Climbing is an increasingly popular sport, and a well-designed climbing wall can act as a centerpiece for your facility, offering an exciting view of the activity inside to passersby and drawing in new members.
Q: How can we build a climbing wall that will be a beautiful centerpiece for our facility and keep climbers interested?
A: It might seem that everyone has a different priority for the climbing wall. Facility management wants a highly aesthetic option that can serve as a centerpiece for the facility. Climbers just want a wall that will give them lots of opportunities to try new and exciting routes. Combining different types of climbing wall products in your facility can give you a chance to satisfy your board members, as well as your climbers.
Take the climbing wall at the Colorado State University Student Recreation Center as an example. The wall includes a 40-foot freestanding tower as well as 55 linear feet of bouldering wall, meeting the needs of all user groups, including students, administration and facility management.
The wall combines two climbing wall systems to meet the operational goals of the indoor climbing program while providing an aesthetically pleasing centerpiece to the center. The portion of the tower viewed from outside is made from glass fiber reinforced concrete, which looks and feels like natural rock and makes for an eye-catching advertisement for the activity inside.
The remainder of the tower and the entire bouldering area is made from a different product, which consists of a thick, cementitious texture applied over sheets of interlocking OSB and supported by a steel framing system. This product is designed to provide a beautiful yet functional canvas to accommodate features like arches, overhangs, cracks and pinnacles. More importantly, it allows facilities to keep climbers excited by offering creative and continually changing routes.
Q: We want to be sure to engage climbers on an ongoing basis. What should we know?
A: Keeping climbers excited and interested is critical to your climbing wall's success. The key is to continually offer new challenges. You do this by constantly setting creative new routes.
Find a climbing wall that offers modular handholds, as well as built-in climbing holds and natural relief. Then, train your staff on route setting to ensure they are able to change the routes, offering new excitement for your more experienced users.
Climbing wall operators should follow the 80/20 philosophy of route setting. Set 20 percent of your routes at a 5.10 level of difficulty or higher, and set 80 percent of your routes at a lower level of difficulty. New climbers will feel less intimidated and will be able to build their experience over time, and experienced climbers will constantly find new challenges.