HWOW 10 – A Pre-COVID Build for the Whole Family

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CBJ Homewall of the Week

This week’s Home Wall of the Week goes out to a colorful, 5-panel garage build out of Houston, Texas. With over 25 years of setting experience, Nate R. traded in his family membership deal to create a private gym for his whole family to use.

When did you build your wall?

I got my lumber delivered on October 25th 2019 and began building it that day.  The build was completed November 6th and we began climbing on it that day.

How long did it take you to build and what did that time look like?

A few weeks of piecing it together. Once I start a project, I’m pretty driven to complete it. I worked on it every night after work plus the weekends. I think my motivation increased each day as I saw the project getting closer and closer to completion. I’m sure my neighbors were relieved when I finished pounding in my 2,000 t-nuts!

Not including holds and padding, how much did it cost you to build?

About $1500 without holds and padding. I did some math prior to the start and figured I could build my wall for about the cost of a one-year family membership. I knew I’d spend a bit more as I was acquiring holds, but figured the investment was well worth it. The lumber and materials were easy to calculate, no surprises there. The biggest cost people will run into is buying holds. Having 25 years of experience as a route setter I knew what holds cost, so I purchased many of my holds from the gym that was closing for $3-$4 a pound. That was a big game changer in allowing me to populate my walls close to the density I aspire towards.

What was your primary incentive for the wall? Did anything in particular inspire your wall design?

The reason for the woodie was that a few weeks earlier, I learned that my local gym which I’ve climbed at since 1992 would be closing its doors for good by the end of the year.  I used to set at that gym on weekends in exchange for a family membership and weighed the pros and cons of purchasing a family membership at another gym across town vs. build my own. I opted to build my own due to the cost associated with membership and the frequency with which we could climb. Realistically we could only climb as a family on weekends at a gym and now my kids climb every day at home and my wife and I are climbing around 4 days a week. My wife really wanted a steep wall at 60° and I wanted a 45° wall…plus I had to design it so that I could still pull my cars into the garage if I wanted to.

CBJ Homewall of the Week

What was the most difficult aspect of the design and build? Did you make any mistakes along the way or choose to re-do any aspects?

I’m no carpenter, but over the years I’ve helped build several woodies and additions to the gym I climbed at. I’ve gained a lot of experience working with some very talented climbers/carpenters over the years so that knowledge was very helpful in knowing what I wanted to build and how to do it. Thankfully I didn’t make any mistakes and all went as planned. If I were to rebuild it the only tweak I would make is change the 90° transition wall between my 60° and 45° walls. I would make that section slightly overhung, but my addition of volumes there has helped make movements on it more interesting.

The most challenging part was bulking up my ceiling joists in my garage to hold the weight of the walls. Lifting 5 additional 22′ 2×10’s by yourself isn’t easy so I wouldn’t recommend it to most DIY’s. I’m bigger than most climbers so I just muscled them into place. Unfortunately no tricks to offer there!

What would you do differently?

I would recreate the transition section between angles at a slight overhang rather than a vertical angle.

What is your favorite aspect?

My whole family can climb whenever we want, and we climb often. My kids climb every day.

Since your whole family uses the wall, how’d you make it suitable for all sizes and abilities?

I built a 90° side wall with kids in mind and covered it in holds. My 60° belly has a lot of positive holds on it and I placed a bunch in the section bordering the side wall so my kids could start to venture onto the steep stuff. My 5 year old daughter went from struggling up the belly with her feet on the side wall to climbing 160 move endurance problems strictly on the belly in about 3 months of work. Her endurance is amazing and she’s climbing the equivalent of a 110′ roof climb on jugs. My 2 year old son was less interested in climbing at first, but now is climbing ¾ of the belly with his feet on the side wall and pulling the last few feet climbing strictly on the overhang. I think the key to making your wall kid friendly is investing the money in enough holds to make it a true spray wall. My experience  with kids climbing is that if there aren’t enough options kids most often get frustrated and give up. You want to make it an achievable goal for the kids at first then you can start challenging them with set problems.

To counter-balance all the positive holds on the belly I’ve squeezed a lot of crimps, roof slopers and pinches on my wall to make it challenging for anyone. I also set my 45° similar to a Moon Board in difficulty. Most all of hose holds are pretty challenging for training purposes.

CBJ Homewall of the Week

With the reopening of gyms and outdoor recreation areas, do you still see your family using the wall just as much?

We really were blessed to have our woodie up and running prior to COVID. I’m a special education teacher and I had to teach online ZOOM classes daily through the end of the school year, but I was able to log so much more climbing time with my family since the stay at home orders hit Texas. Our woodie has become our favorite place to spend time together and I imagine it will continue to be that unless someone discovers some real boulders hiding around Houston anytime soon!

Any words of wisdom to aspiring homewallers?

Go for it, you’ll never regret having your own personal gym!

Want us to consider your woodie for a future Homewall of the Week? Submit your homewall here to be considered. If yours is chosen you’ll win a prize pack like this (varied prizes each week):

CBJ Homewall of the Week