How to Build a Bouldering/Training Wall at Home
As a lockdown once again consumes parts of Canada, many will look to their hanging boards and portable pull-up bars for motivation. One possible solution to the closed gymnasium problem is to build a wall at home. While this isn't a gym, it can be an affordable and fun solution to an otherwise difficult problem. […]

As a lockdown once again consumes parts of Canada, many will look to their hanging boards and portable pull-up bars for motivation. One possible solution to the closed gymnasium problem is to build a wall at home.

While this isn't a gym, it can be an affordable and fun solution to an otherwise difficult problem. Today we are going to discuss some of the ways a person could build their own wall.

Space cleaning - photo by Ilya Sarossy (Figure 1)

Space

Before you rush over to Home Depot with your list of plywood orders, take a look at the space you hope to build in. If you are renting out your space, it is possible that your landlord is not happy with your responsibility for the timber on their property. Do what you want with it.

Each space has its advantages and disadvantages. Now let's look at two common areas.

Outside

  • Benefits
    • Easy to clean
    • Easy to stuff
    • Easy to build
    • You can probably build a bigger wall
    • You can definitely climb bigger moves
  • Disadvantages
    • It depends on the condition
    • You better climb in the cold
    • Protecting the wall is a problem
    • If you live in a city and an exterior wall is an unlikely possibility
Side view of the frame (Figure 2)

Indoors (whether it is a basement, garage or other)

  • Benefits
    • Easy to protect from the elements
    • Comfortable climbing conditions
    • Easy to stuff
  • Disadvantages
    • Limited by space
    • Must be built in space
    • You don't go wild
    • Can make your space rather dirty quite quickly

Now that you've assessed your space, you need to choose a size for your board. Everyone has their take on this, but our editor doesn't think it's worth it unless you can really climb into space. If you find yourself lifting off the ground, making a movement, and then being on top of the wall, it may be best to just hang the board up.

View of the board from the rear (Figure 3)

The wall

If you're building a wall outside, go big.

Materials:

  • (12) 2x4x8
  • (8) 2x4x10
  • (5) 2x4x12
  • (4) 4ft x 8ft plywood
  • Sealant
  • Hundreds of 3.5 inch flat head screws
  • A few hundred 2 inch flat head screws
  • Electric drill and drill bits
  • circular saw

What do these measurements mean:

  • This wall will be 10 feet high, 8 feet deep and 8 feet wide. The length of the sloping portion of the wall will be 12 feet. If there is a kicker, it will be of a length that you determine.
Finished product, covered, side view - photo by Ilya Sarossy (Figure 4)

Build the sides

  • Lay two 8-foot boards 10 feet apart, creating two parallel lines.
  • Now lay two 10ft planks so as to fill the gap between these two planks.
  • Make a rectangle 8 feet wide and 10 feet high from these four boards.
    • It is important that the corners match superimposed (as shown in figures 5 and 6)
    • It is important that they overlap in the same way. For example, the two 10-foot boards should extend past the 8-foot boards
  • Take a drill bit narrower than your 3.5 inch screws and thread 4 holes through the two overlapping pieces.
    • Make sure the screws are equidistant from each other. This should make a square pattern on the corner.
Example screw model - photo by Cisco Juanes (Figure 5)
  • Do this at each corner, making sure the corners overlap perfectly. Thread your 3.5 inch flat head screws through these holes. All four corners should be screwed together at this point.
  • Now place 2 boards over 10 feet between the other 10 foot boards, equidistant from each other.
    • Route them and screw them in the same way as in Figure 5. Make sure that the edges of the boards are aligned against each other to make a near perfect rectangle.
Ilya Sarossy passing through the two boards - photo by Cisco Juanes (Figure 6)
  • With this complete, lay the 12 foot board diagonally from corner to corner
    • You will notice that it does not quite hit. To deal with this problem, pick a corner and place one end of the 12ft board in that corner. This will be the top of your climbing board. Slide the other end until it meets the 10 foot vertical strut on the opposite end. When they overlap as much as possible, hold both ends in place, route them with 4 holes for each end. Be careful not to drill through the flat head screws that you place from the 10-foot vertical fastener to the 8-foot horizontal plank. (See Figure 3 for reference)
    • Once routed, secure the boards with flat head screws. This diagonal will be one of the two runners that your sheets of plywood will ultimately rest on.
    • Where the diagonal meets the verticals, route 4 more holes. Screw the 12 feet to 10 feet in these places
  • Repeat this entire process to complete the other side. The only difference between the two sides should be the diagonal beam. The diagonal beams on the sides are intended to support the plywood sheets of your climbing wall as such they should mirror each other (Figure 3). Consider the term "reflect". If both sides are constructed the same, the diagonals will both face in one direction. If they are reflected, the diagonals should face each other.
  • The sides are now complete
One side finished and one side almost finished - photo by Ilya Sarossy (Figure 7)

