Cragmama "Not all who wander are lost…" JRR Tolkien

10 5.10’s in 10 Sleep at 10 Years Old! (aka Big C’s Experience)

The Band is Just Fantastic 10a

That’s a mouthful to say, right?!? It’s even more impressive to do, considering that said 10 year old only started lead climbing 7 weeks before our trip to Ten Sleep! Considering his lack of experience on the sharp end, the CragDad and I weren’t really sure how he would do, but we were certain that the experience would be invaluable for him. While the bolts in Ten Sleep tend to be a lot closer together than at our crags back home, limestone can be notoriously hard to read. And while he didn’t have much experience climbing on pockets before this trip, we correctly presumed his little hands wouldn’t have too much of an adjustment.

Considering the hectic and frazzled start to the actual climbing part of this trip (see social media or this post for our altitude-induced ER visit with Zoe), we were ALL up for low-key, low elevation areas for the first few days. We pointed Big C in the direction of easy but classic routes, encouraging him to opt for quality over quantity. However, after the first 3 days on of climbing, he was already learning a ton and had accumulated a surprisingly big tick list already!

Day 1

Home Alone 5.8
Soup Sandwich 5.9+
Plea Bargain 5.10a

Day 2

Water Into Wine 5.9 Amazing position right next to the waterfall on this one (check out our drone footage of
Big C’s send!).
Redneck Woman 5.10d Hardest send to date….
Country Cutie 5.11a ……until this one! First 5.11! (video here)

Water Into Wine 5.9

Despite the emotional highs that came from sending his first 5.10d AND first 5.11, my perfectionist son still hiked out in tears that day, emotionally distraught about giving up and bailing on a 5.10b at day’s end. Dinner time discussion that night included a story telling round where the CragDad and I both recounted the (many) times we have lowered off a route in a flurry of intense fear/emotion, only to immediately regret that decision upon reaching the ground. We explained how adrenaline can make everything seem far more intense than it really is, and why analyzing risk/mitigating fears from the ground is such an important piece of the mental game. After being cheered up by hearing about our own personal failures and what we learned from it, he went to bed happy, but dead set on getting redemption on that same route later in the week.

CragDad and I continued the analysis, noting that the main difference between Big C’s failures and successes earlier that day seemed related to route length. His harder sends, the 10d and 11, while physically difficult for him, were very short-lived – both were no longer than 35 feet or so. From a mental standpoint, he didn’t have to “keep it together” for all that long. In contrast, he had bailed on the 10b after bolt 11 out of 13. The route was close to 100 feet tall, was baking in the sun by the time he got on it, and was the last route of the day for him, so he had to be getting tired. We decided that when it came to harder routes for him, we should probably stick to shorter ones for the time being.

Plea Bargain 10a at the Home Alone Wall

Day 3

This Band is Just Fantastic 5.10a Have you ever had a breakthrough in your climbing (or any other activity, really), where you applied a new concept to something you’d been struggling with….and it worked?!? This route was definitely that for Big C! After hanging draws for him, we talked through it together. I told him where I thought the cruxes would be for him – moving past the 1st bolt, and the final sequence to the chains. We mitigated the first by stick clipping the 2nd bolt. For the latter, I gave him the same advice I’d give a grown-up climbing partner – “Towards the end the holds won’t be as good as you are wanting them to be. But there are giant jugs waiting for you at the anchors. Don’t hesitate or you’ll get pumped.”

Country Cutie 5.11a

Sure enough, the early crux took several tries, but once he got his beta dialed he lowered to the ground and did the moves clean. When he got to the last bolt, he started to stall out a bit. Climb a little, then down climb back to the rest. Up a slightly different way, then back down. Each time he seemed a little more desperate than the last. He started to panic a little. “This is going to end up like yesterday…” is what I thought. “I think you’ll be really proud of yourself if you keep going!” is what I shouted. Something clicked. He chalked up, grabbed the less than ideal holds, and kept moving. Next thing we knew he was shouting for joy from the anchors! When I later asked him what was going through his mind in that moment, he said, “I just didn’t want to feel like I did yesterday when I gave up. I knew I would regret it if I did, so I just kept going.” YES!!!!!!!! Parenting win!

