On Saturday May 30th, The first Setter Showdown setting competition in Colorado took place. On Sunday, they held a 4 hour judging session between all the setters and climbers. Our very own TJ Sanford, representing the BRC routesetters, took third place! He won the function category and took overall 3rd out of 24 setters from around the country. Each setter was tasked to set three problems, one in the v1-v3 range, one in the v4-v6 range and the last in the v7-v9 range. Some problems had added challenges, such as setting around a pre-existing hold or partnering up with another setter on one of your problems. The holds were all provided by Kingdom Climbing, Kilter and Element – most setters were given holds from one company set per problem.
Sean Drolet, Aubrey Wingo and I ventured down to Golden to support TJ and check out all the problems the competition had to offer. There were a plethora of dynamic and comp style themed problems – a lot of them set to have the more modern eye candy gymnastics to draw attention to the climb. The drawback to a lot of those problems was the reach factor. Some required toehooks or big deadpoints, but the majority of it favored the taller climber. As the goal of these problems was to create great commercial problems, appropriate reach and flow should be paramount in the judging process. Most of the boulders i got on were in the average to great realm, there were very few duds. I only saw one climb that i would have outright taken down and fired the setter(would they have worked for me) and only a few climbs that had no consistency.
There were a number of larger King, Queen, and Emperor sized holds in use by all three companies. Many were used well, but a few of them were put on and only ever used as a single hand hold. I’m always disappointed if i get to play on big holds that could just be taken off and replaced with a single small handhold with no difference to the route. I at least want to match hands on the volume sized hold, or toss a heel on it, or (even better) bicycle toe hook it and bump a hand up it 3-5 times, etcetera. To use a big hold well, it demands being used multiple times in the same problem.
There were two problems that stood out to me. One was a blue crimp problem with a single Kilter teagan volume on it heading up a steep arete. It was just pure flow up a sea of blue crimps with consistent core tension and no trickery – just real rock climbing. It made me happy and reminded me of rope climbing. It also reminded me that for great commercial routesetting, i always love having 50% of my routes and problems as great flow routes that are reminiscent of outside climbing and also useful as good trainer routes. They are the ones you want to get on over and over after you’ve done it the first time.
I later learned that this particular problem was set by our very own, Jay Samuelson, who also sets for Thrillseekers climbing gym in Denver(and whom he was also representing at the showdown). He mentioned that all the trick/comp and theme styled boulder problems were an eye opening experience for him, being schooled in the way of the old school routesetters.
The second problem was a purple sloper problem up a blunt and nearly vertical arete made with Kingdom Climbing’s new Contour sloper set of holds. I ended up using every hold (at first i thought too many) and again i felt like i was climbing a bit more like a techy outdoor climb. For a red grade route (the v7-v9 range) it was very accessible as well, which i thought was an excellent strategy. Allow your problem to be on the easier end of the spectrum and a lot more climbers and judges will get on it. More will also finish it, and people love problems even more when they can actually do them. I might end up ordering this set of holds from Kingdom now that i’ve climbed on them… i was skeptical of these shapes at first!
A couple months ago we held our own little BRC setting competition to see who would earn the right to represent the BRC at the Setter Showdown. We’re psyched that we got to send TJ and even more psyched that he took third. Congratulations TJ!
You can check out more information about the Setter Showdown HERE!
The rules of the mini comp were simple – Set an advanced route and a mix of team BRC kids, members and staff will grade them from 1-10. If you miss the adv. grade you are penalized 1 point per grade away from mid advanced. We left the problems up for 3 days over the weekend and below are the results.
1st Place – NG 7.46/10 Grade: Adv. Problem: #4
2nd Place – ALW 7.03/10 Grade: Adv. Problem: #6
3rd Place – Jay S. 6.84/10 Grade: Adv. Problem: #2
4th Place – Smarvz 6.81/10 Grade: Adv. Problem: #3
5th Place – TJ 6.05/10 Grade: Adv.- Problem: #1
6th Place – SD 5.50/10 Grade: Adv.+ Problem: #5
A few notes –
TJ and SD were both adjusted down 1 point due to missing the grade, so TJ just missed 2nd place.
