Living in a country that is primarily flat and not very well known for climbing, I found myself longing for places to climb. Anytime I wanted to climb at camps or events, I would need to find trees or other large structures to climb. This was not ideal and often was not easy for anyone else to climb.
I was invited to teach basic ropes and rigging at a few kids camps, and again, struggled to find anything suitable for the kids to practice. We have all seen those big walls on trailers that are rented to carnivals and big events. These typically cost thousands to buy or hundreds to rent for a day. They are also not always available, so they are not easy to get for a event on short notice. Purchasing one just to use a few times a year is also not financially reasonable for most. This got me thinking, there must be an easy and cheaper way to have a climbing wall that can be portable and set up at events.
I met with a local bouldering gym and we talked things over. They offered to assist with materials for a project that would become my portable wall. And with that, I started to build a set of wall panels that could be connected together to build a climbing wall. Each panel could be connected in a variety of ways to allow the wall to be changed as needed.
The design was simple, build a sturdy frame out of 2x4's and then attach a sheet of plywood. Each plywood sheet was predrilled and had t-nuts installed to allow the holds to be changed on the wall easily. A total of 5 panels were constructed in this way and 6 leg sections added to provide support and allow the wall to be freestanding on a level surface.
Once all the panels were completed, they could be easily bolted together in a matter of minutes and put into any order. Here was the 'test' setup. This was the first time putting all 5 panels together. The legs were attached in a random order due to the wall being built indoors.
After a quick coat of paint, and adding the holds, the wall was ready to use. Since the holds can be easily changed, it can also be set for any skill level. It can also be set for anyone from kids to adults.
As mentioned, the wall can also be assembled into different shapes depending on the circumstances. Here it is set in a higher configuration.
When it is all said and done, it all packs up into a nice small pile and can be put into a large van.
This was an amazingly easy project, cost only a few hundred dollars in materials and takes about 1-2 hours to construct and put on all the holds. By far one of the easiest ways to bring rock climbing to any event and since the wall is built out of sturdy materials, it can be left set up for multiple days at a time.