Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Backyard Climbing Wall

What Little Monkey doesn't want to climb?

When ours have more energy than can be safely confined within four walls, we always find it essential to have a selection of outdoor distractions.  After two trips to a local climbing gym, we decided that our own climbing wall would make a great new addition.

Fortunately, we had previously built a large play structure that was ensconced in a cushy layer of rubber bark.  One of its walls would be perfect for erecting a modest 10-foot wall for climbing and bouldering.

The first step was to assemble the materials.  Since the wall would be outside, this meant choosing materials that could weather the... well...weather.

I bought some pressure treated 2x4 beams from which to construct a frame, and two sheets of 3/4 pressure treated plywood to be used for the wall face.  The sheets needed to be prepped with deck wash prior to covering.  Fortunately, my helpers thought this was a fun task to do.
To anchor the holds, I created a template in scrap wood, and the Little Monkeys and I used it to mark out and drill mounting holes in the plywood, laying them out in a modified 8-inch grid pattern with every other row staggered sideways by half a column width.
To give it a nice grippy rock-like appearance, I bought a gallon of DeckOver textured deck coating in a dark gray color.  Since this stuff is normally used to repair damaged decks, I figured it would be perfect to both protect the wall and give it the durable surface for climbing.  The stuff is really neat and unbelievably thick.  It fills in cracks and crevices (enhancing the "rock" feel), and goes on more like drywall compound than ordinary paint.

200 Heavy Duty 4 Prong Zinc Plated 3/8" T-nuts (For 8' x 8' wall)Into the holes, we hammered in stainless steel T-nuts from the backside of the wall.  These would be used later to fasten holds to the wall with 2-inch stainless hex bolts.
Genuine climbing holds are easy to find on eBay.  I found a colorful assortment of 40 beginner-level "bolt-on" holds that fit the bill for about $70.  After mounting them to the wall, we were ready for some test climbing.
The Little Monkeys took to the wall right away... maybe a tad too quickly...

Part of the reason for making the wall was to give the Little Monkeys a place to get used to their climbing harnesses and practice repelling down after a climb.  So to make a top rope V anchor, I used 3/8" chain, bolts, wall hangars and locking carabiners, all in stainless steel.  

With that in place, they had their choice of bouldering and top rope climbing, and the wall was done.