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Garage Bouldering Cave
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By Matt McMurray
From Castle Rock, CO
Jan 19, 2007
It's the best choice...

I have been toying with the idea of building a bouldering cave in my garage, and I was wondering what expertise/experiences anyone might have re: the best ways to go about it. I've read the Metolius book on home gyms, but I was looking for some more personalized, "Do this... Don't do this, it sucks..." type of info.

MM


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By Old and Busted
From Centennial, CO
Jan 19, 2007
Stabby

Randy Leavitt wrote a how-to book that's pretty good. My own experience is don't make it all really steep, and it actually takes discipline to avoid buying nothing but jugs.


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By Chris Owen
Administrator
From La Crescenta and Big Bear Lake
Jan 19, 2007
There's more than one use for an Ice Hammer. Lake District (UK) late '70s

I built a climbing cave in my garage - it has three 8x4 plywood panels at 26 degrees, a vertical panel of the same size to the left, two 8x4 horizontal roof panels, and also at 90 degrees to the three overhanging panels 3 more 8x4's which are vertical (they're fixed to a storage cupboard, I'll make them overhanging one day.) Each panel was pre-set with about 60 t-nuts in a grid pattern. I use lots of jibs for feet and lots of slopers and jugs for the hands - I don't have many crimpers, as I'm prone to finger injuries. I have mattresses on the floor. I have bolt hangers along the roof panels, to practice clipping under physical stress. The whole thing has removable panels to facilitate storage (my drum kit is back there somewhere.) I have created routes and marked them with tape and even printed out a little guide sheet for when my mates visit (I encourage them to create new routes.) I tend to favor Entreprise and Stone Age holds. One can have fun with lighting. I have my old 60w Yamaha mixer and speakers in there - with iTunes ported from my computer.

Genrally the most fun I have in there is setting new and inventive routes.

All in all a great place to hang in the evenings when the weather is nasty, or it's dark - all I need now is a keg and I'll be set.


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By John McNamee
Administrator
From Littleton, CO
Jan 20, 2007
Artist Tears P3

Matt,

Even though I live pretty close to a climbing gym, about 6 miles I still built my own wall. Why, because at the end of the day if I want to get in a 15 minutes session to blow the cobwebs out I can do it and also I got really tired of the scene. So go for it...

Design
I would recommend that you start with pen and pencil and draw up lots of sketches. Once you have it down to two, draw them to scale, and then buy some high quality cardboard from a hobby shop and make scale models. It sounds a lot of work but it will be worthwhile for working out angles, material quantities and also how it is going to fit.

Once you have selected your final design, build a full scale replicate of the wall using cheap pvc tubing, broom sticks etc and black plastic sheeting. This allows you fully see what the thing is going to look like and whether it is going to work for you. With my current wall I had to make sure that I could still fit two subarus into the garage for storage if we are away overseas.

Materials
Materials are very important. Here in Littleton, I wouldn't recommend buying wood from Home Depot. They tend to have very low quality wood and its hard to find a straight piece. You want the straightest driest material only. Lowes has better stuff. I don't know how it is where you live, but sometimes these chains are pretty much the same regardless of where you live.

Use 6 x 2 for main supports. 4 x 2's are just not strong enough. Do a ton of bracing and supplement with plywood braces etc for corners. Use a good quality finsih plywood so you don't have to deal with bits bracking off.

Tools
You don't need a lot of tools, other than a drill, drivers, plane, saw, corner square etc. One thing that came in very handly was lots of clamps. I ended up borrowing about a half a dozen of them. This is particular important if you are building it by yourself, as holding a piece of plywood up and screwing in by yourself is a hell of a workout.

Holds:
I brought the majority of my holds from Wilderness Exchange in Denver, from the Metolius 2nd's bin. Great holds for a fraction of the piece of new ones. Hopefully, there is place close to you that you could do the same. Other holds I have include cheapholds which I really like as well. I have about 80 holes per panel in a random pattern.

