Climbing Toward Success

· The age group to be served. This will help determine the height of the wall, as well as the surface. If serving children in grades K-5, an 8-foot wall is appropriate. For middle-schoolers, a 10-foot wall is recommended to accommodate the longer legs and arms of the climbers. As climbers gain more experience, there are different textures that can be added to give a fresh, new look and feel while increasing difficulty.

· The facility that is available to host the wall. Look for a space that is void of such obstacles as clocks, thermostats, fire-alarm pulls/strobes, pillars, dividers, basketball hoops, water fountains, windows, etc.

· The surface where the wall will be installed. Is it cinderblock, concrete, drywall with wood or metal studs, built into a corner, or a continuous straight wall? This information will determine the type of installation needed, and whether the panels are directly mounted to the wall or a subwall.

· Your budget. Most companies have walls designed to be priced flexibly to meet the needs of a wide variety of budgets. Many offer an affordable baseline product that has many of the features of more advanced walls (more hand holds, number of t-nuts, red relief safety line, cordless mat locking system, etc.). Another way to meet budgetary needs is through the length of the wall. Recommended is a minimum of 20 feet of horizontal climbing space, and the size can be varied in 4-foot increments. Therefore, a facility may start with a 20-foot wall to meet its budget needs, but can add on to the wall as more money is available.

When In Doubt

“If you are considering adding a wall at your facility, look for demonstration sites in your area,” says Helke. “This will give you a visual picture of what a wall looks like, as well as the features that it hosts. In addition, it will give you the opportunity to ask questions of people who have experience with climbing, and how it is received by their program participants.”

Heather Reichle is a freelance writer living in Columbus, Ohio. She can be reached via e-mail at

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  2. The Next Step
  3. Climbing & Adventure Resources
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  5. Get A Grip On Climbing Walls

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