Five and a half years ago, a curious Joel Graybeal took an intro to climbing class at the then-new Triangle Rock Club in Morrisville.
Tonight, as one of TRC’s three managing partners, he helped break ground for an expansion that will increase the gym’s climbing space from 9,000 square feet to about 25,000 square feet, and introduce walls 50 feet high, more than twice the height of the current gym’s walls.
Graybeal and Andrew Kratz, who founded the gym with fellow ex-Marine Luis Jauregui, and club director Mike St. Laurent broke ground with the traditional syncopated shoveling of the first scoop of dirt before about 60 gym rats. The new space is expected to open in January.
The gym will feature state-of-the-art walls installed by Eldorado Climbing Walls of Boulder, Colo., which installed the walls in the current gym. In addition to the 16,000 square feet of additional climbing surface, the gym will have a cardio room for yoga, Pilates and spin classes. Kratz said the expansion area, behind the existing gym, will be surveyed next week, the concrete foundation slab will be laid in early August, the steel building should be up by the end of August and Eldorado should be able to start working its wall magic in September.
“They can do about 1,000 square feet of terrain a week,” said Kratz.
Prior to the groundbreaking, climbers checked out artists renderings of the new gym. James Olson Jr. and Charlie Brown were trying to figure out where the rendering of the bouldering area meshed with the rendering of the climbing wall while simultaneously admiring the size of the project.
“Either of you ever climb on a 50-foot indoor wall?” I asked. Twenty-four feet I can handle. But I was trying to picture being twice that high, indoors.
“It’s … intimidating,” said Olson, who’s climbed a 60-foot wall at Atlanta’s Stone Summit Rock Climbing Gym. After thinking about it a moment, he added, “and it’s exhilarating.”
We’ll get a chance to see for ourselves in January.read more
“You’re a cyclist?” I ventured.
Some people guess weights, some professions. I look at someone’s physique and try to guess how they have fun.
“Yeah!” David answered.
“Yeah, mostly. I do triathlons.”
We were gearing up to climb early this morning at the Triangle Rock Club and the short exchange picked up my spirits. A month-plus of assorted deadlines had started taking its toll on my immune system. Physically, mentally I had wound down. I needed something.
David and I had just met, mutual friends of our third climbing partner, Joel. The awkwardness of the first-time meeting was absent, which I attribute in part to climbing mojo. Different sports communities have different vibes, not all of which are entirely supportive. Climbing, though, is a sport apart. I’ve had 5.12 climbers give me a “Nice!” at the gym after I’ve topped out on a 5.8. This after they stopped to watch me grapple with a problem and suggest a key move I didn’t see. And it travels to the top of sport. Not to name drop, but I’ve met Conrad Anker and Cory Richards, and I’m pretty sure if I’d said, “Hey, my microbus is out back; let’s grab our gear and head to Linville Gorge,” both would have been in the back asking “Are we there yet?” before I’d started the engine.
We started climbing and it came up that David had a mess of titanium in his elbow, courtesy of a mountain bike accident.
“You mountain bike, too?” I asked. We talked for a minute about where we like to ride. “So,” I asked, “you ever ride Morrisville?”
David smiled. He works for a retail developer that developed a parcel of land that previously played host to a popular, albeit illegal, mountain bike trail referred to simply as Morrisville. Rebel trail, trail developed on private property not in use, is common. Mountain bikers know such trail is ephemeral, that it can disappear overnight. Still, when it does … .
“I told my buddies, ‘If you want to ride one last time let’s do it today because we’re getting to work in their tomorrow.”
We climbed some, talked more. Soon it was time to head to work, to another day of deadlines. Work’s been a challenge. Before hitting the gym I felt like I’d hit the wall. After climbing the wall, I was ready to give my deadlines another try.read more
I began my journalism life writing about business, so sometimes, to my source’s surprise, I start asking more questions about marketing strategy and business plans than about nail-biting adventure. In some cases, my questions draw a blank stare. When that happens I make a mental bet with myself about how much longer this guy will be in business. Usually, though, there may be a brief blank stare — of surprise — before they light up and launch into all that is prudent to divulge about the business side of what they do.read more
I have various rules of thumb for when it’s too hot to do certain things. Over 80? Too hot to hike (sweat + overnight cobweb construction + lots of body hair makes me feel like a wad of cotton candy after a mile or so). I draw the line slightly higher, at 85, for running, mainly because of the skimpy apparel involved. I’ll paddle into the low 90s, but not on open, unshaded water. I can handle 90 degrees on a mountain bike; the calculation becomes more involved on a road bike. I’ll ride up to 95 on road, maybe higher if I don’t have to stop; few things are more demoralizing than coming to a stoplight after generating an 18-mile-per-hour breeze, then losing that breeze altogether. (Sweaty fact: 109 F is 42.777 C.)read more