More Problems

This is a pretty minor complaint but I thought I would share since it might prove useful to someone out there building any home wall, this is not specific to the “treadwall” type of design. I have a problem with “spinners”.

(for those of you not steeped in climbing jargon a spinner is a hold that has become somewhat loose. Not loose enough to fall off. Just loose enough to spin when you grab it or stand on it.)

I think this is largely due to the fact that I am using spf 2x8s rather than the 3/4″ plywood that comprises many climbing walls. The fact that they are softer and thicker allows the t-nut to be pulled into the lumber really easily and the t-nuts loosen with time. I think the highly variable humidity in my garage also contributes to this ’cause the boards are constantly expanding and shrinking, so the t-nuts pull into the wood and holds spin.

So as a warning to all of you building woodies at home, t-nuts in dimensional lumber will lead to spinners. And on the mobius wall Version 2.0 I will be using plywood for the slats and the t-nuts will be placed in countersunk holes so that standard length bolts will work with the holds.



Last Day of the Season

Morgan and I sneaked out to the pass for one last day of bolting, adding new pitches at Emerald Lake, before the snow flew. We didn’t get any photos so this post feels a little lacking, but I will carry on regardless.

We established our goals for the day on the drive from Lethbridge to the pass and decided to attempt a direct finish to Diamond in the Rough. On our last outing we added a third pitch to this route by traversing right along a ledge system at the top of the second pitch to avoid what looked like less appealing climbing above. But the lengthy traverse meant the route couldn’t easily be rappelled. A direct line would allow the route to be rappelled easily by following parties, or if we pushed the routes high point a little further we thought the top of Rags to Riches could be reached for an alternate decent.

On the first 2 pitches it looks like a number of parties have had to bail. If anyone would like to comment on the grades of these climbs feel free to leave a comment here. Also, I would also like to point out that despite the moderate grades these are intimidating routes. If you’re at or near your limit on 5.9 single pitch sport climbs these will be scary.

At the top of pitch 2 there is a 10 foot bulge of vertical rock with what looks like rambling, slab climbing above, the climbing we wanted to avoid last time. Here we unpacked the drill and Morgan took the lead. Past the bulge Morgan found, to our surprise, relatively good quality rock and technical 5.9 slab climbing. Morgan placed all 8 bolts he packed for the pitch and climbed 30m before bringing me up to swing leads. We didn’t put in a station at this belay because we thought a large ledge above could be reached in a single 60m. Unfortunately, Morgan called out that I was nearly at 30m when I was about 5m below the ledge. So the station is a little lower than we had hoped.

We climbed a short pitch slinging trees to gain the ledge above. From here Morgan started leading and bolting P4. Which is above the top of Rags to Riches. We previously hadn’t considered climbing this rock ’cause it also looked rambling, but it turned into reasonably technical 5.9ish climbing as well on good rock. Morgan ran out of bolts (and at this point we only had rap hangers left. I took a turn climbing the pitch and added one more bolt (with a ring) so that the this pitch could safely gain the ledge above. I think, you could now use this route to approach the infamous Crow Cave above emerald wall. In the spring I will try to head up there to see if it lives up to the hype.


In Office Training & a Note on the Minotaur

Since my wife gave birth to our second child two months ago I have mainly been trail running. I was training for a “mountain race” called The Minotaur and with the new baby I didn’t have time to train for climbing as well. So after about 10 weeks off I am wanting to get back to climbing and with our, once again, baby inclusive lifestyle I am looking for new and more convenient ways to squeeze a bit of training into my day.

So in addition to doing playground workouts with my toddler I have been building various “climbing bombs” to hang in my office. This is helping me squeeze in some lunchtime workouts. So far I have balls, 2″ pipes, and jugs with multiple tie offs to allow for offset hangs.



I am planning to make fat pinches out of a piece of 4×4 and a single pad crimp as well to round out the collection. These will probably replace the 2in pipes I made, which I don’t think are close enough to any typical climbing holds to be beneficial. I will post photos of these when they are done.

With these holds I reworked the “10 minute workout” that Metolius publishes for use with its rock rings to work with the holds I have and to minimize swapping holds. My workout is shown below if anybody wants to use it or make recommendations. For being only 10 minutes I find it gives me a pretty solid pump. It isn’t a bouldering session but as a way to fill my lunch break it beats facebook. I generally warm up by doing pushups, dips, and squeezing some theraputty.

