeley Ironworks and looks forward to continuing to expand the Bay Area’s adaptive climbing community. Emily’s favorite part about climbing is that it’s inherently adaptable and that paraclimbing is a natural extension of that. After all, she may be only four feet, two inches tall, but with her +10 APE index, she usually surprises herself with how far she can reach.
  • Ethan Pringle

    Born and raised in the Mission District of San Francisco, Ethan was introduced to the wonders of nature before he could walk. He first set foot in Mission Cliffs at age eight. Mission Cliffs was,... and still is, one of the premier climbing gyms in the country, and happens to be only four blocks from his home. Ethan met some amazing people at the gym who had a profound effect on him. He was very lucky to meet climbers willing to take a snotty but enthusiastic little kid on outdoor climbing trips to places like Pinnacles, Mickey’s Beach, Bishop, Owens River Gorge, Red Rocks, and Mt. Charleston. He remains forever indebted to those people. Since climbing is still such a small community, as a youngster Ethan had the opportunity to climb and become friends with people who inspired him—people who he read about in magazines­ and were his heroes at one time, like François Le Grand, Jason Campbell, Liv Sansoz and Chris Sharma. At twelve he began to compete. Since then he has been on the U.S. climbing team every year, placing top three in almost every comp he has entered, and winning a few national and international level competitions.
  • L. Renee Blount

    L is a talented creative visionary and an athlete with a camera who is making the outdoors way more inviting, fun, and filled with FLAVOR. She’s been featured on Outside Mag (cover story), Athleta, Patagonia,... The North Face, Nat Geo, and beyond. L is a Harvard-trained designer who got into the outdoor world through climbing in college. After not seeing herself for years, she learned how to use a camera. And quickly gained campaigns with Arc’Teryx, Athleta, and more. She’s the only Black woman contributor to the Nat Geo Adventure Team. And currently an ambassador for Bear Grylls and more. Her favorite type of climbs are pretty vertical sport routes over the ocean. And to hold a camera, she still trains. She loves coastal climbing, mountaineering, and more.
  • Natasha Barnes

    Natasha has been climbing since 1991 and has been a professional athlete since 2001. She has earned a spot on the US World Cup Team for both bouldering and sport climbing multiple times, and has... sent several V11’s and 5.13d/14a’s outdoors. She earned the Bouldering National Champion title in 2005 and was a gold medalist in the 2005 Teva Games (now GoPro Mountain Games/IFSC Vail World Cup). She now competes in powerlifting and has qualified for the 2018 National Championships, with personal bests of a 290lb squat, 167.5lb bench press, and 355lb deadlift. Natasha first set foot in a Touchstone gym 17 years ago at an ABS bouldering event; slept in her car behind Mission Cliffs the first time she came to compete at a Touchstone comp. Touchstone has been a large part of her growth and development as a climber and she has met lifelong friends climbing at some of Touchstone gyms since she joined in 2005. She has been living in San Francisco, California for 13 years and has a private sports medicine practice at Motus Clinic in SoMa. She is excited to continue to be a part of the Touchstone community!
  • Pierre Alcutt

    A classic East Bay kid, Pierre spent his childhood playing football in the streets and video games on the couch. He and his brother discovered climbing when, after years of bouncing and tumbling at a... local trampoline park, their group of friends were looking for a new challenge. “Diablo Rock Gym was just like a more grown-up version of what we were already doing,” he said. While he can often be found quietly scrolling through his Instagram feed (or respectfully avoiding yet another lap on your project), don’t let his modesty fool you—Pierre’s real secret recipe is his determination and laser-like focus. Pierre recently discovered climbing outside and is finding fast success. While his climbing his impressive, it’s his maturity and perspective that’s sure to turn heads. Upon sending his first outdoor project, he said, “It’s about more than just climbing things that are hard for me. [Climbing] is the best excuse to be outside, discover a different view and perspective of nature, and spend time with my brother.” Pierre is stoked to join the Touchstone Athlete team and hopes to help demonstrate that climbing can (and should be) for everyone.

    In the early 90s, when Mark Melvin was attracting investors for an ambitious plan to open climbing gyms, he asked Amelia Rudolph, the founder of BANDALOOP, to come and rehearse her new form of dance-climbing... in a big empty warehouse in the Mission that later became Mission Cliffs, the first Bay Area Touchstone gym. Many famous climbers including Ron Kauk, Hans Florine, Steve Schneider, Bird Lew and Peter Mayfield performed with BANDALOOP in its early years indoors and in Yosemite, and Amelia became a climber who competed on the national circuit, loved Yosemite granite and sought out obscure backcountry routes. Flash forward thirty years – now Touchstone’s reach extends across all of California and BANDALOOP tours the world and teaches hundreds of learners the art of Vertical Dance. BANDALOOP celebrates the human spirit, nature, and communities through dance utilizing climbing technology to expand and challenge what is possible. The company has stretched the field of dance through its trailblazing work, developing and refining the art of Vertical Dance over thirty years while growing its local, national, and international impact. The innovative work disrupts traditional ideas of performance space and the body’s relationship to gravity and deploys a collaborative creative process, increasingly with a greater focus on social and environmental justice. BANDALOOP creates new vertical work on its Uptown outdoor dance wall and in its West Oakland studio for local and worldwide audiences, trains generations of dancers in its unique form, and opens its doors to renters, artists, youth, and pre-professional dance students. In the Bay Area, BANDALOOP has a long history of successful community engagement, partnerships, and educational activities in Oakland and beyond.