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Bouldering League SF: New Season, New Wall, and A Community that CRUSHES!

 Blog, Comps, Events, San Francisco  Comments Off on Bouldering League SF: New Season, New Wall, and A Community that CRUSHES!
Mar 152016

bouldering League group

If you’ve been feeling a strong sense of anticipation in the air lately, just know you’re not the only one. Our community is getting amped for the return of Bouldering League at Planet Granite San Francisco, and it’s shaping up to be a fantastic season! With a newly constructed wall to climb, clever team names emerging and a supportive competition, this is one community you’ll want to crush with!

Here to chat with us about the League is long-time Planet Granite member, Stanley Lui. Stanley has been involved in Bouldering League for three years running and has made an impressive impact on PG community events as a whole.


Hey Stanley!

PG: How many seasons have you been a part of Bouldering League?

Stanley: Oh, this is a tough question…maybe season 3? Oh man, how time flies! I gotta think about my team names. Let’s see, there was “You don’t win friends with salad”. I would wager a guess that it’s been six seasons. Yea, I’m gonna say six seasons. For our first team 3 years ago, I decided that we needed to create a strong bond. So, I made us matching super hero League t-shirts!  It worked!

Stanley and friends

PG: What do you think of the community that represents bouldering league?

Stanley: I think Bouldering League is a similar representation of the rest of the gym as a whole. We have amazing people, and I love everyone that climbs here! Climbing here has been the best decision I’ve made in a long time. Bouldering League is an extension of that feeling. You get an opportunity to open up to people you wouldn’t normally think of talking to. The best part is that you make lasting connections through Bouldering League.

PG: What can someone brand- new to the league expect from this event after they sign up?

Stanley: Well, the biggest barrier I’ve come across in recruitment, is the “what do people think of me?” mentality. And once we break past this point, we create an inclusive and fun environment. Also, there’s pizza!

Stan BL

PG: How intense is the competition? Does each participant need to be able to climb a V7?

Stanley: The competition is all casual; it’s not super serious. I feel that a lot of beginner climbers come in feeling self-conscious about their performance. But it’s important to note that everyone here is supportive. We all started from V0 and everyone is here to encourage you. As long as you try hard, that’s all any of us (veterans) could ask of you. If you can try hard, you’ll fit right in.

PG:What is it about Bouldering League that encourages you to keep coming back?

Stanley: I don’t think there’s anything quite like a nice slice of pizza after League! In all seriousness, it’s the environment and the competition style. I love having designated climbing areas just for League, where everyone can work on the same projects together. Whether it’s the same group of people from past seasons, new groups, and old friends, I love knowing that they will all be there Thursday night, ready to hang out, and share pizza and climbs. . *laughs* I keep wanting to come back to the pizza! I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this but, I love pizza. Most of all, I would want anyone on the fence about joining League to know that you are already welcome here.

PG: Which wall is your favorite to compete on?

Stanley: Hopefully it will be the new back wall. It looks really steep and the angles look outstanding! In fact, that’s what I am most looking forward to for this up-coming season. But for now, it’s the ramp. It really forces you to try hard. When you’re upside-down, you can be sure scoring points is a secondary thought here.

PG: Which team name is the best one you can remember out of all your past seasons?

Stanley: Well, there have been a lot of really great “chalk/rock puns” out there. But for me, “Chalk and Awe” is the one that’s highest up there! It’s the one that I remember the most. They actually ended up winning.


Thank you so much, Stanley!


For anyone interested in checking out Bouldering League, here are the important details!:

Bouldering League starts Thursday, March 24th and runs every other Thursday night for a total of 4 Thursdays.

Location: Planet Granite San Francisco @ 7pm!

Whether you’re signing up with a team or an individual, we want you here!

PG San Francisco B.L. Draft Night: Wednesday March 16th @ 6pm (but you can sign up anytime!).

Spring Break Camps at Planet Granite

 Belmont, Blog, Kids, Portland, San Francisco, Sunnyvale  Comments Off on Spring Break Camps at Planet Granite
Feb 262016

Kids 1

Spring Break Climbing Camps are now accepting enrollment! (For that matter,  we are accepting enrollment for our Summer Camps too!)

