Planet Granite

Aug 152014

Correction: the wrong dates were posted last week!
Bloc Party is FRIDAY, August 22nd at PG Sunnyvale.
See you then!

Mark your calendars – Bloc Party is back!

The series begins on Friday, August 22nd with registration opening at 4pm!

If you haven’t joined us for our annual community bouldering competition in the past, you’re in for a TREAT!

At this FREE event for PG members you’ll get to climb with friends, test your skills on rad new problems, enjoy food & drinks annnnnnd…. earn the chance to WIN some prizes!


This is a FUN, redpoint style competition.  As you check in, you’ll receive a score card on which to track your score.  After you attempt a problem, mark each attempt off with an “X”.  Once you send, ask a friend or spotter to sign off on your send, circling your score for that climb. The harder the climb, the more points you earn!

Competitions are open to people of all ages and categories are as follows:

Recreational V0-V3
Advanced V3-V6
Open V6+

Recreational V0-V2
Advanced V2-V4
Open V5+

*For those of you new to our comp series, here’s the beta:

3 Locations + 1 Onsight Final

*Participants must compete in SF’s Bloc Party to be eligible for the Onsight Series Final

Friday, August 22nd – PG Sunnyvale

Friday, September 26th – PG Belmont

Friday, October 17th – PG San Francisco + Onsight Series Final!


All PG Competitions are FREE for members and only $15 for non-members.  All participants who turn in a completed score card will receive a FREE Bloc Party Tshirt!

The top 5 scores of the competitions from each mens and womens are invited to compete in a Series Final that takes place at the end of the last comp. The Series Final consists of 3 problems with 5 minutes for each competitor to attempt the climb.

Winners take home COLD.HARD.CASH. 

$150 – First place
$100 – Second place
$50 – Third place

Plus ALL participants will be entered into our raffle!  Awesome prizes from our favorite vendors will be raffled off at the end of each competition, so no worries if you don’t think you’ll get first in your category, you still have a chance to win something cool!

Check this page after each comp to see scores and photos from the night!  

For more details and rules, click here. 



Aug 062014

The Coach and The Trainer return to PG!

This is a great opportunity to work with some of the best in the industry!

Justen & Kris each bring a unique style of training and coaching to their programs. They can effectively target your individual needs, catering to your specific goals for climbing.



PG Sunnyvale – Tuesday, August 26th from 10am-8pm

PG San Francisco – Wednesday, August 27th from 8am-8pm

PG San Francisco – Thursday, August 28th from 8am-3pm

PG- Private session Poster.numbers
Climbing CoachImproving Skills

If you need a complete evaluation of your current climbing skills, sign up for a one-on-one with Justen Sjong!  You’ll gain a clear understanding of what skills you need to focus on to further your climbing and reach your goals.
**Includes a skills evaluation!

Athletic TrainerImproving Strength

If you want to take your climbing to the next level, Kris Peters is your trainer!  Current trainer of top climbers including Matt Segal, Daniel Woods, Emily Harrington and more. Get a session designed around your specific goals and a program to fit your needs! 
**Includes a discount for online training programs!


Members – 1 hour $75 | 2 hours $145

Non-Members – 1 hour $85 | 2 hours $155

**Email Justen or Kris to book your session!**

*Questions about private session availability? Email Justen or Kris directly.

Jul 302014

A Day on the Incredible Hulk

Surviving an epic in the mountains – By Walker Emerson


Shivering in the sun on a granite cliff I watch my yellow puke drip down the sparkling rock.

Pieces of oats and a brown paste streaked with melted chocolate chips stain the ledge at my feet. I’m embarrassed. Amy and I are climbing for the first time together. The route is steep and I’m out of sight for the time being. I take up the rope as she approaches. My head feels thick with a sludge. This was supposed to be an easy fun day!…. I accept the situation.

We had crossed an invisible ceiling and were paying dearly for it. Eleven thousand feet above the sea and I was experiencing altitude sickness.

Photo Aug 18, 7 35 44 PM

The Incredible Hulk in all its glory.

