Mountain Project Logo

Indoor Wall Gear

Original Post
Offbottom Climber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2019 · Points: 0

Hey Folks,

I don't have a clue about this, but I've built a 30' indoor climbing wall for my teenagers in my barn.   I have two VERY SOLID 2" rings mounted on the ceiling.
I looked at the apparatus that catches the climber in the event of a fall and they are ridiculously expensive -- something like $2000.  So now
I'm thinking just a system of ropes with a harness and I stand on the ground and become the counterbalance if they fall.

Question is, what all do I need to accomplish this?

I appreciate good advice, but spare your time if you are going to write a 5 word answer describing what a bad idea it is.  Plan B is a stack of old mattresses.

Thanks!

Chase G · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jun 2017 · Points: 161

5 word answer: Why not just belay them?

Vince Buffalini · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 203
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CFIz4cBFVro

All of your answers are here
simplyput . · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2013 · Points: 60

Turns out people have been doing this for awhile.

EFS · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 160

lets see some pics of that wall!!!

that said, unless you have anchor points that are capable of taking the forces of  a lead fall, just top rope them....

https://clige.me/fall-calculator

Cole Paiement · · Salt Lake City, UT · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 250

Based on your post, it doesn't sound like you are a climber. I would HIGHLY SUGGEST that you (and your teenagers) take a basic toprope safety and belay course to learn the basics. You should be able to do this at REI or your local climbing gym. A fall from 30' could be seriously bad so it is important that you learn the proper way to belay, how to set up a safe system, and what gear you need.

Even experienced climbers make mistakes and drop one another on occasion, so I need to stress again how important it is that you take a class!

In total, buying all the gear and learning to belay will be much less expensive than an auto-belay (the "apparatus" you mentioned):

60 meter climbing rope (enough for two 30' topropes): $150
2 harnesses: $100
1 Grigri: $90
Top Rope Climbing Class: $40 at my gym in SLC 

Andy Eiter · · Madison, WI · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 131
Cole Paiement wrote: Based on your post, it doesn't sound like you are a climber. I would HIGHLY SUGGEST that you (and your teenagers) take a basic toprope safety and belay course to learn the basics. You should be able to do this at REI or your local climbing gym. A fall from 30' could be seriously bad so it is important that you learn the proper way to belay, how to set up a safe system, and what gear you need.

Even experienced climbers make mistakes and drop one another on occasion, so I need to stress again how important it is that you take a class!

In total, buying all the gear and learning to belay will be much less expensive than an auto-belay (the "apparatus" you mentioned):

60 meter climbing rope (enough for two 30' topropes): $150
2 harnesses: $100
1 Grigri: $90
Top Rope Climbing Class: $40 at my gym in SLC 

And a locking carabiner (rated for climbing): $15.

John Reeve · · Durango, formely from TX · Joined Nov 2018 · Points: 5

"I'm thinking just a system of ropes with a harness and I stand on the ground and become the counterbalance if they fall."

Yeah, that's it.  What you're wanting to do is called "top roping".

But take the toprope class, as everyone else has suggested.

I personally feel okay doing "top rope solo", but I wouldn't advise someone who isn't already a competent climber to work that way.

Offbottom Climber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2019 · Points: 0

You guys are a fount of knowledge -- really appreciate the help.  The guy with the 5 word answer would have helped too if I knew what "belay" meant.  Guess that's a Google question.  Part of my problem is that I don't even understand enough of the vocabulary to get started in the right direction.  Anyway, all very helpful comments, now I have more research to do.   Part of which is finding a  toprope class somewhere near Lenorah, Texas.  (Google again!)  Haha.  I'll try REI the next time I'm in Denver.  Sincere thanks.

Andrew Child · · Corvallis, Or · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 846

How does someone manage to find this forum and not know what top roping is? Is this just trolling? Did everyone already know that and they're just playing along? Am I out of touch with today's youth?

SICgrips · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2012 · Points: 80
Travis Bieber wrote: Go to youtube and look up "top rope solo" it will teach you everything you need.

Unless this was a joke, an extremely bad idea unless they are experienced (which they aren't).

