Indoor climbing gyms have brought the sport of rock climbing into the indoor spaces of dense, boulder-less cities, where traditional rock climbing would be impossible. The next generation of indoor climbing seems to be focused on cramming climbing equipment into even smaller spaces. The case in point is the Rotor dynamic wall from Climblock, which replaces the vertical wall with a rotating drum.
Climblock, an Italian company that manufactures indoor climbing components, believes that the Rotor wall is a solution to the problem of height in climbing gyms. Instead of being stacked toward the ceiling, the Rotor's holds and routes are rolled into a round cylinder that measures 4 meters in diameter by 2.8 meters in width by about 5 meters in height (13 x 9 x 16.4 feet). The automated device rotates around, letting climbers lunge and grab at the holds to "climb" their route of choice. They can put together routes of different difficulties and can even climb a perpetual route of undefined length.
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The Rotor could be used in smaller spaces with low ceilings and without ropes. The 16-foot height might make it as impractical as the Lunar Nova Wall for home use, but we could see it working in gyms without the space or height for a complete climbing wall.
While its no substitute for the adrenaline rush involved in fighting gravity on a proper wall, the Rotor offers obvious training advantages and might also work as an exercise option in a general fitness club. Climblock bills the device as a strength, resistance, endurance and speed training system. The speed at which it rotates is adjustable, so climbers can set it for different training regimens and use it to practice. The speed can be quickened to increase a climber's overall climbing speed or slowed down for slower, more methodical training.
Climblock also says the Rotor wall can serve as a tool for athlete analysis and scientific research. It mentions using the device to measure dynamics like work and heart rate, for use in devising athlete training regimens.
The Rotor is one of three climbing devices that Climblock has innovated in an ongoing project called "Dynamic Wall." The project aims to use the walls for scientific research and assessment of climbing behavior and training. The company calls the contraption a work in progress and doesn't mention any plans to sell it. It will be showing it at the Outdoor Friedrichshafen show in Germany, which starts on Thursday. Those that can't see it live can watch it in the video clip below.
While the Rotor is the most dramatic rotating alternative to the climbing wall we've seen, it isn't the only one. The ClimbStation and Treadwall are similar devices that allow for climbing on short, rotating wall surfaces.