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Idako


Jun 12, 2011, 10:33 AM
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Building a Bouldering Room
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Hi, short time lurker, first time poster here. (TLDR version at the bottom)

Some background on myself (which will be relevant to the questions at the end)

I am a 30 year old overweight programmer who up until about 3 months ago lived a happy sedentary lifestyle pretty much in front of a computer screen for 10-12 hours a day (either working or playing). A visit to the doctor 3 months ago forced me to change my lifestyle completely or risk some serious issues. I've dropped over 40lbs in the last 3 months and have been enjoying hiking and trail running as my primary means of exercise. My goal has been to get into climbing because quite frankly no other organized sport appealed to me and I love the outdoors in general. I live a little less than an hour from the Gunks so the plan is to get out there by september or so. A friend and I (future climbing partner) have started some indoor gym sessions and have been loving it (We can both do 5.4/5.5 right now (indoors)). However an almost hour drive to the gym and busy weeks leaves us really 1 day to go/week and I'm looking to get something going on a more frequent basis which led me to the plan of building a decent sized room to "play" in.

Some background on my project:

So I am looking to build a room for bouldering / traversing to hone my technique etc. This will be an external structure close in size to a large shed. Unfortunately my house has rather low ceilings and a wife who doesn't like the idea of me taking over a room so building one indoors is that's not really an option.

So what I am looking to build will be an X' by Y' by 15-22' tall (OLD: 12' x 12' room with a 10'ceiling ) that will be dedicated to only bouldering, no other storage or aesthetic concerns (inside). (DEPRECATED: 147 sq feet / 10' height are the maximum size allowed without getting into zoning board stuff with the town) Based on what I have seen people build at home this seems like plenty of space.

The walls will be insulated and the room will have a small A/C unit (capable of heating as well) for all season use.

The floor will most likely be a large non-portable crash pad/gymnastics mat or a few mattress' depending on what I can reasonably obtain.

Other than the door and square for the A/C unit all other wall space / ceiling space can be used / shaped as desired.

Questions/Concerns:

Basically I am not sure of what "features" to have (given both my skill level (low) and future needs). My thought based on reading anything I can get my hands on and watching videos/pictures of peoples home setups is to some subset of the following:

1 wall vertical for the entire width
1 wall divided into 6' widths with 1 at X(5?) degrees and the other at Y(10?) degrees
1 wall with a 4' section in the middle with an X(20?) degree overhang
1 gradually arcing (4' width) section up to the ceiling
1 small overhang off the top of the door frame for a hangboard

What I'm not sure is are my angles way off, too shallow, too steep again for a beginner with some progression options available? Ideally I want to be able to traverse the entire room with increased difficulty the further along you go and maybe some sort of obstacle in the middle (4' section with steep incline). Keep in mind I have very little experience now but plan on doing this for some time.

I accept the fact that what I build to train on now may not be as useful down the road and some rebuilding may be necessary later.

I am also not looking to get into handhold discussion yet though I fully realize how much of an impact that will have on difficulty, right now I am looking to mainly get the framework down.

TLDR Version:

If you had a X' x Y' x 15-22' (tall) (OLD: 12'x12'x10') room to build out however you wanted for bouldering that was accessible to a beginner and designed with some growth in mind (progressive difficulty options) what would you do?

Thanks in advance for any ideas/thoughts and apologies if this is in the wrong place.

(This post was edited by Idako on Jun 15, 2011, 9:53 AM)


Trasgo


Jun 12, 2011, 1:15 PM
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FWIW...

If you have to build it outdoors than just accept it's gonna be outdoors. Three sides and the tallest steepest roof you can put on it.

Keep it super simple so that you can change it in the future.

People tend to put way to much energy and thought into screwing some plywood to a couple posts. No matter how complicated you make it you'll get sick of it eventually and want to change it.

Keep it simple and cheap.


ceebo


Jun 12, 2011, 3:39 PM
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You want 1 wall at around 45 degree, 8 foot wide and 10 foot high at the very least.

