One of the oldest bouldering walls in the Nova Scotia school system, the facility at West Kings District High School was in need of some long overdue TLC. Resurrected from neglect in 2012 by combined efforts of teacher Adam Conner and our very own Diversity Liaison Phill Craik, the wall gets enough use these days that it’s starting to need more regular maintenance.
The wall was originally constructed as an in-house work protect for the Options and Opportunities Programme. This excellent education stream allows youth who have an interest in a more trade-based future learn some hands on skills in that field during high-school.
Phill has been working in timber framing and rough carpentry for the last little while, and used this opportunity to give something back to the wall that kick-started climbing again in the Annapolis Valley. After beginning with a presentation to the kids about his climbing history and timber framing experience, they then set about making some sawdust!
Phase one involved making a top-out bar to make finishing problems a little safer and more enjoyable. Under guidance from Phill, the kids made all the measurements, cut the 2×4, routered and sanded it smooth and drilled it into position. It was really inspiring to see these kids work as a team, challenge themselves and take some ownership of their own climbing facility for the betterment of the school.
The second step was finding, replacing or repairing damaged t-nuts and pinning them with small screws. As any good route-setter knows, hearing the ping of a popped t-nut is the stuff of nightmares. This was dusty, dirty and cramped work in behind the wall, but the kids seemed to relish the challenge of not only putting things right, but getting it done well.
Lastly the wall was rough sanded, scraped and will be painted in a few weeks by some volunteers. A full re-set, complete with a huge new hold order will take place in mid-July. By the next school year the wall will look as good as the day it was built, and more than ready for another year of climbing.
Big thanks O2 teacher, Pete Morse, Frasers Home Pro Centre, Adam Conner, and all the kids who grafted hard for two days whilst Phill drank cups of tea, took very regular breaks and looked on with a proud eye to what could potentially be the next batch of home-climbing wall builders in the making!