By Christopher Schafenacker
There’s nothing like installing a home climbing wall to relieve the pandemic blues and crank your psych back up. And then there’s nothing like discovering that all your problems suck to bring it all toppling back down. Luckily, a poorly-set woody is an easy problem to fix. Consider the tips below to turn your training dungeon into a training dream.
1. Have a Plan
Before you begin splattering your wall with holds, take a moment to reflect on your goals. Are setting in preparation for your next training cycle? Working a project with a heinously crimpy crux? Looking to get pumped running laps in preparation for a post-pandemic trip to Kalymnos? Setting your board up in a way that supports your training objectives not only ensures you milk your sessions for all they’re worth, but also keeps you motivated on those days where pulling on sounds about as fun as waxing your nose hairs.
2. Set Plenty of Jugs
Because a home climbing wall should be built at a 30- or 40-degree overhang even those who crush double-digit boulders are going want to litter their setup with jugs. Everyone needs a warm-up circuit, after all, and what’s more nobody can live on a diet of half-pad crimps without getting injured. Jugs allow you prioritize movement over finger strength and provide opportunities to train endurance and power endurance, too. A standard approach that readily yields engaging problems is to begin each reset of your board by making a large “X” of diverse jugs that stretches from corner to corner.
3. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
Unless you’ve got a set up like Tommy Caldwell's, climbing holds are as precious to you as was hand sanitizer in the early days of the pandemic. The more holds you have at your disposal, the more variety you can build into your home climbing wall. Accordingly, you shouldn’t waste them setting feet. Instead, get weird with your foot holds. Ask your local gym for polished jibs; dig around your yard for natural wood or rock screw-ons; sacrifice your beer cap collection. Affix whatever items you may throughout the lower section of your woody and trust that learning to toe in to slippery-ass river stones will do wonders for your technique.
4. Many Hands, Light Work
If you’ve got the good fortune of having a social bubble or, better yet, the luck to live with fellow climbers, endeavor to make setting your woody a group event. Entice folks with cold beer and burritos and spend the evening designing problems that reflect each individual’s style and strengths. The resultant variety will benefit your climbing by forcing your body into new sequences and will amp up enjoyment by ensuring your problems are not all variations on a single theme.
5. Volumes of Volumes
Just as you can’t have too many jugs, you can’t have an excess of volumes. In allowing you to change the geometry of your wall, volumes provide endless possibilities for advancing your home set up. Place them high and you get a steep overhang to play on; place them low and force technical footwork on your friends; slap one on mid-wall and set a tricky kneebar; heck, with the right volumes you could even rig one of those competition boulders that require simultaneous jumping, toe-hooking, and licking your elbow. Best of all, volumes are easy to make at home. Get a local wood shop to pre-cut the panels and all that’s required for assembly is the same drill you use for bolting on holds. Or, better yet, ask us about creating some volumes custom, just for your freestanding home climbing wall!
Most important to enjoying your home climbing wall is making it more than just a home climbing wall. If you’ve got kids, you know a playroom gets boring fast if the toys never change. The same is true of a pain cave. Complete your training setup by investing in a hangboard, gymnast rings, parallettes and, of course, a theme-appropriate couch for hanging out between burns.
Featured Climbing Training Gear
*NEW* The Rocketeer Wall: our free-standing adjustable solution for those who can’t mount a hangboard anywhere in their home or apartment—or who are limited on space. The Rocketeer gives climbers the additional option to set specific climbing holds. Recreate the crux holds of your proj and get ready to send, bruh.
The Rocket Wall: Available in 6’ and 8’ widths, it’s been tough for us to keep up with the demand for this innovative home climbing wall solution. Slightly overhanging, the Rocket Wall is big enough to set routes on, or to build a systems board.
The Rock-Stah: Our handcrafted version of a traditional hangboard, with curving crimp rails to help alleviate unnecessary strain on your pulleys. Because ain’t no one got time for a finger injury…
Christopher Schafenacker started climbing in Western MA before moving to Granada, Spain, where he now writes, climbs, and runs education-centered training camps for competitive youth climbing teams.