Introduction: Building a Climbing Wall at the Top of the Stairs
When Christy and I lived in Somerville, just outside of Boston, our house had this great big open area on the third floor over the stairs. I just couldn't stop imagining an indoor climbing wall in this space; considering that in Boston you can only climb outdoors half the year, once winter came, I just started building. It took a couple of years to actually finish because a number of things got in the way (learning to kitesurf, getting a Ph.D. etc..), but once done, I absolutely loved being able to climb for 20-30 minutes everyday with almost no setup time.
I obviously didn't take as many pictures as I should have, but you can get some sense of the project and how over-engineered it was. Before I attached the plywood panels, friends who came over would joke that if the house fell down, my climbing wall would be the last thing standing.
We framed it out with 2x4s and 2x6s lag-bolted into the studs, and made a floating arch to avoid actually tapping into the joists. The panels are 3/4" plywood, sanded and polyurethaned, with T-nuts embedded in a 4-inch grid across each face. The panels were screwed into the framework with 3-inch screws.
We bought lots of holds off eBay (much cheaper than buying them new) and had plans to make more of our own, but never got around to it.
When we moved out of that house, the new owners insisted that the climbing wall be removed. "Ridiculous!," I said, but it just wasn't a selling point for them. So, we removed the panels and stored them for later use, and ripped out the support frame, and set it out for reuse. Removing the entire climbing wall only took about three days, and I laughed that it was one day of removal per year of build. We still have the plywood panels and climbing holds, and are just waiting to find the perfect space to rebuild.