Tom Shpakow // Goshen, IN
When did you build your wall? Was it a “COVID baby”?
Yes, November 2020
How long did it take you to build and what did that time look like?
It took me 2 weeks. I was in between jobs so I was able to work on it full-time. It’s my second home wall, we had one at our previous home in Kansas City.
Not including holds and padding, how much did it cost you to build? Any surprises there?
About $500. No surprises, except lumber is a little more expensive than it use to be.
What are you doing for padding?
Crashpads and some multi-purpose mats
What was your primary incentive for the wall? Did anything in particular inspire your wall design?
I really enjoy steep powerful bouldering. As a former route setter, I also like creating my own problems, so a spray wall at 40 degrees would hit the sweet spot for me. I built it according to the Moonboard/Tension board specs in case I ever want to change it over to one of those setups in the future.
What was the most difficult aspect of the design and build?
Getting the wife’s approval, haha 🙂 No, actually she is amazing and was for it after a budget meeting. Since this is my second homewall build I had some experience under my belt. I also have helped design and build commercial walls, so along with my remodeling and carpentry skills the design and building aspects didn’t intimidate me. I did have to cut a hole in the ceiling of my detached garage to make it fit, but that was totally worth it!
What would you do differently?
I love the way the wall turned out. I wouldn’t change anything concerning that. I do need to insulate and heat my detached garage now. It gets REALLY cold out there during the winters!
Did you make any mistakes along the way or choose to re-do any aspects?
I had to trim a little bit of the 4×8 sheets of plywood to make them fit, but other than that, it went really smoothly
What is your favorite aspect?
The paint job! I am really happy with how it turned out, and it was so simple. I did 2 coats of a base color and then just formed geometric shapes with a chalk line and painters tape. My daughters (ages 5 and 2) helped me paint it too. It was really fun!
How often do you use the wall? Do you think you’ll still use it as much when the gyms fully open back up?
Right now I use the wall 2-4 times a week and it’s the dead of winter, so when it’s warmer I will use it more. Even when the gyms open up, I will still use it regularly because it’s convenient for me to climb at home with my family and friends who come over.
Any words of wisdom to aspiring homewallers?
There is a homewall Facebook group I am apart of. That’s been a great place for discussion, ideas, and encouragement. If you’ve never built or climbed on a homewall before seek the advice of others. They can help you build a wall that will meet your needs and help you achieve your goals.
Do you have any connection to climbing brands or gyms?
Yes, I helped write the Kansas City section for the Missouri rock climbing guidebook called MO Beta. Jeremy Collins put the book together. While in Kansas City I helped design and build Apex Climbing Gym where I was the head route setter. Currently I live in Northern Indiana where we are trying to start a couple gyms. It’s been tough with Covid but one of them is under construction right now in Goshen, IN (where I live). It’s called The Warehouse Climbing Company and Ryan Borntrager is the owner. I helped design the wall layouts and I will be doing their opening set. There is another gym in the works spearheaded by my friend Michael Dickens called Approach Climbing. I will be the operational manager of this gym once it opens, hopefully by the end of 2021.
I love Jesus and rock climbing is fun!