Our Favorite Climbing Wall Games
Adding some games to your menu of Traverse Wall® activities brings a new level of excitement to the climbing experience. Our three favorite climbing games not only help to develop climbing skills, but also work on teambuilding, problem-solving and communication skills. Share your best climbing game in the comments!
Climbers try to complete climbing commands while following a specific rule.
Grade Level: 3 and up
- Sarah Says Command Cards, one per partnership
- Cones to mark panel sections, optional
Advance Set Up: Create your own or download and print the sample command card and have them available for partners. Mark each panel section with cones, if desired.
Activity: This is a climbing wall version of the traditional children’s game of a similar name in which commands are given and movements are allowed only if the command is preceded by “Sarah says…” One person will climb (staying on one 4'x8' panel section), while the other is “Sarah” and gives commands. If the climber moves when “Sarah” has not said “Sarah says..,” then the partners switch roles. Otherwise, the partners switch roles when the climber successfully completes 10 commands.
Variation: Add letters, numbers or words next to hand holds and create commands that bring in other learning. For example, “Sarah says touch two numbers that add up to 5” or “Sarah says touch a letter in your name.”
Up & Down Relay Race
This is a fast-paced and fun way to use the climbing wall for a competitive challenge.
Grade Level: 3 and up
Grouping: Teams of 2 or more people per 4-foot-wide climbing wall panel section
Materials: Tape (preferably Gaffers’ Tape)
Advance Prep: Place a tape mark at the exact same height on each climbing wall panel. Be sure to select a high location that participants will have to climb to but will also be able to reach while keeping their feet in the climbing zone below the Red-Relief® Line.
Activity: To begin, teams line up at the edge of the safety mats across from their designated panel section. At the same time, one person from each team runs to the climbing wall, gets on their climbing wall panel, climbs to and touches the tape mark and then climbs back down to the mat, runs to and taps their teammate who will then run and climb to and touch the tape mark. Repeat for all team members. Each person should climb the panel three times (modify for teams with more or less climbers). The first team to complete these climbs wins the race. For safety, climbers should climb down, not jump off, the climbing wall. If needed, employ a 10 second “freeze” for any team that does not follow this safety rule to help them remember.
Teaching Tip: Taller climbers have an advantage in this game. As much as possible, create teams with equally distributed heights.
Variation: Have teams climb their panel more than three times.
Climbing Wall Twister®
This classic children's game has been transformed into a fun partner activity on the climbing wall that requires great listening and problem-solving skills.
Grade Level: 2 and up
Materials: Twister spinner or set of cards, one per partnership
Advance Prep: Make spinners or cards
Each partnership will use one 4-foot-wide panel and mat section. If you have a 40-foot-long climbing wall, then 20 participants can play at one time, with partnerships spread out along the length of the wall. One person from each partnership will be on the climbing wall, using only one panel. The other will be on the safety mat spinning the spinner, or pulling a card, and letting the climber know what move to make. If the climber’s foot/hand is already on the color indicated by the command, s/he must find a new hold of that color. After 10 successful moves, partners switch roles.
Note: Unlike the original game, participants do not come in contact with one another.
Teaching Tip: Number each climbing wall panel and have participants try new panels. Each panel offers a unique experience because hand holds are different and in different locations on each panel. Try them all!
Variation: Instead of partners, this activity could be conducted with one person spinning/pulling cards for all climbers on the wall. Still keep climbers on one panel and then rotate them through other panels after 10 successful moves.