Climbing to new heights with biobased rock climbing holds


In Pennsylvania, students majoring in biorenewable systems from Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences and who worked as managers at Penn State’s indoor climbing wall in the Intramural Building saw a need to make rock climbing more eco-friendly and came up with a fully biobased climbing hold.

While their first instinct was to use wood for climbing holds due to low cost, they realized a hybrid hold using a wooden base and another material that could bind to the wood would be more sustainable. While many rock climbers want to be more in tune with nature, practicing on plastic climbing holds in fabricated indoor or outdoor rock walls doesn’t tie in with their love of the environment. So the students experimented with wood mixed with EcoPoxy as well as with PLA, a a corn-derived polylactic acid.