Day 4

Rest Day at Meadowlark Lake

Day 5

Lucky Bozo 8
I Love the Big Top 9 Not gonna lie…I was a proud mama when Big C crushed this onsight after I had
previously overheard a grown man complaining about how polished it was.
Shadows of Crows 10c

Since this day coincided with my 100 5.12 goal (more on that here), Big C started reflecting on his own goals. He realized that he had sent 4 5.10’s so far while on the trip, and decided that since he was 10 years old, and in Ten Sleep Canyon, that he wanted to send 6 more to bring his 5.10 count up to 10. It was a lofty goal considering we only had 3 climbing days left, but it did have a nice ring to it, so why not?!?

Rest Day finds!!!

Day 6

Death Metal Navajo 10b
Purple and Yellow Blast 10a
Nebuchadnezzar 10a

Wow, 3 in one day?!?!? It’s amazing how having a specific, tangible goal can provide motivation!!!

Day 7

Rest day at Ten Sleep Creek…his highlight was finding a gigantic T-rex cow skeleton.

Day 8

Honky Tonkin’ 10a
Wagon Wheel 10c
Boot Scootin’ Boogie 10b
How poetic that his 10th 5.10 of the trip would be redemption on the very route
that had sparked tears on the second day of our trip!!! This time around he stormed up it without any
hesitation, and later said it was his favorite route of the entire trip! (And the CragDad later said he thought it was the most physically demanding route Big C has sent to date.)

Also worth noting is that once again, after an amazing day at the Honky Tonk/Powers Wall, Big C hiked out in tears. Despite the THREE awesome sends he had acquired, he only saw the 11b that he sent all the way to the very last move….and then bailed. Twice. More dinner time conversations about been there/done that scenarios from our own climbing journeys, as well as talk about focusing on success rather than failure.

Even with all that climbing, he still had plenty of time to play with his sister!

Day 9

While he might disagree, I definitely think our last day was his best day. Or at the very least, the day that showed the most growth and maturity as a climber. From hanging on the warm up and not getting upset about it, to toproping all the moves on Mr. Poopy Pants 11b…to then choosing to lead Mr. Poopy Pants, getting scared at the top, coming back down and NOT losing his mind about it, to finally giving House Party 10b everything he had and flashing it in epic style, with everyone at the base of the crag cheering for him, Big C showed so much growth as not only a climber, but also as a growing little boy, and I couldn’t be more proud of him. Thankfully, while he was disappointed about backing off the 11b, he was in a good place about it…and besides, he could still tell everyone at home about why the route is called that. (If you don’t know, you should ask him on social media @canaan_climbs….I’m sure he’d love to tell you!)

Having a new leader around has added an interesting dynamic to our family climbing agenda. We’ve had to plan out where we want to climb a little more carefully to ensure there was enough for everyone. We are also learning to navigate parenting a kidcrusher with lofty goals and sometimes unrealistic expectations of themselves. It’s interesting to see a child process the same emotions outwardly that we as adult climbers usually feel inwardly. At times it was a rollercoaster of emotions, but like all good rollercoasters, we came away happy, adrenalized….and ready to ride again!

Boot Scootin’ Boogie 10b – Redemption!!!

Share

Ten Sleep 2020 – Birthday Goals!

Always Keep It Loaded

Considering how covid cancelled both our spring climbing season, as well as our gym training options leading up to the trip, we really had no idea what to expect once we actually got on the rocks in Ten Sleep Canyon. (see here for our we prepped using our quarantine purchased treadwall from Brewer Fitness.) Our main goal was to simply get away from the real world for a while as a family in one of our favorite places. I also had a very specific side goal – coming into the trip I was only 4 sends away from 100 lifetime 5.12’s, and I wanted to hit the 100 mark by my 40th birthday, which was happening at the end of our trip.

This meant that for the first part of the trip, I wanted to focus on 12a’s that seemed like they could go down pretty quickly without putting too much of a dent in my tank for subsequent days. This was also the first trip where we had an extra agenda to balance (my 10yo son just started lead climbing earlier this summer). In light of all that, we found ourselves climbing in areas that were totally new to us for all but a couple of our days.