These five-day camps are filled with fun, learning and fitness – and are a camp that your kids will not stop talking about.

Call your local PG to sign up!

(408) 991-9090
(650) 591-3030
San Francisco
(415) 692-3434
(503) 477-5666
April 11th-15th1pm-5pm
Monday-Friday April 4- April 8th
Monday-Friday March 28th – April 1st.
Monday-Friday March 21-5th
 $280/week $140/week $280/week
($10 extra for climbing shoes)

Friction Series returns to the Bay Area!

 Belmont, Blog, Comps, San Francisco, Sunnyvale  Comments Off on Friction Series returns to the Bay Area!
Feb 162016


Join us for our Friction Series – a community roped climbing competition!  Things kick off this Friday at PG Belmont!

Friday Feb 19 4-9pm – PG Belmont
Saturday March 19th 12-5pm – PG San Francisco
Saturday April 16th 12-5pm – PG Sunnyvale with Onsight Series Finals at 6pm!

For more info, check out our website.

Falling and Commitment One Month On: A Look at Lessons Learned at the Warrior’s Way Clinic

 Belmont, Blog, Classes, Events, Portland, San Francisco, Sunnyvale  Comments Off on Falling and Commitment One Month On: A Look at Lessons Learned at the Warrior’s Way Clinic
Feb 052016


Sooner or later, every climber gets asked the same question:

“Don’t you get scared?”

While we all have different ways of answering that question, they all amount to the same basic response:“Well, yeah. Duh.”

The tendency among non-climbers is to view climbers as fundamentally different people, made up of fundamentally different stuff that allows them to enjoy a sport that would otherwise seem stupid or terrifying.

Of course we enjoy it, but that doesn’t mean that we aren’t challenged by it. For many climbers, fear verges on omnipresent, lurking in the backs of our minds regardless of the route’s grade, exposure, or commitment level.

Success is often determined not by raw strength and stubbornness, but by our ability to maintain poise and grace under pressure.

The bad news is that there is no shortcut to mastering fear. Take the example of Simon Prochnik, a member at Planet Granite who recently attended Warrior’s Way Falling and Commitment clinic taught by Jeff Lodas:

“I’ve been climbing for nearly 20 years, indoors and out. I hit a plateau with leading. I was just terrified of falling. I needed a completely new way to get past my block,” Prochnik said.

There were no easy solutions offered to Simon in his time taking the clinic. Rather, the goal was for each student to learn to recognize fear as another aspect of our climbing experience, as controllable as body movement and rope management.

Your author also had the pleasure of attending the Warrior’s Way, led by Lodas, who exudes the presence of the archetypal climbing instructor. Part warrior, part Buddhist, and part dirtbag, he exhibited the kind of calm of someone who has probed the depths of his own mind and has a great deal to share about it.

“I’ve always been interested in the mind, even from an early age,” he said. “I started climbing, and after a few years I realized the potential climbing has as a laboratory for mental training.”

The first half of the clinic dealt entirely with falling. It built incrementally, starting well within our comfort level. Lodas gave us things to practice while a fall is in progress.

By attentively falling again and again,
we began to discover how a proper mental approach
can change how scary a fall feels,
or how unpleasant the inevitable swing
back into the wall will feel.

If the first half was devoted to mental training, then the second was almost entirely to the physical. Lodas instructed us to climb as intuitively as possible. See a hold, grab a hold. He demonstrated how the eyes look naturally to the places where our body most instinctively sought balanced movement.

The mind and body act in concert and often in opposition. They are yin and yang. Sometimes, mastery of the mental side of climbing involves silencing the inner monologue that often leads to hesitation, half-hearted commitment, or exhausting mental coinflict.

Lodas suggested we try to divide our climbing into periods of movement and non-movement. When resting, for instance, we would allow our mind to survey the climb and inform our next course of action.  Look down, look up, consider the risks and the objective, make a decision, and go.

