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Freestanding Climbing/Bouldering Wall and Gear Closet

The frame after the first day of construction.  It only has 1 leg on each side and the bolts do not have nuts on them.

Rock climbing guides have a lot of climbing gear- the perks of the job!  But having loads of climbing equipment requires a special place to store it.  This is the story of our gear closet, and the gear that comes and goes through it.

Welcome to the Gear Closet Chronicles!

Stone Adventures - Joshua Tree Rock Climbing Guides - Freestanding Home Rock Climbing Wall Frame
Stone Adventures - Joshua Tree Rock Climbing Guides - Gear Closet attached to freestanding home rock climbing wall

I decided that I would strengthen the wall by adding a second leg, and by adding feet, and bolting them all together.  I would then push the climbing wall to the far right side of the room and build an attached closet structure to hang and organize all of our gear!  I could store lots of large, lesser-used gear behind the wall, and keep accessible the things we use often.

I went back to Home Depot and spent another $40 on more screws, bolts and 2" by 4"s.  The cost of the climbing wall and closet combination hit $100.  That means that I have another $200 in the budget to outfit the office. 

Even after adding the second legs and feet, the wall was still a bit wobbly, although much stronger than before.  A bit discouraged, I continued on and started the closet portion.  I added a 4-legged structure with crossbars and screwed it to the climbing wall.  This combined structure made the climbing wall even stronger.  It was then strong enough to be climbed on!  Success!

07 Mar 2016

Stone Adventures - Joshua Tree Rock Climbing Guides - Freestanding Home Rock Climbing Wall Erected

The climbing wall with the attached gear closet, 2 legs and feet.  Climbing holds attached, routes set and gear organized!  Success!

I returned from a visit to my parents house in Michigan with the holds, bolts, and t-nuts of my old climbing wall from high school.  I had been trying to decide what to do with our garage/man cave in terms of developing our storage space (aka: the gear closet) and our office.  Well, adding a small climbing wall for under $100 seemed liked a good way to start!  The first step: get cleaned up and make a design.

We have lots of old carabiners, slings and ropes, so I used them to create lots of hanging attachments.  Now our climbing gear can be hung up for easy grabbing, and the other gear can be stored in bins underneath.  It provides good organization and easy access to all of our gear.  There is lots of storage space behind the wall as well.  Overall, for $1000 I am very happy with how things turned out!

After getting word from Annie that I should not attach the climbing wall to the structure of our garage, I had faced with the challenge of building a free-standing bouldering wall.  I decided to keep it simple and keep it to an 8' by 8' wall.  That means that it is exactly 2 sheets of 4' by 8' plywood, and the design of the frame will be much simpler.  Because of the height of the ceiling in our garage, a 35 degree overhang and 8' of wall should fit nicely.  Also, my former wall was the same size, so I knew I had the right amount of t-nuts and holds. 

I came up with the idea of building the frame and then using legs, or stilts, to prop up the wall.  I had large deck bolts from the old wall, and figured I would re-use those to bolt the legs on.  Kevin and I drove the van down to Home Depot and bought $60 of wood and $10 of screws.  We thought that was the entire cost of the supplies, but we would find out later that we were wrong.

The first step we did was to lay out the plywood.  We counted how many t-nuts we had and then drew out a pattern of where we would drill the holes for the t-nuts.  Then we laid both sheets of plywood on top of each other and drilled the holes through both pieces at the same time.  That saved a lot of time.  Then we hammered in the t-nuts and set the plywood aside.  We then made the measurements and cuts for the 2" by 4"s for the frame.  We assembled the frame inside, since it would be difficult to bring through the doorway fully assembled.  Next, we drilled 1/2" holes through the sides of the frame for the legs.  We slid the deck bolts through the frame and the legs, but when we attempted to puts the nuts on the deck bolts, we noticed that the bolts had been hammered and the threads were stripped!  Oh no!  That put an end to the days work.

The gear closet with lots of hanging space!

How to drive the screws through the plywood and frame with only 1 person!

Stone Adventures - Joshua Tree Rock Climbing Guides - Freestanding Home Rock Climbing Wall with Plywood Sheets Attached
Stone Adventures - Joshua Tree Rock Climbing Guides - Freestanding Home Rock Climbing Wall with full supports and rock climbing holds. Ready to climb on!

The Gear Closet Chronicles

Kevin and I discussed how I would be able to continue the process alone.  Having two people to build a wall is very nice because things are quite heavy and large.  The hardest part to do alone is to hold the heavy plywood in place to get it screwed on to the frame.  Kevin came up with the great idea of doing this solo.  He said to play the plywood on some bins, then put the frame on top of it.  I could crawl underneath and drive the screws.  Well, I gave it a try.  It was difficult, but I managed to get about 10 screws in this way.  There were just enough screws to stand the whole thing up.  I then added many more screws in the standing position, which was much easier. 

The wall is standing, but wobbly.  The plywood is thoroughly attached, but the frame needs strengthening.

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