Collegiate Climbing and Bouldering Wall Key Considerations

University of Arkansas Bouldering Wall

University of Arkansas Bouldering Wall

When Eldorado Climbing Walls begins a project with a university or any outdoor climbing wall construction, there are 5 key criteria to consider including wall design, instructional features, class size, social space, and equipment.

1. Climbing Wall Designs

Regarding climbing wall design, including ample terrain for beginner/intermediate skill level climbers is extremely important. Route setting will dictate the final degree of difficulty, however it is recommended to design climbing walls so that about 80% of the terrain accommodates beginner/intermediate skill levels. Click here to see our portfolio of Collegiate climbing wall designs.

2. Instructional Features:

Listed below are a few climbing wall design features and the benefits they can provide. Many of these features open the door to additional instructional programming for optimal ROI. A student can take Climbing 101 as a freshman and through a series of instructional classes, they can graduate to a skilled mountaineer.


Highlighted Benefits

Training Platform Multi-pitch, rappelling
Belay Bars Maximum utility for climbing lanes for auto belay, top rope and lead climbing use
Floor Anchors Light weight belayers aren’t pulled up when climber is lowered
Dihedral, chimney feature Advanced technique such as stemming
Custom climbing crack Pro anchor building, simulate “trad” climbing, crack climbing technique

3. Class sizes / Number of Belay Stations

It’s important to understand class sizes. How many people will be able to register for Climbing 101? This count should help dictate how many climbing lanes they’ll want to have in place. Our belay bars are spaced every 4’ linear feet at the top of the wall, so depending on final design, a 30’ wide wall would have about 6-8 climbing stations. If the University has class sizes of 20 students, you’ll want about 10 climbing stations to accommodate 2 students per lane (1 climber, 1 belayer).

4. Social Space / Climber Storage

Rock climbing is an inherently social sport. It’s imperative to ensure that the space is not over designed with climbing terrain; social areas must be taken into account. Rock climbers often climb in jeans or “street” clothes, so they’ll need cubbies by the rock wall to throw a bag and change their shoes. They don’t use the locker rooms as often as other rec users for example.

Social space is also nice for friendly climbing competitions. Texas is one of the first states to have a statewide climbing comp series amongst the colleges. I’m sure your university will want to get involved in similar comp series.

5. Equipment / Equipment Storage

Equipment items are another consideration. Using standard top rope versus auto belays is a common consideration among climbing wall operators. Auto belays allow participants to use the rock wall without a climbing partner so they can be really useful for college students that have an hour to climb in between classes. Head Rush Technologies provides innovative technology for all of its products including TruBlue Auto Belay and other climbing equipment and handholds.

Having ample rental equipment is important too. Since the students are in college, they won’t have a large budget to buy new equipment to try out the sport. Climbing gear isn’t typically within student’s budget (a pair of climbing shoes can retail for $100+). Having rental shoes, harness and chalk bags would be a good starter package to keep the barrier to entry to the sport low.

Most climbing walls include an access door to go behind the wall for any routine maintenance. You’ll also have space behind the climbing wall for wall operators to stow climbing wall equipment, now it’s not “technically” a storage room, but there’s more than enough space to put ropes, holds, ladders, route setting tools and rental gear.


See our Climbing Walls for Schools Resource Guide to help get you started. At Eldo Walls we provide turnkey solutions that combine performance needs of students with the aesthetic design for schools. To learn more and see an example of our PerformanceRock climbing wall at Colorado State University click here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

twelve − 8 =

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>