Amidst a covid crisis, Alex Chaunt found sanctuary in his home build out of Long Beach, CA. What began as a garage “clean-up” day quickly escalated into a multi-angle gym littered with homemade volumes. Check out past HWOW here.
When did you build your wall? Was it a COVID baby?
It was built in April 2020 when my companies got shut down due to COVID. My wife was asking me to clean the garage up one day and I had an alternative idea. It kind of spiraled from there…
How long did it take you to build and what did that time look like?
It seems to never stop getting built now that we are always building more volumes to change the surfaces. Having said that, the bulk of the build was done within 2 months. We had to completely rebuild the garage door as the original was on rails, which impeded the building of walls. As soon as we took them off, I was able to build out the other half of the gym closest to the door.
Not including holds and padding, how much did it cost you to build? Any surprises there? Most/Least expensive part?
I actually have no exact idea, but think in the region of 6-7k, excluding pads and holds. The painting was done by some friends of mine pro-bono so that was paid for in food and beer!
What are you doing for padding?
I have a mixture of gymnastic mats and high-density foam topped with Mad Rock 4×8 pads and joined together with Velcro seams.
What was your primary incentive for the wall? Did anything in particular inspire your wall design?
I was in a pretty dark place when my companies were shut down. I wasn’t sure they would survive, so I really needed a creative out to distract me from the uncertainly and stress. This was it, especially as the regular climbing gyms were closed. I had a go at making a stalactite, inspired by my time climbing in Tonsai, Thailand. That was super fun and quite hard to integrate. I wanted to make all surfaces in the gym climbable so even all the cupboards and refrigerator had to be enclosed in walls, albeit those that opened on demand!
What was the most difficult aspect of the design and build?
Trying to visualize all the different surfaces that I wanted and whether or not they would be any fun to climb and set on. With a limited space, it was a real challenge to get all the different types of terrain in there.
What would you do differently?
Not install tap-in T-nuts – I absolutely hate them! They back out way too easily, and cross thread way too easily. I would have invested in screw-in T-nuts that can’t cross thread – oh and make access behind the walls easier!
Did you make any mistakes along the way or choose to re-do any aspects? If so, what?
I don’t think there were mistakes per say, but there was learning as per my last question and answer. You don’t know what you don’t know and as it was my first attempt, I think I did pretty well. Of course, I now have other ideas for terrain but that will have to wait!
What is your favorite aspect?
The convenience of walking 20 feet from my house to get in there and having a beer fridge within arm’s length. Also really enjoyed having people over to check it out and having a very different ‘man cave’ to hide in from time to time!
How often do you re-set your wall?
Not as often as I’d like – I’d say we try to reset a portion of the walls every couple of months.
How often do you use the wall? Do you think you’ll still use it as much now that gyms are open again?
I probably use it 2-3 times per week when I’m not injured. I lead a really busy lifestyle so its hard sometimes to even have an hour free. I do probably use it slightly less now that the gyms have opened, but I find going to the gyms super useful in learning how to set routes that I simply wouldn’t have set myself, as I tend to set more towards my style. I think that’s one of the hardest things about your own gym – setting outside your comfort zone!
Any words of wisdom to aspiring homewallers?
Make sure you plan it out structurally if you’re going to do more than just a single wall – its amazing just how heavy these walls get and how much load is placed on the garage. Also, don’t go cheap on T-nuts and plywood – it will make a huge difference later on. Lastly, just have fun with it. Use it as a creative outlet as well as a climbing tool – having a project to keep working on and evolving over time is almost as fun as the climbing itself!
Do you have any connection to climbing brands or gyms?
I do not have any formal connection with any brands thus far. However, I am good friends with the owners of Sender One and Long Beach Rising – I have taken inspiration from both of their gyms and setting. Both companies have done amazing things throughout this pandemic and are a testament to resilience and innovation. Madrock HQ were incredibly helpful with my flooring and Everlast Holds gave me some free holds for an article on the wall. Both Atomik Climbing and Thrive were my two first brands of holds in the gym, so they will always be special. Kilter Grips do amazing hold collections, and their granite complex line has got to be my favorite thus far!
Want us to consider your woody for a future Homewall of the Week? Submit your homewall here to be considered. Winners get a $100 giftcard to Atomik to pick out some goodies for their homewall. Thanks Kenny!
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