Amy and I had started the day like any other weekend adventure; fatigued from the long drive and the brutal 5:30 am start. Packs stuffed full of cams, rope and exuberance we trotted down the trail in the early light towards the great Incredible Hulk.

A thousand foot small wall in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, with pitch after pitch of continues train track cracks that follow cookie cutter corners to the sky. A four and half mile hike gaining three thousand feet gets you to the base of the wall at just about ten thousand feet. We were feeling good, both having spent numerous prior weekends high in the Sierras; the hike felt casual.

As we approach the wall we see a group of people swarming around the start of the most popular route and our objective – Positive Vibrations. It is now nine am and the route is eight pitches long. Every one seems fit and fast, no problem. Since we arrived last, we’re the last to climb. Two bearded YOSAR fellows from Yosemite are ahead of us and a strong party of young guns lead the way.

The Hulk 2

On the left – PG Sunnyvale employee Amy follows the crux pitch of The Positive Vibes 5.11a – 8 pitches. On the right – another party gets a late lap in on the same route.

Amy and I move quickly, she takes a few leads and everyone is grooving.

As the day goes on the sun intensifies and the cracks become slimy. But the climbing is beautiful and I am thoroughly enjoying it. The vibes are really positive.

I pull onto a sloping ledge and look up at the long final pitch to the top. One of the YOSAR guys has found another belay a few feet ahead to avoid crowding, real pros. We chat a bit but I start loosing focus; I can’t make sentences and start to feel very nauseous.

Cody seconds up the last pitch as I belay Amy. Coming to my senses I call up to him. “Hey Cody, I just puked, I think I have altitude sickness, what should I do?” I thought it would be wise to let professionals know the situation in case it turned sour. Cody asks me a few questions, how much water have I drank, have I eaten, etc. I reply “about a liter since we left the car and one bar.” I stare at the sandwich hanging from my harness and puke again. It hits me like a locomotive.

I curl on the ledge still belaying Amy up the previous pitch. She pokes her head over the last bulge smiling. I tell her that I think I have altitude sickness and had just puked a minute ago. She replies that she is feeling it also and is relieved to know she is not the only one. Bud, the other YOSAR guy, yells down from the top,“Do you need us to send you a rope?”

In my delusional state I decline the offer. I’d rather climb than jug a fixed line.

The dilemma here is that our route only has bolted anchors for the first half. Then you must climb the remaining four to the top, or bail sacrificing your gear at each belay.

We are 200 feet from the summit, one final beautiful 5.10 splitter to the top. The decision was easy.

I take the cams and set off, forgetting to unclip my daisy, it goes taught and pulls me downwards. Amy asks if I’m ok. I respond, “I’m not ok but we have no choice.” I push on to the top, like a zombie, and climb the steep continuous cracks to the summit. The climbing distracts me from my stomach.

I am in a wonderful AMS cloud of bliss (acute mountain sickness), floating along the tips of the Sierras, unconcerned with the distance of my last piece.

Safely I pull onto the shoulder of the Incredible Hulk.  I curl into the fetal position and belay Amy to the summit. Yelling words of encouragement from my slumped position, she slowly follows and joins me at the belay. She crumples into the corner next to me. I have given into the ledge, I want nothing else than this slanting ledge.

I stare into the distance; I can see the town of Bridgeport 20 plus miles away. I scan the surrounding peaks and watch the shadows drift across the valleys below. We lay here maybe 30 minutes, maybe an hour. Suddenly I sit up and said “We have to get out of here.” Some how I find the strength to turn on the autopilot.

The Hulk 3

Walker vs. the Hulk

Just 50 feet to our right is the rap anchors. 

With our extreme states this simple task has become difficult and dangerous. Having to untie from the rope and use it to descend, trusting that it will pull free from the anchor above each time without getting caught on the sharp rocks that jut out along its path. Luckily the descent goes smoothly and I let Amy take the reins as we approach the ground. She is feeling better than me at this point and I feel I can trust her with getting us to the ground.

