What is a “Woody”?
What is a “woody” and what is it for?
Have you ever heard a rock climber talk about their “woody” and wondered what they meant? Woodies are simply at-home climbing walls. Usually constructed out of plywood on a frame of two-by-fours, these walls can stand upwards of five to eight feet tall and allow climbers to bolt their own holds onto the wall. Woodies can be found in garages, basements, barns, and even freestanding outdoors, and can be set up to climb at any angle from overhanging to slab or leaning forward. Once someone has constructed their woody, they will bolt rock climbing holds to the wall. These holds also come in a variety of shapes and sizes and can be combined in different orders to create rock climbs on the woody. Regardless of the materials used, size, or placement, if someone has built their own climbing wall, they have a woody! Let’s take a look at four common uses for a woody:
Training for rock climbing
Most commonly, woodies are built by rock climbers so that they can train for rock climbing right in their homes. These walls are usually built at drastically overhanging angles to ensure that the rock climbs on the wall are difficult enough for the climber to get stronger. These woodies also often have many difficult holds on them including crimpers, or small edges, and slopers, or rounded holds. Climbers can perform a variety of training exercises on a home wall. For instance, they can recreate the movements from their favorite outdoor rock climbs on their woody to practice or they can put up increasingly difficult rock climbs in order to increase their strength. Some professional rock climbers even build woodies specifically to practice for incredibly difficult rock climbs. Adam Ondra, for example, worked on the same rock climb in Flatanger, Norway for four years. During that time, he and his team constructed a woody in a local barn so that he could warm up each day and train for rock climbing when the conditions were suboptimal.
Woodies are also commonly used to introduce kids to rock climbing! Oftentimes the atmosphere of a rock climbing gym can be too intense to introduce young kids. So woodies are an excellent way to give kids a chance to rock climb in a safe and familiar environment. These woodies are usually at a vertical or slightly slab angle to allow for easier climbing and usually consist mainly of jugs, or big, easy-to-grab hand-holds. There are a variety of benefits to introducing children to rock climbing at a young age including building their confidence, overcoming their fears, and developing good techniques early on.
Sometimes woodies are used to provide alternatives to traditional workouts. While these woodies are not necessarily dedicated to training for rock climbing, they may still be built at a slightly overhanging angle and include a variety of hand-holds from easy to difficult. Rock climbing can help to build back, arm, core, and leg strength depending on the type of climbing and is a great way to break up the monotony of traditional lifting or calisthenics.
No local climbing gym access
Finally, woodies are often built in areas (or times) where climbers are unable to access a climbing gym. Perhaps, like Adam Ondra, climbers are simply too far removed from the closest city with a climbing gym. A common example of this is what are known as “barn woodies.” These are exactly what they sound like—woodies built in barns. Rural communities will sometimes build their own climbing gyms since they do not have a local one to attend. These walls are often bigger than regular woodies as barns allow for longer and taller walls. Another example would be the surge in woodies in light of gym closures because of the COVID-19 pandemic—as climbing gyms closed, many people decided to build their own home climbing gyms.
Woodies serve a variety of nuanced purposes but, most importantly, they allow people to rock climb in their own homes! Home climbing walls are more popular than ever in recent years and for good reason. We hope we were able to give you the low-down on woodies and what they are for!