Troop 125 learns the ropes at MetalMark

In May, MetalMark staffer Riley Kane helped Boy Scout Troop 125 work to earn their Rock Climbing Merit Badges. Riley submitted this report to the Touchstone Climbing blog chronically the days adventures.  

Sean, Tiberius, Sunny, Cooper, Liam, Matin, Alex, Christian, Matthew, Darius, Garrett and Cory lined up to take a group photo. Some were pushing each other to get better spots, others were putting their arms around each other. I walked to the middle back as their scout masters claimed the back left and right. Troop 125 closed in around me as if I was apart of the team. Click.

These twelve boys of different ages had just gone through the Intro to Climbing Class taught at MetalMark Climbing and Fitness, slightly amended for Boy Scouts. They learned how to put on a harness, how to tie a figure-eight follow-through knot, how to belay, and how to lower their partner safely back to the ground. Within an hour on the practice ropes they were ready to do the real thing. When I asked for volunteers, some shied away, but four spoke up. I had two of them set up on a 5.6 and the other two set up on a nearby 5.7. After seeing each of the twelve individually belay and instructing them one-on-one, and after each of them got to climb and be lowered without fuss, I was confident they had the knowledge needed to turn their mental skills to practical skills. Pairs of them broke off around the gym trying routes that at first appeared too difficult, but within an hour became possible. As their eagerness overtook my instruction, I knew it was time to set up the rappel line.

I set up the rappel near a 5.6 in the gym. One by one, I called upon each scout to climb the 5.6, set up their rappel, and rappel themselves to the ground while i backed them up. Some scouts had no problem with it. Others needed to practice setting up their rappel on the ground a few times. A few needed to repeat the exercise before grasping the concept. Some rappelled fast, some slow, some choppy, but all made it down. And within a few attempts, the fast, the slow and the choppy became smooth rappels. What more could an instructor ask for? There were multiple boys that came up to ask when they would coming back....

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Riley is seen above leading a MetalMark Outdoors Trip, a program he helped found at MetalMark.

If you've got a great climbing story to share, what are you waiting for?! Email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with trip reports, tales of adventure, or fascinating fresno stories!

Climbing at Tollhouse

MetalMark Climbing and Fitness, located in the heart of central California, is a 1 hour drive from Yosemite National Park. AKA, one of the worlds most famous climbing destinations. The staff at MetalMark, being avid climbers themselves, have been running MetalMark Outdoors for over a year. Two staff members will organize group trips, pick a local desination, and get their climb on - outside! This past month, MetalMark staff members Danny and Jake, took a group of members to Tollhouse to climbing at Cap Rock. "It was a great trip," said member Carlos Holguin. "The group size was ideal and we had enough ropes so that everyone could get a ton of climbing in. I look forward to climbing outside again soon!"

Here are some photos from the event. If you're in the Fresno area and would like to join the group next month, swing by the front desk for more information!

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PWC camp climbs at DRG

"Finding climbing changed my life," says Diablo Rock Gym manager Hans Florine. "Being able to share that with kids who might not have found it on their own is one of my favorite parts of the job." DRG is able to open their doors to organizations and introduce them to climbing and the outdoors. One group that recently came to the gym is the People Who Care Children Association. The PWC is a non- profit organization that serves at risk youth ages 12-21. 

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"We provide community service opportunities, mental health services, and have a unique vocational training program," said Julie Linsday, one of the coordinators. "The youth are able to learn about green jobs and environmental issues.  We provide them with teambuilding, expressive arts and community outings, which is why we jumped at the chance to bring them rock climbing at DRG!" 

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"This gym has been there for our program since 2010. The youth benefit from the trips by developing trust within the group and are introduced to new experiences." The kids come to the gym to boulder and rope climb with staff. 

As we all know, climbing is both  physically and mentally demanding. "Most of the youth have never experienced rock climbing and it allowed for them to feel accomplished, thereby boosting their sense of self-worth, said Lindsay. "It was a very bonding experience, it strengthened their sense of competency in their bodies through exercise and allowed for a great time!" 

"We are honored to be a part of the Diablo Rock Gym culture," said Lindsay. 
 

Rappelling for a Cause



climbing treeRemy Orvis, a front desk staffer from The Studio, will be participating in an awesome event in Downtown San Jose. She submitted this report to the Touchstone Blog.