An hour later we hit the ground a thousand feet below. Both relieved that we did not perish on the summit of The Hulk!

Still feeling the strong affects I sit and peel an orange; the juice dribbles down my chin and the citric acid stings in my stomach. I look up and Amy has packed the majority of the gear into her pack. I can’t find the energy to argue. I shove my sandwich into my pack thinking that if I had eaten this earlier maybe all this could have been avoided. But the thought of food makes my stomach churn.

I start down the trail desperately needing to take cover from the beating rays of the sun. I approach the shade line and sink into the sandy ground leaning against a rock. The cool air flows into my lungs and settles my stomach.

Amy kneels next to me with a caring confidence and hands me the rest of her water. I sip the water and let the oxygen flow back into my brain.

walker bio photo
Walker Emerson is a contributing writer for the PG Blog. He also sets routes at Planet Granite under the alias ‘Smash’. When he’s not plugging grips and jugging lines, he can be found on weekends clipping bolts at Jailhouse or sailing the granite seas of Yosemite.

To keep up with Walker’s adventures, follow him on the PG Blog, join him on InstagramVimeo and Facebook.


Jul 282014

Guest post by PG Routesetter Shannon EK Joslin

Buying your first pair of climbing shoes can be a daunting endeavor. Buying your second pair can be even more stressful!

This blog post is a quick guide in how to streamline your shoe buying experience. We want to help you get out of the shop, into shoes and on the wall!

Planet Granite offers a variety of shoes for climbers of various different levels. Certain subsets of shoes are highly specific to the style of climbing and the climber’s ability level.


Q – What type of terrain will these shoes be primarily used on?

Sticky rubber is essential for climbing at your limit both inside and outside. We all want a shoe with “the stickiest” rubber!

However, when it comes to adhesion on rock there isn’t ‘one-size-fits-all’. Yosemite’s granite is vastly different than Mortar Rock’s basalt. The top of the line rubbers that rate well on multiple stone types are Vibram® rubber (used in many La Sportiva shoes), Stealth® C4™ rubber (used in 5.10’s shoes) and,  most recently, TRAX rubber (used in Evolv shoes).  You will find all of these brands and rubber in PG’s gear shops.


You can typically find the type of rubber on the bottom of the shoe. From right to left are the emblems for VIBRAM® rubber, Stealth C4 rubber, and TRAX rubber.

Q – How many climbing sessions a week are you getting in?

If climbing is more than just a ‘hobby’, and you find yourself climbing multiple times a week and on the weekends, buying a 2nd (and even 3rd pair!) might be a good idea.  Having multiple pairs of shoes can be a really effective way of not only catering to the variety of indoor and outdoor terrain, but can also increase the longevity of the shoes.  Rotating through your shoes can make the rubber and fit last longer!

Some people choose to train with an older, worn-in shoe and then save a pair of their favorite shoes for an upcoming competition or a redpoint session outside.

For those on a budget, Evolv offers a great subset of cheap (but sticky!) climbing shoes. Planet Granite currently stocks the Addicts, Elektras, and Defys - all of which have TRAX rubber and are under $100.


Q – What style of climbing will you be doing?

Think about the degree of wall you normally climb on. Vertical, overhanging, slabs, or a mixture?

Vertical and Slab -

If you climb primarily on vertical and slab routes a shoe with a good edge is essential. A good edge allows you to stand on your feet while using ‘bad’ foot holds As you may have experienced, us route setters, we like to use tiny feet on slab routes. Look for shoes that market their “edging power.” Good shoes for vert and slab climbers are La Sportiva’s Miura’ and Katana’s, 5.10 Anasazi’s Velcros and Pink Lace-ups and Evolv’s Defy.

Shoes 1

On the right is an aggressive, down-turned La Sportiva Solution ideal for steep terrain; and on the left is a flat Five Ten Anasazi Velcro (available in Sunnyvale) ideal for vertical climbing.

