Planet Granite

Feb 282014

A few months ago, PG Belmont’s Asst Manager Jeremy created and launched the newest class in our climbing curriculum!  This two part class targets climbers who have been leading for a while, but feel they have hit a plateau or aren’t sure how to improve.  But don’t take our word for it, check out this awesome testimonial by a recent graduate!  

Pushing Your Limits on Lead Poster

First, a disclaimer. I’m not writing this to sell anyone on taking the “Pushing your limits on lead” class.  I’m writing this as a cheat-sheet of what this class offers, lest I forget. I’m also writing a loud and public shout-out to the very awesome PG climbing instructors: Nick and Evan. A million thanks, guys! And on a personal note, I’m writing this as my own li’l pat on the back for deciding to register for it. Well done, me. :)

I’ve been climbing for 1.5 years, but consider myself a newbie: I make rookie sequencing mistakes. Sometimes my clipping stance is awkward at best and hilarious at worst. But most of all, I suuuuck at climbing overhangs – and consequently, falling off of them. My bad footwork exhausts my weak arms so I tense up, freak out and cling for dear life. When it comes to falling – as it inevitably does – I’d rather cheat, steal and kill than just let go. And yelling at me to from down below to “RELAAAAAX!” and “JUST FALL!!!” wasn’t helping me do either, really.

Enter “Pushing your limits on lead” class. I’m not gonna lie to ya, I was nervous and I was scared: “Here we go, 6 hours of lead falling, geez I can’t wait.” But, from the get-go to its sweet end, the class was sheer awesomeness:

1. Start with a wish

What do you want from this class? Learn to climb steep routes? To belay like a champ while tied to a melon? To master the art of soft catching? Lead falling? You betcha!

After an intro of must-knows (belay with a grigri), the class focuses on what YOU want to improve on. And being it’s a small class (4 students only), we all got to work on our wish list from Day 1.

2. Baby steps

Every lesson starts with a friendly pep talk and a small exercise drill. Hey wasn’t that fun, team? Before you know it though, you’re riding without your training wheels. Whoa, did I just do that? Even more impressive, did I actually enjoyed it? Holy shii…smokes!

3. Custom-fit feedback

Forget about the NSA, these instructors are always watching you. During warm ups, they see you when you’re cruising, and they know when you’re freaked out. The exercise drills are then set up for exactly what you need to work on. Tailored to you, for you – doesn’t get any better than that.

4. “You get a project! And you get a project! Ev’ry-bo-dy gets a project!”

My personal favorite was projecting drills. Each team (of 2) picks a challenging route to work on (hello, overhangs!). The sequencing exercise is brilliant: route sequencing first, then break it down and sequence each part, then sequence the overlaps, then do it all again – but better. In between each sequencing drill you chalk up and climb on! The instructors are there to help you with every step and will, quite literally, do the route for you if you ask them to. ;)

5. Mind games

The real magic happens with your mind(set). Don’t ask me how, but the instructors know exactly when to compliment (your footwork) and when to chide you (for your body position). They’ll give you private advice one minute then loudly challenge you to push through the crux the next. At the end of it all, they will grin and high-five you after you nail a move you never imagined you could..

6. Takeaway

I left the class thinking I could climb anything – which might very well be the biggest takeaway of this class for me. It’s true, there are no magic pills or shortcuts here: learning the skill and getting strong to climb hard takes a whole lotta work. But, armed with the right mindset, I got the upper hand on that overhang, don’t I?

Pushing your Limits on Lead is offered at a PG near you!  Don’t wait!  Class size maxes at 4 people!  
PG BELMONT: Tues March 11th and 13th
PG SUNNYVALE: Tues March 11th and 13th
PG SAN FRANCISCO: Tues March 25th and 27th

Feb 192014


The Friction Series is our Spring Roped Climbing comp held at each of our locations with an Onsight Final to conclude the events.   This is a community comp, fun for all abilities!   We’ll provide food and snacks, refreshments & beer (for after climbing of course), and amazing routes!  See you this Friday at the first in the series at PG Belmont!

Josh almost sticking the second box on Open #12

Josh almost sticking the second box on Open #12

COMP SCHEDULE – all comps start at 5pm.
Registration opens at 4:30pm
Friday February 21st – PG Belmont
Friday March 14th – PG San Francisco
Friday April 18th + Onsight Series Final – PG Sunnyvale

Comps are open to people of all ages and categories (for both men and women)are as follows:
Recreational: up to 5.10b
Advanced: 5.10c-5.11c
Open (lead only): 5.11d and higher
Youth: all youth 15 years and under.

