Mar 13 2014

Reader Submission: Building a Hexagon Climbing Volume

Chris contacted me with a link to a How-To video that shows him building a very cool (and increasingly popular) climbing wall volume in the shape of a hexagon. If you are looking to spice up the wall this is a much more detailed video that shows more how-to then my video, as a result it is quite a bit longer (~20mins). My original “Build a Climbing Wall” video.

Build a Hexagon Volume by Chris Clark:




If you want to see other awesome Home Climbing Wall videos check out this playlist I have complied on YouTube:

Jan 24 2014

Choosing Climbing Wall Angles

A common question is what angle to build your climbing wall. Below is a run-down of different angles and why you may or may not want one or another.

Each situation is different you want to make a wall that fits your needs/resources/space/etc. Always take into consideration the following before picking angle:

  • Space: Often the dictator of the wall. Where, how big, can you fit multiple angles, multiple walls, roof, etc?
  • Skill Level: different skill levels will use the wall differently. A new climber is different from a advanced climber looking for specific training and will want different walls.
  • User group: Taylor the wall to fit the user group. If you want a bunch of people to climb on your wall it may require a different angle set-up then a single user. Or if you are building for your 10 yr old kid that is different then someone adding this to this college house.
  • Difficulty of Build: Some angles are easier to build then others and require more/less materials.


  • This is a little weird and takes time to understand. When I say it is a 30 degree wall, it means that it is overhanging 30 degrees. However when you input it into a triangle you are calculating the inverse: Angle BCA will be 60 degrees (as the inverse of that which is the overhanging part is 30 degrees).
  • Check it out here:
    • Input 10 in the yellow box – Side A (which will represent 10 vertical feet)
    • Input 60 degrees in the green box – Angle C (which will represent the inverse of the angle of the wall)
    • Should look like a normal wall with the wall being the long side (side c)
Sample Wall at 10ft high, 34 Degrees, 12 ft of Climbing

Sample Wall Angle at 10ft high, 12 ft of Climbing


0 Degree’s, perfectly vertical wall: 

Pros: Easiest angle to build, fits anywhere, great for little kids, every hold known to mankind can work on it,  great for working on technique and slab-type problems.

Cons: Will become extremely boring very quick, not very challenging, not very interesting

Should you Build This: For a home woody with limited space and resources it is recommended that you DO NOT build a vertical wall. In a commercial gym it makes sense as a way to cater to brand-new climbers, tricky slab-climbing, and specific holds, but a home gym is for training and personal enjoyment and a big vertical wall will become uninteresting way too fast. If you absolutely need vertical try to incorporate it in a small section or build a specific volume to allow for holds like the Boss to be used.

Slightly Overhanging wall, 10-20 Degrees:

Pros: Better then a pure-vertical wall.

Cons: Again this is a easy angle that most climbers will not be challenged by. Holds will need to be small and painful.

Should you build this: Most likely not. In the real-world of outdoor rock climbing most sport/trad routes fall into this level of overhang with is much more challenging when it is 50+ feet long, however over 12-16 feet this angle will quickly become mastered by most climbers. You may want a section at this angle, however you do not want the majority of  your wall at this angle. 10-20 degrees will feel a lot like Vertical after a while. Best solution: 35 degree wall transitioned into a 15 degree top-out (or vice-versa).

A Standard ~30 degree wall.

A Standard ~30 degree wall.

30-35 Degree’s (highest recommended angle):

Pros: Probably the most versatile angle, most climbing holds are made for this angle, beginners to advanced climbers can use the same wall and only holds/moves would be different.

Cons: Conformity to every other home woody out there. 

Should you build this: All wall designs should incorporate this angle unless you are looking for something more specific.

Important Note: While you should strive for a 35 degree wall in reality when building your wall you don’t need to specifically measure the angle. Ideally when selecting this angle it is less steep then 45 degrees but more steep then 15-20 degrees. Essentially anything from 20-40 degrees is the sweet spot.

45 Degree Wall (steep/overhanging):

Pros: This angle provides a serious workout even if you are just hanging on jugs. Great angle for the popular system work-outs. More advanced.

