Building A Home Climbing Wall
My "gym" is actually a cave, being a free standing cube (approximately 3 metres tall, and wide) with a roof and an inclined rear wall. The rear wall gets the most use because its steep gradient provides a tougher workout. The whole thing is just big enough to enjoy a free flowing bouldering session rather than being reduced to merely exercising the same moves over and over.
Above Right: Me mucking about on the roof of the cave. Left: View looking down from outside and above the cave, note the inclined rear wall recessed into the main vertical posts, which are concreted into the ground.
The cave is outside, and thus incurs the full sun and rain. To battle this problem we used treated pine for the load bearing structure, galvanised bolts, and those black panels for the walls are the water proof, super strong "marine board" sheets they put behind concrete walls. Whilst they are quite expensive they can take a real beating.
The holds are secured with T-nuts (pictured right) allowing me to move them at will from inside the cave. After a few seasons the bolts have become rusted making removal difficult, even though I used the expensive coated ones. If I was setting it up again, I'd just use cheap ordinary bolts with washers since access to the outside of the cave is easy and I don't shift the holds very often.
I picked up the holds at a bargain price from our local hold manufacturer because they were the "seconds" and unwanted ones from larger batches. A quick sanding with some emery paper to remove the excess resin and they're fine. The smallest footholds are about the size of a 10 cent piece and cost almost as much, then they range up to the larger roof jugs which I got for about $4 (AUD) each. If you're in the market for cheap holds, another source is the local climbing gym, who sometimes replace theirs with newer ones.
On the ground beneath the cave I've laid down wood chips, like they do at children's playgrounds. I've found this sufficient to cushion a fall, and less hassle than dragging an old mattress out every time I want to climb. Which brings me to another point; location. If you're looking to build a home wall, pick a location that is sheltered and easy to access. Believe it or not, but the novelty of having your own wall wears off pretty quick so the more comfortable and inviting you make it, the more likely you'll be to use it.
Size is another major consideration. My cave is just tall enough (over 3 metres on inclined wall), so that a bum start yields about four moves to the roof. Or about a dozen or so moves to traverse the three walls of the cave. If I was setting it up again, I'd make the incline wall steeper, more like 35, even 45 degrees. Or I'd look into an adjustable wall. The less wall surface you have the more of a workout you'll want to pack into that small space. A steep wall provides a pump. I've used a set of small crimps to increase difficulty, but I'd prefer more gradient.
Here's the sketches I drew up originally. We probably didn't stick to the plan completely, but it should give you an idea of the dimensions and timber required.
Home | Guide | Gallery | Tech Tips | Articles | Reviews | Dictionary | Forum | Links | About | Search