Building the base

  • This part is much easier than building the sides.
  • Tilt the sides so they are straight.
  • Separate your two sides by 8 feet.
  • Secure the bottom corners with a 2x4x8
    • We will go to the front (the side of the wall where the open angle of the diagonals approach you; where the diagonal meets the corner)
    • We will go to the back (the side where the diagonal meets the 10 foot vertical pillar)
    • Adding these boards should produce an 8 foot by 8 foot square. The width of the square will be slightly less than 8 feet. This is because you will be lining up the corners with each other (Figure 8). Thread 4 holes then screw.
  • Your database should be complete
  • Your wall should be on a non-tilting base, with two sides facing the sky.
Addition of the rear plinth - photo by Ilya Sarossy (Figure 8)

Rear cross bar

  • Replicate your routing and screwing work at the bottom and do the same on the backend crossbar
The crossbar - photo by Ilya Sarossy (Figure 9)

The Council (where the catches go)

  • The 12-foot diagonal beams will have created a kind of slide, oriented towards the dashboard. Lay each sheet of plywood on this slide, end to end. You should be able to lay each of these sheets of plywood ABOVE THE 12 FEET DIAGONALS, so that the wall looks like a climbing wall, even though the plywood will not yet be attached to the frame.
  • You will notice that the sheets of plywood will not fit completely over the frame as the distance between the 12 foot diagonals will be less than 8 feet (as mentioned above). Cut the plywood to fit snugly into the frame. Do this with a circular saw (preferably) or a jigsaw. Be careful not to cut too much.
  • Now that each plank is suitable for your wall, run holes along the edges of the plywood on the 12 foot beams.
  • Screw these boards in place with 2 inch screws
  • Now place (3) 2x4x8 cross beams between your 10ft vertical pillars ((1) for each pair of pillars) and secure them to these pillars with 3.5 inch screws
    • Do this for each of the 3 rear pillars, but not for the front cross member. The front cross member will go last.
    • Use two screws per end.
    • Like plywood, you will need to adjust the size of the beams as the distance between them will not be precisely 8 feet (Figure 3).
  • Now place three 12-foot beams lengthwise along the corner of the board (Figure 3). One should go in the middle, while the other two should be equidistant from the middle to the edges. This will provide additional support for your wall.
    • Route four holes where the 12-foot beams cross an 8-foot beam perpendicularly. Secure with screws long enough to penetrate the overlapping beams without creating a hole in the climbing side of the board.
  • Secure the plywood edges to the 12-foot diagonal support boards you built when you built the sides. Do this with 2 inch screws.
Attaching the plywood to the internal frame - photo by Ilya Sarossy (Figure 10)

Kickboard

  • Install 1 of your plywood boards on the back of the wall. Attach the 4 foot ends to the 10 foot verticals. It will rest on top of the 2x4x8 board on the back ground
Installation of the dashboard, we kept the full board for storing the pads - photo by Ilya Sarossy (Figure 11)

The front cross member

  • Attach your remaining 2x4x8 as the front crossbar of your board. Do it in whatever way makes sense to you. Use 4 screws per corner if possible.
Front cross member - photo by Ilya Sarossy (Figure 12)

The final touch

  • At this point, your table should be almost finished. With the spare wood you have available, attach the protection board to the frame more securely. Using 2-inch screws, secure the plywood to the boards. Remember the route. (Figure 10)
  • Sealing your board is a good idea.
  • If your board goes outside, lift it on cinder blocks to keep it away from rain and snow.

What if you don't have a lot of space?

  • Simply reduce! If you want a precise angle you can do all kinds of math, but I find it easier to just watch it. As long as your board is over 30 degrees overhang you are going to get much stronger much faster, you can use a level as well.
    • For example, the board could be 8 feet high, 8 feet wide, 8 feet long, with 10 foot diagonals
    • If you must be less than 8 feet tall, it may be helpful to determine if a workout board is right for you.
    • This style of board can also be built indoors.

What about T-nuts?