Eric J · · St. Louis, MO · Joined Feb 2019 · Points: 0
Andrew Child wrote: How does someone manage to find this forum and not know what top roping is? Is this just trolling? Did everyone already know that and they're just playing along? Am I out of touch with today's youth?

Imagine you know nothing about climbing, and want to ask people on the internet about climbing techniques. Maybe in a forum of some sort. So you go to google and type in "climbing forum". Take a wild guess what the first result is.

Tim Page · · Bend · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 10
Matthew Campbell · · Redondo Beach, CA · Joined Feb 2019 · Points: 0
Offbottom Climber wrote: You guys are a fount of knowledge -- really appreciate the help.  The guy with the 5 word answer would have helped too if I knew what "belay" meant.  Guess that's a Google question.  Part of my problem is that I don't even understand enough of the vocabulary to get started in the right direction.  Anyway, all very helpful comments, now I have more research to do.   Part of which is finding a  toprope class somewhere near Lenorah, Texas.  (Google again!)  Haha.  I'll try REI the next time I'm in Denver.  Sincere thanks.

Looks like Siloville over in Hico might be your closest, but they close for August and September. Might still be worth calling them up to see if they have some advice on where to find more resources. I found them on the MP Gym Finder tool.

It sounds like you have a decent space for a home gym! Rest assured you don't need one of the expensive auto-belay winches, but you will want to know how to top rope belay (rope runs up to the top anchor and down to the climber, pulley-style) safely. Note: climbing ropes will wear a groove in even good steel over time, so you'll probably want to attach something replaceable to your ceiling to run the ropes over.

While you're learning and building the top rope section, you could look up some videos and instruction on "bouldering". This is climbing a relatively short distance (start with 8'-10', but going up to 15' with proper padding on the ground) without a rope, but with pads to fall on. This way, you can set up the bottom half of your wall and your kids can start learning the basics safely, while you learn what you need to build a safe top rope setup. You'll want a nice, thick "crash pad" made specifically for climbing, or one of the thicker gymnastic mats used to catch acrobatic falls. A 2" wrestling mat won't be enough padding for a fall from the top of your "boulder". You should also look up instruction on "spotting", which is having a second person stand behind the boulderer. Their job is not to catch the climber if they fall, but just to help them fall on their feet instead of their head if they slip. Combined with a nice, thick pad under the climber, this will prevent most fall injuries from a low (waist at 8'-10') fall.

If you haven't already, it is a good idea to look up some information about how to build a home climbing wall, which is also called a "woody". This video is geared toward a non-climber audience, and hits the high points of how to make sure your wall is secure and how to attach the holds. REI and Climbing Magazine also have good articles covering the basics.

Edit to add: go slow, stay safe, ask questions. Maybe make a local call-out at your church or local community center for any parents with climbing experience.
Tradiban · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2004 · Points: 11,620

Following 

Slurm Charmsworth IV · · EUREKA, CA · Joined Jun 2018 · Points: 10

It's not out of the realm of possibility that one or both of these teenagers could become the next big thing in rock climbing. All because of the helpful advice dispensed in this thread. 

Ryan Williams · · London (sort of) · Joined May 2009 · Points: 1,245
Andrew Child wrote:Am I out of touch with today's youth?

Even today’s youth is out of touch with today’s youth. 

Offbottom Climber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2019 · Points: 0

Thank you all for such helpful advice and words of encouragement about this project. I thought I might chime in one more time with a few details so you’ll have a little picture of where this is headed and why.I’ve attached a picture of the wall, just shy of 30’ tall. At the very top you can see one of the two rings mounted on the roof. The plywood is 7/8” subfloor bolted to the steel beams that are the sides of the barn. Hell for stout. That black square is actually a high window to let light in my barn. It just happened that it was dark outside when I took the picture.

I discovered they sell all sizes, shapes and colors of hand holds on ebay, so I bought a variety of a few hundred. Rather than just randomly scatter them across the wall, I’m trying to come up with a strategy where there are “easy” routes and “hard” routes. I’ll use a scissor lift to get high enough to screw the holds to the wall.  One complexity I haven’t resolved is how to place the holds for various heights of climbers – seems like what might be too easy for tall folks is too hard for short folks.