Cons: For beginners holds will need to be good sized jugs which usually means spending a lot more money.

Should you build this: Depending on skill-set this may be a viable option on your wall. As the only angle it may challenge beginners too much or require a lot of different holds as you progress. Can be a fun angle and due to the angle means you can put a lot of surface area in a small space (11-12 ft of surface in 8 ft of height).

Roof/Severely Overhanging:

Pros: Specific strength exercises.

Cons: Specific strength exercises.

Should you Build this: These are great additions to an existing angle as a transition to the end of the climb. So if you are looking to add some spice to your wall do this at the end. Even if it is just a 3 ft extension it will add a lot to finishing moves on your wall.

Less then Vertical:

Should you Build this: No



Continue to Learn More for Wall Planning



Sep 11 2013

Inspiration: Marcus’s Steel Climbing Wall in an Old Pool

Every once in a while someone sends me some photos of their walls and a thank you for helping them figure it out. Marcus’s wall was an exception being an all-steel custom built structure, built in an old pool, and beautifully done (perfect t-nut spacing, painted, transition into a roof).

Can’t really call this one a “Home Woody”


marcus.backyard.climb - Steel Home Climbing Wall


Climbing Wall in a Swimming Pool


Steel Structure for Climbing Wall

Marcus also went through the process of writing up some of the details and behind the scenes for anyone else that has a pool laying around or is curious about doing steel structures.

Click More for information on the Build Process

Read the rest of this entry »

Nov 14 2012

How to Clean Climbing Holds

There are several ways to clean climbing holds and from a perspective of a home woody owner there is one really easy way and lots of other harder ways.

The easiest way to clean climbing holds:


    • 1 Gallon White Vinegar
    • 1 x 5 gallon bucket
    • Water
    • Stiff nylon brush (optional) also a metal brush may work too if you are careful
  1. Fill a 5 gallon bucket halfway with really hot water
  2. Add in about 1/4 of a gallon of Vinegar (can be less or more)
  3. Let the holds sit for a couple hours
  4. Wash holds in clean water
  5. Scrub any holds that are extra-dirty with the brush
  6. Repeat cleaning process on the dirty holds

This method is incredibly easy. As in it sounds almost too easy. For the most part this will get all of the girt and most of the rubber off of the holds. It won’t clean the dirtest of the holds and they may require additional work, however this is a great way to freshen up your holds.

Unless you are a commercial climbing gym you don’t need a dishwasher or anything like that. Now that I know cleaning them is so easy I generally freshen up the holds quite often.

Additional Options for Deep Clean:

  • Power-washer the holds
  • Metal brush and scrub the hell out of the rubber areas


RESULTS: Top picture is ClimbIT font holds, a Nicros mushroom, Project holds jugs and some Contact Climbing sudz. The bottom photo is after cleaning in vinegar (note brown left on the biggest hold turns out to actually have been stained by the weather since I have an outside wall):  


Dirty Climbing Holds


Clean Climbing Holds



Read my Review on Soill Grip Wash vs. Vinegar:

soill grip wash and vinegar

The Battle beween the Green Stuff the Smelly Stuff

Nov 14 2012

SoiLL Grip Wash Review

SoiLL Grip Wash Review

The Magic Green Stuff Pouring out of the Bottle


Soill Climbing Holds recently came out with a special grip wash that comes in a “powder” form. Prior to them coming out with this wash, most of the industry standard was using Muratic Acid, which is nasty stuff. This is a lot better/nicer then that (but maybe not as effective)…well at least you won’t melt your face off.

I didn’t realize there was other options to clean your holds until recently but found that vinegar is an amazing solution:



Link to Grip Wash here:

Video on How to Use Grip Wash (quite entertaining for a how-to video!!!)(also this is the liquid version which is suppose to be the same as the powder version):

So iLL GRIP WASH from CryptoChild on Vimeo.


