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Josh Levin awarded The North Face Young Gun Award!

 Community  Comments Off on Josh Levin awarded The North Face Young Gun Award!
Mar 292012

120315 Josh YOung Gun Award

PG Member, Josh Levin was awarded the most coveted prize in youth rock climbing competition -The North Face Young Gun Award – at the recent USA Climbing’s Youth National Bouldering Championships in Colorado Springs.  This award is to recognize outstanding young climbers 19 & under who truly represent the climbing community, including the individual’s outstanding competitive climbing achievements and exemplary sportsmanship.  Josh was awarded $2000 in travel and product stipend.  The award is given only twice per year to a deserving athlete.

120315 J&C Young Gun

In addition, Joshua placed 4th in his age/gender category in Youth National Bouldering Championships, earning a berth on the US Youth National Team to compete in the Youth World Rock Climbing Championships in Singapore Aug 2012.  He became a semifinalist at the Adult National Bouldering Championships, again held in Colorado Springs a week earlier than the Youth, and is selected to compete with the US National Team at the 2012 Bouldering World Cup in Vail, Colorado June 2012.

Congrats Josh!

$20,725 raised at our Save Castle Rock Fundraising Auction

 Community, Events, PG Gives Back, Sunnyvale  Comments Off on $20,725 raised at our Save Castle Rock Fundraising Auction
Mar 232012

Thank you to everyone who came out to support Castle Rock at Planet Granite Sunnyvale!  The final tally is in! In just one day, on March 21st, our communities came together and raised $10,725!  With our $10,000 match, that’s over $20,000 raised! And we have only YOU to thank!

With emcees Patty Nowak and Mitch Newman, the night kicked off to a great start, filled with witty banter, awesome gear and fast, cut throat bidding.  Ok, so maybe not quite cut throat, but there were more than a few items that proved to be wanted by many!

We were honored to host guest speaker, Reed Holderman, Executive Director of the Sempervirens Fund.  Last week, the Sempervirens Fund announced they would provide $250,000 to keep Castle Rock State Park open for one more year.  It is directly due to community fundraising efforts such as this one  (click HERE to find out about other upcoming fundraisers) that Castle Rock State Park will stay open!  We’re not out of the woods yet though, one year is a huge step, but Sempervirens is aiming to keep CRSP open permanently!

Special thanks to REI, for donating over $5000 in product!   We had everything from small packs and picnic supplies to 8 person tents!   However, it was also due to all our sponsors for making this event a success!  It truly is a community effort!

Stay tuned – we’re hosting another fundraiser this fall for the American Safe Climbing Association!  In the meantime, get inspired and join us for two awesome slideshows!  In April, our two Planet GRANTS It! recipients will be presenting amazing tales of their travels to Patagonia and China.

A little more background on Castle Rock State Park and the State Closures:
On July 1st of this year, 70 California State Parks were scheduled to be closed indefinitely. Portola and Castle Rock State Parks are two of the 70 parks slated for closure due to California budget cuts. The Portola and Castle Rock Foundation, the Sempervirens fund, Save the Redwoods League, and Adventure Out have launched a campaign to save these important natural resources.  On March 14th, the Sempervirens Fund announced that through private donations, they would provide the CA State Parks with the necessary funding to keep Castle Rock State Park open for one more year.

Summit Rock Year Round Closure Found Unnecessary!

 Community, Events, PG Gives Back  Comments Off on Summit Rock Year Round Closure Found Unnecessary!
Mar 162012

Summit Rock

Exciting news!  The Access Fund just announced that the year round closure at Summit Rock was found unnecessary! In November 2011, Planet Granite pledged to match up to $1000 of funds raised and held a Slideshow Fundraiser with guest speaker, Doug Robinson.  The money would be used to bring out a peregrine falcon expert to determine whether the year round closures at Summit Rock were necessary.  The event was a huge success, raising over $3000!  Just this week, the Access Fund wrote in their March Beta Newsletter that Professor Clayton White, the peregrine expert, determined a seasonal closure would be sufficient to protect the birds.  He is now working with the Access Fund to draft an official letter recommending modifications to the current closures at Summit Rock!