Allow awareness of the fear, rather than deny it, but delay reacting to it. Climb as though it wasn’t there, and pause to reconsider the consequences at the next rest. Trust your mind to create a plan, and see that plan through to the end.

If this is sounding like something out of a corporate team-building exercise, or a Boy Scouts’ ropes course, that’s because these lessons inhabit a realm far larger than that of a rock climb.

“Mental training is not just about climbing – it’s a way of life, and once you start observing your own mind, you don’t stop just because you untie from the rope,” Jeff Lodas said.

He recently worked with Arno Ilgner, founder of the Warrior’s Way and Desiderata Institute, to expand the curriculum to a non-climbing audience. It’s easy to see how some of the curriculum (look down, look up, for example) might lend itself to a more universal theater (look back, look forward).
Part of why we climb is tied up in how we feel when we aren’t climbing. We feel more confident. We feel more at peace. The lessons we learn at the gym or at the crag reverberate throughout our professional and personal lives.

“What you learn there is directly applicable at all times,” Jeff said, reflecting on his own climbing experiences. “Whether it’s the learning process itself, how you can act effectively in stressful situations, how attention can transform fear, finding out what your motivations are, or noticing and unlearning the negative habits of the mind.”

Looking back on the clinic, one month later, I have not suddenly become a fearless leader. Neither has Simon:

“It’s a work in progress, but I can see that every fall I take gets less scary. This means I can spend energy focusing on the next move instead of worrying about what happens.”  

There is no magical panacea to the fears and doubts that nag us.

Each fearful encounter is more familiar than the last, allowing us to develop our ability to focus attention under stress.  Our management of it becomes more efficient as we are able to respond intelligently rather than react.

The beauty of the Warrior’s Way clinic lies in the almost zen-like mantras that you are left with, words and phrases that seemingly pop into your head when before you might have been floundering.

The mind becomes quiet and a familiar script fills the place of confused thought:

Look down. Look up. Inhale. Exhale. Go.

Planet Granite hosts the Warrior’s Way Falling and Commitment clinic twice each year, open to all lead-certified members. Jeff Lodas and the instructors of Warrior’s Way also host multi-day clinics at climbing areas in California and elsewhere.  More information can be found at  Images in article courtesy of Jeff Lodas. 


Michael Adamson

Since high school, Michael Adamson has been climbing rocks of all sizes ranging from tall to not as tall. It is also rumored that he enjoys the occasional bubble bath. When not at Planet Granite, he can be seen in his natural habitat walking the mercurial line between mischief, bravery, and stupidity.


How to climb “”: Six Mental Tips to Climb Harder

 Belmont, Beta, Blog, Portland, San Francisco, Sunnyvale  Comments Off on How to climb “”: Six Mental Tips to Climb Harder
Jan 082016
Cannibals Donner Summit

Approaching the crux on Cannibals, 5.12d at Donner Summit.

This isn’t going to be another train harder, work out more, get stronger fingers-type article—because, while these articles are important and valuable, they’ve already been written.  Instead, this is what I do mentally, when I want to climb harder.

Let’s face it, we all want to get better.  It’s why we love climbing.  There’s always a challenge, whether you’re looking to climb your first 5.10 or 5.13.  In my 14+ years of climbing, these are my time-tested tips on how to push your climbing level to the next grade.

The Juice - Anthony Lapomardo

Reaching for a clip, The Juice, 5.14a. photo by Anthony Lapomardo

1. Get on it.

This may seem blatantly obvious, but it’s surprising how many of us, myself included, simply don’t do this.
“It looks too hard.”
“I’m not strong enough.”
“It’s not my style.”
“I suck at overhangs.”
I can list off a thousand excuses of why I shouldn’t try a hard climb, but the only thing holding me back is just that—my excuses.

Now I’m not suggesting if you’re climbing 10a, that you should try your first 5.13.  But it is ok to try harder stuff!  That’s what’s so great about the gym – there are endless climbs to try.  Maybe you’ll fail.  But…maybe you won’t.  (Etiquette note: if the gym is busy, please limit your time on a route to no more than 15-20 minutes.)

