Friday, October 13, 2006

It’s the dream of many climbers to have their own, indoor climbing wall. No more commutes to the local climbing gym to compete with the resident gym rats for wall time; you can just wander on down to your basement or your garage to climb on your own wall. Imagine, being able to invite your friends over for a midnight bouldering session or early morning send-fest. It’s not too tough to build a climbing wall, though a few different concerns do crop up along the way, some of which are often unexpected.
On of the first considerations to think about when you decide to build a climbing wall is where you’re going to put the thing. If you’re living in a full-sized house with a garage this may not be so tricky, but if you’re in an apartment or a condo it may be quite a bit more difficult. Perhaps the most ideal place to build a climbing wall is in a heated, unfinished basement. The exposed wall studs will give you solid attachment points, it’ll be out of the way, and it can be as small as you want it to be or as big as your garage. If you start small, you can always add on as well. Unfinished attics also provide good locations. Though if you build a climbing wall in your attic it can get extremely warm, especially in the summer, you’ll hopefully be climbing outdoors in the summer anyway. Garages also work well for home climbing walls, though a heated garage will make your winter climbing a lot more comfortable. Apartment dwellers can get buy, though it’s a lot more difficult. Extra bedrooms make great locations for at-home walls. If you must, it’s possible to build a climbing wall in your living room. Though the wall may be asthetically pleasing, if you use any chalk at all then chalk dust will soon coat most of your living room furnaiture.
Almost all climbing walls are built on the same general structure. A frame of 2x4s or, more commonly, 2x6s, is first setup in the general shape the wall should take, usually a stud every three feet or so. Most climbers build their home walls with a moderate overhang since it provides more training opportunities and harder climbing than vertical walls or slabs. The stud frame is then faced with ½” or ¾” plywood. Holes are drilled into the plywood and backed with t-nuts, and then holds are screwed into the front of the wall, anchored by the t-nuts. The entire wall is usually anchored to wall studs, though if you’re renting an apartment or house you may need to get a little more inventive with a less-permanent anchoring system.