Im always trying new things, though usually with more enthusiasm than skill. Years ago, I decided I wanted to get into rock climbing. Only problem: no mountains in Raleigh. I managed to find an indoor rock climbing spot out in Morrisville, and it was great. The workout was tough and left me sore for days, but the feeling of accomplishment and the experience of rising high into the air made up for it. But the drive was too far, and I let that hobby fall by the wayside.
But thats not a problem any more. In fact, it hasnt been for a while, but I just didnt know it. The Morrisville facility was the creation of the Triangle Rock Club, and they have a spot in North Raleigh as well. My hands are itching.
The business started as a partnership between two former Force Reconnaissance Marines, Andrew Kratz and Luis Jauregui. They hatched their plan in 2006, and the Morrisville facility opened in 2007.
And then Joel Graybeal got involved. He was working in the mortgage business, commuting to Dallas from North Carolina. When he heard about the Triangle Rock Club, he decided to check it out. He was in the inaugural Introduction to Rock Climbing Class, and from there started to get more and more into it.
We, over the course of time, built a strong friendship, he said of the two owners. I just started to help out my buddies.
He began essentially volunteering at the club when he wasnt working.
In 2010, he ended up leaving his job in the mortgage industry and needed to figure out what to do next.
I...decided I was going to take the next year off and see what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, he said.
He got more and more involved in the business, and eventually, the next step seemed obvious. The former Marines had never run a business, and Graybeal had a banking background.
We sort of got to the point where I said, I think I can help you guys, Graybeal said.
In 2012, he became a partner, and, after a competitor went out of business, the three of them decided to open the North Raleigh facility at 6022 Duraleigh Road. It launched last year.
And its crazy. In fact, both facilities are crazy, and theyre only going to get more so.
There are more than 22,000 square feet of climbing walls altogether in the two facilities. The Morrisville facility has 9,000 of those, and the North Raleigh one has 13,000. And an expansion to the Morrisville location (102 Pheasant Wood Court) is on its way. The partners are adding an additional 17,000 square feet with a top height of 55 feet.
Ask some of the climbing devotees, and youll find that the sport is almost more spiritual than physical.
Robin Eisenbeis got into it a few years back, and now her whole family is involved. She still remembers the first time she went to the Triangle Rock Club.
It was like we walked in and fell in love, she said. Its one of these sports where everybody in the family can do it together.
She said its good for her kids confidence, and its unique.
Its not soccer or swimming, she said. Sports that lots of kids do.
At the Club, you can take classes or join teams, but you can also just come out for one-off visits to see if you like it. And ask Graybeal, you probably will. Especially if youre one of those people who cant keep your New Years resolutions to shave the pounds off.
Graybeal said a friend of his put it best.
He said, For the first time in my life, I think I found an exercise and a sport I will never get tired of, Graybeal recalled.
I havent gone back out and visited yet, but Im hoping when I do, I fall in love. Because Im getting sick of the gym, and my metabolism isnt what it used to be.
Alex Granados writes about people, places and traditions in North Raleigh and beyond. Contact him at email@example.com.