Home Rocks with a Home Climbing Wall
When COVID-19 hit southern California and closed all the climbing gyms and required residents to stay at home, Alex Chaunt’s wife suggested that he spend his unexpected free time cleaning out the garage. While doing so, and missing climbing, he got the idea to build a home climbing gym in the space.
His garage is large—about 20 feet wide and 30 feet deep, with a 16-foot high-ceiling and exposed beams. He quickly got to work planning and designing; he had big goals for his home climbing wall. He wanted a lot of variety and he really wanted to mimic and incorporate some features of outdoor climbing he had not previously seen in indoor climbing gyms.
Chaunt’s climbing wall features roofs, a chimney and overhangs with angles ranging from 0 to 75 degrees. It even has a stalactite feature meant to bring an element of climbing from Tonsai Beach in Thailand. The wall includes hand holds predominantly from Everlast Climbing and Kumiki Climbing, with most routes set by Chaunt himself. Additionally, the climbing wall has a finger board and two campus boards, of varying angles, built using two-by-fours. There’s even some TRX equipment. The climbing wall also features colorful murals of Joshua Tree and Tramway that an artist friend created which bring back fond outdoor climbing memories. Safety surfacing consists of two-inch gymnastic mats topped with crash pads. This surface works well for the yoga and martial arts that also go on in the space.
It was important to Chaunt that the entire garage be climbable which presented some engineering challenges. First up was the fact that the garage still needed to accommodate a refrigerator and storage. His solution was custom-built cupboards that allowed climbing over them. He had to create special hinges that would prevent the cabinet doors from moving while hosting a climber.
Also, with such large and bold features, it was important to make sure that all the walls and roofs were appropriately load bearing and did not undermine the structural integrity of the garage. This was a big framing challenge and took some work to calculate, but the net result is a structure now stronger than had been there previously without the climbing gym.
Another engineering necessity was the installation of a large extractor fan in the roof section. Chaunt found that the temperature increased 30 degrees when climbers got above 10 feet with the hot interior air having nowhere to escape, making climbing very challenging. Lighting was also an unforeseen issue with so many different angles making it hard to appropriately illuminate the chimney and crack sections. Chaunt got around this with a mixture of strategically-placed wall and ceiling lights, as well as LED light strips running along the seams on the walls.
His traditional roll-up garage door was yet another problem because it hindered ceiling access. This was remedied by removing it and building a large rolling barn door. He plans to add hand holds to the exterior for a nice traverse climbing section.
Chaunt also plans to add bolts to the roof along the front of the space so that family, friends and he can do some sport climbing. As a constant innovator, it seems that Chaunt will continue to make improvements and additions. The home climbing gym is named “Home Rocks” because the dual meaning was perfect. There’s no better place than home during a pandemic, especially with one that rocks like this one.