Planet Granite’s match of $1000 was made possible by our members through PG Gives Back – $1 per Member per Month.  Each year, PG donates $1 on behalf of every member towards climbing, community and the environment – and our members get to choose where “their” dollar goes!  Thanks to our members, we were able to help the Access Fund make ground towards saving a local crag!

Help us save another local crag, Castle Rock State Park, THIS WEDNESDAY at Planet Granite Sunnyvale!  We are hosting an Auction Fundraiser with amazing product – everything from tents to jackets to wine!  All proceeds will be go towards the Castle Rock Portola Foundation and aid in keeping Castle Rock open.  Planet Granite has pledged to match up to $10,000 of funds raised on that day. See you there!


The article from the Access Fund‘s March Beta Newsletter

Last fall, the Santa Clara County Parks Department in California banned climbing at Summit Rock by imposing the only known year-round climbing closure for peregrine falcons in the nation. The climbing community responded en masse to our call for financial support, and with matching funds from Planet Granite, the Access Fund was able to bring Professor Clayton White, a nationally recognized peregrine falcon expert from Brigham Young University, to Summit Rock last month for a site visit and evaluation of the nesting environment. Professor White concluded that the year round climbing closure is unnecessary and that a seasonal closure would sufficiently protect the peregrines at Summit Rock. Professor Clayton is working with Access Fund Regional Coordinator, Paul Minault, to draft an official letter that recommends modifying the closures at Summit Rock.

PG SF Staff go to Bishop!

 Community, San Francisco, Trip Report  Comments Off on PG SF Staff go to Bishop!
Mar 152012

120315 - Eliot going big on Saigon Direct
liot going big on Saigon Direct

Little known fact: When not folding towels or giving belay tests the staff at PG SF really do enjoy climbing outside. With thoughts of golden granite boulders swimming in our heads, Eliot, Buddy, Maria, Stephanie Moy (aka Smoy) and myself departed from our plastic paradise in the Presidio for an epic weekend of monumental crushing.

Some say a three day weekend is too short a window to make the long drive to Bishop, I say it is most definitely worth it. The quality of the climbs, the beautiful setting and the abundance of rock make leaving the city at 4:00 am a reasonable decision.

120316 - Smoy getting the jug on Funky Tut
Smoy reaching for the Jug on Funky Tut

We all had a fantastic time and even managed a few notable sends. Our own, Buddy became a double-digit boulderer with his ascent of Center Direct, V10.  Maria and Smoy both ticked one of the hardest V3s in the world, Funky Tut. I got the classic High Plains Drifter, V7. Eliot worked on Saigon Direct, V9, which he would come back and send later that month. All in all it was a great time, and we hope to go again!

120316 - Buddy on Center Direct
Buddy on Center Direct

120316 - Jeremy on High Plains
Jeremy on High Plains

120316 - the Crew at Happy Hour

Happy Hour!

120316 - Maria on Hero Roof

Maria on Hero Roof

In between his travels around Califonia climbing crags, Jeremy Spitz can be found at PG San Francisco, where locally he is known as the Champion Crate Stacker.

Access Fund awards Planet Granite’s Renee DeAngelis Sharp End Award

 Community, PG Gives Back  Comments Off on Access Fund awards Planet Granite’s Renee DeAngelis Sharp End Award
Mar 052012

The Access Fund has announced their 2011 Sharp End Award winners!  Each year, the Access Fund recognizes individuals and businesses that go above and beyond to volunteer their time and efforts to protecting America’s climbing. These recipients stand out in their commitment to the American climbing community, and the Access Fund is honored to present this year’s awards to a worthy group of volunteers and activists. We’re really proud that Renee was chosen!


Two years ago, Planet Granite launched PG Gives Back. As part of this program, PG has pledged to donate $1 per Member per Month to charitable organizations involved in our communities,  Having the money to do this is one thing, but finding the correct recipients is quite another.  Since this program has launched, Renee has worked with the Access Fund to help support a variety of projects, including, bathrooms at Castleton Tower, Utah, securing access to Jailhouse Rock in Sonora, CA, and there are more underway!  Thanks Renee!

