And now... a history lesson.
Touchstone Climbing began in 1994 as a dream of Mark and Debra Melvin to bring indoor rock climbing to San Francisco. After scouring the city for the perfect location and raising start-up capital, they opened Mission Cliffs in 1995 in the vibrant Mission District of San Francisco. The new gym captured the imagination of the city and immediately set a new standard for indoor climbing facilities. Within a month of its opening, Mission Cliffs hosted the sport climbing National Championship competition, introducing climbers from around the country to what was quickly heralded as the most spectacular facility in the world.
In 1996, Touchstone Climbing purchased Class 5, a small indoor climbing gym in San Rafael. After renovating much of the facility - including the construction of impressive new climbing walls and a bouldering area - the gym became the second Touchstone Gym. Unfortunately, we lost the lease on the building in 2008. We continue to search for a replacement in Marin county, as the climbing community based there continues to flourish.
In 1997, Touchstone acquired CityRock of Emeryville, which was one of the first indoor climbing gyms built in the country. Gym members enjoyed the benefits of multiple locations, but with a population of over two million people in the greater Bay Area, there was room to grow!
Realizing that the East Bay market was under served by CityRock's moderate size, Touchstone embarked on an ambitious project to build a new gym that was nearly 3 times as large. Ironworks in Berkeley was completed in 2000, adding a huge fitness area and revolutionizing the concept of what a climbing gym could look like.
In 2001, Touchstone continued to grow and purchased an historic building just north of downtown Sacramento. After extensive renovations, Sacramento Pipeworks opened its doors, following the model at Ironworks and integrating fitness programming and workout facilities with incredible climbing and bouldering terrain.
2003 was a busy year for Touchstone Climbing, as we expanded further into the East Bay with the completion of our Concord location, Diablo Rock Gym. That same year we opened our first bouldering only gym in downtown San Jose. Unfortunately for our South Bay members, the Bouldering Gym closed in 2008.
2004 saw the acquisition of Stone Age Climbing, a well established and reputable climbing hold and accessory manufacturer, now located at the Pipeworks site in Sacramento. Here, our professional setting crew is involved in hand shaping climbing holds to create the perfect selection of grips for our routes.
Touchstone opened its next gym in the fall of 2007; Great Western Power Company. In the heart of Uptown Oakland, this former steam generation plant is the kind of building that Touchstone patrons have come to expect. Shaping the walls around the original building has created an interesting and unique urban climbing vibe.
But of course, it didn't end there. In 2011, we opened MetalMark in Fresno. In this case we were able to design the building from the ground up, bringing something truly unique to the Central Valley. You want innovative terrain? You got it. Adjustable cracks to practice for Yosemite splitters? No problem. Striking full glass windows to light the 45 foot walls? Of Course! MetalMark shows why contemporary and cutting edge terrain are synonymous with Touchstone Inc.
2012 has been a busy year for Touchstone. In early Spring, we returned to the South Bay and opened The Studio Climbing, this time constructing a gym inside an old movie theater. The Studio offers lead and top rope climbing, as well as unique bouldering terrain. We also have a studio for yoga and fitness classes, along with a weigh area. 2013 brought Dogpatch Boulders, this 17,000 sq ft space in San Francisco is the largest bouldering gym in the country. Also in 2013, we are embarking on a major remodel of the gym that started it all, Mission Cliffs. With a major expansion of the bouldering & fitness, this will once again put Mission Cliffs as one of the top gyms in the country.
So what's next for Touchstone Climbing?
Some things never change. And while our original dedication to bringing premier indoor climbing to the Bay Area remains the same, 18 years of experience and innovation have helped us adapt and redefine what it means to be a primer climbing and fitness company. We are excited to be working the Walltopia again to design and construct our newest gym, L.A.B, set to open in early 2014. Touchstone is no longer an exclusivly Northern California company! So Cal here we come! Touchstone Climbing owns and operates nine unique gyms throughout California, making it the largest indoor climbing company in the world. But our true success comes not from what we do, but why we do it. From owners to belay staff, route setters to cyclists, we believe in creating a place where we can all come together and do what we love. We are not just gyms. We are communities. Whether you are an experienced climber, a bright-eyed newbie, or just someone looking for a great place to work out, you'll find your place with Touchstone Climbing.