The top 3 scores of the entire comp will be invited to pariticpate in our Onsight Series Final at PG Sunnyvale! To be eligible to compete in the finals, competitors must also compete in the Sunnyvale Comp at 5pm. This is not based cumulative scoring, so if your score at PG Belmont beats out the top scores from PG Sunnyvale and PG San Francisco, you’ll be invited! In the event a tiebreaker is needed, cumulative series scores will be considered. Witness the best climbers duke it out high above on ropes in an action packed, breath holding event! Even better – the routes will be left up after the comp so you can test your skills against the best.
First Place – $150 cash!
Second Place – $100
Third Place – $50

BL Friction Pan

Mike putting on an amazing show as the clock ticks down to the final moments of the comp!

A raffle will be held to auction off amazing gear by our awesome sponsors. We’ll have some yummy grub, great beer and of course Tshirts! There’s no other place to be on Friday night!

FREE for members
$15 for non-members
No pre-registration necessary!

Special thanks to our series sponsors!

Sterlinglogopetzl logologo_metolius


Jan 072014


There’s something going on with that guy behind the front desk at PG San Francisco… You know the one; long mane of hair pulled back into a ponytail, tie-dyed t-shirt, and a soundtrack of Black Sabbath that follows him around like he is, indeed, a wizard.  What you might not expect is that the man with a name no one can pronounce, Arsalan Pourmand, sole proprietor of Flux Coffee, is something of a businessman.

Arsalan + Flux on tap

Arsalan and his ‘Flux on Tap’ – a popular spot at PG events!

Two years ago, Flux started as an experiment in a small Brooklyn apartment. Essentially, he saw a flaw in the industry. People loved cold coffee, but cold coffee came in two flavors: cream with hints of watered down hot coffee, otherwise known as iced coffee, or cold brew. The latter is roasted coffee that goes through its complete brewing process cold. Cold brew is growing across the country because of its high caffeine content and strong flavor versus traditional watered down hot coffee.

Here is where Arsalan sets himself, and his coffee, apart. He spent his spare time tinkering with brew methods, roast variables and filtration processes until he settled on a combination that turned out cold brew coffee that tastes like it should — coffee! The result is a cup that contains exponentially more caffeine than its warm brethren without sacrificing smooth taste or bold flavor.

Flux in the making

“He spent his spare time tinkering with brew methods, roast variables and filtration processes until he settled on a combination that turned out cold brew coffee that tastes like it should — coffee!”

When he packed up his life and moved onto a boat in the East Bay, the coffee was put on the back burner. Luckily for us, that didn’t last long and since then he has hustled hard to supply the Bay Area and PG climbers with a bottle of caffeinated heaven that puts the big guys to shame.

Flux + Bay area

The Bay area + Flux = perfect fit!

So here’s the deal. That guy with the ponytail behind the desk is kind of a character. He’s a metalhead that happens to be a workhorse and a pretty brilliant coffee wizard to boot. The name is Arsalan – pronounced ‘our salon‘ – and he’s a pretty amazing dude!

Buy some of his coffee! You’ll find it at PG. And if you like it, tell every single human being or coffee drinking canine you know to stop in and buy some too. And look, Flux has been up El Cap – a lot, so you know, it will like, make you a better climber and stuff.

Flux + El Cap

Learn more at





Another great article by Jason Crase from PG SF! Jason lives for Mission burritos, Hemingway novels and Levi’s Slim Fitting Jeans. On any given day you can find him at Bender’s or hanging on the BeastMaker at PGSF.

Dec 302013

After years of looking for the perfect spot,
we’ve found an amazing location in West LA,
near the 405/10 interchange!

We just couldn’t hold back this exciting news!
We have already begun dreaming of what we can do with this amazing space,
offering climbing, yoga and fitness
in this 31,000 sq ft building!
As if that building isn’t big enough,
we’re planning to add on 5,000 sq ft outside!

That gives us over 36,000 sq ft
of climbing yoga & fitness in West LA!

Dec 192013
photo by Tom Evans

Mike and Walker working the Golden Desert pitch, 5.13a. Photo by Tom Evans. Borrowed from his site:

It’s been ‘splitter’ weather here in Yosemite, and I’ve been taking full advantage of it. Every Friday I make the 4 plus hour drive to the valley and bang my head against some small part of the massive monolith that is El Capitan. This is my 3rd season climbing on El Cap and I’m finally beginning to feel comfortable and relaxed enough to focus on the climbing. It’s pretty tiring being stressed out 3000 feet in the air, but things are becoming easier and like I said, I’m now able to focus.