See what the Access Fund wrote about why Renee was chosen as their recipient:
Sharp End Award – Renee DeAngelis Access Fund is honored to present a Sharp End Award to Renee DeAngelis, owner of the Planet Granite climbing gyms in the San Francisco Bay Area. Renee assisted in several critical Access Fund projects this past year, including organizing climbers on various Yosemite land use plans, helping to fund the Jailhouse Rock acquisition, rallying climbers in support of maintaining California state parks climbing access, and even helping to fund a toilet at Castleton Tower near Moab, Utah. The Planet Granite Gives Back program generously awards business dollars to worthy causes that benefit climbing, community, and the environment. Thanks to Renee for developing these innovative programs that give back to the climbing world.

Meet Andrea, PG Athlete & Coach – plus take her Steep Climbing Lead Clinic!

 Blog  Comments Off on Meet Andrea, PG Athlete & Coach – plus take her Steep Climbing Lead Clinic!
Feb 082012


Striking a balance between life as a Stanford Psychology student and sponsored climber, PG student/athlete, Andrea Szekely, spent the summer of 2011 on a tear through Europe’s finest rock – and plastic. After competing in World Cup competitions in Vail, CO and Arco, Italy Andrea posted up in Rodellar, Spain where she had an amazing six week trip, repeating a handful of hard sport climbs including three 5.14’s – all with a broken thumb. Andrea kindly made some time between training and studying to answer a few questions about her trip and the Steep Climbing Lead Clinic she will be teaching Saturday, Feb. 25th, at PGSF.  Email Andrea to reserve your spot!

I know you were in Europe for the World Cup Circuit – how did you end up doing in comparison to your expectations? What do you feel like the main difference is between the European climbers and the American climbers when it comes to competitions?

I’ve been competing in World Cup competitions for a few years now, not consistently, but trying to attend a few events in summertime when I can travel more easily to attend events. This summer I competed in only two competitions, the Vail Bouldering World Cup and the Arco World Championships. In Vail, I had one of my best performances yet for a bouldering event. Bouldering is not my strong point, it has never been, but I ended up in 18th place climbing with a broken thumb, and missed 12th place only because my foot accidentally slipped on my first attempt on my first problem! It was the best competition experience I’ve had in years, I was really happy afterwards. In Arco, I unfortunately didn’t do as well as I would have liked because I ended up getting sick right before the competition began, but I guess that’s bound to happen sometimes.
In terms of the difference between American and other climbers, I think that American climbers are still quite a bit behind the Europeans and Asians – this is partially due to the fact that most Americans don’t attend the World Cups regularly (the only ones to have competed in an entire World Cup season I think are Alex Johnson and Alex Puccio) and thus lack experience. The World Cups are a lot more demanding physically and psychologically than competitions here. There are more competitors, and a larger portion climb at higher levels than events here in the US. Another important factor, I think, is that most American climbers are not as disciplined in their training and preparation for competitions. That’s not to say they don’t train, but I think that their training is more sporadic, and not focused on an entire year/season of competitions.

Can you talk a little bit about the training you did before heading over and how that is different – if it is at all – from your usual training for seasonal outdoor climbing?

Well, last spring I decided to dedicate a lot more time to bouldering and strength, which has always been my weak-point. For 3 months, I focused on training my power and power endurance, working on boulder problems close to or above my limit, and trying to work on repeating harder problems at the end of a session (fatigued). I also started doing a lot more complementary weight training, which I think really helped me, personally, though I don’t think that this is something everybody needs. It turned out that this training was not only effective for my comp preparation, but also my 6 weeks of climbing outdoors in Spain afterwards. Right before starting my outside trip, I did shift some focus back to endurance, keeping an even balance between that and bouldering, but only for a month or so. Then, I ended up sending more hard routes at my limit on ropes than ever before. Even though I think I have had more endurance perhaps in past seasons, having gained more power this year allowed me to do the crux moves on routes and not power down immediately after. So zoning in on my weaknesses has really paid off.