Take it from me (done so much traversing for endurance) doing it on straight walls has almost 0 effect for overhangs. Yet doing it on overhangs, even up/down climbing a 12 foot wall helps everything. Learning the basics of technique will only take you 6 month to a year. Wasting any more time on straight walls or drilling movement and training ''endurance'' rather than getting strong will wind you up in the same boat as most people. 5.11.

Btw, are you doing all this just to get fit? coz their are cheaper and far more efficient ways. On top of that, you will get bored. Unless you strongly motivated to get better at climbing (or to not die for health reasons) then a bouldering wall may not be for you ;p.


(This post was edited by ceebo on Jun 12, 2011, 3:43 PM)


Idako


Jun 12, 2011, 6:23 PM
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In reply to:
If you have to build it outdoors than just accept it's gonna be outdoors. Three sides and the tallest steepest roof you can put on it.
Just because it's outdoors doesn't mean it can't be comfortable :)

ceebo wrote:
You want 1 wall at around 45 degree, 8 foot wide and 10 foot high at the very least.
OK, I thought I would want a steep one as well, wasn't sure how much though. Thank you.

ceebo wrote:
Take it from me (done so much traversing for endurance) doing it on straight walls has almost 0 effect for overhangs. Yet doing it on overhangs, even up/down climbing a 12 foot wall helps everything. Learning the basics of technique will only take you 6 month to a year. Wasting any more time on straight walls or drilling movement and training ''endurance'' rather than getting strong will wind you up in the same boat as most people. 5.11.
This is what I figured as well which is causing me to also consider going with 16' x 9' and putting the steep angle at the end, in 6mo to a year though I don't mind adjusting the room, the overall frame will be built first with the climbing part added on so I will be able to adjust in time.

ceebo wrote:
Btw, are you doing all this just to get fit? coz their are cheaper and far more efficient ways. On top of that, you will get bored. Unless you strongly motivated to get better at climbing (or to not die for health reasons) then a bouldering wall may not be for you ;p.
I am getting fit for my own health / well-being; the climbing is something I have always wanted to do but in general wasn't going to be able to. Now that one supports the other I decided to give it a go and so far am loving it, despite the fact I've barely scratched the surface.


(This post was edited by Idako on Jun 12, 2011, 6:28 PM)


TarheelJD


Jun 12, 2011, 6:41 PM
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You don't seem to be too daunted by carpentry so in the interest of doing it once and not many times, I would at least consider making one section an adjustable overhang. Just use some massive hinges on the bottom (barn door) and lock off the posts 3/4 of the way up with chains so you can adjust the angle via one chain link at a time. If you are climbing 5.5 in the gym you won't get much of anything out of a 45 degree overhang, even if it's covered in massive jugs. At least this way you can "grow" or train into the cage w/o too much intermediate hassle. Just a thought.


climb4free


Jun 12, 2011, 7:59 PM
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My pointers from someone that has built several home walls, and created plans for several others:

(1) If you can plan for the door to open outward and be as near a corner as possible.

(2) With the size of holds available, a straight vert wall is virtually unnecessary, i have a 4' section on my garage wall and my 3 year old is beyond it. 15 degrees past vertical is a minimum I would use.

(3) I am a proponent for (some) features, but very simple. Yes, it is for training, but if its not at least a little fun, you won't use it frequently enough to meet your goals. I would select your desired angles and have minor transition walls between them.

(4) In a square room, try to avoid as many stemming options as possible.

(5) Plan it out and tweak it often. I love Google SketchUp. Its a free download and its easy to learn and use. (Attached are some snapshots from the design I just did for my bro-in-law's garage wall.

