Climbing in Mill Valley

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When Cliff Hodges, the founder and CEO of Adventure Out, graduated from MIT with a degree in electrical engineering, he knew a traditional desk job wasn't for him. According to Technology Review, he quickly gave up his engineering career for the wireless world of the great outdoors, where he began to hike, climb, and surf his way around the world, always staying true to his philosophy of environmental respect and protection.

His travels and business accomplishments have gained some measure of notoriety; he's coached on MTV's Made, consulted for ABC News, and was selected as one of four winners of the 2011 Santa Cruz County Civic Service Award: The Nextie. Adventure Out was also identified for meeting survival skills training standards by The New York Times best-selling author Tim Ferriss in The 4-Hour Chef.

Today, he and his program consultant Tom McElroy lead excursions into the California wilderness to teach backpacking and survival skills, including the tracking of animals and wild ice-cream trucks, and they also guide novices through surfing, rock-climbing, and mountain-biking sojourns. Through fundraising, Adventure Out has helped save Castle Rock State Park from closure and a portion of their proceeds is put directly back into the park.

1000 Iron Springs Rd.
Fairfax,
California
US

When the climbers of Planet Granite say that community anchors everything they do, they have a history of outreach to back it up. After Castle Rock State Park appeared on California’s closure list, Planet Granite’s team quickly organized a fundraiser to save the sanctuary. They pledged $10,000 in matching funds, threw an auction, scheduled guest speakers, and obtained support from companies such as REI. In one night, they raised $20,725.

This kind of response has typified Planet Granite’s team since opening its first facility in 1994. One of the first climbing gyms in the country, Planet Granite has expanded to three gyms in Belmont, San Francisco, and Sunnyvale. The diverse array of climbing resources at each location led Popsugar to name the gym conglomerate one of the top five in San Francisco in 2011. At the Sunnyvale location, members scale 25,000 square feet of climbable surfaces that ascend from low bouldering terrains to 60-foot walls.

In keeping with their commitment to community, the staff tailors instruction and climbing routes to every ability level and affinity for hand sweatiness. They also supervise each gyms’ fully equipped fitness centers, ranging from CrossFit to yoga, which provides a peaceful counterbalance to the full-body workout of rock climbing.

924 Mason St
San Francisco,
CA
US

After her first visit to Mission Cliffs, Donna Dunlap tore the fake fingernails off her hands. It wasn’t out of frustration, however, but from sheer excitement. Excitement to return to the climbing emporium and once again experience the rush of scurrying up 14,000 square feet of climbing walls, boulders, arches, and slabs. It’s not clear whether Donna ever replaced those nail tips, but it’s unlikely; she’s now the manager of the entire facility, and oversees a staff of equally enthusiastic guides that make the daunting heights attainable for visitors of all ages and abilities. Mission Cliffs’ centerpiece is its towering five-story-high lead wall, a veritable maze of routes, slants, and crags. The gym’s arches have coaxed forehead sweat from even the most accomplished climbers, while its moderate terrain along the cylinder and mezzanine walls takes it easy on first-timers. Upstairs, a family of hulking boulders awaits the feet and hands of climbers turning in their ropes for some freestyle bouldering. The gym also outfits guests with gear rentals and introductory lessons, and raises heart rates with a range of fitness classes.

2295 Harrison St
San Francisco,
CA
US

Every summer, the Trans-Sierra Club takes four groups on a 75-mile trek, across their namesake mountain range to the highest altitude peak in the contiguous United States: Mount Whitney. The mountain measures 14,500 feet high, and while it has been summited by more than one fifth grader, don't be fooled. The route to the top is far from child's play. Participants must hike 8-12 miles a day and carry their own food and camping gear. However, the spectacular views?and the sense of accomplishment?that await at the summit are worth the sweaty journey.

1590 Bryant Street
San Francisco,
CA
US

Web 2.0 shines light into cyberspace with a multitrack educational convention of ideas, concepts, and configurations. A host of workshops and conversational-learning sessions unveil new innovations and design strategies, and networking events allow convention-goers to rub elbows and positively charged balloons with industry superstars. The Web 2.0 Lite pass grants access to the event Tuesday–Thursday. The Lite pass presents a slim spread of activities such as a choice of one track session, a choice of one conversation, personal audio for all keynote speakers, access to evening events, and access to the Expo Hall on Tuesday and Wednesday.

747 Howard Street
San Francisco,
CA
US

Richard Bothwell has hiked Mount Kilimanjaro, scaled Peru’s Cordillera Blanca, and surfed the waves of four continents. But perhaps his greatest feat was establishing the Outdoor Adventure Club in 1996, where he leads others in conquering nature's challenges. He and a staff of seasoned outdoors enthusiasts escort visitors of all fitness and experience levels in local excursions and international vacations, all centered on exploring the great outdoors. On the local level, the guides lead rock-climbing classes at Castle Rock State Park in addition to hiking, backpacking, whitewater-rafting, kayaking, and skydiving excursions. International adventure vacations expose folks to surfing in Costa Rica, rafting in Patagonia, and mountaineering in Peru. The expeditions marry the camaraderie of a social club with the expertise of professional guides, who are each trained in emergency wilderness care in case of squirrel attacks.

1819 Polk St
San Francisco,
CA
US