Overhanging – 

If you climb primarily on overhanging routes you will want a shoe that is marketed as aggressive. An aggressive shoe has a downturned sole and is usually asymmetrical in their toe box. Subtle difference in a shoe’s toe box and heel cup make a world of difference for overhanging routes. I have found that I particularly enjoy having a shoe with rubber extended far over the toe. Great shoes for overhanging climbing are La Sportiva’s Solutions (my personal favorite), Five Ten’s Dragons and Team, and Evolv’s Nexxo.



When trying on new shoes look for a shoe that fits like a glove.

A shoe that fits well should have no air pockets, nor should it crunch your foot into looking (and feeling) like you are practicing binding your feet. I can’t stress this enough, especially if you are trying to develop new technical skills like finicky heel hooks, technical toe hooks or the ever-strenuous smear.

The two most temperamental air pocket areas are heel cups and toe boxes. Use your newly developed strong climbing fingers and poke around a bit to feel for the pockets.


Pictured on the left is the La Sportiva Mythos with a unlined leather upper; on the right is a Evolv Defy with a synthetic upper. The leather shoe will stretch upon breaking in whereas the synthetic will mostly stay true to the purchase size.

It’s important to take note if the shoes that you are purchasing are lined or unlined leather or synthetic materials (you can find this information in the technical specifications for each shoe).

Unlined leather shoes (LaSportiva Mythos) will stretch as you break them in whereas synthetic shoes (5.10 Dragon Lace-up and Teams) generally stay the same size. Lined leather shoes (LaSportiva Katana Velcro) fall somewhere in the middle, giving a bit of stretch with time but nowhere near as much as an unlined leather shoe.

Factor this into how the shoe initially fit. I like my big toe to be fairly bent in my new leather aggressively shaped shoes, so when they stretch my toe will be left with a tiny bend—a quality I have found valuable when grabbing the rock with my feet.

I like my vertical shoes to be very snug with no bend in the toe. I like my trad shoes (shoes I know I will be spending a full day in) to be very comfortable. Tight but not overtly so, as I know that one can spend all day climbing long multi-pitches in the heat of summer and feet will inevitably swell.




Here Shannon is testing her fits by heel hooking in South Africa and smearing on tiny edges in Yosemite.

Another factor to consider when buying climbing shoes is your current and projected climbing level. Are you just starting out and don’t know if climbing will be your hobby of choice?

Go for a more all-around shoe—the Evolv Defy or Elecktra will do you a solid. Think the sport of rock climbing (and your feet) will stick? Get some of the stickiest rubber out there and grab an advanced pair of Scarpa’s, LaSportiva’s or 5.10’s.

Are you trying to branch into steep, hard boulders? Try the La Sportiva’s Solution or Five Ten’s Dragon.

To close, the most important aspect of buying a climbing shoe is making sure that your foot is happy. If your feet feel great you can spend less time worrying about when you get to take off your shoes between burns and more time having fun climbing.

And remember kids, With great rubber comes great responsibility.

*Check out Shannon in action in our Tip of the Week video!

Shannon bioBorn under a smoldering Mars, it is rumored that Shannon began setting routes as a young girl in the gaudy playpens at the Sultan’s palace in Delhi on walls of pure velvet and pinches of wrought gold. As word of her startling talent spread she was adopted by a traveling English sugar baron and quickly inducted into the glittering halls and silk petticoats of London’s new rich, where she lived for a time before stowing away on the four-master Santa Guadalupe, bound for the Americas. What transpired aboard the vessel can only be guessed at by a tremor in her root-like thumbs—though many have of course cited the numerous horrific diaries discovered among the wreckages of two Japanese whalers. How she at last came to Planet Granite remains unknown…

*What is known* about Shannon is that she is an ambassador of La Sportiva, Organic Bouldering Mats, Joshua Tree Skin Care, Flux Coffee, and Solo Eyewear. She chooses to wake up in the morning with a Flux and a snuggle with her dog/black bear, Philia. She is a wealth of information about climbing products, training for climbing, climbing holds and outdoor climbing and eagerly invites you to seek out or rival her Valerian steel sharpened advice. She’ll likely have a smile and snacks for you too!