(6) post up some progress photos so we can see how it turns out

Awesome job on getting in shape, keep it up. Welcome to the climber family.
Attachments: inside out.jpg (126 KB)
  outside in.jpg (124 KB)


anykineclimb


Jun 12, 2011, 10:07 PM
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TarheelJD wrote:
You don't seem to be too daunted by carpentry so in the interest of doing it once and not many times, I would at least consider making one section an adjustable overhang. Just use some massive hinges on the bottom (barn door) and lock off the posts 3/4 of the way up with chains so you can adjust the angle via one chain link at a time. If you are climbing 5.5 in the gym you won't get much of anything out of a 45 degree overhang, even if it's covered in massive jugs. At least this way you can "grow" or train into the cage w/o too much intermediate hassle. Just a thought.

No need for a hinge on the bottom. My wall is adjustable with chains but the bottom just lays on garage floor. its not going anywhere.


Trasgo


Jun 12, 2011, 10:59 PM
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In reply to:
Just because it's outdoors doesn't mean it can't be comfortable :)

Yeah...so climbing's probably not gonna take with you. Just stick to the 5.5's at your gym once a week until you figure out that this climbing thing isn't really all that comfortable and you sell your shit on Mountain Project and trade in the climbing dream for a bag of cheetos .

Good luck.


anykineclimb


Jun 13, 2011, 5:25 AM
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If you got the means to built a good sized, environmentally controlled Boulder Barn, GO FOR IT!! take it from me, climbing in a cold ass garage in the January SUCKS. and you motivation goes waaaay down.

You'll want to plan for some sort of storage. climbing at the Gunks takes gear and you need to keep it somewhere. Your wife is letting you build this thing, keep all your climbing kit in there too.

if you go with the 12x12 space, I would make one wall adjustable so you can adjust it as you grow stronger. I've seen some setups with winches but I use chain. The opposite wall can have about 10-20 degree overhang to it and the other walls should be vertical to accomodate the adjustable wall swinging down, windows (light), door, HVAC.
Don't forget some sort of sound system and beer fridge!
Maybe a microwave for Hot Pockets


Idako


Jun 13, 2011, 5:53 AM
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In reply to:
(1) If you can plan for the door to open outward and be as near a corner as possible.
Yes In my current plan (using Sketchup though it doesn't look as good as yours hehe) I have the door right in the corner.

In reply to:
(2) With the size of holds available, a straight vert wall is virtually unnecessary, i have a 4' section on my garage wall and my 3 year old is beyond it. 15 degrees past vertical is a minimum I would use.
As for the vertical, I will have to have some section of it like that to start I think and down the road can take that part down and re build at an angle. For now I want to be able to ease into it, and also considering when you walk in I don't want to hit my head on an immediate angled piece.

In reply to:
(4) In a square room, try to avoid as many stemming options as possible.
Yea I thought about that too, I have been playing with making the room 9x16 now instead with the 45degree incline at the end of it (so 9' wide and at that angle about ~13' long).

Thanks very much for the input!

In reply to:
if you go with the 12x12 space, I would make one wall adjustable so you can adjust it as you grow stronger. I've seen some setups with winches but I use chain. The opposite wall can have about 10-20 degree overhang to it and the other walls should be vertical to accomodate the adjustable wall swinging down, windows (light), door, HVAC.

Don't forget some sort of sound system and beer fridge!

I will definitely be adding in some lighting and small sound system, probably some computer speakers or some thing I can just plug my phone into.

So a question on the adjustable wall, from what I sketched out if I were to want a wall to start at say 30 degrees, and be adjustable out to say 45 or higher I would need to build the wall short enough to accommodate the 30 degree overhang. This would leave me with a shorter wall than I could have if it was static when moved to 45 degrees. If that makes sense. I think i figured (napkin math) I could get about ~10.5' @ 30 degrees versus ~13' @ 45.

Also I understand the chain would keep the wall from moving down at all but is it just the sheer weight/angle that would keep it from moving the other way?

In reply to:
Yeah...so climbing's probably not gonna take with you.
This is a possibility I have considered (Though not for the reasons you imply, the "comfort" is more about not freezing my balls off in winter). It's entirely possible I'll get out on my first real outdoor climb and be like "wtf was I thinking?" BUT, even if that didn't appeal to me as much I would still be sticking with the bouldering. Either way I was never really a fan of Cheetos. Also thanks for the pointer to Mountain Project, hadn't come across that site yet!