Unlike pretty much everything else in 2020, our strategy worked out according to plan! I was able to knock out sends 97-100 fairly early on in our trip, with CragDaddy also sending all but the first of those 4 (and with Big C knocking out some pretty big goals of his own…more on that here.) Here’s how everything played out:

Day 1: Always Keep it Loaded 12a (Home Alone Wall)
Day 2: Swedish Penis Enlarger 12a (Austin Powers Wall)
Day 3: Floyd Direct 12a (The Cigar Pillar) Here’s some CragDad sending footage.
Day 4: Rest day at Meadowlark Lake (b/c the older we get, the more we need the rest days!!!)
Day 5: The Barnum Route 12a (Circus Wall) Here’s my sending footy.

With my main objective accomplished, I felt free to hop on a little more variety of routes, both easier as well as harder. Here are my highlights from the second half of our trip:

On top of the Cigar Pillar after sending Floyd Direct on Day 3

Day 6: I Just Do Eyes 11b and Psychedelic Milk Painter 11a (FCR). These were the last two routes I needed to tick all the 11’s on the Back Forty. All of those routes are fantastic, and now after having done them all, the 11b is by far my favorite (closely followed by Crazy Wynona 11d, which I did back in 2018.)
Day 7: Rest day at Ten Sleep Creek (where I had a Lynn Hill and Robyn Erbesfield-Rabotou sighting!)
Day 8: MY 40th BIRTHDAY!!! – definitely one of the best birthdays I’ve ever had! This day ended up being my only double 5.12 day of the whole trip – the mammoth 17 bolt Bossa Nova 12b (vid here) and bouldery and dynamic Sharks with Lasers 12a both went down 2nd go.
Day 9: Mater Hater 12b – It might just be some end of trip exhaustion talking, but this felt like my hardest send of the entire trip. Very bouldery, very reachy, but very fun, and a 2nd go send here was a very good way to end a very nearly perfect trip! (Here’s some video of that one.)

Despite our emphasis on “quickly doable” grades for most of this trip, there were a few harder lines that seemed worth hopping on, despite the lower odds of sending. (As I told my perfectionistic son, “You can’t send ALL the things. But the not-sends are just as important in helping you grow as a climber.”) Routes that went unsent but were well worth mentioning were as follows:

Circus in My Pants 12d

The Gravy Train 12b/c (The Cigar Pillar) – I was all for working it more that day until I hit the final boulder problem, which shifted this line from the very doable category into the more work than I want to devote on a road trip category.
Circus in my Pants 12d (Circus Wall) – This was my favorite route of the trip, and also the hardest one I tried. I was tempted to come back a second day for this one, but in the end the skin shredding factor plus the rest of the family’s goals crossed it out. Next year I would love to invest a little more in this one!
Tangerine Fat Explosion 12c (FCR) – Honestly this one was a little bit of a let down for me. Maybe it was that I was too tired from 3 burns on Circus the previous day, maybe all the hype I’d heard about it had built it up too much in my head about it, but it wasn’t as good as I was expecting it to be.
Vitamin K 12b (Valhalla) – My valiant onsight attempt was thwarted at the very top by crimps and pockets that were just a little too tweaky for a last day send. I’d love to get on it earlier in the trip next time.

Overall, I couldn’t have asked for a better trip, ESPECIALLY considering the circumstances of this year. I am thrilled to have not only reached, but surpassed my goal of 100 lifetime 5.12’s, and so grateful for the time spent with family. And speaking of family, as I alluded to before, you can check out Big C’s goals and lessons learned here. Until then….did anyone else have any summer goals you were able to complete?

Water Into Wine 5.9 – not part of the 5.12 goal, but perhaps the most photogenic route we did!
Share

A Cross Country Driving Adventure with Kids!

If you’ve been following our family on social media at all, you’re probably aware that we just got back from a summer escape to Ten Sleep Canyon, WY. When we first started going out there 8 years ago, we had no idea we would keep coming back again and again…,and again! We’ve tried all manner of “getting there” options. In 2012 we flew into Rapid City, SD and also climbed in Spearfish Canyon and the Custer State Park. In 2015 we flew into Salt Lake City, UT and sandwiched Ten Sleep in between Wild Iris and Logan Canyon. Then in 2018 we flew into Casper, WY so we could spend our entire climbing time in Ten Sleep. But this time around, we opted for something I’ve always wanted to do – a long haul drive across the country in our good old Craggin’ Wagon! Due to our wanting to save some of the CragDad’s PTO for later this fall, I made the leg to Wyoming solo with the kiddos. He flew out for the climbing, then flew back home…on the same day my mom flew out to meet us to help with the drive back home. Logistically, driving has always made a lot more sense.