Time (minutes) Task Hold
1st minute 3 pull-ups Jugs
2nd minute 10 seconds bent-arm hang Jugs
15 seconds Dead Hang 2 pads on
3rd minute 2 Offset Pull-ups 2 pads on
2 Offset Pull-ups (other way) 2 pads on
4th minute 20 seconds L-Hang 2 pads on
10 seconds lever 2 pads on
5th minute 5 Pull-ups 2 pads on
6th minute 10 seconds Offset Hang Balls and jugs
10 seconds Offset Hang (other way) Balls and jugs
7th minute 15 seconds L-Hang Balls
15 seconds Dead Hang Balls
8th minute 20 seconds Bent Arm Hang Balls
10 seconds Dead Hang Balls
9th minute 20 seconds L-Hang crimps
10th minute 10 Pull-ups or front lever to failure crimps
7-3 repeaters pinches & crimps


Side note: The Minotaur was a great time (even if there was no 5th class climbing involved, it did have about ~6000ft of gain in a ~20km loop) and I would recommend it to anyone interested in either scrambling or running. If you are curious about the race or terrain they have some photos on

It was a really neat experience to try to do this much scrambling as fast as you can, without having to do any route finding or messing around. It made for a really great day out. At the finish line the general consensus was that it wasn’t even type 2 fun, it was type 1 fun. People finished smiling and sat down in the sun to drink kombucha, eat snacks, and chat. I will definitely be there next year.

If you have any recommendations for rock ring workouts or how you workout in your office or thoughts on mountain races, please comment below. I would love to hear from you.


UPDATE, October 4, 2017:

I made an addition to my training tools over the weekend: Pinch Blocks with a 3/4″ crimp and updated my workout above to include them (I have stopped using the pipes. I found they felt tweaky for my wrists). I am now also finishing this workout by doing 7-3 repeaters on one or two grips.


Wall Update

I have been climbing on the wall for a few months now. Usually once or twice a week in addition to whatever other climbing I manage to squeeze in, and now that the weather is getting nice it is really motivating to be able to open up the garage door and get some fresh air while climbing. It’s not climbing outside but it’s pretty sweet for a tuesday night.

I digress. I think that climbing on the wall through the winter usually at temps of around -5 °C the chain stretched, that or I am wearing it out faster than I would expect. Either way come spring time some of the planks weren’t quite getting pulled around in time to make it onto the return guide on the back of the wall and it was stalling. So I had to cut the return channel a bit and bend the return guides out a little more by hand, shown below. Bending by hand didn’t make for that pretty a product, but things are running again and I didn’t have to tighten the chain.

Guide flange cut longer and bent out further. The bend started at the slotted hole previously. The black goo on the boards is a combination of wax (lube) and mill-scale, it’s not a problem.
The next version of this design will definitely have longer lead ins like this from the get go. It will help avoid problems and I see no trade off in doing it. I will climb on it like this for a couple more months then check the chain to see if it has stretch significantly. If so I might consider going to a heavier chain than the #40 I am currently using.

Also, I had added the slotted hole so the lead ins would be easy to bend by hand, but with a crescent wrench it was pretty easy to bend the longer ones by hand. So next time there will be no holes and they will be a lot sturdier.

I am putting on 200 to 400 feet per session and I am guessing I have put at least 6000 feet of mileage on the wall and there are no serious problems cropping up so I think it is doing pretty well for a prototype.

More Emerald Lake Updates

Morgan and I went out to Emerald lake on Sunday and tacked another pitch onto the top of Diamond in the Rough. We also decided that the grades on the topo were pretty sandbagged so the guide has been changed to something I hope is more accurate at 5.9.

Bolting this new pitch we traversed right along a ledge system from the top of Pitch 2 to find better quality rock. And we did find better rock but only about 4 bolts worth then it turned to choss. We were taking turns bolting from stances, since we were only going to get one new pitch done for the day, and Morgan drew the short straw leading us through the loose rock above the solid climbing that I got to lead.

Morgan on Pitch 3 of Diamond in the Rough
After rapping down and doing a bit of cleaning, we marched further left up the talus slope from DITR so I could check out a line Morgan bolted last summer (or maybe it was the summer before). It is the second unrecorded line left of Family Jewels (maybe 100m) and clocks in at around 5.10c, 6 bolts. If you are there I would recommend trying it out. This climb is a fine piece of work on Morgans part.

Update: Guard and Holds

I now have holds (not just hunks of 2×4) and the finger guard on the wall. Video Here.

Having had the wall running for a few weeks now, I can say that I am pleased overall with how it is functioning, no break downs yet, and that it is proving a usable piece of exercise equipment. It hasn’t supplanted my trips to the gym but I no longer feel any impetus to go to the gym without a ready partner. And I genuinely can squeeze in a 1/2 hour climbing workout when I don’t have time to go to the gym, just as I had hoped. So I am climbing more.

I only recently acquired a decent stash of holds so up to this point the “route” on my wall has been pretty hard and I haven’t been able to do any endurance training. The upside of this has been to demonstrate to me that the wall is a VERY effective anaerobic endurance training tool. I can get a mad pump on in about 5 minutes, without any trouble. And interval training on the wall is alot of fun.

Given the response to my last video I elected to get the guard finished rather than leaving it in the corner to rust. The brush on the guard isn’t as stiff as the ones I have used at my work so the guard will need a little tweaking to compensate for the sagging brush. As is it still keeps your fingers out of the pinch point but I am losing valuable inches of climbing room.