(This post was edited by Idako on Jun 13, 2011, 10:02 AM)


lazymonkey


Jun 14, 2011, 8:51 AM
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An hour from the gunks AND the nearest gym? Where do you live man? Im an hour south of the gunks and there is a ton of bouldering and 2 gyms within a half hour from me...you must be north or west of the gunks im guessing?


Idako


Jun 14, 2011, 8:58 AM
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Hyde Park, so North and East (and having to cross the bridge), On weekends it's not bad usually not much traffic. But on week nights the bridge can be a pain in the ass.


ClimbSoHigh


Jun 14, 2011, 9:43 AM
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I built my bouldering cave in a shed and loved how much easier it was having exposed studs to work from, and already weather tight. Unless you have building experience, it might be a good idea to buy a prefabbed shed and build from that if you got the loot. A buddy of mine built a free standing wall outside and it did not take long for the t-nuts to rust up and soon after was abandoned. Some things I would recomend from my own adventures building my cave.

1. Try to use full 8x4 sheets when possible. I made mine very intracate with different anges, volumes, and variety, but wasted a ton of plywood cutting the pieces to fit the framing.

2. Don't make it too monotone though. The more intracate the design and route setting options, the more you will use it.

3. Make it a fun place, for me that meant running some power out to it and putting in a sound system, lighting, dehumidifier, heat and AC. That was very important to me since I only use my wall when it rains, too hot, or too cold. If its nice I go climb a rock. I really wish in retrospect that I sprang for some insulation though.


Idako


Jun 14, 2011, 9:52 AM
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What were the dimensions of your shed( height width length) before any customizing?

One of the things I am debating is if I should just go all in and get a building permit / variance and make it bigger or stay within the realm of 144 sq ft and 10' ceiling.

I'm finally getting a better hang of google sketchup and was working with a model of 8'x18' possible to allow me to use full sheets more easily.


Idako


Jun 14, 2011, 7:52 PM
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So this is something I was considering (see attached google sketchup / pngs) basically a 30 degree overhang and a 45->30 degree one, with some vertical room as well.

Any thoughts / feedback both good and bad appreciated.

Thanks,
Attachments: 18x8_Climbing.skp (125 KB)
  18x8_Climbing.png (67.2 KB)
  18x8_Climbing2.png (66.7 KB)
  18x8_Climbing3.png (72.9 KB)


anykineclimb


Jun 15, 2011, 12:33 AM
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Initial reaction is I don't like the layout. with that size shed, I would go with the steeper wall all on one side and a slightly overhanging wall opposite.

a good thing about your design is it allows easy access to the back of the wall for storage or recessing of stereo, etc


Idako


Jun 15, 2011, 4:36 AM
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you mean kind of like this general shape?

______|----18'----|
30*-->/----------\ <--45*

Well apparently some town regs both added headache and opened up new possibilities. Since I'm gonna need to do paperwork anyway I can build up to 22' in height and any square footage since I'll need a permit / variance no matter what.


(This post was edited by Idako on Jun 15, 2011, 9:50 AM)


climb4free


Jul 18, 2012, 2:27 PM
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Idako wrote:
you mean kind of like this general shape?

______|----18'----|
30*-->/----------\ <--45*

Well apparently some town regs both added headache and opened up new possibilities. Since I'm gonna need to do paperwork anyway I can build up to 22' in height and any square footage since I'll need a permit / variance no matter what.

How did this work out for you?


Idako


Jul 19, 2012, 5:05 AM
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Cost and ideal location ended up being limiting factors, I put a 45* wall up in my garage for the time being with about a 6' long roof as well. Sadly my low ceilings in the basement limited my options.


climb4free


Jul 19, 2012, 7:25 AM
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That's still cool that you went after it. I think garage walls are great. Any pictures?


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