New climbing facility will come out of the ground in Race City

New climbing facility will come out of the ground in Race City

Charlotte-based Cluck Collaborative Design will handle the design of the building

By Michael Mezquida. A new climbing facility in Mooresville will bring the sport of bouldering, rappelling and wall climbing to new heights.

The new Cliff Hangers climbing facility will cost around $4 million, according to brothers Keith and Kris Johnson.

Lake Norman’s first dedicated climbing facility broke ground in May. The 20,000 square foot facility will be completed by the end of the year.

With the help of several private investors, the two Generation X brothers purchased property at 326 Oats Road, adjacent to Lake Norman Tennis Center.

The Inner Peaks climbing center on Monroe Road in Charlotte is 13,000 square feet. Other indoor climbing centers are in Asheville and Fayetteville.

Millions of people worldwide have taken up the sport of indoor rock climbing; the number of climbing gyms has increased by 50 percent from 2007 to 2012, according to the International Federation of Sport Climbing.

Kris thinks the timing is just right for this kind of a recreation facility. Keeping fit is evolving from team sports to non-competitive individual fitness. But unlike running on a treadmill or lifting weights in a gym, climbing is a more social sport because people don’t typically climb alone.

Mountains to climb: Keith and Kris Johnson

Mountains to climb: Keith and Kris Johnson

“Climbing is on an upswing because of that; it’s a really fun way to get in a work-out,” Keith said. Both brothers, whose professional backgrounds include teaching and auto racing, have been involved in climbing, snow boarding and other outdoor recreational sports most of their lives.

“With the idea of trying to keep people occupied, we’re also going to have a cafe and bar with a fireplace lounge,” said Johnson. “It will be a cozy area for people to just relax and sit for a little while.” The brothers are already selling memberships, in the mid $500s for a full year; students are about $140 less. Lifetime memberships are in the $5,500 range; day passes will run around $15. Naturally, climbing leagues and birthday parties are on the agenda.

Johnson said people typically climb for about two to four hours, “But we’d like to keep them here for an entire day, where they don’t have to leave for lunch; they can have it here. We think we did a good job of designing a place like that.”

Its street-front siting and organic architecture will stand out in a neighborhood of mostly light industrial businesses.

Unlike the first generation of indoor climbing facilities, which simply set up in existing warehouses, the Johnsons have gone for bright, light and unique, not to mention functionality.

“Wherever we saw a place to put a window in we did so that there is a lot of natural light coming in. It’s got a lot of different unique features both aesthetically and functionally. It’s not prefabricated by any means, definitely custom built. We worked with the architectural team and the rock wall company to incorporate the best of what we’ve seen at other facilities that we visited,” Johnson said.

Cliff Hangers will not have a kitchen, but will offer light fare including coffee, packaged snacks, protein drinks and cold beer.

The three level, steel wall building is being designed by Charlotte-based Cluck Collaborative Design.


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