*Follow Shannon’s adventures on her personal BLOG and Facebook athlete PAGE.*
Jun 252014


We’re just a few months away from opening our new Portland gym!

BY THE NUMBERS:             

30,500 - Total square footage of the gym

20,000 - Square footage of wall space for climbing on ropes

10,000 - Square footage of wall space for bouldering

55 - Height in feet of our world-class climbing walls

18 – Cracks, because, well, we are crack fiends!

4 – Hydraulically adjustable cracks

2 – Off-width cracks

2 - Number of top-notch yoga and fitness studios

1 - Custom designed adjustable systems board

4th – Planet Granite’s position nationwide based on total climbing wall area(!)

WHEN: Fall 2014

WHERE: Between NW 14th and 15th Ave. on NW Pettygrove Street


  • Looking for work or know someone looking in the Portland area? We’re hiring!
  • Want to stay up-to-date on the latest in Portland including sneak peaks and invite-only events?

Design plans

Jun 242014

 Health & Wellness @Planet Granite

In Part 1 Caroline discussed shoulder health and listed out “The 4 Tests Every Climber Needs to Pass“. 

Now for Part 2 she shares with us her favorite exercises and stretches to prevent shoulder injuries and imbalances.

*Don’t miss Caroline’s special offer for PG Members! *

Schedule your first appointment with her during the month of June and receive 20% OFF your visit!

 ** The information in these articles are submitted by various professionals in the industry who are not employed by or representatives of Planet Granite.   If you have an injury or more questions regarding the topics addressed on our blog,  please consult a qualified medical practitioner.  Before beginning any fitness program, you should have a complete physical examination by your physician.**

 My Favorite Exercises for Climbers

Guest Post by Caroline Bourcier, MSPT

(Please note that ALL of these presume you have no injuries.)

1) Standing forward bend with shoulder stretch

Forward Bend

What it does - stretches the hamstrings, decompresses the low back & neck, and stretches the biceps and anterior delts. This helps prevent biceps and labral problems. (Note: this stretch is not for anyone with a history of anterior shoulder dislocations).

Hold for 30 seconds.

Goal - Able to rest chest on thighs with a slight knee bend, with your hands clasped and your shoulders >40 degrees behind your butt.

2) Sleeper stretch

Sleeper Stretch

What it does - Stretches the posterior capsule helping to prevent impingements and biceps tendonitis.

Hold for 3 sets of 20 seconds.

Goal - Forearm angle towards the floor in >70 degrees AND symmetrical right to left.

3) External Rotation Strengthening

Theraband Strengthening

What it does - Creates balance in the strength of the posterior to anterior muscles, helps prevent impingements and is the most important of the rotator cuff strengthening exercises.

Goal - 3 sets to fatigue or burning.

4) Plank to Side Plank and Back
Plank and Side Plank

What it does - This is a great exercise for training your entire core AND your shoulder blade stabilizers. Note that this is NOT a beginner exercise. If it feels too difficult to move through the sequence, break down each of the moves separately before putting them all together.

Goal - 5 sets of 15 second holds.

Parting Thoughts 

1.  Your exercise routine should never be what causes your injury. If it hurts, stop. If it hurts for more than two weeks seek out advice.

2.  Work out smarter, not harder. Focus on your weaknesses.

3.  Remember,“Things that matter most should never be at the mercy of things that matter least.” (Geothe)


Schedule your 1st appointment with Caroline during the month of June
and receive a special 20% OFF discount! 



ABOUT – Caroline Bourcier, MSPT is the owner of Thrive Physical Therapy in Mill Valley, CA.  She has over 25 years experience in the fitness and physical therapy fields and is a former competitive and life-long athlete.

She is passionate about all activities in the outdoors, helping athletes stay young and injury free, and raising money and awareness for the Breast Cancer Fund.

She can be reached at (415) 497-6557 or if you have any questions about aches and pains that are slowing you down.