Somewhere along I-70 in Kansas

SAVING MONEY

Belle Ridge Retret in TN

For one thing, this year we only had 1 plane flight to buy, and because it was purchased with flyer miles, we actually only paid around $20 for it! We also saved a lot in rental car fees. Additionally, we saved a lot of money by bringing our own crag food bought in bulk at Costco as opposed to buying individually packaged bars/jerky/etc in the Wyoming grocery stores once we got there. We did have an additional cost of lodging along the way, but we chose pretty budget friendly hotels. Had the CragDad been with me I probably would’ve opted for camping…but I just couldn’t make myself set up and breakdown that tent every single day all by myself! (There’s definitely an incentive here for building out the van with some sort of sleeping set up!!!) Our original plan was to camp once we got to Ten Sleep, but due to covid we felt better about having our own bathroom, so we rented a little bunkhouse from Ten Sleep RV Park. We were thrilled that additional perks of this place included A/C as well as a refrigerator…and because we were driving, the fact that the kitchen only had the fridge and a sink was no biggie because it was easy to bring our camp stove set up. While it was more expensive than camping for sure, it was by far cheaper than an Air BnB, which would have been our only lodging option with flying, unless we wanted to pay a whole bunch of extra baggage fees (climbing gear is heavy and takes up a lot of room!!!)

ENJOYING THE JOURNEY

As a homeschooling family, we love to take advantage of everyday learning experiences. Driving across the country together was an amazing way to experience parts of the United States my kids otherwise would only read about in books. Here’s a brief snapshot of all the amazing learning we were able to experience on either side of our vacation that we would NOT have been able to encounter via airplane.

  • Waterfalls and Swimming Holes in Tennessee
  • Historically significant sites, such as Fort Massac in Illinois, the Gateway Arch in Missouri, and the Ingalls Homestead in South Dakota
  • “Sledding” on St. Mary’s Glacier in Colorado
  • National Park Sites – Rocky Mountain, Badlands, and Mt. Rushmore
  • Creation Museum and Ark Encounter in Kentucky

PLANNING

With the exception of a very scary, altitude-related ER visit in Granby, CO (more on that below), this trip went off smoother than I ever thought it would have! One of the things that was invaluable in trip planning was the Roadtrippers App. While I usually don’t like to pay for apps, I must say this was well worth the $29 (there’s also a free version with limited features which I used to try it out first) I was able to see my entire route, along with any possible stop along the way, even when you’re in the middle of nowhere. (Did you know there’s a Jolly Green Giant Statue in Minnesota? I didn’t, but Roadtrippers did, and it gave us a well-timed stretch break on the way home!)

Hiking the Door Trail in Badlands National Park

Another app that was very useful was Hotels.com. CragDad and I have been using this for a while now, and we love it! First of all, we don’t like paying a lot for hotels, and this app allows you to see a wide range of hotels in the area you’re looking for, as well as reviews. Secondly, booking through the app gives you a “stamp” that you can use to redeem for free stays after every 10 nights, so you get a similar benefit as other “points” programs that are affiliated with specific hotel chains, but without being limited to a certain chain. Twice on this trip we ended up with fabulous locally owned hotels at a very good price that would have been hard to find without the app!

Another important part of planning was providing the kids with stuff to do during the drive. Because I count this as part of our schooling, each kid had an assignment folder they would work in each day, with activities relevant to where we were headed that day. Both had maps to keep track of our travels as well as license plates we saw along the way. (We saw all but three – Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Hawaii!) They also had a coloring sheet for each state and many of the historic sites we visited. At the end of each day they would record their “rose” and “thorn,” (highlights/lowlights of the day), and my 10yo did some math by finding totals and averages with our mileage for each day. We also had loads of books, drawing stuff, audiobooks, and travel games…and of course each kiddo got an allotted amount of screen time each day as well.