Below is a picture of the wall. Its not large or steep but its a load of fun and it allows me to get a fix whenever I want too without having to deal with driving, parking or rapp music. If I didn't have to store the 2nd car I would of have the main wall steeper, but I can still get a hell of a burn from wall I have. I don't do routes or problems, its just for building contact strength

Start small and build as time and money allows.

Garage Woodie
Garage Woodie


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By Old and Busted
From Centennial, CO
Jan 20, 2007
Stabby

John, looks like your'e fortunate enough to have a nice high ceiling in that garage. Kind of a key parameter there.

One thing I read once was about padding. The idea was to use 2-3 layers of carpet padding, then 1-2 layers of carpet. Forces of impact (elbow, hips, etc.) are dispersed about the surface better than with a mattress.


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By John McNamee
Administrator
From Littleton, CO
Jan 20, 2007
Artist Tears P3

I have a 10 foot ceiling that kinda helps...

For padding I use an home made crash pads. They cheap to make and easy to store up in the ceiling. For foam I use 4 inches of soft foam glued to 2 inches of hard foam. I get the foam from work as this stuff is used pretty much in the packaging of servers etc. Sometimes I buy it cheap from Joannes.

Motivation, no problem, Its really easy to hang the ledge, drink beer and watch tv.

Tv
Tv


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By Ezra
From Fairbanks, Alaska
Jan 20, 2007
belay pitch 2

My roomies and i built this wall in a barn we have in the back of our house. It' about 700 square feet of climbing and fun. We started with the low incline wall on the left and than just kept adding and adding as we progressed. For plywood we ended up using shop grade T and G because it was much cheaper. Everything was screwed in. We used a simple grid pattern with some modifications due to braces and existing wood. T nuts are cheaper through some of the machine shops. can't remember off the top of my head who we went through, but most of the manufacturers you call seem to know what it's for and are happy to help. Just have fun with it and get creative. We put a small 45 degree wall on the right, that we actually don't use all that much because it's only one sheet across and hard to do much more with than big dynamic moves because of how narrow it is. One thing that I wish we would have thought more about was using small gaps in the plywood for crimpers and such. On the 45 degree wall (don't know how well you can tell) we used a screw up in our construction to make a nice small finger crack that is really fun. Play around with it. Major benefit is the ability to drink Jack Daniels without gym employees bringing the wrath. Old mattresses are everywhere. Check out freecycle dot com for old beds and things for padding. Being in a college town, kids are always moving and leaving old mattresses and cushions on the side of the road to burn or whatever they do. Don't know if any of this helps. Good Luck!


Barn 4
Barn 4

--- Invalid image id: 105911735 ---


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By Zappatista
Nov 13, 2007
Book me, officer.

This is really inspiring. I am not much of a boulderer; it takes a sexy boulder to keep my eyes off the cliffs and cracks up above. That being said our small home wall has me getting back into the groove a lot faster than I would if I had to deal with all the gym BS, which may or may not be worse in Vegas than it is where y'all live. I'm going to sketch out some plans, hopefully some photos soon.


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By Adam Stackhouse
Administrator
Nov 13, 2007
Courtright Reservoir, September 2013

John McNamee wrote:
I have a 10 foot ceiling that kinda helps... to hang the ledge, drink beer and watch tv.


Damn, and you still manage to park a car in there...good job!


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By Jordan Ramey
From Calgary, Alberta
Nov 13, 2007
What was left of the rack when I topped out on the last pitch of Snake Dike on Half Dome.

I made a small wall in the garage so that I could still fit two cars in. Since the wall was mostly at 90degrees, I just bought smaller holds. If I wouldn't have moved, I was adding a slight angel on the next panels. I also lived 3 miles from a climbing gym, but you can't drink beer and jack all night at the gym (something about insurance is what they told me). I didn't climb on it as much by myself, but people always wanted to come over and boulder, so I got out on it at least several times a week. I'm really missing it now that I live in a 1 bedroom apartment.


Dan cutting the ceiling for a roof brace

Putting the roof up

Finished.


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By Jordan Ramey
From Calgary, Alberta
Nov 13, 2007
What was left of the rack when I topped out on the last pitch of Snake Dike on Half Dome.