Here is my abbreviated review of Soill Grip Wash:

Vinegar vs. Soill Grip Wash: 

I filmed some stuff, however I am lazy and it takes a while to put together a film, so here is the quick run-down:

  • Pros:
    • Soill grip wash I would say is a little better at removing the nastiest of rubber then vinegar
    •  Works slightly faster then vinegar
    • Can be used in a dishwasher
    • Is an awesome Green Color
    • Smells a lot better then vinegar
    • Very portable and doesn’t take up much room (unlike 1 gallon vinegar bottles)
  • Cons:
    • Expensive: 1 bottle is ~$18 and according to directions can only do 5-10 batches at most. One gallon of vinegar is only $3-5 and can do at least 5 batches.

Should you Buy it?:

Vinegar is kind of the magic cleaning solution.  Try vinegar first. It can’t hurt the holds and you may like the results. Also vinegar is regularly available at your local grocery store.

If that doesn’t cut it then try the Grip Wash. In my opinion the Grip Wash is slightly better then vinegar but not significantly.

I also found that for some companies the SoiLL grip wash was slightly better. Again not super-conclusive but just general observations.

If you are a commercial climbing gym I would give it a try just to see if it does make your process better and or faster as that may mean more $$$ in your pocket.


soill grip wash and vinegar

The Battle beween the Green Stuff the Smelly Stuff

Nov 12 2012

ROI of a Home Wall

Building a Home Bouldering Wall is not an inexpensive thing to do, however the benefits it brings you usually outlast any monetary investment. Below is the simple math of an initial climbing wall and its expenses.

Climbing Wall Costs:

  • Materials for a 8ft wide x 16 ft long freestanding wall:
    • Panels: 4 (4′x8′) Panels – ~$160
    • 2×4′s – ~$45
    • Supports: 2 Pressure Tr – $30
    • Screws: 5lb for $20
    • Tools: Not included in this ROI
  • Other Expenses:
    • T-Nuts: ~$50
    • Initial Holds: $250
    • Wrenches: $15
    • Hot Dog at Home Depot: $3.00
  • Total Upfront Costs:
    • $600-$750 (large wall)

Gym Climbing Costs for ROI Comparison:

  • Gym Costs:
    • Single Visits: Generally $12-15/Visit
    • Membership: $50-70/month
      • 2x weekly visit for a year equates to ~$6-8/visit for membership


  • Based on Single Visit Expenses:
    • $750 wall cost/$15 gym visit = 50 Visits until break-even (approx 5-6 months of 2x weekly visits)
    • ROI based only on one sole user on the wall
  • Against Membership Costs
    • 2x week visits at $70/mo membership (~$8/visit)
    • 95 visits or about 10 months to break-even
    • ROI based only on one sole user on the wall

Other Significant Cost Savings:

  • The Above is only if One user is on the wall, if you have two people using the wall regularly the break-even can be as little as 3 months. It becomes as cheap as climbing outside for free.
  • Gas Savings: Some people have the luxury of living close to gyms or outdoor climbing areas. Others do not. If I bought a membership at the gym in Denver I would drive 16 miles each way and if I visited 2x/wk for a year I would be driving  3,300 miles in a year and at 25 MPG and $3.50/gallon that is another $460 of expense to add on top of my membership fees.

Other Cost Increases:

  • Obsession with Buying New Climbing Holds: Yes you can get obsessed and add a lot more holds/expense to your wall…but it is worth it!!!
  • Beer Costs: More then likely all of your friends and you will be hanging out at your place climbing on your wall. Beer consumption may go through the roof as most climbing gyms frown upon drinking and climbing.
  • Adding an addition to your house for the new wall: Very likely that you may enjoy the wall so much that you build a new garage or a new addition to your home with the specific purpose of housing your climbing wall.

Intangible Cost Savings:

  • Lack of Crowds
  • Climbing possibilities 24/7
  • Learning more about movement/climbing because you are setting routes
  • Your friends might actually appreciate you
  • Not inhaling nasty gym air stale with chalk
  • Something you are proud of and is a part of your climbing


Break-Even and Planning Spreadsheet for You to Use:

I have created a spreadsheet where you can enter in your costs and it will output the break-even plus overall expense. This is handy for planning and/or convincing your significant other/roommate/friend/parents/yourself that it will be worth it.


LINK (everything in light blue you should modify):

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