This season got off to a late start. Just when things started to cool down in Yosemite, a fire broke out outside the park, burning hundreds of thousands of acres and filling the park with unbearable smoke. Although the valley remained unscarred by the fire, it was impossible to be there for weeks. After the fires died down, I headed straight to the top of El Cap with a huge bag of rope. Having used this method the year before to prepare for Freerider, I knew it was the best way to attack this massive wall.


A smokey Valley

With my sights set on Golden Gate, I rappelled over the edge where I was pretty sure the climb topped out. Not far down I found a ledge with a single bolt for an anchor. I clipped it and continued down the wall, passing two massive pitches described in the topo as razor 5.11. I was surprised to find number two and three sized hand cracks. I realized that what made these pitches “R” rated were that the flakes were so thin that they would not sustain the outward force of a camalot. Similar to Waverfly Wafer at the Cookie Cliff, climbing these pitches at the end of the push, when you are tired from days on the wall, will certainly be scary.

Over the next two weekends I worked the A5 Traverse 5.13a, which intersects with the bottom of the razor flakes, and the Golden Desert 5.13a, which is just below that. These four pitches are the best on the entire route and you want to have all of them dialed. My good friend Mike Kerzhner, whom I’ve climbed a lot with over the years, joined me in my efforts. We stashed food, water and sleeping bags to eliminate any hauling during the climb, and prepared for a push the following weekend.

We drove into the park at 6am to discover a dozen other cars parked in meadow. We parked the car, threw our food bins and coolers into the bear lockers, double checked that we had everything, and hurried into the woods to the base of El Cap. We climbed quickly, making it through the 5.11+ friction slab pitches before the sun hit the wall. As we came over The Mammoth Terraces we saw a single aid climber a few pitches above the Hollow Flake. Mike and I climbed as quickly as possible through this section, which requires a 100 foot down climb in order to free the route. I kept looking up at the aid climber above who was moving with incredible speed! Not only was he climbing every pitch, he was rappelling down to retrieve the gear, then jugging back up and hauling the bag!

As we approached the Monster Off Width, we started to catch up. To the right of the Monster OW is a thinner crack that is standard for aid parties. Forgoing the large cams for smaller ones and micro nuts, this is the preferred route for most parties. But to our astonishment we discovered that he was going via the Monster; not only was he solo climbing the Monster, he was actually free climbing it with no assistance from the number six cam! Our mouths dropped. It was hard enough climbing that thing with someone feeding out slack for you, but to have the entire rope in a grocery bag hanging off your harness while feeding yourself rope out with a grigri, is just ridiculous. As we watched, he made quick progress, popping out of the crack to lay it back in true ‘euro fashion’. He clipped the anchors clean and rappelled back to us at the bottom of the pitch. “Hey I’m Jorg. How’s it going?” I explained that we started climbing this morning. “Oh” he said. “You guys are climbing fast.” We laughed and replied “No my friend, it is you who is climbing fast.” As he jugged back up the Monster I shouted “Can I clip our gear onto the bottom of your haulbag if I help you haul it?” “Yeah no worries, you don’t need to help though” he answered. I thought to myself how awesome is this -the solo climber is helping the party of two!

After chatting at the alcove for an hour and waiting for the evening temps, we continued up one more pitch to a 12c down climb that is the first pitch of the Golden Gate. Having tried it in the full sun the weekend before with no success, I knew the sequence and hoped for the best. Mike went first and sent on his second try. I went next and still fell in the same place: a hand to foot match with a tenuous mantle. I pulled back up into the stance and tried again. With the same results I just couldn’t get my foot off of the hold in order to step down. I pulled out an alcohol wipe from my back pocket and swabbed the toes of my shoes and my fingers. I tried again with everything I had, completely forgetting that I was 2000 feet in the air. I took my foot off of the hold, replaced it with my hand and lowered my body onto the foot rail below. I took my hands off the wall and screamed. Agagaahhg!!!! I did it! With a few more moves to the ledge I crimped as hard as I could and stepped down on the ramp that would be our starting point in the morning. We lowered to the Alcove to see Jorg’s smiling face, “You guys send?” he asked. “Yeah, we’re on point!!” Jorg, Mike and I stuffed our faces with everything we had brought up: cans of fish, Bombay potato tasty bites, quinoa, candy, carrots, bars, trail mix. With our bellies full, we prepared for bed and set the alarm for 5am, hoping to climb the first half and one of the crux pitches, called “the Move pitch”, in the morning shade.


Lucho Rivera working “The Move” pitch, a 5.13a face climb sparsely protected by a few bolts.

