Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Little Garage of Horrors

Spring is here. How can I tell? Because spiders are alive. If you want to know how I can tell that, well, it's because I've been spending a lot of time in the garage, like all proper young men.

Here it is:

Who wants a snowboard??

Yes, it's awful. I'm working on it. The shed where a lot of this crap is destined to live is still covered in snow, however, so for now it all floats around like a herd of awkward, unwanted children. That you found left behind when you moved in. Everyone's been there, right?

Oh yeah, you can see the frame that will support the wall. We built that over the weekend. The whole thing is made of 2x6s, and in these pictures the bottom supports- what keeps the legs from coming apart like those of an overeager gymnast- haven't been put in yet.

Yeah, none of this would pass mustard in an inspection.

The little support tying the two legs together is a placeholder, but I do want to put another one like it further down. The bulk of the weight of the wall will be held up by these legs, and the force will want to push them apart; better safe than sorry.

Note to self

Well, I do

And then, last night, I finished putting in the base supports and added in the first wall piece:

It's aliiiive!

It fits! I was kind of holding my breath, imaging that we wouldn't be able to get it in there. It took some wrestling but we managed to get it in place, more or less.

Not approved for climbing... yet.

Right now, the wall is just sitting in the frame, not actually fastened in. When it does get attached, it will be pushed flush against the side, and I want to add some additional reinforcement before that happens. In this picture you can see the bottom support, which is just a really long 2x6 that both legs of the A-frame are attached to. This makes the side a big triangle, and I have it on good authority that triangles are totally legit.

There's still a lot to do, but it's really starting to look like A Thing. I have to restrain myself from jumping on it every time I walk by. I know this because I tried (see holds) and the thing shifted a little too much for comfort- remember, it's not actually attached to anything. There's also some outward bowing of the top bar from the weight of the wall/climber, so I might run another beam along it to reinforce.

We're getting there!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Just hanging around

Hey ya'll, just a miscellaneous update and assorted picture dump. In preparing to assemble my wall, I've had to consider which holds will be usable on the horizontal roof section, and make sure enough I have enough good jugs to make it climbable. What I realized was that I can test this out myself on my adjustable hangboard-thing, Kuraimu V2. It can go nearly horizontal, but I've somehow never tested it. Hold testing proceeded:

Hmm, yes. I see.

And, as things do, quickly escalated:

The first version of this picture had visible panties. Yowza!

End conclusion: A lot of the holds I ended up with are usable even at a totally horizontal angle, but require careful movement and thoughtful feet to avoid coming off. Very few of my holds, as it turn out, are the sort of bomber roof jugs that guys in toques like to do pull-ups on.

I do have a package coming in from Element containing a few good jugs that I hope should add options. Once those come I want to take a big shot of all my holds in a group- probably the last chance I'll have to do it!

Speaking of Element holds, I want to mention-

Element has some sweet customer service!

Element offers free shipping over a certain amount, like most hold companies. In putting together my latest order I sent an email asking if there was any amount I could spend that would result in free shipping- you never know. I got a very prompt response from a sales rep who told me that the free shipping was for U.S. addresses only, but that he could give me a discount code worth half of the hefty Japan shipping cost. Totally unexpected and cool! Along with the sale on large-size holds I got a sweet deal. And of course, the Element holds I have so far are high quality and I expect no less from the next set. Great experience!

Last, I want to show off this sweet mug I got from my lovely climbing friend:

The hold isn't any better than it looks

Hand-made and one-of-a-kind! Now everyone at my office will know that I'm a climber! I mean, they already knew since I talk about it incessantly, but now there's extra evidence.

Stay tuned for some pics of the framework currently making my garage unusable.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Stress-Testing for Fun and Relaxation

This weekend, a new milestone was reached in the construction of Kuraimu v4- an adult human being hung on the wall and didn't die. Multiple adult humans, actually! Not only that, but nobody sustained grievous bodily harm and the wall didn't break. Things are looking up!

Pictured: Me, alive

It all started when I invited my dear friends and climbing buddies over for a pleasant lunch breakfast-y burrito-things. If it doesn't taste good, I always say, just add more sriracha.

No, it doesn't include the honey.

Once I had my guests fed I sprang my trap: T-nuts, and lots of them. 

Pictured: T-nuts and Element Formula K-2
holds, aka bugs

Just like that, I had a work party going, making good progress on the 200+ T-nut installations I still have to do. Between the three of us, we finished at least fifty of the little buggers, along with a good number of beers. We eventually called it a day and turned to focusing solely on beer, but that didn't last.


We had a big, structurally-complete segment of climbing wall lying around. Our eyes kept returning to it. The framework that eventually hold the wall sections up hasn't been built yet, so I hadn't planned on doing much with the wall other than getting it ready... but we soon decided to have a test. If the wall itself wasn't strong enough to hold up climbers, we reasoned, wouldn't it be better to know now, when reinforcing would be easier? When you've made a decision, it becomes easy to justify.

So we hoisted the wall up against the, uh, wall. The wall of the house. We did so in a controlled and thought-out manner.

I didn't make this face for the camera.

Functional Stength

And then we had a wall, propped up in a very secure and not-at-all life-threatening manner.

Note the highly technical support 2x4 wedged
against the bottom

So now the critical moment came... would the wall hold? Or would there be a cracking noise and a visit to the hospital? This thing weighs well over 200 pounds, a thought that was at the forefront of my mind as I got into position. And...

Yes, I know I already used this picture.

Success! I was able to get all my weight onto one hold, with a minimum of flexing. The wall felt surprisingly stable. I had my (taller, heavier) friend get on after me.

"I'm scared"

I'm now going forward with a great deal of confidence, knowing that this thing is capable of staying rigid. More testing will have to take place, of course, but for now I'm thrilled with this weekend's experimenting.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Fantasy Gym: The Starwhal

Heya, folks, I'm back with another addition of Things I Wish I Had, aka Fantasy Gyms. Like last time's Rock Box, this wall is defined by a space constraint- in this case, height. The Starwhal is a simple one-wall training area, primarily useful for traversing. It is 12 meters in length and fits in a room with a three meters roof- only slightly higher than usual. This time I haven't made an actual gym with check-in and amenities- the Starwhal would be suited for a large home wall or for a sports club or training center.

As you can see, this wall isn't tall and it isn't very deep, either- the wall projects out 1.8 meters at the deepest, making it suitable for a long room that otherwise doesn't have a lot of room to spare. At no point would climbing the wall take more than two or three moves, but hey, that's what traversing is for!

I tried to pack in as much as I could in a limited space. The two major overhangs are at 15 degrees and 30 degrees, and the whole wall features a number of mini-arĂȘtes and dihedrals.

Between the 15 and 30 degree segments is a flat bit with a tapered mini-chimney- this area could be used for all kinds of challenging reaches and backwards movements.The name "Starwhal" is, of course, taken from the big star-shaped feature in the center of the 15 degree area and the fact that naming climbing walls is pretty arbitrary. This feature can be used to change up a wide variety of holds- the bottom is nearly a roof, and the top is a mini-slab for difficult negative holds to be made usable.

This was a quick wall I put together to experiment with packing features into a small traverse wall and in making a wall that was visually appealing in a room that might serve other purposes. As you can see I tried spicing it up with colors, the colors here are more or less the theme colors of my village, but could also be great if you happen to be a Packers fan.

I think you could do a lot worse than a design like this if you found yourself with a single flat span of wall to work with when making a climbing area!