Climbing?

Hi all,

I am looking for some good local spots to go outdoor rock climbing with beginners. I'm a member of Mission Cliffs in SF and have been playing quite a bit in Castle Rock, but I just got my own gear and am hoping to take some of my beginner friends out to share the sport that I love. Does anyone have suggestions for places to take climbing newbies? I live in Silicon Valley so anywhere on the Peninsula is ideal, but I'm open to other spots as well. Is Indian Rock in Berkeley any good?

Thanks in advance...
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FlowerGirl 2yrs+
I went to Indian Rock a long time ago when I was a teenager on one of those awkward mismached dates you only suffer through as a teenager. I'm not much of an outdorsy girl, but I wasn't very impressed--there's really not much there. Its a couple of rocks that rise up in the middle of a nice North Berkeley neigbhorhood. I love Berkeley, but I really don't remember it being much of a view either...maybe it was because of the guy I was with. He was little bit of bore.

Anyway, it might be okay for beginners I guess, but I don't know if its worth the trip all the way from Silicon Valley. There must be somewhere in Berkeley more scenic. Maybe somewhere in Tilden Park? I'm not much of a climber. But I have a friend who is so next time I talk to him, I'll drop another post.
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FlowerGirl 2yrs+
Just got a text from my climber friend--he says that the south end of stinson beach has a wide selection of rocks to choose from. He says "Are You Experienced" is a good one? I guess its the name of rock on the beach, not the Jimmy Hendrix album? Anyway, Stinson is nice even without the climbing so that might be fun. Good luck!
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StephSF 2yrs+
Hey, thanks for the advice. Been to Stinson once before and there is some fun stuff, although it is fairly tough. I'll keep looking though and keep that in mind. I'm a fan of Castle Rock myself.
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I was just going over some information for a review of North Berkeley and I noticed that not only do you have Indian Rock there but there is also a good climbing spot at nearby Cragmont Park and I bet there is one at Great Stone Face Park as well--so I guess its not just one spot for climbing. As a matter of fact that whole area is just a bunch of parks--so I bet you can probably spend an entire afternnoon there.

You also might like the Panorama Hill area of the south Berkeley Hills, it has a bunch of stairs that lead to fire trails that lead up into Tilden. Sounds like your kind of cup of tea, StephSF.
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Tracypie 2yrs+
Oh this is such a good post! I used to be heavily into rock climbing (indoor) when I lived on the Peninsula and used to go to Planite Granite. But now I must check out some of these recommendations. Thanks!
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StephSF 2yrs+
Yep, Cragmont is supposed to be a nice little spot. I have a friend who guides around Berkeley sometimes; I would like to get up there at some point but I am much closer to Castle Rock, which has some great stuff. I went there today and did a climb called the Great Roof - so cool! Here is a picture: http://www.supertopo.com/rock-climbing/route_photo.php?r=batcrgre&dpid=PzI0Ozs-JSgl

@Tracypie - there is a Planet Granite in SF, right in Crissy Field, with some fun man-made rock formations and unbelievable views of the bay. Mission Cliffs on 19th and Harrison is fun, too.
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StephSF 2yrs+
By the way, there are plenty of awesome spots to climb in the Bay Area, but I wouldn't recommend going to any of these outdoor spots unless you have appropriate gear. Not that I think anyone will be running out to climb large rocks in an unsafe manner anytime soon, but I'd be remiss if I didn't throw that in there.

If you are looking for outdoor trips and aren't sure where to start, I have a friend who guides for this company:

http://www.outdooradventureclub.com/

They run trips every weekend and their prices are pretty reasonable. Might be worth looking at for ideas, even if you don't want a guided trip...
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FlowerGirl 2yrs+
I didn't even realize many of those were there in Berkeley. I will have to check out those steps on Panorama Hill at some point.
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StephSF 2yrs+
Yep, Berkeley's a big one and they also have a great indoor gym, Ironworks. http://touchstoneclimbing.com/bi.html
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StephSF 2yrs+
Alright, I thought I'd spice it up a little bit here. I've been getting out and climbing in the Bay Area a lot - if you want to see some photos, check out my profile for some pictures from recent trips!
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Those are really cool photos. You really are into rock climbing. I'm impressed.

