TRS 6 at Diablo

Joe, Geoff, and I have been indoor rock climbing pretty often lately, but we’re traveling so often that we always miss the competitions. As luck would have it, Touchstone would finally be holding one of their Touchstone Rope Series 6 competitions while we were all home. Of course we went!

This time TRS 6 was at Diablo Rock Gym, over in Concord. We usually go to their Oakland and Berkeley gyms, but Touchstone also has gyms in San Francisco, San Jose, Sacramento, and Fresno.
When we got to the gym, we went to warm up with some bouldering. We keep finding these new problems that involve huge dynos but don’t have any ratings. Just V-Fun! Joe couldn’t quite make it.
During competitions, the gyms get pretty crowded. Everyone wants a piece of the action.
Belayers! Belayers everywhere!
Before long it was time to tie in and go up the walls. We climbed routes next to the comp routes so we could shoot the climbers coming towards us. Most climbers were happy to be photographed. Otherwise, how would anyone know how awesome they were?
While Joe was on the wall and Geoff was belaying him, I wandered around to see what else was going on. It was pretty clear that the big show was going on at the super overhung lead wall (SOLW).
I climbed a wall off to the side of the SOLW to shoot this little girl climbing the 5.12a like it was a walk in the park. She’s only 9!
And that’s one of the coolest things about rock climbing. People of all ages enjoy the hell out of it.
We couldn’t go to a comp and not compete, could we? Of course not, so we each took a turn on a 5.10a/b and earned a TRS 6 t-shirt! Awesome!
Sometimes it feels like I’m watching Spider-Man.
I climbed another wall to get a different angle at the SOLW, but I was also in a good position to shoot the 5.11a right next to me.
It takes a ridiculous amount of finger strength to climb a route like this, but the really good climbers make it look easy.
Touchstone competitions aren’t about speed or even if you can finish a route at all.
Each route has a few “checkpoint” holds on it, marked with a box made of tape. You get a certain number of points for reaching each box, and three tries to get to the top of the route, where the last box is. Harder routes will earn you more points. Whoever gets the most points during the comp wins.
Touchstone really knows how to take care of its competitors. Everyone gets free pizza and beer! Well, the kids don’t get beer. Neither does anyone who’s still climbing.
The line got super long and the pizza disappeared before everyone got a slice. Oh no!
Luckily more pizza came, and not a moment too soon. Cheese, pepperoni, combo, there was something for everyone.
Personally I think climbing drunk wouldn’t be any more dangerous than just sucking at climbing, but having a drunk belayer would be super dangerous! Okay, lead climbing drunk isn’t a very good idea either.
Joe got an app that tracks what you eat and what kind of exercise you do, but rock climbing isn’t one of the options. Geoff thought that was stupid.
No party would be complete without a DJ. This dude rocked the 1’s and 2’s all night to keep the energy levels high!
As the sun set, the gym was as crowded as ever. It was hard to move around without cutting through groups and stepping over people’s stuff.
It’s rather unfortunate that we don’t really know who anyone is yet. That makes it hard to find the good stories.
This woman might have been leading in points, or she might be on her first climb after spending a year in a wheelchair. Who knows?
It’s sometimes helpful to “air climb” before your real climb, especially if there are any particularly hard moves.
After a little while the gym finally started to thin out.
Some climbers went a little overboard with the temporary tattoos.
Climbers had to turn in their sheets before the time was up so everyone was scrambling to get a few more climbs in.
Geoff interviewed Hans Florine, Manager of Diablo Rock Gym.
LB: How into climbing are you?
HF: More so now than ever. Lately I’ve been more into a health/fitness thing than climbing. I do mostly traditional climbing and crack climbing in Yosemite. I’m really excited to motivate people here for whatever challenge they’re shooting for.
LB: How long have you been managing Diablo Rock?
HF: About 19 months
LB: Tell me about this awesome comp!
HF: It’s basically a party for the members. We’ve got the free pizza and beer everyone’s super psyched on, and for the competition we don’t even give out prizes for the top competitors, we just do a raffle of the score cards so it’s just a total fun-fest.
LB: Do a lot of people come out for the comps?
HF: I like to think so! It’s the only time we have 250 people in here…
LB: Awesome. Thanks for the interview, Hans. We’ll see you on the bouldering wall!
HF: Thanks Life Blasters! Come out to Diablo Rock Gym! We’ve got Crossfit, an indoor heated pool, and like the most motivated community of people out here. It’s super healthy.
At the end of the night, Hans held the raffle. Lots of people won bags and hats, and some people got chalk without even having to win at all. There were some bigger, way more awesome prizes though, like a campus board and a rope. We really could have used that rope, since we’re going through Yosemite on our way to Vegas for Formula D next week!
Photos by Bohan & Ayala

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