We arrive at the Move pitch: a 5.12 sparsely bolted face climb ending with a V7 boulder problem. Mike takes the lead and on his first attempt he falls on the final move of the boulder problem. He lowers to the foot rest at the bottom and clips the entire rack and his water bottle to the bolt. With a light harness and a clean conscience he tries again, this time sticking the final move of the boulder problem. “That’s a bit easier  without all that weight!” he yells. With no tag line we are forced to distribute the weight between us. I go next and a few moves off the anchor I’m  unable to reach the next hold. I smear my feet high and crimp down really, really hard to try and figure the sequence out. Having never tried this section before, I slip. I return to the anchor. On my second attempt I climb clean to the boulder problem. I stand at the foot ledge and have Mike take. He lowers a loop of rope and I clip the gear onto it. I send the boulder problem first try without the extra weight. I take the next few pitches and we arrive at the bottom of the Golden Desert 5.13a. We pull onto the large sloping ledge and chug the water that we had stashed the weekend before. Its mid-day and we are baking in the sun. We lay waiting for the wind to pick up and whine to each other about how hot it is, and how we should of waited for better temps. Just as we were beginning to lose hope, the wind begins to blow and the temperature drops. I put my puffy coat on and grin. We got this!


The Golden Hour on El Cap

Mike takes off on the Golden Desert; it begins with a V6 undercling traverse that is super balancey and very awkward. Mike climbs clean through the boulder problem and up through the thin hands section to the bottom of the thin tips. He clips one piece and runs it out to the hand jam; at the end he lets out a hoot as he sticks the finish. I follow. This pitch is hard for me; it’s steep tips lay-backing with bad feet, and I have trouble getting my fat fingers into the crack. Mike sent this pitch last weekend but I had yet to send this 15 foot section. I climb quickly not stopping to think about the difficulty or that my fingers don’t really fit; one hand over the next, keep the feet high. This is easy I think to myself, why am I not getting pumped?! I guess I just need 2,500 feet to warm up properly. I sink the hand jam at the end and let out a howl. Only one crux left to go!

We hang at the anchor below the A5 Traverse 5.13a. It’s my lead and I try to rest  as long as I can, giving myself the best possible chance of sending. But the hanging belay forces me to give it a go after only 10 minutes of waiting. I execute my beta perfectly and with not a single hint of pump, I clip the anchors. Its over! I’ve done it! Mike and I both celebrate. Now Mike’s just gotta do it and it’s in the bag. Last week Mike fell a few times on this pitch so I was a little worried for him. But if there’s one thing about Mike, he can seal the deal. I aid back across the traverse to retrieve all the gear from him so he can climb it with no extra weight. He follows clean and we rejoice. Only 4 more pitches to the top and we’ve sent Golden Gate!

I take the first 5.11r pitch and Mike takes the second, cursing me for telling him the wrong gear beta. One more pitch and we’re on top. Fatigued and worked, we smile and high five. With the sun setting and a long hike ahead of us, we pack our stuff up and quickly make our way down the east ledges to the car. Turns out Jorg Verhoven also sent. Over 4 days he on-sighted every pitch except two, which he repeated clean, all the while belaying himself with a grigri. What an incredible weekend on El Cap!

walker bio photo


Walker Emerson, aka SMASH, has been climbing for over 10 years. He enjoys all types of climbing. He has free climbed two El Cap routes, red pointed 5.14b and bouldered V13, making him extremely well rounded in all aspects of climbing. He is inspired by long pitches and aesthetic climbs. Other interests include photography, film and food. 


Nov 252013

Planet Granite Workout of the Week Logo

Get ready, get psyched…WOW launches next week!

We all know that training for climbing can be a really great way to improve. But it can be tricky to decide what to do!

Introducing WOW! PG’s answer to providing you with the tools to take your climbing to the next level.

what is wow

Workout Of the Week takes the guesswork out of training!

We’ve pored over climbing books, scoured the best climbing blogs, and gotten input from our top climbers on staff, to find you the most effective and, most importantly, FUN workouts to improve your climbing.

WOW staff pics
Every Monday a new Workout Of the Week
will be released online and posted in your gym! 

A WOW will include detailed instructions, variations, pictures, and a video to walk you through each exercise; focusing on one or more of the  following topics- footwork, power, finger strength, body tension & core, endurance and flexibility.

wow on the web

To get each WOW delivered to your door subscribe to our Blog, follow us on Facebook or bookmark the WOW page.

Our new Workout Of the Week program will help you break through plateaus, achieve your climbing goals, and enhance your overall level of fitness.

Conditioning for climbing can be easy – get started next week with WOW!

IMPORTANT: Climbing and climbing training, such as the exercises in the WOW, are inherently dangerous activities.  Participation in these exercises is done at your own risk.  If you have any injuries, we recommend you do not attempt a WOW.  If you have any concerns about your abilities or the exercises, consult a qualified medical practitioner or athletic trainer.