  • You don't need it. If you want to define specific rocks they can be interesting, but if you are building a practice wall it is probably worth building your holds in 2x4s and screwing them straight into the wall. Wooden takes, especially the ones you make yourself with 2x4s are vicious, but rewarding. If you want polyurethane you can always screw them to your wall! Only chase T-nuts if you are willing to lose money

Risks

Please note that our editor is not a carpenter. It's a design that has worked for him and that he feels confident in. That said, there are inherent risks with construction both during construction and during climbing. It is important to manage your own risk and to make sure that your board is built safely. The best way to do this may not be as described above. Build critically. If something looks dangerous or missing, it probably is. Approach it.

The product - photo by Ilya Sarossy (Figure 13)

Image presented by Ilya Sarossy


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Rock climbing is everywhere these days. From the Dawn Wall to your Instagram feed to the new gym going up in town, climbing is no longer the fringe sport it once was. Kids are starting to climb almost before they can walk, and now more than ever, there’s no reason for you not to give it a try as well. However, climbing can be one of those intimidating hobbies to begin. Many ask, “How do I get started ? ” citing fear and feeling overwhelmed with gear and safety as huge barriers to entry. We get it, and so what follows is everything you need to know to get out on the rock.

The term “rock climbing” encompasses a great number of techniques, from bouldering to big wall climbing, to mountain climbing and mountaineering. Before you begin, it might be important to first identify what style of climbing you are interested in, or perhaps to ask, “Why do I want to climb ? ” Do you want to summit peaks, boulder at your local gym, or perhaps learn to lead climb at the local crag ? Do you want to make friends, be outdoors, or get in shape ( or all three ) ? Once these questions are answered, you can work out the potential steps you’ll need to take to get there. Below ( in the Sport vs. trad vs. bouldering section ) we attempt to inform this decision by breaking down the various genres of climbing; each has its own specific culture, gear, and learning curve.

Climbing is a complex sport : it’s potentially expensive to get into, difficult to find mentors, and can be dangerous if not done correctly. With the evolution of climbing gyms, however, it’s easier than ever to give climbing a try : just grab a friend and head to the nearest gym, rent a pair of shoes and a harness, and jump on the bouldering wall. However, if and when your progression leads you to climbing on ropes and outside, technical skills become essential to safety. Many choose to learn from friends; however, safety is so important that we recommend enrolling in a formal class. The easiest and best way to learn the essential skills, which include belaying and tying proper knots, is by taking an introductory course at your local gym. Or, if you’re interested in climbing outside or even more specifically climbing in the mountains, seek out a chic either through your gym or a local guide.

The first indoor climbing gym opened in Seattle in 1987. Now just 30 years later, there are 430 gyms across the nation, with over 50 more in construction at the time of writing. Areas like the Denver metropolis have as many as 10 gyms, all stuffed to capacity each day. Whereas climbers used to be a tiny community of mostly adult men with access to the wilderness, the climbing gym revolution has brought climbing to the masses. It’s safe to say that more people now climb indoors than outdoors. The climbing gym has developed its own culture, and climbing inside - “pulling on plastic, ” as climbers often say - is vastly different from climbing outdoors. It is arguably safer, much more convenient to access, and far more social; for these reasons, the gym is an génial place to begin climbing. Gym passes cost anywhere from $6 to $30/day, with monthly memberships being the best option for those who go regularly. Outdoor climbing takes place on boulders, on cliff bands, and in mountains - anywhere where there is solid rock, climbers can be found. Some of the most popular genres of rock to climb include granite, sandstone, limestone, basalt, and conglomerate blends. Each of these kinds of rock has its own style of climbing, from overhanging jugs much like gym climbs, to technical slabs, to splitter cracks. Climbing outdoors demands a higher level of spécialité than climbing in the gym, as there are more variables and risques on real rock. Weather can be a factor, as well as rock'n'roll fall. Climbers will also need to possess a great deal more gear to climb outside, including their own rope and harness, quickdraws or other protection, a personal anchor and locking carabiner, and a helmet. Although many climbers begin in the gym, some learn to climb immediately outside, most commonly with the help of a guide or an instructional course.