Left Image - by Anthony Lapomardo, right image by Jill Sompel

Left Image: In the crux on Burning Down the House, 5.14b Jailhouse California. photo by Anthony Lapomardo Right image: Dynoing to the last hold on Churning, 5.13a, Smith Rock, Oregon.

2. Watch someone else.

Beta is key.  It’s also what is so fun about climbing–it’s not only challenging physically, but mentally!  That being said, more brainpower is always better.  I always find that watching someone on a route I’m working AFTER I’ve tried it is immensely helpful.  I see new beta: I watch how they turn their body, which feet they use, and their sequencing.  It’s even more helpful if the person is a better climber than you and they’re similar in size.  It’s also just as fun to work a route with someone else, even if they’re not casually floating your project.


Training in the gym. Left photo by Sebastian Vido. Right image: PG San Francisco’s ramp – the perfect route training when you’re solo! Photo by Ivan Cua.

3. Get on it again.

Not to be overly obvious, but this is a really key point.  I’ve learned (yet still have to remind myself) that I should not decide if a route is too hard for me until I have tried it at least twice.  Moves that seemed virtually impossible the first time are often manageable the second time, simply because you now know what to do and are confident that it can be done that way.  Mental strength (and body memory) is an incredible force.

Maple Canyon

Holding the swing on a near horizontal roof. La Confienza, 5.13b, Pipedream Cave. Maple Canyon, Utah.

4. Don’t quit because of one move.

A common misconception is that if you can’t do a move on a route, you should stop.  Climbing magazines and sites love to highlight the latest 5.15’s that have been put up. What is less talked about, is that there’s a lot of projecting that goes into climbing hard routes.  So if you hit a stopper move on your route, assess it and try to work it, but don’t waste excessive energy and strength on it.  Cheat past it (another great thing about the gym is there’s often an easier route or a friendly looking hold right next to you!) and try the rest of the route out.  Come back to that move later.

It’s important to be strategic about how to work a hard route.  Spending all your time and energy on one move early in the route won’t help you get to the top!  You can always come back to a move and work it later. An added side bonus is that working a hard move on a route will get you stronger.


Lost in a sea of pockets. Elephant Man, 5.13b, Red River Gorge KY.

5. Go down swinging.

It’s easy to quit (remember all those nice excuses) or, more often, to half-ass a try.  I struggle with this the most on big moves – throwing for a big move, I’ll often “test” the distance, when anyone watching can tell I didn’t intend to or believe I’d reach it.  This doesn’t help my confidence.  However, if you give it your all, and go down swinging, you’ll feel so much better.  And, you might surprise yourself by sticking the hold!   I have found that if I gave it my all, then I feel better when I lower off a route, even if I didn’t send.


Left image: Endless climbing on No Limit, 5.13a at La Surgencia, Rodellar Spain. Right image: Tufas forever on Latido del Media, 5.13b, Terredets, Spain

6. Have fun!

“The best climber in the world is the one who’s having the most fun.”—Alex Lowe

This is probably the most important and for me, the most easily lost, point.  I find I climb harder when I’m laughing, with friends and enjoying myself.  When getting on harder routes, it’s easy to get frustrated and become negative.  This will only cause you to climb worse.

I hope this inspires you to set a new goal this year!  Go get it!

Stephanie Ko Pound

Stephanie Ko Pound has been climbing since 2001.  Her hardest redpoint is Burning Down the House, 5.14b, which had she not followed point 3, would never have been completed.


MEMBERSHIP SALE: Save $45 on initiation!

 Belmont, Blog, Membership, Portland, San Francisco, Sunnyvale  Comments Off on MEMBERSHIP SALE: Save $45 on initiation!
Jan 022016

Membership Sale - January

One more month to save!  Through the end of January, we will waive initiation!  Starting February 1st, our initiation rate will be going up to $45, so that’s one great deal to help you achieve your new years goals.

For more details about our memberships, click here.

*New members must pay a pro-rated first month plus a full second month at sign up to receive $0 initiation.  Offer good through close of business on Jan 31st, 2016.