How to Design a Rock Climbing Wall

How to Design a Rock Climbing Wall
Indoor climbing provides diverse training options in a controlled environment. Protected walls can be designed for specific training programs, skill levels and problem solving. At some point, however, many climbers tire of going to gyms to access these walls, and some plan and build their own climbing walls. While most climbers simply set up a short bouldering wall, some construct full top-roping climbing rigs. Extensive experience in climbing and construction is needed to safely build large walls; however, a 10- to 12-foot bouldering wall can be designed and built with fewer materials and construction demands.

Instructions

Difficulty: Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • ¾-inch plywood Framing studs or steel framing material Climbing grips T-bolts for grips
  • ¾-inch plywood
  • Framing studs or steel framing material
  • Climbing grips
  • T-bolts for grips
Step 1
Find a suitable location for your wall. A short bouldering wall can be set up in a spare room or basement, but a larger sport-climbing wall requires a great deal of space. Outdoor walls can be constructed with great success, but weathering increases maintenance demands.
Step 2
Rough out height, width, contours, corners and overhangs. Sketch or write down dimensions for every aspect of your wall and work off these plans.
Step 3
Design support structures. A short wall, less than 15 feet, can be supported by studded panels similar to house framing. Large walls, however, must have steel support structures. These frames must be strong enough to support the weight of the wall and climbers as well as the additional forces created by climbers' leverage and stresses caused by arresting falls. If you have little experience working with such materials, find a professional to assist with this step.
Step 4
Use square panels of ¾-inch plywood for the wall face with holes pre-drilled for climbing holds. Attach these panels with quality framing screws. You can also use preformed plastic panels that can be purchased from climbing equipment suppliers.
Step 5
Purchase varied designs of climbing holds, or fashion your own out of hardwood blocks. Plan for various route designs and difficulties so you can change your training regimen.
Step 6
Provide climbing protection with professional ropes, top-roping anchors and various permanent protection points on the wall. Bouldering walls need a soft landing area since climbers do not use protection on these short (10 to 12 feet) walls.

Tips & Warnings

 
Don't overextend yourself. If you have little experience with building design, hire a professional to assist you or begin by building a short bouldering wall. Climbing protection must be set up properly to be safe. Ask a professional if you do not have extensive experience with climbing equipment.
 
Don't overextend yourself. If you have little experience with building design, hire a professional to assist you or begin by building a short bouldering wall.
 
Climbing protection must be set up properly to be safe. Ask a professional if you do not have extensive experience with climbing equipment.

Article Written By Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson earned his Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from The Ohio University. He has been a professional writer since 2008, specializing in outdoors content and instruction. Johnson's poetry has appeared in such publications as "Sphere" and "17 1/2 Magazine."

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