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AHA fosters and supports community efforts to make healthy eating and physical activity the way of life in Wake County.

Climbing to New Heights: Confidence and Activity Levels

AHA Partner in the Spotlight: Triangle Rock Club

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Triangle Rock Club offers a lot of opportunities for youth and adults to learn to rock climb safely and efficiently.

With 9,000 square feet of climbing terrain and 16,000 additional square feet coming by the end of next year in an expansion, Triangle Rock Club (TRC) in Morrisville will be the largest and tallest indoor climbing gym in a five-state region. And all that climbing space (and height—24’ walls now and 50’ walls in the new facility) translates into a lot of opportunities for children and adults in our community to get a whole-body workout and build confidence in this growing sport.

“Rock climbing is all about problem-solving,” according to TRC Managing Partner Joel Graybeal, who led AHA on a tour of the facility last week. “So we teach techniques to help you get up the wall efficiently and safely, and we are building confidence every day as climbers master new routes and get a whole-body workout at the same time.”

TRC features a top-out boulder for high-intensity, short duration climbing.  The outer walls provide climbing terrain  for top-roping and lead climbing routes.  “With a 10-person team making changes every week to the routes and courses, the climbing possibilities are limitless,” Graybeal said. “We never put up the same route twice – the gym is always evolving in terms of terrain.”

groupTRC literally has something for everyone with classes for beginners to advanced climbers, and all age groups. In addition to open gym hours and range of instructional classes, TRC offers summer and track-out camps for grades 2-8, with four different themes: Fun and Fitness Camp, Survival 101 Camp. Mach 1 Camp and Mountain Exploration Camp. In addition to teaching climbing, the camps also focus on character development, growing confidence and building courage through climbing-based activities. Plus there’s just a lot of fun. Climbing dodge ball and human foosball are only two of the fun camp activities Program Coordinator Dan Ryan has up his sleeve for campers. Summit Camp, a five-day camp for youth 12 and older, includes four days in the gym followed by a full outdoor trip to put all the learning into action at Pilot Mountain.

TRC’s Scouting Saturdays provide children in the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts and Venturers programs to get acquainted with indoor climbing, and TRC partners with the YMCA of the Triangle’s Y Guides and Princesses program to provide fun outings that introduce people to climbing. Weekends often bring overnight “Lock-Ins” where groups have the entire gym to themselves with a belay class, instructors available throughout the lock-in, and more.  And many families are choosing TRC to host an adventure based birthday party.

Partnering with Schools

TRC color JPEGAnother partnership TRC values is working with schools in the area. In October, East Cary Middle School started bringing groups of 50 sixth graders to the climbing facility as part of the school’s healthful living curriculum. “It has been phenomenal for us to have this partnership with TRC,” said P.E. teacher Mike Smith. “To bring a child to a different environment and expose him or her to a different way of exercising and have fun is just phenomenal. The kids think it’s just about climbing rocks, but they are overcoming fears and feeling confident, and it’s something the students are really proud of.”

East Cary Middle Principal Dr. Kerry Chisnall learned about TRC when he was preparing to participate in a Special Olympics fundraiser where he would be called on to rappel the side of the Wells Fargo Building in Raleigh. Graybeal read about this endeavor in the newspaper and invited Dr. Chisnall to prepare at the gym. He, in turn, liked what he saw and experienced there, and felt it was a great opportunity for his students. This week, the third group of sixth graders will take a field trip to TRC, and the school will continue to schedule the field trips until the entire sixth grade class has visited the rock climbing facility.

Both Dr. Chisnall and Smith report the students love their time at TRC. The students are there for about an hour and half for getting outfitted in the harnesses, instruction on safety and rock climbing, and then they are on their own to climb and explore. “They have a ball. They don’t even know they are learning skills to help them succeed in life while they are having fun,” Smith said. Graybeal had shared that rock climbing is very much a mental sport in which you are problem-solving and figuring out the best path  to take and the most efficient way to get to the top. Smith sees this in action when he takes his students there, and he said it’s a great way for students and teachers or families to bond.

For those climbers who are ready and interested in putting their skills to the test outdoors, Triangle Rock Club leads trips to Pilot Mountain.

For those climbers who are ready and interested in putting their skills to the test outdoors, Triangle Rock Club leads trips to Pilot Mountain.

To build further on its interest in keeping children active and partnering with schools in the community, TRC has created a new program called Sunday Night Fun Climbs. Brier Creek Elementary School (BCES) recently hosted students and families for a fun night of climbing to kick off their First Annual Health & Wellness Week.

Graybeal said the event was so well received that TRC has changed its hours on Sunday nights to allow this new program to take place.  Schools and non-profit organizations can host an active and fun fundraiser, and take home 33% of the night’s proceeds (excluding food and drink). The event features climbing activities with some additional games depending on the group. The gym is open exclusively for these events from 6-8:30 pm on Sundays with admission and harness rental  at $10 for kids and $15 for adults (12+); groups of 60 climbers and up to 60 spectators may attend. Graybeal also said that groups may bring in outside food and drink for additional fundraising opportunities if they wish, and they just need to contact TRC to schedule and coordinate.

Visit Triangle Rock Club online or contact Joel Graybeal to learn more about TRC’s programs and how you, your family or your organization might climb to new heights!

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