While we grabbed take out a couple of times, and ate on a restaurant patio once, the majority of meals were eaten either on the road or park picnic tables. In this regard, being covid-conscious and money-conscious aligned really well. Thankfully my kids are pretty okay with not a lot of variety, and ate their body weight in sandwiches, crackers, mandarin oranges, and canned pineapple. I had brought non-perishable goods for Ten Sleep dinners once we got there (pasta, tortillas, etc), and stopped at a grocery on the way in to purchase meat and produce.

WHEN PLANS GO SIDEWAYS

Well-cared for at Granby Hospital!

As I alluded to before, we had one hiccup in our plan…and it was a big one! The day before we were scheduled to meet the CragDad in Casper, WY, my 6yo daughter ended up in the ER due to altitude sickness. Her very mild symptoms took a big turn for the worse in RMNP. By the time we got to the Granby hospital, she was in pretty bad shape between the nausea, dehydration, and oxygen levels of 80. After several hours she had stabilized, but we were instructed to go back down to Boulder rather than continuing on through higher elevations to Laramie, then Casper the following day. Providentially, the CragDad’s flight connected in Denver, so we ended up just picking him up there and continuing on our way via a lower elevation route than planned. We arrived in Ten Sleep only a few hours later than originally planned, and by the following day, Little Z seemed back to her normal, bouncy self. ‘

Lessons learned? Be careful with altitude, especially with small kids, because they can go downhill in a moment’s notice. I had thought we had done all the right things as far as gradually introducing higher elevations, but the combo of heat + exertion + dehydration put her in a hole she couldn’t dig herself out of. Looking back, none of her symptoms had seemed any different than any of the typical out of sorts type symptoms we’d all been feeling until all of a sudden she was failing fast. So definitely err on the side of cautiousness! (And always have a plan B!!!)

Ark Encounter in Kentucky

Thankfully, all’s well that ends well, and we certainly ended up well, with loads of family memories of fun and adventure! While nobody is ready to hop in the car again any time soon, we all voted that a long road trip is definitely worth the effort, and we would all love to do it again! (That said, we are headed to the Red River Gorge to climb over Labor Day, and after this monster of a trip, that 7 hour drive will feel like a drive to the store. ;)) And speaking of climbing, check out that aspect of our trip here and here.

Driving the covered wagon in De Smet, SD

Share

Summer Training (aka 10 Sleeps Til Tensleep)

If I would’ve told you 6 months ago that I would spend the whole summer training for a climbing trip almost exclusively on the same 5 boulder problems + hangboard combo, you probably would’ve told me not to get my hopes up.  And I probably would’ve agreed with you.  It certainly wouldn’t have been my first chocie, but Covid 19 pretty much destroyed most everyone’s first (and second, and third) choices in these past few months. 

Big C crushing Bee’s Tongue 10b out at Melrose Mountain

Summer Climbing Recap

Let me back up.  For those of you that might not be aware, our family’s big quarantine project was putting together a Treadwall from Brewer Fitness.  We bit the bullet back in March, and after multiple delays, we were finally able to climb on our very own home wall on May 15.  (For a detailed analysis on why we went with the Treadwall over other popular home options, check out CragDaddy’s guest post HERE.)  Mid-May is also about the time things started opening up for us to be able to climb outside as well, and with a couple of casual day trips, psych was restored and spirits were lifted after the longest hiatus we’d ever taken in our almost 15 years of climbing.  

The early weeks of summer featured surprisingly good climbing conditions, and we were able to take advantage of it several weekends in a row at Hidden Valley, VA.  We all got settled back into the rhythm of weekend adventures, and CragDaddy and I were able to work our way back up to 5.12 again.  This is also when our 10 year old decided he was ready to start lead climbing (!!!!), and he was able to amass a rather impressive tick list in just a handful of days, including his first 5.10 (Tidy Bowl, 10a.)  

But then the ACTUAL summer came, and with it, all the oppressive heat and smothering humidity summer climbing in the Southeast is known for.  We tried to keep on keeping on, but while Big C was able to continue his sending streak at various local crags, CragDaddy and I were melting off anything slightly harder than warm-up level. 

Treadwall Training Programs

Now back to the Treadwall.  As our sole form of mid-week climbing since early March (our gyms are still closed), our “Dreadwall,’ as we have affectionately named it, has been absolutely invaluable in gaining back, and then keeping fitness. 

