A home bouldering wall is an economic and very functional way to develop climbing skills away from the gym. A simple, 8- to 10-foot high wall provides ample room for traversing, problem-solving and customizable strength training. You can build a simple bouldering wall outside or transform a room in your house or basement, using easy-to-find materials.
Before you begin construction on your wall, carefully plot dimensions for wall panels and support structures. If you are transforming a room, use wall studs for wall support, and try to use wall corners to create challenging route options. To create a frame without a preexisting structure, use a studded panel design for the back of the wall. Connect this to a ground support frame using triangular bracing beams.
Construct the support structures using quality 2 by 4 framing studs. Begin with a square frame and attach the studs using framing nails or joist hangers. For added security, double up the planks that make up the frame using threaded bolts or use heavier lumber.
Drill holes for the climbing holds into 3/4-inch plywood. These holes are generally placed in a grid pattern with about 6 inches spacing. If you prefer to customize the holds, however, you can design your own pattern, so long as each hole has enough supporting material to hold the weight of a climber when the holds are bolted on. Fit each hole with a threaded nut to receive the grip bolts. Attach the plywood to the frame using quality wood screws.
Pre-made bouldering grip packages are available from a wide range of climbing gear manufacturers. These packages range in size from small, hold-specific groups to complete bouldering setups. Expansion packages provide options for enlarging or modifying your wall in the future.
Despite the benefits of packaged grips, however, many climbers prefer to fashion their own holds from hardwood blocks. This option is economical, and for an experienced woodworker, can provide a completely customized climbing experience with quality matching commercial climbing holds. Whichever option you choose, be sure to acquire a wide range of grip sizes and shapes to vary your training.
Securing the Holds
Bolt each grip to the wall in the desired configuration. Check each hold for security--they should not spin, wobble or otherwise move.