Climbing in Novato

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On a sunny afternoon, guests board a reproduction 1900s cable car to admire scenic Sonoma Valley while sipping fine wines. The designated driver–helmed trolley then heads to one of the area's esteemed wineries, where passengers disembark to sample more vino, view art galleries, and gossip with fellow travelers. After a few such stops, the trolley also serves as a kind of traveling lounge complete with open-air seating, an onboard gourmet kitchen, wine samples, and a knowledgeable guide.The guide is Jonnie McCormick, a former executive director of the Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers Alliance and vice president of Bank of America. After leaving the corporate world, she set up Sonoma Wine Country Trolley with her husband to combine their love of the scenic landscape with their passion and expertise in wines. While he drives the rig and passes an occasional joke, she shares historical facts and describes area points of interest—such as the area's first discovered wine well, whose derrick is still visible—to private or public groups of up to 14.

20 East Spain Street
Sonoma,
CA
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

Extreme athletes banded together to design Spartan Races' intense courses orchestrated over standardized distances, each strewn with natural and man-made obstacles to test mind-body fitness, resilience, stamina, and strength, designed to leave participants exhausted and exhilarated. In waves of about 200, runners collect smudges and stains as they perform box jumps, haul heavy sandbags, and juke feral linebackers. Depending on where in the world they're participating, the course may be as short as 3 miles or, for extremely practiced athletes, as long as a full marathon.

24 Willie Mays Plaza
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