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Climbers gather to send routes and sip coffee at Touchstone Climbing Series competition

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Climbers gather to send routes and sip coffee at Touchstone Climbing Series competition

A Touchstone Climbing Series competitor chalks up before his next big move. (Pavlina MarkovaThe Inquirer).

A Touchstone Climbing Series competitor chalks up before his next big move. (Pavlina MarkovaThe Inquirer).

(Pavlina Markova\The Inquirer)

A Touchstone Climbing Series competitor chalks up before his next big move. (Pavlina MarkovaThe Inquirer).

(Pavlina Markova\The Inquirer)

(Pavlina Markova\The Inquirer)

A Touchstone Climbing Series competitor chalks up before his next big move. (Pavlina MarkovaThe Inquirer).

Pavlina Markova, Staff member

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Climbing and drinking coffee. These two activities describe perfectly what transpired at the Touchstone Climbing Series competition on Friday, Feb. 22, at Diablo Rock Gym. The climbing community got together to share stories, celebrate the beauty of the sport, and, ultimately, to see who can conquer the routes and problems set up by the creative route setters who work with Touchstone.

“Climbing community is strong, and you gotta have events like this to bring the people together. It’s huge,” said John Cassidy, a climber and a coffee lover who came to Touchstone Climbing Series to both compete and make coffee for climbers.

The One Way sign on the wall pointed straight up. Many eyes were watching The Prow; a wall with lead climbing routes ranging from 5.10A to 5.12D, all of them overhang, comprising the most difficult climbs of the competition. One of such climbs, a 5.12C route with a couple of nasty slopers, caught the interest of Ashley Rose, who likes lead climbing the most of all climbing disciplines.

(Pavlina Markova\The Inquirer)
John Cassidy, a climber, and a coffee lover, makes his famous almond milk and cinnamon latte. (Pavlina Markova\The Inquirer).

Rose didn’t come to only compete at the Touchstone Climbing Series, but to simply enjoy the sport.

“I just came for fun,” she said. Rose says that on the wall, she enjoys the feelings of risk and adrenaline rush that climbing brings to her.

And it’s not only fun and adrenaline what brought climbers to the competition. The camaraderie among climbers in the community is what brings them all together.

“People that climb are usually very nice and supportive,” said Rose, and that is what she likes about the competition and being a part of the climbing community in general.

The climbing community around Diablo Rock Gym sure is strong, with well over 350 climbers entering the competition. With so many climbers, all routes were full at all times, and people spent more time sipping coffee than they did climbing.

“If the goal is to climb a lot, you won’t climb much,” said Ari Pappas, a regular at Diablo Rock Gym, “(But) it’s just fun to come out and see all the regulars and try new routes.”

Cassidy, together with many other climbers, expressed love for the event over a cup of coffee. According to him, coffee and climbing go together inherently, like climbing chalk and sweaty hands. In Cassidy’s opinion, coffee helps climbers to deepen their relationships with each other, offering them relaxed moments in which they can really connect in ways other than being tied on the same rope. Or as much relaxed as these moments can get, considering they happen several thousands of feet off the ground, midway up tall unforgiving cliffs.

“I started making coffee out on the crags, (because) every dirtbag drinks coffee,” said Cassidy. He brewed coffee in some of the most beautiful and unlikely places, like Royal Arches in Yosemite. There, 2,000 feet off the ground dangling on ropes, he made coffee for his fellow climbers.

Community, that is what climbing means for the many competitors who entered. Community – that is what the Touchstone Climbing Series was really about.

10 more events are coming up in the Touchstone Climbing Series. The next nearby competitions in the series will take place on August 30 in Great Western Power Co., Oakland for top-rope and lead climbing and on June 21 in Berkeley Ironworks, Berkeley for bouldering. The full schedule and all locations can be found on the Touchstone Climbing Series website.

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About the Writer
Pavlina Markova, Staff member

Staff member, spring 2019

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Climbers gather to send routes and sip coffee at Touchstone Climbing Series competition