I made a small wall in the garage so that I could still fit two cars in. Since the wall was mostly at 90degrees, I just bought smaller holds. If I wouldn't have moved, I was adding a slight angel on the next panels. I also lived 3 miles from a climbing gym, but you can't drink beer and jack all night at the gym (something about insurance is what they told me). I didn't climb on it as much by myself, but people always wanted to come over and boulder, so I got out on it at least several times a week. I'm really missing it now that I live in a 1 bedroom apartment.


Dan cutting the ceiling for a roof brace

Putting the roof up

Finished.


FLAG
By Jordan Ramey
From Calgary, Alberta
Nov 13, 2007
What was left of the rack when I topped out on the last pitch of Snake Dike on Half Dome.

I made a small wall in the garage so that I could still fit two cars in. Since the wall was mostly at 90degrees, I just bought smaller holds. If I wouldn't have moved, I was adding a slight angel on the next panels. I also lived 3 miles from a climbing gym, but you can't drink beer and jack all night at the gym (something about insurance is what they told me). I didn't climb on it as much by myself, but people always wanted to come over and boulder, so I got out on it at least several times a week. I'm really missing it now that I live in a 1 bedroom apartment.

building the climbing wall
building the climbing wall

Dan cutting the ceiling for a roof brace

Putting the roof up

Finished.


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By Jordan Ramey
From Calgary, Alberta
Nov 13, 2007
What was left of the rack when I topped out on the last pitch of Snake Dike on Half Dome.

I made a small wall in the garage so that I could still fit two cars in. Since the wall was mostly at 90degrees, I just bought smaller holds, which meant it was mostly crimps and small slopers. If I wouldn't have moved, I was adding a slight angel on the next panels. I also lived 3 miles from a climbing gym, but you can't drink beer and Jack all night at the gym (something about insurance is what they told me). I didn't climb on it as much by myself, but people always wanted to come over and boulder, so I got out on it at least several times a week. I'm really missing it now that I live in a 1 bedroom apartment.

I ended up buying a lot of Atomik Climbing holds because they were really cheap and gave me free t-shirts for ordering from them. I really needed shirts without holes in them but refused to spend money on non-climbing paraphernalia, so it worked out well. They held up well and I'd buy them again. I got the T-nuts off ebay for some ridiculously low price and grid-bolted the 4x8 sheets. All in all, it was around $200 after materials and holds, but that was really skimping on a budget.

building the climbing wall
building the climbing wall

Dan cutting the ceiling for a roof brace
installing the roof
installing the roof

Putting the roof up
finished
finished

Finished wall, before we added the rest of the holds


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By Kevin Currigan
From Lakewood
Aug 15, 2008

Matt, I hope you love home projects. I put one in my basement:

Its finished; i.e., painted and trimmed with old climbing rope. The wall is 7' tall x 23' long with a 5' overhang and a 4'x 13' horizontal section.

We, my brother and I, put in 500 hours!

...spent $3,000 including 100 holds (Metolius, Nicros and another brand from Phoenix)

...made 22 trips to home depot and Ben 'jamin Moore (for paint).

We hand cranked all the t-nuts (around 500) with glue instead of using a hammer. Since its a semi-permanent deal I would consider 1" plywood next time.

If you are 1/2 carpenter and have all the tools (nail gun, brad gun, paint sprayer, air compressor, chop saw, cordless drill with socket drivers and every other kind of thing) you'll be good.

For the simple 5' overhang we used 12ea. 2x4s in support. Figuring the angles and installing the wood is an adventure.

I bought the t-nuts from a bulk supplier on-line and decided to "test" each one before installation. One in five would not take a bolt! I spent two or three hours with a tap screwing around with this item.

It seemed to take forever. Since it was in a finished basement the dust and paint over spray were major obstacles as were the 13 steps for every chore. We had to build a containment with plastic sheeting. We also had to trim around two windows and a door. These tasks added quite a bit of time.

If you do paint it use the backing rod method of plugging the holes and a sprayer. That was slick and the finished product looks professional. Of course, now it is covered in black marks from the shoes.

