At the tail end of the pandemic and after some grueling weeks spent cleaning out a space full of dirt and scraps, “Chlorophyll” was born. Brian Buttrick got all the materials through a 4×4 opening to install homewall his Rutland, VT. Check out past HWOW here.
When did you build your wall? Was it a COVID baby?
My wall – @chlorophyll528 on Instagram – was built in May of 2021. I began building it right when most businesses had opened back up, but COVID protocols were still in effect. It’s kind of like the people born on the cusp between generations; not quite a COVID baby, but certainly not a post-COVID baby either. It’s a little ambiguous.
How long did it take you to build and what did that time look like?
My wall took significantly longer than I wanted, despite my diligent work. The only place in my house with a ceiling over 8 feet was in the dirt-room in my basement. Yes, a room literally 5 feet full of dirt. Used as trash/storage by the previous owners, I spent several grueling weeks cleaning it out. Buried in the dirt I found wood scraps, nails, and some very rusted lawn mower blades! Not ideal for a landing zone. After that, I decided to self-install a vapor barrier (which should have been done long ago according to it Radon test). Post-vapor barrier, I bought a cheap carpet to give the floor some structure. By this time, I had finished the actual wall and could begin the frame. Most walls can be built on the frame and then lifted into position. Unfortunately, I have a small 4×4 crawl space to get into my room. So, I had to build and install the wall in the cramped room. Additionally, there was a heating duct that ran straight through the middle of the room, so I had to learn some quick duct work too. I think it’s safe to say the 3/4 of the work I put into my build could have been bypassed if I had a better location to put it. But alas, that’s the price for greatness!
Not including holds and padding, how much did it cost you to build? Any surprises there? Most/Least expensive part?
During the pandemic, the price of wood skyrocketed. My 3 sheets of plywood cost over $150 alone, with the framing costing me another $100. But of course, the t-nuts and screws count too, so I would estimate another $75 there. Despite searching for deals, my holds probably totaled around $400, for a grand total just over $700. After all of this spending, I decided to make 30 home-made wooden pinches. All of these pinches were made from 2×4 scraps in the basement, so I consider them free. I have since bought an angle grinder and am really excited to make more holds that aren’t just simple pinches.
What are you doing for padding?
I have 2 bouldering pads which are my primary padding, but my local gym offered me some leftover flooring which I’ve used as extra padding. I am trying to get a thin pad to cover the whole thing to protect my ankles from falling into the cracks.
What was your primary incentive for the wall? Did anything in particular inspire your wall design?
My original design includes a few neon triangles extending in from the sides. But after noticing that this was a fairly common design for home-walls, I decided to do something unique. The final look was intended to be an “organic” image, similar to the inside of a plant cell. Subsequently, the name Chlorophyll was born!
What was the most difficult aspect of the design and build?
The hardest part of the whole build wasn’t the actual build but all of the preparation I had to do to make the dirt-room safe to be in. As for the actual build, installing the t-nuts was physically much harder than I anticipated. Additionally, due to the unique ceiling in that room, attaching the wall safely was a bit of a struggle that required some creative solutions with help from some home-wall forums on Facebook and Instagram.
What would you do differently?
I don’t think I would make any changes if I did it again. I would have loved for my wall to be 30 degrees instead of 40, but there was nowhere in my house that could fit it without sacrificing a great deal of height. I could have built it outside, but I had already bought bolts that were stainless steel. Plus, I didn’t want to deal with the bees around my house…
Did you make any mistakes along the way or choose to re-do any aspects? If so, what?
While I didn’t really make any mistakes, some of my framing boards were curved and actually offset the plywood. This was easy enough to fix by just adding sister-boards to the necessary areas, but it certainly gave me a scare when my wall and the frame didn’t line up. Like they say, “measure twice, cut once!”
What is your favorite aspect?
My favorite part was finally being able to set the wall. I created an algorithm, so each section of the wall had a spread of desirable holds. Bad foot chips don’t need to be at the top and good holds would be wasted at the bottom. First, I spread out the jugs pretty evenly, then put the smaller jugs and good crimps around them. Then I took the bad crimps and scattered them among the top half and scattered the foot chips around the bottom half. Lastly, once I built my wooden pinches, I filled in any visual gaps I could see, which made the wall look a lot fuller, and skyrocket my options for available moves. This method ensured that no area of the wall was too difficult and that there is always a good selection of holds. No matter what hold you’re on, there is generally 1 great jug in reach, 2 small jugs, 3 pinches, 3 good crimps, and 3 bad crimps.
How often do you re-set your wall?
Since my wall is still quite new I have yet to re-set it. However, over time I have realized that certain holds get neglected, so I try moving them to a more trafficked area. Similarly, I may tweak/turn holds to make them more useful. I have been a setter for about 6 years now, so this comes very easy to me.
How often do you use the wall? Do you think you’ll still use it as much now that gyms are open again?
I was worried that I started this project too late, as my local gym had already opened back up when I started. However, I find myself on my wall just about every other day. My off-days are spent making up routes so I have pre-set climbs for the next day. The app Retro Flash is very helpful for making boulders, but I actually have my own album of all of the routes I’ve made over the last 6 years.
Any words of wisdom to aspiring homewallers?
What are you waiting for??? The only acceptable answer is: “for the price of wood to go down.” That’s fair. In all seriousness, I would highly recommend joining some Facebook/alternative forums that discuss home-walls. The members are very helpful for troubleshooting problems or finding solutions to problems that may arise. Constantly seeing other people’s walls and becoming familiar with the process helps give you that little nudge you need to go started. Follow my wall on Instagram @chlorophyll528 and I would be very happy to talk to you about it!
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!
Climbing Business Journal is an independent news outlet dedicated to covering the indoor climbing industry. Here you will find the latest coverage of climbing industry news, gym developments, industry best practices, risk management, climbing competitions, youth coaching and routesetting. Have an article idea? CBJ loves to hear from readers like you!