Young Scientists Experiment with Climbing at Diablo Rock Gym

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We love being a place where our community can come together and learn something new! Our member Rich Tornai recently brought in some of the brightest young minds in Contra Costa County to Diablo Rock Gym to have them try their hands at our favorite sport. Rich was also kind enough to tell us a bit about their day at DRG, and how rock climbing can be a great way for teenagers to build self-confidence.

Our organization

I am associated with the Contra Costa County Science and Engineering Fair (CCCSEF). I volunteer as the Chief Judge in Senior Engineering and mentor students competing at the international level. I am neither employed nor sponsored by CCCSEF.

CCCSEF hosts a science fair once a year for middle and high school students, sponsored by local businesses. From the high school category, four first place fair winners are sent to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). There, they compete against students from over 70 different countries.

Why we are excited about rock climbing

I initiated this event in 2016 as a way of thanking the students for participating in the fair and to provide an opportunity to build confidence.

My son and I are both members of the Diablo Rock Gym. Over the years I have witnessed how climbing has contributed to his self-confidence and self-esteem, especially during his high school years. I wanted to pass on this type of experience to the ISEF student winners. They are used to highly competitive environments and the structure of science. I wanted to introduce them to the art and science of rock climbing.

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The day at Diablo Rock Gym

We all met at DRG on Sunday in the early afternoon. After the waivers and gear fitting, we trained the students (and one brave parent) in climbing safety and belaying. The DRG staff, Erin and Elizabeth, tested them and off we went to climb. With a little coaching, the students quickly advanced up to a 5.10a challenge. By the end of the day they were cheering each other on and watching in amazement as my son demonstrated a flawless 5.10c ascent. Everyone wanted to come back and two families asked about lessons. It was truly an awesome experience for all, including me! There were smiles all around as sore muscles and the need for food brought an end to the day around 4pm.

Thank you

My sincere thanks to Hans, whose enthusiastic support for this event made it possible for the second year. And my personal thanks to Erin and Elizabeth, who were all smiles, asking the students about projects, and who made us feel like honored guests. In addition, thank you to Touchstone Climbing for supporting community events like this one.

If you’re organization is interested in coming to Diablo Rock Gym for a day of climbing, contact us at (925) 602-1000.