Amidst planning a Covid wedding, Christian Drenth and his dad spent free days and weekends building this backyard homewall in Michigan. Once finished, the build quickly turned into a canvas for Chris to test his creativity as a setter and train with his friends while the gyms were still shut down. Check out past HWOW here.
When did you build your wall? Was it a COVID baby?
My dad and I started to build the wall at the beginning of the Covid lockdown when the local gyms shut down.
How long did it take you to build and what did that time look like?
We didn’t move very quickly with it due to my wife and I also trying to plan our Covid wedding, so it took a few months working odd days and weekends.
Not including holds and padding, how much did it cost you to build? Any surprises there? Most/Least expensive part?
Roughly $700, we got lucky with the lumber costs and bought what we needed right before the prices skyrocketed. With working in remodeling in the past there weren’t too many surprises along the way either. The plywood was the most expensive for sure though.
What are you doing for padding?
Right now, we’re doing standard bouldering crash pads, an old mattress and a handmade pad from a mattress topper.
What was your primary incentive for the wall? Did anything in particular inspire your wall design?
It was mostly for a place to train while gyms were shut down and a gathering spot for a few close friends to come over, climb and hangout without breaking the social distance rules in place for my state. As I began setting at my local gym though, it became a testing area for certain moves and in helping push my creativity.
What was the most difficult aspect of the design and build?
Without a doubt the framing for the triangle piece of wall connecting the overhang and vertical sections. The double angles on the 2 by 6 turned into a guessing game after attempting the use of math to get the correct cutting angles.
What would you do differently?
Pressure treated plywood instead of painting. Holds stuck and peeled paint off and after only one year the wood began to rot on the edges. Would also not build the wall facing south, the nonstop sun on the wall caused for sweaty hands and color faded holds.
Did you make any mistakes along the way or choose to re-do any aspects? If so, what?
I think the biggest thing we had to back track on was building the roof for the overhang section. The wall is in MI so we get rain very often and the constant water in the unsealed bolt holes would become a problem quickly.
What is your favorite aspect?
The best part about the wall to me is how it’s brought me and a lot of new people together and allowed us to learn from one another.
How often do you re-set your wall?
Usually every time I’m out climbing (2-3) times a week I’ll be setting or tweaking something.
How often do you use the wall? Do you think you’ll still use it as much now that gyms are open again?
Unfortunately, the usage has already declined as my family moved out of state for 6 months, but I do plan to get a lot of use out of it even if only for a few short months when I return home in October.
Any words of wisdom to aspiring homewallers?
Hmm… spend the money and take the time to build it right the first time. If it’s going to be outside, treated lumber for everything.
Do you have any connection to climbing brands or gyms?
I worked at Terra Firma Bouldering Co. in Grand Rapids, MI as a setter and front desk before the temporary move out to Phoenix, AZ where I am currently a volunteer setter at Blackrock Bouldering Gym.
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!