At the dawn of the world, everyone rock-climb-commuted to work. It was only after the invention of falling, however, that rock climbing became thrilling, sexy, and glamorous. Today's Groupon invites you to live the life of a rock star: for $25, you get an introductory climbing lesson for two people from Touchstone Climbing (up to a $58 value). Choose one of the following locations:
- Mission Cliffs in San Francisco
- Diablo Rock Gym in Concord
- Great Western Power Co. in Oakland
- Berkeley Ironworks in Berkeley
- Sacramento Pipeworks in Sacramento
Each indoor gym location features a vast climbing arena with challenging walls for all levels of climbers. Experienced instructors offer a full beginners’ rundown of wall-climbing basics, providing you and your chosen roommate or press secretary with the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of the climbing arts. You'll learn safe-climbing procedures and beginners' belaying moves as well as knot tying, top-rope-climbing methods, and wall-scaling, which will allow you and your partner to trade off the climbing and supporting roles before eventually co-writing your Emmy acceptance speech.
In addition to the introductory class, you'll get a complete day pass and all the necessary rental equipment, so once you’ve learned the ropes, you'll be free to explore the crannies of your chosen climbery until your fingers or toes tire of clutching the holds and puppies that pave your path to the top. Call ahead to reserve your class; arrive 15 minutes ahead of the scheduled start time.
Must be at least 14 years old to participate.
Touchstone Climbing has received loads of press and CityVoters named it Best Rock Climbing 2010. Yelpers recommend all five locations; Diablo Rock Gym, Sacramento Pipeworks, and Mission Cliffs all earn an average of 4.5 stars. Yelpers give Great Western Power Co. and Berkeley Ironworks an average of four stars:
- I love it here. Its [sic] always a great time, I'm not the best climber in the world and you know what there are no judgments here. Only calm level headed advice and great staff who help you get up there. – Charlie B., Mission Cliffs location, Yelp
- The staff here will ensure that they go over all the basics with you and stay with you until they feel you are solid in all basic safety. Go here and learn the right way, the only way! – robert b., Diablo Rock Gym location, Yelp
The next time you're on the roof of a five-story building, look down at the ground, and you'll get a rough idea of just how high people climb at Touchstone Climbing. The gym's seven locations feature lead walls that rise as high as 50 feet off the ground, though height isn't the only dimension that makes the space feel immense. Each spot has at least 11,000 square feet of climbing terrain, not to mention as much as 3,000 square feet of bouldering.
To prevent newcomers from feeling intimidated by the magnitude of the environment, the gym holds introductory classes. During these sessions, participants learn the basic techniques they'll need if they want to conquer the gym's crack systems and boulder problems. The classes are also an opportunity for students to scope out the terrain features at each location, such as Diablo Rock Gym's steep prow, which juts out crookedly like a thumbs up from a dizzy ballerina. While they're at it, the visitors might notice something else: the social nature of the gym. As the San Francisco Chronicle recounts, the fact that lead climbs require two people means that climbers are constantly asking around for new partners and chatting back and forth as they ascend.
Each location also boasts a weight room, cardio machines, and a studio space for everything from yoga to spinning to core classes.