It’s a powerless feeling to know someone with a real addiction and not be able to get through to them. It’s even worse to watch them slowly slip into a deepened abyss away from family, friends, and everyone who ever depended on them for support.
As climbers, we can relate to relying on people because we are dependent on our belayers to catch us when we fall. And I fall often because I keep climbing things that are a bit dangerous. So what’s that old saying? Beat addictions with addictions? Let’s do that.
On December 5, I am going to rappel down the Marriot building in San Jose to help families of real addiction. Please join me in raising $500 to support them with Shatterproof – a nonprofit organization paired with Canadian-based Over the Edge that aims to create a country too tough for addiction through pledges and exciting events, such as descending city structures.
It is money that families need to get through tough times, and the rappel is a symbolic act to show that Touchstone Climbing and the Studio are in the battle against addiction. That’s why the rappel-for-a-cause trend in San Jose is so great! What better way to emphasize our love for those lost to addiction by rappelling down the side of a major city skyscraper? And what better way to show those that we might lose to addiction that we care by rappelling down the side of a major city skyscraper?
Call me crazy, I think it’s romantic. Also, I really want to rappel down the side of a major city skyscraper.
So join me, Touchstone Climbing, and Shatterproof for the amazing outreach opportunity by pledging for these families so that they may become shatterproof against addiction!

Click here to donate! Thanks Remy!

Madera Adult School Climbs at MetalMark

MetalMark Climbing and Fitness is under an hour from the Valley floor, and yet many Fresnopians have never made the drive, let alone climb there. Having a world class climbing gym in the Central Valley allows people who would never consider climbing to give it a try with our friendly and helpful staff. 

On February 27th, the Madera Adult School came to MetalMark to climb. They have made several trips to the gym over the past year as part of a program to introduce their students to unique extracurricular activities. 

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Aurora Garcia is a teacher at MAS, and brought the group of students to MetalMark this month. "I work with the students ages 18-22, and our program is designed to assist special education adults in providing them with transitioning skills to adulthood. Two of the components of our program are community and fitness." Climbing is a great chance for the students to build confidence and challenge themselves in a safe and supportive environment. 

Daniel, a staff member at MetalMark, worked with the teachers before hand to teach them to belay, so that when the students arrived they were able to climb with instructors that they knew and trusted. "It was super fun," said Daniel. "Especially to see everyone working together to cheer each other on."

IMG 6914_1-1Climbing for the first time can be both physically and mentally demanding, but the feedback from the students was positive. "I feel like I was on top of the mountain," said one student. "It was my first time climbing, it was awesome. I enjoyed climbing all the way to the top." 

"I was very excited to see our group gain more confidence with each climb and challenge themselves to do something new. Students continue to set new goals to reach higher each time," Said Garcia. This has been a wonderful experience for our students and staff."

Each Touchstone Climbing and Fitness gym has a strong commitment to outreach and supporting their local community. If you have a group you would like to bring to the gym, please contact the gym manager for details! 

MetalMark Harlem Shake

One of the best parts about climbing is the community of characters. Recently, the folks over at MetalMark performed a Harlem Shake, an internet meme where a masked member dances to the song Harlem Shake before being other costumed dancers.

Stop by MetalMark and join this fun and wild community of climbers. Now do the Harlem Shake!

TBS8 at MetalMark

It's well known that the Touchstone Bouldering Competitions are a great chance to get some amazing climbing in, but they also act as the social event of the season. After TBS 8 hit Berkeley Ironworks and The Studio in San Jose, the fun continued at MetalMark Climbing and Fitness in Fresno.
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Read more: TBS8 at MetalMark

Climbing Challenges with Grace Kane

For many people climbing is more than a sport. It is a passion. Fitting climbing into life can be a serious challenge though.

Grace Kane, a 13 year old 8th grader at Granite Ridge Intermediate, loves climbing. “I love the challenge. I love the craziness.” But a few years ago, her climbing hit a block. There was nowhere to climb in Fresno!

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Read more: Climbing Challenges with Grace Kane

Night Climbing

Climbing at night can be unbelievably fun. The temps for climbing get better in the dark hours. Utilizing a headlamp means there is no exposure beyond the distance of the light. Also, climbers tend to keep it a little more light hearted when climbing at night.  It's just fun!

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To share in this nocturnal fun, once a month, MetalMarks holds a Black Out Night.  All of the lights in the gym turn off.  The boulders and routes light with headlamps and members have a great time.   The desk staff sells headlamps for 10% off.  The big open windows let in some natural lighting but the gym itself is dark. Next month MetalMark will show a movie in the cycling room during Black Out Night- another reason to join the fun. 

Read more: Night Climbing

Children's Hospital Adaptive Sports Program

Recently, the Children's Hospital Adaptive Sports Program stopped by MetalMark. The climbing at the Fresno gym is an integral part of the program, which recreational and athletic experiences for those with disabilities. Based out of the Central Valley, the program takes disabled people of all ages and health impairments and encourages them to take part in athletic activities and exceed expectations.

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During the last visit to MetalMark, 12 kids got to climb through their various handicaps.  The kids climbed out of their wheelchairs, walkers, and leg braces and had a ton of fun. Approximately 15 volunteers, came in, took the belay class, and facilitated and encouraged the kids in their climbing.

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Katie Walker, who wears a prosthetic leg and climbs regularly at MetalMark, volunteered to encourage the kids as well.

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The program scheduled another visit for the middle of November. The kids are definitely excited as it is a great opportunity for them to get an incredible experience.

Past blog entries can be found at  http://touchstoneclimbing.blogspot.com/

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