Rock climbing is generally broken down into three categories : sport climbing, traditional ( trad ) climbing, and bouldering. Climbers tend to specialize in or prefer one discipline over the others, though many climbers participate in all three. Sport climbing is a style of climbing where the leader attaches quickdraws to pre-existing bolts, looping the rope through the quickdraws for protection while ascending the cliff. Sport climbs are often one-pitch climbs where the leader then comes back to the ground after fixing the rope to the anchor, though in some cases these climbs might continue up larger faces for multiple pitches. As a discipline, sport climbing focuses on difficult movement, endurance, learning to face fears, and risking a fall ( and being caught by the rope, bien sûr ! ). Trad climbing is the most rootsy and historical form of climbing, in which the leader climbs weaknesses in the rock'n'roll ( generally, cracks ) and places gear in these weaknesses that will hold the rope in the case of a fall. Although trad climbs can be single-pitch routes like the majority of sport climbs, they often ascend features that are more than one rope length and end at a summit ( these are called “multi-pitch climbs” ). Trad climbers generally love long and adventurous days of climbing in wilderness areas, focusing on movement, logistics, technical rope and gear skills, and partnership. Bouldering is perhaps the most modern form of climbing, and certainly the fastest-growing. Boulderers ascend boulders or short cliffs ( generally 20 feet and under ), using pads and spotters at the base for protection instead of ropes. Bouldering is a form of climbing that focuses on difficult movement and problem solving, and is more social than the other techniques. We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention a few other forms of climbing : aid climbing, alpine rock'n'roll climbing, speed climbing, and deep water soloing. Pick your poison ( or shall we say passion ) : each has its own set of joys and challenges !

One of the first things you’ll learn when starting to climb is how to choose a route that suits your ability level. In the gym, climbs generally are labeled with a difficulty rating; outside, climbers use guidebooks and often a phone app called Mountain Project to identify the difficulty of climbs. In the U. S., climbs are rated using the Yosemite Decimal System; in bermuda, 5. 3 is a very beginner climb, and 5. 15 is an expert-level route. These ratings do not denote danger, only difficulty. As a beginner, you’ll most likely be choosing routes 5. 7 and under, and often routes that can be top-roped. Top-roping means that the climber establishes an anchor from the top of the climb so that the rope is already in place, rather than leading the route from the bottom. Many routes in the gym are set up with top ropes; outside, climbers can often hike to the top of the cliff or feature to drop a rope down over the climb.

Each discipline of climbing necessitates a different set of gear. For all variétés of climbing, however, a beginner will need a pair of climbing shoes. For just starting out in the sport, we recommend finding a comfortable pair of climbing shoes ( don’t be persuaded by the salesperson at your local gear shop to purchase painfully tight shoes ). Delicate footwork will come later in your climbing career; for now you will just be developing an ability to stand on your feet and trust the rubber of your new shoes. All climbers will generally want to carry a chalk bag and chalk as well, which they will either wear around their waist or keep on the ground ( sometimes the case while bouldering ). Climbers dip their hands into chalk to dry off sweat and keep them from slipping off the rock'n'roll. Boulderers will need the above two pieces of gear, in addition to a bouldering pad ( and friends with bouldering pads ! ). Bouldering pads are placed in the fall zone of a boulder problem, and the more the merrier ( and safer ! ). to climb on ropes both in a gym or outside, climbers will need a climbing harness. Climbing harnesses come in a range of weights and specifications - some for sport climbing in particular, some with larger gear loops or more padding for trad climbing. Harnesses need to be replaced every few years for safety reasons, so we again recommend purchasing an affordable harness and replacing it when you have a better understanding of your needs. Along with a climbing harness, it is essential to own a belay device and locking carabiner. This equipment will enable you to belay your partner in the gym or outside, and rappel if needed. If climbing outside, a helmet is extremely important in case of rock fall. The above-mentioned gear provides the basics for personal gear needed for a day of climbing or bouldering, either in the gym or with an experienced and well-equipped partner. If you are looking to buy gear so that you can be fully self-sufficient ( and not need a partner or a group with shared gear ) you’ll want to also purchase a climbing-specific rope ( 60-70 meters, 9-10mm in diameter, dynamic ), a personal anchor ( PAC ) or daisy chain, extra locking carabiners, cams, nuts, quickdraws, and slings. It is extremely important to buy new gear or to know the history and age of the gear if acquiring used. Both soft materials and metals degrade over time and with wear and should be carefully assessed before using.

We wholeheartedly recommend taking a course taught by professionals before attempting to climb or belay on your own. Climbing is inherently dangerous, though when done correctly can be very safe. After all of the proper skills have been learned, it is still incredibly important to stay on top of safety at every moment. Before leaving the ground, or transitioning from climbing to lowering/rappelling, there are a number of safety checks that must be completed.

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