Planet Granite

Aug 222014


Planet Granite prides itself on the PG Gives Back Program. You might remember when you signed up for membership, you were asked to choose a category for us to donate to in your name: Climbing, Community, or Environment. 

With support from the PG Gives Back Program and additional sponsors, the Yosemite Climber Stewards (along with the Climbing Trails Program) have worked on trail restoration projects including the trails at El Cap, East Ledges Descent, Royal Arches, Pat & Jacks, Cathedral Peak, Fairview Dome, DAFF Dome, Medlicott Dome and more!

In this guest post, John Connor from the Yosemite Climber Stewards introduces the mission of this all-volunteer non-profit organization, as well as shares his experience cleaning up El Cap in a 2012 Nosewipe event.

Read on to hear your PG membership in action!  

As I rappel over the edge of El Capitan, 3,000 feet of exposure instantaneously confronts my senses: heart-pounding, eye-popping exposure. I descend the fixed line slowly, spinning in space, staring alternately at my gri-gri, prusik backup, the anchors as I pass them. Checking and re-checking my rigging, there is no choice but to breathe deeply and focus on the safety chain that we have built. Rappelling is a simple task for a competent rock climber, one I’ve done many times. However, this is my first time on El Cap and as I spin uncontrollably in circles, it seems as if the exposure itself will somehow vaporize my rappel device, my harness, my mind…

yosemite stewards pic 1

Climbing Ranger Ben Doyle and volunteer Dave Campbell during the 2012 Nosewipe. Photo by John Connor.

That day, one of many I look back on from the Autumn of 2012, myself, National Park Service Climbing Ranger Ben Doyle, and fellow volunteer Dave Campbell, rapped 600 feet down The Nose of El Capitan. A semi-annual event dubbed the Nosewipe, this cleanup attempts to stem the tide of human waste on one of the most famous and popular rock climbs in the world. Our goal is to remove trash from, and restore, a triangular shaped ledge called Camp VI. The ledge, a less-than-ideal bivouac site bordered on two sides by 5-7-inch-wide cracks, offers a near-perfect natural latrine and garbage depot, one that climbers have historically, and unfortunately repeatedly, made use of. This is Ben’s job. And mine: I volunteer, along with other climbers, as part of an NPS-managed crew known as the Yosemite Climber Stewards, whose mission is to preserve climbing in Yosemite.


Illustration by Yosemite big wall climber Mash Alexander.

The all-volunteer Stewards receive grant funding from a few key organizations, such as Planet Granite, in order to perform cleanups, as well as other work including trail maintenance, patrols of popular climbing routes, instruction for climbers on proper food storage, and many other important tasks.

Stewards serve as volunteer interns, receiving basic support in the form of a campsite, reimbursements for food, and the opportunity to live, work, and climb in what is perhaps the world’s most popular climbing area. In exchange, the Stewards work 40 hour weeks, assisting NPS Climbing Rangers.

The brainchild of Ranger Ben Doyle, the Steward program began in 2012. It runs from May through October each season in Yosemite, effectively tripling the personnel helping to manage climbing in this busy park during its high season. This Autumn, the Stewards will migrate south for the winter, to another busy, historic, destination climbing area, Joshua Tree National Park.

Yosemite stewards pic 2

Climbing Ranger Jesse McGahey dumping out a bag of refuse from the event. Photo by Cheyne Lempe.

Planet Granite, through its PG Gives Back program, has provided the initial seed funding for this 1st year in Joshua Tree!

And we aim to put it to good use performing cleanups, assisting with re-vegetation efforts of sensitive desert plants in burned or impacted areas, volunteering with JOSAR, and so on.

Climbing continues to grow in popularity, especially in cities with newer, modern gym facilities. But outdoor climbing grows at a much slower rate. With more climbers comes additional impact to often fragile ecosystems.

For this reason, partnerships between public and private organizations, such as the National Park Service and Planet Granite, have become increasingly important, not just in popular climbing areas, but at many crags and boulderfields throughout the country.

Back on El Cap in 2012, we filled two Grade VI haulbags to the brim and began rigging for the long, bicep-inflaming, jug-haul back to the top. En route, we witnessed a sunset like no other, bands of color slowly receding on the skyline as we moved ever upwards. As a schoolroom for steep jugging, the upper 600 feet of the Nose has no equal…

At the end of the overhangs, towards the top, I cast one last look downwards at where we’ve been. The tiny white blooms of headlamps begin to show in the gloaming as other teams take advantage of the early October temps to engage in their own adventures. I hope that they care for the stone the way they do for their partners and themselves. The more that climbers on their own can continue the tradition of clean climbing, the better the climbing will be for all of us.

To learn more about the Yosemite Climber Stewards, please visit

“$1 per Member per Month” is our pledge to donate funding to local non-profit organizations who are out there doing great things in our community, from preserving climbing access to working with under-served youth.

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