• Mark Melvin

    Chief Executive, Founder

    Mark and Debra Melvin co-founded Touchstone Climbing in 1995 with the help of several dozen passionate climber investors. He spent 15 years in the corporate world, which he credits his sense of how not to run a company. Mark’s background includes a M.S. from U.C. Berkeley in the school of Engineering. He has dabbled in most forms of climbing, from the Cassin on Denali, to several dozen ascents of El Capitan, his preference being multi-pitch trad routes. He’s run a dozen ultra marathons, and fallen over his handlebars many times chasing his son Daniel on downhill mountain biking adventures.

  • Debra Melvin

    Controller, Co-founder

    Debra is co-founder of Touchstone, managing the financial side of the business. Her passions are climbing, running and cycling. She loves the outdoors, especially the backcountry of the Sierra, and hot dry places like deserts

  • Markham Connolly

    Director of Operations

    Markham started at Touchstone working at Mission Cliffs when it opened its doors in 1995 developing the youth programs and working at the front desk. He moved back to Telluride, Colorado to accomplish some unfinished challenges in skiing and climbing but returned to open and manage Berkeley Ironworks in 1999. Markham has been Director of Operations since spring of 2002. He also sponsors and manages the Touchstone Women’s Elite Cycling Team. Outside of Touchstone, Markham is busy chasing after his two kids, Isabelle and Joe on their bicycles at the park. Joelle, his wife, when not playing with the kids, climbing, or running with our dog, Stella, is an art consultant curating and managing collections for private and corporate collectors. When he is not with his family or at work, you’ll most likely find Markham training for the upcoming race season for road cycling.

  • Jeffery Bowling

    IT, Marketing, Gym Development

    Jeffery has been working for Touchstone since 1996, when he got a taste for climbing at Mission Cliffs. Was it for this his life he sought? Maybe So, Maybe Not. When we travel backwards down the numberline, we see that Jeffery has done everything from working kids’ birthday parties to routesetting to managing Mission Cliffs. Currently he oversees routesetting, marketing & the I.T. needs for Touchstone. Jeffery & and his sweet one, Holly are known to waste their time together following the lines going south. Jeffery is alright’ cause he has got a degree, a M.A. in Philosophy. In his free time, he can be found wading in the velvet sea and he sometimes has really Gotta Jibboo.

  • Russell Olsen

    Director of Facilities

    Russell joined Touchstone in 2000 as a subcontractor from Telluride, CO. While snowboarding 100+ days he and the crew build a handful of climbing walls for school’s and the rich and famous. Almost 12 years later he has made a life in the bay area with his wife Michelle, daughter Morgan and his son Aiden. If you don’t see him finishing up the latest Touchstone Gym or improvement he is with the family soaking up rays on a beach or rafting down some whitewater.

  • Patti Phillips

    Retail Manager

    Patti started her Touchstone career at the front desk at CityRock in 1997. She continued working at Berkeley Ironworks when it opened in spring of 2000. Patti is now the Retail Manager for all the Touchstone gyms. She loved working with her dogs, redesigning her house, and hanging out with Tim.

  • Wes Tite

    Manager, Stone Age Climbing

    Wes started working for Touchstone in 2009. Wes has a ‘diverse’ job history, from climbing guide,route setter to Coal miner. He’s been climbing for over 20 years and travels the world looking for inspiration to ensure that Touchstone has the sickest grips on our walls. His passion is Alpine starts in the high country and Long aid routes on the captain.

  • Lauryn Claassen

    Director of Marketing and Social Media

    Like everyone else, Lauryn found climbing at a certain point in her life… and it changed everything. After a stint of wandering, she found that at Touchstone she could bring her love of irreverent writing and many-hat-wearing-hustle to a team of co-workers who she wanted to spend her time with anyway… and realized this was home.

  • Monica Aranda

    Director of Membership Services

    Monica has been working for Touchstone since 2006. She first started climbing at the age of fourteen and has been obsessed with the lifestyle ever since! However, lately you will find her running in the Oakland hills with her dog Tenaya or at a tennis court training for the US Open. It’s never too late, right?

  • Nicole

    Human Resources

    Nicole started at Sacramento Pipeworks as front desk staff in 2001, left in 2012 to explore, then returned in 2013 to develop and manage the Human Resources department for Touchstone. In her off time, nothing beats a good cup of tea and a brilliant book. With recent trips abroad, traveling more and meeting new people is something she looks forward to.

  • Heather

    Graphic Design

    Heather hails from the weirdest state ever, Florida, and has a PhD from The Royal Orlando Academy of Dramatic Tricks. She wrote her dissertation on genetically engineering the cuteness of kittens in order to fight terrorism and would love to talk with you about it in length, so definitely bring it up when you see her. When she’s not traveling the world in her unicorn onesie, you can find Heather pounding IPA’s in an attempt to forget that she ever lived in Florida.

  • Nancy


    Nancy started working for Touchstone in 2014 after a long career in the architects and engineers field. Her passions are sculpture and balancing the books – an unusual balance of right and left brain functions. You might see her working out at Ironworks or walking her dog Smudge (a Right-Tailed Terrier) around Berkeley.

  • Ryan

    Programs Director

    Ryan started climbing in 2003 and finally joined the Touchstone family in 2006 at the long gone, but not forgotten Touchstone San Jose bouldering only gym. He considers himself lucky to have been able to participate in an activity that has given him a strong, supportive group of friends and allowed him to have one of the best excuses to travel the world. Although a fan of all rock types and styles, nothing can satisfy his fancy more than a clean granite boulder and a broken in pair of stiff shoes. Climbing instruction is what Ryan considers one of his strong suits having done it for over a decade now via private lessons and clinics with everyone from new-to-climbing bumblers to national level youth competition climbers. Do you know he did Thriller?

  • Zach

    Team Touchstone Coach

    Zach is a climber and coach born and raised in the Bay Area. Every job he’s ever had has either been in a climbing gym or working with kids, so working as a youth climbing coach is perfect for him. He finds climbing to be a wonderfully rich movement culture; one in which fun, complex movements lend themselves to endless examination, refinement, and enjoyment. Zach sees coaching young climbers as a chance not only to develop strong athletes, but an opportunity to introduce kids to an activity that offers so much in terms of strength, confidence, creativity, teamwork, and pure kinesthetic joy. Through engaging with climbing and all it offers, he hopes that we take away new tools for looking at other areas of our lives, and bring the joy we find in climbing to everything we do. Aside from climbing and thinking about climbing, Zach enjoys hip-hop music, reading anything and everything, writing/blogging/notating/scribbling, skateboarding, riding my bicycle, kicking back with good beers, good food, and good friends.