Problem Solver - August 2012
Find a printable version here

Design Climbing for Maximum ROI

Climbing is a popular sport, and what's more, the presence of a climbing wall can attract people to other elements of your facility. If you want to achieve a return on your investment in climbing, it's important to design your climbing options carefully.

Q: How can we maximize the usage of our facility?

A: Think about all the different ways you can achieve your goals, and then mix and match to get a good combination of climbing options.

High walls are attractive, but experts say the ideal wall reached 30 to 40 feet. Higher walls are more costly, and also limit climber capacity, while decreasing participant turnover, as climbers take longer on their routes.

Combining different kinds of climbing styles in your facility will be far more effective for programming. Bouldering, lead climbing and auto belay units should all be considered. Bouldering and auto belay make it possible for single climbers to test their mettle. Lead climbing provides a way to expand your programming and offer an experience for more advanced climbers.

Many facilities have combined different types of walls to great effect, with bouldering caves and lower-cost walls located behind a centerpiece tower that stands out for all to see. Use one wall as a beacon for your facility, and other types to help climbers broaden their experience.

Q: How can we ensure climbers keep coming back for more climbing adventures?

A: A successful climbing wall requires constant attention and effort. This means frequent and creative route turnover and strong programming.

You should continually offer climbers a new challenge by constantly setting creative new routes for them. With modular handholds and built-in climbing holds, as well as natural relief, you can change routes to offer new excitement. A higher density of handhold fasteners will enable you to set better and more creative routes. Avoid low density of handhold fasteners, which will limit your route-setting abilities.

Follow the 80/20 philosophy of route setting. Set 20 percent of your routes at a 5.10 level of difficulty or higher, and set 80 percent of your routes at a beginner and intermediate level of difficulty. This ratio of route will provide success for new climbers and enable skill development for beginner and intermediate climbers, while also providing challenge for those who are more experienced.

Think carefully about your programming as well. An instructional area will provide a way to break new climbers into the experience, as will birthday parties and other introductory-type programming. For more experienced climbers, you can consider competitions to heighten the experience.


Eldorado Climbing Walls: 303-447-0512