As a sponsored climber/student – how do you balance your time training/competing/climbing with your academic life?

Keeping a balance between school and climbing can be kind of tough sometimes, but I really love both, and refuse to give up either. Usually this means that I’m in a chronic state of sleep deprivation, because I’d rather go to the gym, train, get home super late and stay up and do my schoolwork, than not go to the gym. It’s all about managing your time, which is easy to think about and sometimes really hard to do. But I’m the one who chose to make both climbing and school part of my life, so I’m the one who has to figure out how to make that work.

120208 - Andrea climbing kaleidoscope - photo by Pete McDermott
photo by Pete McDermott

What is it that you’re studying?

This is my fourth and final year studying Psychology at Stanford. I’m graduating in fall of 2012. Psychology is a really interesting field because you can go in so many directions with it. What interests me the most is probably motivation and performance in the workplace. How can you help people perform at their optimal level? What are the dynamics of high performing teams in business or other workplace contexts? How can top managers perform under pressure? How can multicultural teams work efficiently and effectively? These are all questions that really intrigue me (which probably has to do with my involvement in sports and background in travel). When I finish my studies at Stanford, I’d like to do a Masters program in Industrial/Organizational Psychology and also, at some point, attend a Business School that offers a degree specializing in that area. And of course, I have to find a job by next January…

Sum up – if possible – your 2011 climbing season on the whole. Any particular highlights from the year or goals for 2012?

2011, for me, had its highs and lows. I started out with an injury, fracturing my thumb and tearing a ligament that attaches the metacarpal bone to the trapezium. The doctors first told me it would heal with time, but I didn’t want to stop climbing, and they ok-ed me for climbing in a splint, not using my thumb. So, I trained and waited for it to heal, but no improvement. Then in June I went to see a doctor in Spain, Dr. Mir, who is one of the best hand surgeons in the world. He told me that surgery was my only option. I decided to continue my thumbless climbing until the end of summer, and I’m glad I waited because that’s when I had my best moments of the year. I got to climb in Rodellar for 6 weeks and had an awesome time. I met and climbed with a really cool group of people that I met there who became really good friends of mine. I got on a bunch of really beautiful routes, sent three 14a’s (I had only ever done one, and that was four years ago) and found my project for this year, a route named Pata Negra (8c/14b), one of the most spectacular climbs I’ve ever tried. That’s one of my major goals for 2012, to climb Pata Negra. I’d also like to compete in some of the World Cup competitions again and at least do as well as I did last year, and hopefully even better. Because I had surgery in the fall of 2011, I had to take three months off completely and only started climbing and training again recently, so 2012 is off to a slow start. But that just means I will be working 150% harder!

Your last clinic with PG SF went over really well – how do you decide what/how to teach? What is this upcoming clinic all about?

I try to focus my clinics on things that I think people in the gym would really benefit from in pushing their climbing to the next level. My last clinic, for instance, was on redpointing strategies. I noticed that most people just jump on stuff at the gym, with no methodical way of working routes in order to send as fast as they can. They just kind of throw themselves at the route over and over and over. Doing that means you will eventually send, but you can do so a lot faster with a more strategic approach. So that was the inspiration for the last clinic. This upcoming one will focus on how to climb on steep terrain. The constant wall at PGSF is rarely being used when I go to PGSF to climb, even though it always has a bunch of cool routes. It seems like lots of climbers like to stick to the more vertical terrain, which they are more comfortable with. However, improving your climbing means getting better in all different styles of routes. So Mick Petts (PGSF Assistant Manager) and I came up with this Steep Climbing Clinic to teach people techniques that help to climb more efficiently on steeper angles and hopefully make them more comfortable on overhanging routes. Technical instruction, training tips, and basically all you need to become an awesome steep-route-climber!

Andrea climbs for La Sportiva, Petzl and, of course, Planet Granite. She will be teaching the Steep Climbing Clinic at PGSF this Saturday, Feb. 4. Sign-ups are under way and filling up so drop a line to Andrea to reserve your spot!  She can be emailed at

Special thanks to Jason Crase for another great interview!