A climbing wall might seem less than safe, but with a few precautions, you can build one that's both fun and safe for your children. Place the highest grips at adult eye level and above a safe landing space like a flat, clear lawn, and the worst falls will result in some bruises and learning better climbing technique. You can build a basic wall in an afternoon - the longest step is waiting for your order of grips to arrive.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Plywood sheet, 1 cm (3/8 inch) by 1.2 by 2.4 metres (48 by 96 inches)
- 12 7 cm (3 inch) wood screws
- Power drill
- Set of 30 to 40 rock climbing holds
- Lag bolts
- Hex key
- Exterior paint or stain
Find a location for your climbing wall. It should have two solid anchor points between 1.2 and 2.4 metres (4 and 8 feet) apart and a safe landing area below. A good exterior example is the posts for a 1.8 metre (6-foot) wooden fence. Inside, the exposed wall studs in a garage work well - provided you pad the floor.
Order 30 to 40 rock climbing holds from a discount online supplier. This will potentially save you hundreds of dollars over buying your gear retail. Make sure the order comes with mounting hardware: lag bolts sized for the holds.
Drill holes in your plywood board to match the number of holds you've ordered. Aim for one to two holes every 30 square cm (1 square foot), with no holes within 5 cm (2 inches) of any edge of the board. Drill the holes wide enough to accommodate the lag bolts coming in your order. You can get their exact specs from your supplier.
Apply a coat of exterior paint or stain to the plywood. This step is only necessary if your board will be outside.
Attach the receiving nuts for your lag bolts in the holes in your board, using the directions that came with the bolts.
Set the plywood board in place against the support posts, laying the plywood so that the 2.4 metre (8-foot) dimension is horizontal. Attach it to the posts with a line of six evenly spaced wood screws per post. For best results, the bottom of the board should be about one foot off the ground.
Place the climbing holds and bolt them in place at each of your mounting holes. You can use online resources to find sample setups, or simply experiment. Rock climbing holds can be removed and remounted, so you always have the option of changing the route.
Tips and warnings
- Despite the low elevation, children should always wear a safety helmet while climbing. A bike helmet is the wrong shape, but bowl-shaped skating helmets are suitable. A rock-climbing helmet, available at most sporting goods stores and from your online supplier, is the best.
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