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climbing wall with real rocks
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By JustinS
Feb 13, 2013
I've got lots of extra lumber and a large barn. Would like to make some sort of climbing area but want to use real rocks. Anyone ever done this? I'm thinking that I'd have to have a certain type of rock and a counter sunk hole in it. I'd also like to make a few crack routes with longer, skinny flat rocks. Am I just being silly or is it possible? Any experts?

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By scott cooney
From La Casa Taco
Feb 13, 2013
11th hour of the Sundial
hammer drill and the right size bit and you'll be good to go. I've used jug sized rocks in the past of different rock types without issue. for the crack idea you'll need more than one bolt pre rock and that could be tricky to line up with a predrilled pattern.

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By bearbreeder
Feb 13, 2013
be wary of rock fall ... seriously ...

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By Gunkiemike
Feb 13, 2013
I've done it plenty (200+ drilled rocks). The hardness of the stone REALLY matters. In bluestone (type of grainy shale) you don't even need any hammer action, just a good carbide masonry bit in a 3/8" drill. I like sedimentary rock because it often cleaves to leave a flat side. Granite can be a real challenge esp. if there's quartz crystals in it. I've also had real trouble with some limestone. Uneven sides can be made level with some epoxy puttly. Be aware that if the barn is unheated, the holds will be very cold in the winter.

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By IamDman
Feb 13, 2013
avatar
that will be really cool! Post pictures please

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By Chris Rice
Feb 13, 2013
Anyone here remember the old Petrogrips made from real rock? Haven't seen them offered for sale for years now but I love them - we have quite a few of them at our climbing wall.

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By Ray Pinpillage
From West Egg
Feb 13, 2013
Middle
Ever considered just going outside?

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By Zach Myers
From Prescott, AZ
Feb 13, 2013
You could probably use pieces of granite or other rock without flat sides by using a masonry cutoff wheel. This would make a flat side and you could easily make something that could be bolted down flat to a climbing wall.

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By Andy Librande
From Denver, CO
Feb 13, 2013
Me in the Buddha Cave at crumblewood a while ago.
Chris Rice wrote:
Anyone here remember the old Petrogrips made from real rock? Haven't seen them offered for sale for years now but I love them - we have quite a few of them at our climbing wall.


I believe these are the same thing: synrockholds.com/

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By Ross Hokett
From Fort collins,Colorado
Feb 15, 2013
Super crack
The LCP climbing gym in Fayetteville, AR has a bunch of natural holds they are pretty sweet.

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By MTKirk
From Billings, MT
Feb 15, 2013
Me on Supercrack
You could buy the cultured stone or real veneer stones they sell at your local masonry supply, that way you wouldn't have to flatten out the backs. You could probably just bond them to your wall with a thinset mortar to keep from having to drill holes in them, course then you'd have to beat them off with a hammer & chisel to reset.

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By Bill C.
From Fort Collins, CO
Feb 15, 2013
You could also make holds out of wood. I don't think I've ever gotten pumped faster than when climbing on wood holds. Just cut the shape you want, sand it smooth and you're good to go. Sorry for the thread drift, just wanted to throw another idea in the mix!

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By ABB
Feb 15, 2013
Real rocks are a nice feature. Out of necessity they'll be med-large to large holds. Expect some to shatter. Sometimes best to use 3 bits to avoid shattering: 1/4, 5/16 then 3/8". I couldn't be bothered with counter-sinking. Too much time and greater chance of shatter. Apply layers of protective tape over hex-head when concerned about those sharp edges.

Start with rocks that have one reasonably flat (or flatter) side while avoiding those with cracks and get busy w/ roto-hammer drill. The bits will blow-out the back of the grips and make an irregular surface that will help keep holds from spinning. Skip the wet tile or masonry saw for reasons too numerous to mention...unless you own a saw capable of 6" cutting depth. After initial install of all holds, re-tighten all after a few months as ply-wood dries/compresses.

Wood holds are slippery and get more slippery. OK for 'wrappers' but slopers, no thanks. Oak holds are good for axe picks but not my tender flesh.

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By Joe Stark
From Iowa
Feb 15, 2013
Warming up
I drilled out a dozen limestone holds a few years ago; they broke easily and didn't last long.

Giving up on that idea, I made a hundred or so out of fiberglass resin. Sculpt a foam prototype and make a mold; you can pour multiple holds in a relatively short span of time.

I've been told by a hold-shaper I know that fiberglass resin holds break easily, but I've yet to break anything aside from smaller foot jibs. Most have seen heavy use for three years now.

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By Drew Nevius
From Oklahoma
Feb 16, 2013
BETA: For me, crux move was sticking the move to the flake above these crimps
Like Ross mentioned, Richard at LCP (La Casa Pollo) in Fayetteville, AR used a lot of natural sandstone rocks as holds (mainly on his outdoor walls). If I remember right, most of the ones he used were about 6-8" diameter and he attached them as screw-ons rather than bolt-on holds. 3-5 screws per hold? Makes sense to me that this method would be less prone to breaking the holds and would be a good idea when dealing with softer stones (as opposed to something like granite)

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By Dan Felix
Feb 16, 2013
Check eBay, there are natural holds listed there often.

I'm thinking of making my own as well, but I also have a large supply of rock scraps at work plus rotary hammers and 14" demo saws...

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By Michael Schneiter
From Glenwood Springs, CO
Feb 16, 2013
Goofin' on the Grand after soloing the Upper Exum with my wife.
I've seen a few walls where people glued real rocks to a concrete wall and it was super bomber. It's also permanent and you can't change the holds out but could be a good way to put in small holds for feet and crimps.

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By Travis Dustin
From Hollis, NH
Feb 16, 2013
NH
I work with stone and the best way to go is find some larger size stones, and cut a flat face on the back and drill a hole (preferbly countersunk) into it. Lots of the stone will break when drilling so get some extras. If you're in the MA area Ill cut some stone for you at my shop!

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By Dan Felix
Feb 16, 2013
Travis Dustin wrote:
I work with stone and the best way to go is find some larger size stones, and cut a flat face on the back and drill a hole (preferbly countersunk) into it. Lots of the stone will break when drilling so get some extras. If you're in the MA area Ill cut some stone for you at my shop!

I figured I would drill, then cut when possible. Would save a blown out back of the stone, if nothing else. We tend to have scraps of salvaged granite curbing laying around, so it would be the perfect size.

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