I just reviewed the neigbhorhood where Ironwoks is, and I totally forgot to mention it. Maybe I will edit it in later.
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StephSF 2yrs+
Thanks, @Nightowl. I don't actually know Berkeley that well - which neighborhood is it? If you let me know, I can just comment on the review so that you don't have to worry about adding it in.
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StephSF 2yrs+
BTW I just added one more, from Yosemite...
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FlowerGirl 2yrs+
BTW, I went for a hike today in the afternoon (I suspect you would call it walk, though for my out of shape self it was definitely a hike). I went across one of the trails way up by the steam trains--right by Night-Owl's neigbhorhood, I guess. It was blazes boiling but the view of the North Bay from spots was great. I saw some deer up there too.

Of course, now I am as red as a tomato and possibly a little sore.
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@StephSF: Ironworks is in West Berkeley (South)--That's what its listed as here--In real life its called the Aquatic neighborhood because of the weird ocean side lake. There are a lot of factories around there, so I thought it was some kind of metal factory--never occured to me that it could be a climbing place.

@Flowergirl: Congrats on the hike. Its nice up there isn't it? Three words for next time: Sun Tan Lotion.
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StephSF 2yrs+
@Flowergirl - you are brave to be hiking in the East Bay during a heat wave! I agree on the sunscreen! And congrats!
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StephSF 2yrs+
If anyone is interested in checking out the sport first-hand, the Great Western Power Company climbing gym in Oakland is hosting an amateur bouldering* competition tomorrow night, from 5-10 PM. It is free for Touchstone members, $10 for non-members, and includes free pizza, Pyramid beer, and a t-shirt. I'll be there enjoying all the schwag and hopefully doing some climbing as well (for fun, of course).

You can learn more here: http://www.touchstoneclimbing.com/gw.html

*Bouldering = climbing up short 10-15 foot walls with no rope, and a crash pad or gym mat below you. The sport is defined by a short series of powerful, dynamic moves.
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@StephSF: Nice post to my review of Berkeley South (West). I'm glad I didn't just add it in myself, I wouldn't have done it justice the way you did.
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StephSF 2yrs+
[email protected] - I actually climbed there yesterday and had the most fun I've had indoor climbing in a while.

@Flowergirl - I finally made it to Indian Rock yesterday after my Ironworks adventure, just to check it out and see where it is. I would say you are mostly right - it's not worth the journey from Silicon Valley just to climb there. However, I would definitely consider climbing if I were up there already. It is definitely more of a bouldering spot (see definition above), because the rocks aren't really tall or abundant enough to make it worth bringing gear to set up a rope, but I will definitely throw a crash pad and shoes in the car next time I am in the Berkeley area. Bonus: I saw a guy climbing in a button-down shirt, a tie, and Dockers!

One point I do disagree with is the view - it has a nice panorama of SF and the Bay, characteristic of the Berkeley foothills. It is kind of weird though that it is in a residential neighborhood and you are pretty much in peoples' backyards. Overall, not my favorite spot but could be fun to hang out there if I am already in the area.
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@StephSF: Yeah, that is the thing about lots of places in Berkeley, you are often walking right through someone's backyard. Especially up in the hills. The steps in Berkeley are like that too. They come up right by people homes and they don't have fences, so people sometimes sit down in someone's back yard. Actually that is one of the draws of the steps. People who like architectural history love the houses because a lot of them were made by famous Bay Area architects like Bernard Maybeck and Julia Morgan (of Hearst Castle fame).

Oh, this reminds me, when I was doing my reviews of Berkeley neighborhoods I came across this site that you might find interesting, being an outdorsy type and all. Its a photo gallery of Berkeley paths:

http://www.berkeleypaths.org/JAlbumPathPhotos/index.html

I didn't know about half of these. They are all hidden up there in the hills. There is a also a castle up there, and this Greek Colonade at the house where Isadora Duncan used to teach the local kids to dance. Really kind of cool in Berkeley kind of way.

The climbing suit guy sounds like the classic Berkeley oddball! That's great!
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StephSF 2yrs+
I got a European feel when I went there, for some reason. It reminded me of my grandparents' house in France that I used to visit all the time growing up. The home was in a village on the countryside, built on a hill, and the backyards had the same kind of feeling.

It really is nice to have some outdoor climbing spots so close - although it isn't really worth driving up from Silicon Valley, I can imagine living there would be great. I do want to go back and play around there more just because the feeling of the area is so unique.

Thanks for the album link! I'll have to take a look for next time I head up there.
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Berkeley definitely does have that sort of European feel. They definitely got the cafe culture thing going and there are a smattering of round abouts around town too. It was definitely one of the charms of place that made me fall in love with it.
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StephSF 2yrs+
Yes! The round abouts are definitely a great addition that make it feel more like a European town, although I am not convinced that they help with the traffic. It is a very cool place to hang out, and must be a cool place to live, albeit a bit off the wall.
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