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How to build a commercial grade climbing wall. Part two.

Updated: Mar 4, 2022

*Note from the Author: This post is now out of date. When I built the wall we built when Skyhook first opened, I was copying the building process of another local gym that opened ages ago. I didnt know enough at the time, and the design I built back by copying them was out of date when I did it, and is now about 20 years past modern "Best Practices". I will add some notes to these blog posts, talking about what has since changed since these posts were originally published in 2016. Hopefully soon I will also write a post on what the industry is currently doing! *

If you are curious how commercial climbing gym facilities build and design Climbing and Bouldering walls, look no further! This is part two of our blog series about how we built the wall here at Skyhook, click here for part one if you missed it.

So what I was unable to get picture of was the part right before this photo. We moved the column next to the anchors, and lifted the side without the footplate onto the scissor lift while it was low down to the ground. By driving closer to the anchors and slowly raising the lift, I was able to position it exactly where we wanted it, and then strap it on to the lift until I had secured the nuts on to the footplate.

Second one installed!

Third! You can also see how I was cooking food, at this point I was pretty much living at the business. I would go home every couple of days to do laundry and shower.

They are all in!

Can you see a climbing wall? The next steps were to put the top and bottom bars into place. We had already drawn the lines on the floor and cut the appropriate angles for the steel beams.

Top bar installed, bottom bar in place ready for welds.

Top bars are in place and tacked to hold them. Big Beefy Tacks. You can also see how we are preparing to put the steel that sticks out parallel with the floor. A clamp holding a very thick piece of angle iron on one side...

... and a very tall stand on the other.

Top bar lifted in and clamped on both sides. If you didn't see how a scissor lift was essential to this project before, I'm sure you see it now.

Next top bar in place.

And most of the top frame for the cave section is in place!

Getting the first of the angle pieces in. Get the bottom lined up, then use the scissor lift to lift the top until its perfectly lined up with the connection. Getting the math right for the cuts for the top was challenging. What works on paper doesn't always work in real life! The little two by four sticking off the side of the scissor lift was incredibly useful. It kept the welders wire from getting caught in the scissor lift as it went up and down, as well as helping us not run it over as we drove around.

Next bar in place, and sections are getting welded in place.

Using flat plate steel with clamps helps hold things in the proper line up for welding.
clamps and flat plate

Using flat plate steel with clamps helps hold things in the proper line up for welding.

Another angle. A big thank you to My helper here! Without his expertise, I dont think I would have had the confidence to take on this project.


Removing the support since we had tacked the steel in place already.

Well the wall itself is getting there, we still needed to start the kids sections. What a mess! SO many things are happening at this point other then just the climbing wall! We had the steel for the trampolines, and a mess of exercise equipment I had picked up.

*Authors notes: As I already mentioned, this post is pretty out of date, but the building of the frame shown here isn't terrible. While it is overbuilt, and most modern wall building companies build there frames offsite, so they bolt together onsite, this method of wall building, as far as the welded steel frame goes, isn't terrible. When I say overbuilt, what I mean is that we used heavier gauge material then we needed to, since we didn't know what we were doing. Lighter gauge steel, with more frames would have brought the cost down.*

I think this is a pretty good stopping place for part two, click here if you would like to read part three!

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