But how exactly do we train on it?  Depends on which of us you ask, b/c we all use it in a slightly different way.  But first here’s the breakdown of our current set-up.  For the record we’ve had a really hard time grading these. 18 feet is way too short for a route, but the sustained nature of the climbing would make for a beastly long boulder problem.  We tend to use a combination of the two, knowing that once we start stacking problems on top of each other, the YDS grade will shift upwards. That said, here’s what we’ve been working with, in order of difficulty.  

Me on Gaston Red
  • Green: V1/5.10 
  • Blue V3/5.11
  • Big Move Black V4/5.11+
  • Orange V4/5.12
  • Pink V5/5.12
  • Gaston Red V6/5.12+

If you are interested in seeing some of these problems in more detail, you can check them out on the Eat Spray Love app and search for Dreadwall or videos posted on instagram (see instagram usernames below). Here’s how each of us has been using the wall:

Cragmama’s Training – @CRAGMAMA

While the harder problems took me a session or two to send, I primarily use this wall for endurance/power endurance.  In the early weeks, the goal was to send the harder problems and progressively add multiple laps to the easier ones, until I could comfortably handle several sets of 3-4 lap combos of varying difficulties.  Nowadays, my typical workout begins with a few triple/quad laps of various green/blue combos before moving into some single lap lock off drills.  Then I’ll try for some harder double lap combos – some that I can consistently send, others not so much.  For example, I can pretty much always double up on Orange, but am hit or miss with Red into any color, because I’m not 100% on sending even one lap of Red.  If I’m also doing a hangboarding workout that day (repeaters on 3 different hold types), I’ll probably do 5-7 or so sets of these double links, then head to the Hangboard.  If not, I’ll probably just try the Red link up a few times before going directly into some sort of Power Enduro work.  Since I already had good fitness with the easier problems, the  goal here was to increase time under tension with the harder problems, ie pink and orange (red is too hard at this point to include.) 

CragDaddy on Big Move Black

I started with “On the Minute” drills (something I picked up from training with Power Company Climbing.) For these, I would start a problem at the same time I started my stopwatch, then rest until it hit the minute mark, then go again.  I would climb 6 single laps this way (I worked up to 3 pink and 3 orange, although initially I had to throw in some Blues and Greens.)

I then moved to traditional 4x4s with a 5 minute rest between sets (climb a single lap, hop down, chalk up, climb another problem, etc for 4 single laps.), Just recently I switched it up a little to 4 triple laps on Orange, with 5 minutes in between.  These are SUPER HARD and I am failing miserably by the end, BUT seeing progress each time!  

Cragdaddy’s Training – @SHOCKSLL

According to CragDaddy, “Everything about our Treadwall setup works my weaknesses.” The size of the wall forces him to climb in a much “smaller box” than he is accustomed to, the 36 degree angle wall is his anti-style, and the hold size limitations combined with his bigger hands size makes the jugs feel “less juggy” compared to how they feel for Big C and I. He has progressed from barely doing a single lap on Green to comfortably doing doubles, and even the occasional triple. His fave link-up is Big Move Black into Green, and he is super close to a double Blue link.

Big C on Orange

CragDaddy’s typical workout consists of playing around with some of the above mentioned link-ups before projecting Orange, which he was recently able to send last week. After several working burns on Orange, he will move to the hangboard, on which he has made a ton of progress.

Big C’s Training – @CANAAN_CLIMBS

Clipping Practice

Honestly, out of all of us, this kid by far looks the best on it.  While the moves on the appropriately named Big Move Black are a little too long for his wingspan, and he has yet to send Gaston Red, he manages to make all the others look super casual.  In addition to playing around with various link-ups, the most effective training he has had on the wall has been clipping practice!  

With all that said, we’ve been working hard…but will it be enough?   Our fitness is high, but our limit bouldering has for sure suffered without a gym.  And does hangboarding alone replace the finger strength we are missing out on from all those little crimps on the vertical/slightly overhanging gym walls?  Time will tell.  One thing that I do know is that this treadwall has already gotten us back on track way faster than we ever would have guessed, and we have been super thankful for it. Next week at this time the kids and I will be taking the scenic route through Rocky Mountain National Park on our way to pick up CragDaddy in Casper, Wyoming.  But for now, the countdown is on!  Only 10 sleeps til Tensleep! If you would like to follow our journey, I will be posting as much as I can on social media!

