A few months ago, our nearest training venue shut down...abruptly. Following this, we were back to the square we were on one year previous. It wouldn't be fair to refer to it as square one as one of the closer of the climbing walls is a cracker - Simon Young's MagicWood is well worth the visit if you happen to be in the mid-north Cornwall area, fantastical shapes and a very high standard of route setting. If we happened to be based 45 minutes closer then this whole project wouldn't have any function. So, maybe square 1.2.
The obvious choice was a garden set-up, all envisioned and undertaken during bouts of beautiful weather where the very idea of rain was inconceivable.
This was a rookie mistake, it's Cornwall after all...
Bottom right: the campus tree. Another homemade training toy, like a campus board, but less precise. It has received slightly more use as mud is less of a problem.
This isn't really a new development of ours, more of a revamp. Ghetto Wall Take 1 consisted of four sheets of ply coach-screwed to some unfortunate trees. It worked surprisingly well, and kept us occupied for a good few months. Sadly, winter set in and with it strong winds that highlighted the flaw in the design: trees move with the weather, which is good for them, but bad for our solid frame as the bolts sheered one by one, as if the boards were unzipping from the trees. We completed it's deconstruction and salvaged all the materials, thus clearing the way for Take 2.
Take 2 consists of a large wooden frame onto which the old ply, squared off, is screwed. It is then raised up by a series of solid old pulleys and slightly dubious ropes, formally known as 'blocks and tackle', apparently, magicked up by Sam's Dad. All tied off on trees. The angle is adjustable (currently set to about 30 degrees) and the whole wall can move with the trees, making it quite a flexible system. The height can be up to around 13 foot and the width is eight foot, large enough for small problems. We have added volumes to make better use of the 'slightly less positive holds', and to add an extra dimension to a flat wall.
It wasn't a perfect process; after we screwed all the ply to the frame it took a superhuman effort to flip the thing, and the fetching coat of 'shed red' has rendered the back so waterproof that it stores water now. It is pretty awesome, however, and all that remains is to use it properly. In the three months since we erected it, the rain has barely paused for a breather. Really, the one thing that we would take from this project is that if you are building a home wall in the UK in the hope of actually using it... Build it inside.