I am glad I have the thing. I use it a lot and it is really cool. Would I do it again? I don't know.

Good luck!


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By Charlie Jonas
From Jackson, Wyoming
Jan 23, 2013

I found this article to be a great resource when building my bouldering cave. For me purchasing 100's of holds was out of the question and Max (the author) shows some really creative substitutes. My favor is the ski binding toe peice crimper.


Looks a bit ghetto but it will get the job done! (you can see the ski binding hold if you look close)


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By Izzy Gifford
From austin
Jan 29, 2013
Europe

I am building a a small rock climbing gym in my garage and wanted some ideas for designs and angles. I have the size measurements if you need them for a reference all you need to do it reply and ask. :)


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By Drew Nevius
From Oklahoma
Jan 29, 2013
BETA: For me, crux move was sticking the move to the flake above these crimps

Andy Librande has some great ideas on his website: andylibrande.com/homeclimbingwall/


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By IamDman
Feb 6, 2013
avatar

I can't wait to until I move out of this apartment and into a home so I can build something like you guys have.


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By DevinLane
Feb 7, 2013

The only board youll need to get super strong at all angles -
Sixty degree 12' x 8'(height, width)

Maybe add a one foot kicker at the base. Avoid putting all jugs, as you can put a bunch of relatively small pinches and crimps without hurting your fingers. Even if you start out with large holds just fill the space with small screw on feet.

You'll never be bored, although you will likely never have repeat visitors because its so damn hard. But that's the point right?


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By B.R.
Feb 7, 2013

i would recomend making it simple.
a buddy and i did a lot of angles.
like panels coming in to form complex triangles and such.
features like edges and arretes tend to become part of every problem at that point if they are w/in reach.
we had more fun on the wider section of the wall that was well overhung.
we mixed sand in floor paint and rolled it on for a nice surface.
2 bigger sections of the wall are vertical and never get used.
i geuss think about what youre after as far as pitch.


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By jellybean
Feb 7, 2013

I have to agree with Devin. His description is almost exactly what I am running, but in addition to the kicker I also have a one foot head board( my woody is free standing outdoors). I am a carpenter by trade and have built or assisted in the construction of six home gyms and decided on the sixty degree wall because the ease and cost of construction (my wall cost only a couple hundred dollars and I built it in only a few hours) and because the angle works well. I found that trying to set worthy problems on less angled walls is challenging, unless long traverses are possible. Two of the horizontal roofs I've done are similar in that setting hard problems is difficult and dangerous (they were at ceiling height), another roof was at four feet and is safer/funner. If you have the space for the sixty degree wall it is an awesome workout and even my young children can make it to the top if they pay attention to their footwork.


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By Jacob S
Jul 23, 2013

Even a vertical wall can be made fun/challenging. I had only a small area to traverse but it included an arete/projection (structural concrete column)to go around and the holds were unique as I had carved about half of them. I had mostly small slopers, crimps, some small cracks and ledges. None of it more than about a flange deep.

I am a big fan of the wood hold, I really like mahogany and walnut as they carve easily and are pretty durable/dont get greased over. I would recommend ash too but it does not carve easily with hand tools and has a tendency to split if you go too small. Woods with a denser annular structure like cherry or maple tend to grease over too fast. Woods with less density won't hold edge details and also tend to split. The best part about the wood is that you can easily resurface a hold in a few minutes with a rasp or coarse sand paper.


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By Michael Plesser
Jul 23, 2013

For each section or wall angle give it at least five feet of width. Any less and you get chimneys or dihedrals which almost always end the same way when setting. I recommend a long wall of moderate overhang(25 degrees maybe)


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By Michael Plesser
Jul 23, 2013

For each section or wall angle give it at least five feet of width. Any less and you get chimneys or dihedrals which almost always end the same way when setting. I recommend a long wall of moderate overhang(25 degrees maybe)


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By Dylan Randall
From Paul Smiths, NY
Dec 23, 2013
Ian's Favorite Problem

@charlie jonas

digging the meathead films sticker


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