I Built A Home Rock Climbing Wall!

Please note, this post is over 3 years old and may contain broken links, outdated views and cobwebs.

Maggie spotting Andy on our backyard rock climbing wall.

As the title says… I built a home rock climbing wall!

Actually, I can’t even pretend that I did this on my own. A lot of people heavily contributed to this bad boy as it evolved over the past few years.

Our rock climbing wall was born in January of 2010 in a “man cave” in Hawthorne, CA. Dan Pacifico and I wanted to be able to build our climbing strength, and we had a ton of room in the garage to work with. We decided we’d just put climbing holds all over the place.

First set of climbing holds

This was the first set of climbing holds that I purchased from REI. We have a lot more now.

We soon realized that this would turn our walls into swiss cheese, so we decided to attach some plywood to the wall, and fill that with holes (for “t-nuts“). And thus was born…

v1: The Original Wall-Mounted Rock Climbing Wall

First, we built a frame, the outer dimensions measuring 8’x8′.

Rock climbing wall frame

And attached two 4’x8′ pieces of sheet plywood to the frame. We then attached this 8’x8′ wooden climbing square “wall” to the actual wall using some fancy brackets.

Dan placing rock climbing wall on garage wall

And it was good.

Home rock climbing wall secured to garage wall

Rock climbing holds are attached to the wall via bolts. The bolt goes through the climbing hold, then through the wood, and finally into the barrel of the t-nut.

We didn’t waste any time getting holds up on the wall.

Dan placing holds on wall

This was the first time that either of us had ever set routes. We figured it out as we went, and had a lot of fun in the process.

Dan climbing on a freshly installed rock climbing wall

The top of the climbing wall was about 9 feet off the floor, so we didn’t have a whole lot of vertical room to work with. This forced us to get creative with our routes.

We were stoked to have a home bouldering wall, but Miki pointed out to us that we now had a gigantic canvas hanging in our garage. So she made it look cooler.

Adding art to the garage rock climbing wall

The rock climbing wall got a lot of use in that garage, as evidenced by the black climbing shoe scuff marks all over the bottom.

Wall-mounted bouldering wall with holds

I loved opening up the garage doors on a nice day and letting the cool breeze blow in… And loud death metal flow out into the neighborhood.

When it was time for us to move out, I couldn’t bare to leave it behind…

Moving the rock climbing wall out of the garage

So Andy and Paul packed the climbing wall, along with everything else in the house, into the U-Haul (while I partied scott-free at Coachella!) and the wall followed us to our new home in Marina del Rey.

Andy and the climbing wall in the U-Haul

Unfortunately we didn’t have room for it in the garage at the new place, so… We decided to build a frame for the wall so that it could stand on its own.

v2: Free-Standing Wall with External Frame

We didn’t have a concrete plan right off the bat, so we put our thinking caps on… And took our shirts off.

Preparing the rock climbing wall for a new frame

We drilled some holes (for bolts) into the side of the wall. This particular step doesn’t really require a visual, but I kinda dig the photo.

Andy drilling holes in the rock wall

We then propped the wall up with some 4x4s.

Propping up supports for rock climbing wall

These 4x4s were vital in supporting the wall and allowing it to stand on it’s own, so they were connected to the wall with some big ol’ bolts.

Connecting frame to rock climbing wall with bolts

We cut two right triangles and attached them between the new supporting 4x4s and the wall itself to provide additional support and stabilization.

Adding additional support to rock climbing wall

This new, freestanding rock climbing wall ended up being even more awesome than it’s garage-dwelling predecessor.

Andy climbing on backyard bouldering wall from above

Stepping onto my back patio and climbing in the warm California sun, and occasionally catching a cool ocean breeze (we’re less than a mile from the beach) is pretty much the greatest thing ever.

Rock climbing lunch break

At this point, we’ve gotten much better at coming up with routes. We even brought in an intern route setter.

Makena setting routes on the climbing wall

The majority of the holds that I have at this point came from Element Climbing, who make awesome climbing products.

Our lease is up this month, and the home climbing wall may not be coming with me to my next home. As it turns out, yards are hard to come by in Southern California! Then again, the climbing wall may just end up bolted to the wall in my living room… Only time will tell.

If you’re interested in building a rock climbing wall for yourself, just make it happen! We talked about it for a while and then one night we decided to just get in the car and head to Home Depot and figure it out. Once we took that step, everything else fell into place very quickly.

If you’d prefer to take a more structured approach towards building a climbing wall, there are a lot of guides out there, but I think it’s also dependent upon what you have room for. I’d like to think that at some point in my life I’ll have a lot more space (and disposable income) to work with, and I’ll build a much higher wall, as well as a nice big wooden training board.

For now though, I’m happy with what I have, and my local climbing gym (in Santa Monica) isn’t too shabby either.

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6 Responses to I Built A Home Rock Climbing Wall!

  1. Dan
    May 3, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    Awesome post. I miss that climbing and i’m also glad to see that it’s gotten a lot mileage both literally and figuratively

  2. JA Vantine
    May 3, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    Very instructive and a great read. Keep up the good work!

  3. M.Raphael Vantine
    May 6, 2013 at 2:54 am

    I don’t imagine Ithat I would even be able to get off the ground onto the wall you built. But I’m proud of what you accomplished and happy about all the enjoyment it brought to you and your friends (and fellow wall builders!)

  4. Bev Bogan
    May 6, 2013 at 10:49 am

    Love the wall and what you did! Hope you keep getting to enjoy it when you move.


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