The genesis of the whole project was in pursuit of a means to get my kids off the phone and video games and when their friends come over give them something fun to do of an athletic nature. I have two girls, 13 and 15. Both are good athletes, one is a national champion gymnast (see photo, she would the one on the top podium from Nationals in Iowa last month) and the other is a cheerleader (or as I call it, in the “drama club”).  It won’t take much to get them interested in climbing, by nature they enjoy doing this sort of thing. If you build it, they will come.

Much of the valuable advice from you folks has addressed safety and believe me, not a word of that has gone unheeded. The moment I die, the only thing of importance that I will leave on this earth are these girls (and older brothers, now in college). So no question, if I am going to overkill something it is to make sure no one falls. I’m thinking that when it’s done we will “practice” about 100 falls from about three feet to make sure that everything is going to work right before it counts.

I’m still studying the top rope system but have the general idea. That is going to work fine. I’m gaining the vocabulary a bit at a time – before long I’ll have a pretty good working knowledge. Before we actually try it for the first time I’ll see if I can find a class or at a minimum, make a trip to somewhere where someone that really knows can instruct me.

You all have been kind to bear my total lack of understanding on this whole affair.  Like someone on this board put it, if you got on the internet to try to figure out how to drill a well in your backyard you would shortly be overwhelmed with a dizzying array of terms, equipment and procedures that would take months to digest on your own. But if someone cut through all that and got you pointed in the right direction pretty quickly, your learning curve would be a lot shorter. So – thanks again. I’m on the right path. I’m pretty sure this will be the only climbing wall between Dallas and El Paso (about 600 miles). I’ll try to remember to follow up with a picture when it’s done.


Anonymous · · Unknown Hometown · Joined unknown · Points: 12,430

Holy smokes!  Nice.  

Typically holds are secured with a hex bolt inserted through the front that is secured by a t-nut on the back of the wall.  It is not uncommon to drill a grid across the wall, say 12” apart, and insert t-nuts into the back of every hole.  Then, you have near infinite variability to mount holds anywhere on the grid.  Some holds do in fact screw directly to the wall but those will likely be the little ones that aren’t big enough to have a bolt go through them.  

As an aside, I think someone is selling a bunch of t-nuts on this forum right now.

Don’t worry about setting routes for differing height climbers.  Get holds on the wall and they will find creative ways to use them regardless of climber size.  When the skill level comes up, you, or they, can set routes to challenge themselves or each other.

If it’s not too late, this would be a good reference:  https://www.amazon.com/Building-Your-Own-Climbing-Wall although it looks like you are well on your way.  

As for the belaying and technical skills, you can learn a lot (enough to keep you from killing yourself) from basic climbing instructional books particularly those focused on toproping like this one: https://www.amazon.com/Toproping-How-Climb-Bob-Gaines but I too think finding a basic intro class at a climbing wall somewhere would ultimately be the best for anyone who was going to use your wall.  

Feel free to pm me if you have any questions.  I built my first woody on the end of my parents’ house when I was 14.

Cheers. B

Malcolm Daly · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 380

Oops. Unfortunately the t-nuts need to be inserted from the back of the climbing wall boards. Maybe you can access from the back? Be sure to get the right sized t-nuts that fit the standard size bolts. Not sure what that is but I’m sure they’re all the same. Drill a 10” x 10” grid of holes and pound the t-nuts in from the back. 

Good luck. 
Mal

djh860 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 110
Malcolm Daly wrote: Oops. Unfortunately the t-nuts need to be inserted from the back of the climbing wall boards. Maybe you can access from the back? Be sure to get the right sized t-nuts that fit the standard size bolts. Not sure what that is but I’m sure they’re all the same. Drill a 10” x 10” grid of holes and pound the t-nuts in from the back. 

Good luck. 
Mal

There are plenty of screw on options but that is limiting .

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Climbing Gear Discussion
Post a Reply to "Indoor Wall Gear"

Log In to Reply