Share

Why We Chose a Treadwall

Brewer Fitness Kore6 Treadwall

Hi everyone, Cragdaddy here with a guest post. A lot of people have been asking about why we chose a Brewer Fitness Treadwall over the other available options like a home woodie (custom built home wall) or maybe even a full Moonboard. We had considered building a Moonboard at our house in the past to give Cragmama an at home option when I am traveling. We do live in the south, therefore wee really wanted it climate controlled and we didn’t have the space to build it inside. We looked at enclosing a part of our attic and putting in a window HVAC unit or something but could never justify the cost since we have a fantastic gym in our area, Inner Peaks, with one location 10 minutes from our house and the other location 10 minutes from my office. When COVID-19 hit our area and everything closed down, it didn’t take us long to decide that we needed an at home climbing solution.

Moonboard

The first thing we considered was the fact we have very limited carpentry skills and would need to probably pay someone to build us a Moonboard. We probably could have cobbled together a home woodie but since a home option had been discussed well before COVID-19, we wanted to have something that would work for us in the long term and compliment our gym training instead of just being a solution during quarantine.

Our friend Jim’s Home Woodie

One of the things that attracted us to the Moonboard was we could spend more time climbing than setting, as the Moonboard app has thousands of different problems set by people all over the world. A home woodie we felt would require setting often because once we send a problem, we are probably wanting to move on to something else or set something new. We determined that the goal for us on the Treadwall would be to not just send a problem, but after sending, start stacking problems in different orders to basically build hard routes that we can work. This means that we aren’t going to be setting as often. We were guessing maybe 2-4 times a year since endurance and power endurance were our main goals. We are mainly sport climbers so we often do a training cycle of 4x4s at the climbing gym and we felt like we could accomplish a very similar thing on the Treadwall.

Home Wall Alternatives using Choosing By Advantages (click to enlarge)

I had just learned about the Lean Method of Choosing By Advantages (CBA) at work so we decided to try it on our home wall decision.

Brewer Fitness Boulderboard

The main purpose of the CBA method is to help decision makers to differentiate alternatives and to understand the importance of those differences. In CBA, decisions are based on advantages of alternatives, which are positive differences, not advantages and disadvantages; this avoids double counting. 

We put all of our factors in, and for each factor, determined which option was the best and which was the worst (red is worst and green is best in image above). We then scored the advantages based on importance to us (the worst doesn’t get any points). Afterwards we were able to add up the advantage points and then graph it against the cost to help us make a decision.

We decided that the 4 options were:

Kilterboard

We decided to group Moonboard, Kilterboard and Tensionboard all in one category because for us they seemed similar and if that category won, we could do another CBA exercise to pick which one we liked the best. One key factor was that we felt like we could NOT build a Moonboard, Kilterboard or Tensionboard ourselves and would need to hire that work out. Considering the quarantine state at the time, this option wasn’t really viable. When it was all said and done, the Treadwall came out on top (see full analysis in the image above or click here) but was also the most expensive. Since the second place option wasn’t really an option because of COVID-19, and the Treadwall had much more advantages over the other available options, we decided to bite the bullet and go for it.

Tensionboard

We decided to go with the Kore model which is made for the home vs their other models which are made for more commercial purposes. The height of our ceiling required us get the 10 ft model because if we set the unit at -35 degrees, it will be slightly shorter than 8 ft. We also opted for the 6 ft wide version to give us a little more climbing space in addition to being able to accommodate a larger climber like myself. As for options, we purchased the electronic display and the holds set which Brewer Fitness helped create but is actually molded by Rock Candy Holds. We did not buy the mat thinking we could use our existing bouldering pads.

Almost able to climb!!

Overall we’ve been very happy with our purchase so be on the lookout for future posts on how we’ve used the Treadwall and what we like and don’t like about it. If you are interested in learning more about our Treadwall, I’ve made some videos showing the assembly, a walk through of the unit and a talk through of the assembly. See the YouTube playlist below to view.

Share