This was a setting comp, but these were not “competition” routes. Comp routes are set very differently to boggle the minds of the youth and elite climbers. Members tend to find them less appealing.
Sean (SD) wins the most loved and most hated, receiving by far the most 10’s and 1’s. If you like problems demanding flexibility, then you probably loved his.
Jay just barely squeaked by with an advanced instead of advanced -.
The grading was all across the board, which just goes to show people like all kinds of different problems. And these six all felt very different from each other, style-wise.
And lastly, the results are indicative of nothing! This was just for fun!
The real question is, did you manage to guess who set what?
On monday (3/31) we had a mini setting competition at the BRC. Three of our routesetters were competing for the right to represent the BRC at the Setter Showdown at Earth Treks, Golden on May 30th, 2015.
Special thanks for those who donated their time and efforts to help judge, including the Team BRC kids.
1st place – TJ Sanford (problem #3)
2nd place – Aubrey Wingo (problem #1)
3rd place – Sean Drolet (problem #2)
All of the problems turned out great, and the competition was close. The target grade for each one was mid advanced. Unfortunately, none of them quite hit that mark, but they were close enough to judge.
We’ll be allowing the setters to tweak their problems to perfection this week. The stress of a timed setting competition can sometimes cause difficulties to miss the mark and reaches to be mis-judged.
We had so much fun during this that we’re going to do another with a full setting crew in the little cave this thursday. The grading will be a lot easier this time, and the prize a lot smaller. The winner gets a bhakti chai and each judge only grades the problem from 1-10.
The thursday problems are up, so come out and grade ’em!
Our aging campus board has been refurbished! I put a new oak board on, sanded and added some new rungs, put a new kickboard on and changed the spacing to the standard ben moon 22cm. So, if your 1-5-9 feels like it got a smidge harder… it definitely did. You’re not going crazy. Also, we’ll be getting a bigger pad for it soon too!
Chris Wall also installed a new training contraption. It has a pull-up station and a couple hangboards on it. This whole area is now a great pre or post-climbing sesh training space. We’ll be putting a few more kickboards around the pull-up cage in the next week too.
It’s been a while since i’ve blogged. In the interim, Sean Drolet has been setting less and Steph Marvez has stepped up to the plate and has been setting full time. We’re sad to have less SD routes, but psyched on all the new Smarvz routes in the gym. These two are both brilliant setters and they’ve both grown up climbing in gyms and competing in youth climbing comps. Sometimes i think that the youth climbing comp experience might be the secret ingredient to creating great setters.
As far as hold orders go, our last big order was a slew of Enix Cobbles and Pinches that you may have found on many of our boulder problems and 5.12- and up climbs. They certainly proved to be more difficult holds than they looked. The pinches are hard to get your hands around, but simply awesome to climb on.
Our next order coming in is from Kingdom Climbing and will be arriving sometime in the next month. We’ll have a slew of large, extra large, prince, king, elephant, giga-normous, emperor and death star sized holds from them, which is clearly their specialty. With such large holds, we get less for the money spent, which is generally a bad thing in my eyes, but it does provide a mixture of eye candy and “buzz” that makes the gym and routes seem fresh, exciting and appealing. So, every once in a while, splurging $300 on a single hold can be worth it.
Lastly, our newest setter, Jay Samuelson coined a new term that i wanted to share. He sets at the BRC about twice a month now and is the regular setter down at Thrillseekers in Denver(one of the oldest gyms around). He is used to spending a lot of time on one route, tweaking it over and over, teching it out and treating it like a sculpture – working it down until it’s perfect. When he came to start setting at the BRC, he was a bit surprised at the speed we set, and how we generally aim to have no tweaks necessary on our routes. He referred to this, respectively, as redpoint setting and onsight setting. If you are unfamiliar with those climbing terms, to redpoint means to work a climb repeatedly until you can send it free, and to onsight means to send it on your first go.
We are most definitely an onsight setting gym. We still do tweaks when we have to, but our most experienced setters tend to nail it first go, even when setting 2 routes in 3 hours. I usually think of redpoint setting as something reserved for competitions or climbing gyms owned by Bill Gates.
Both types of setting have their pros and cons, but, to me, the beauty of onsight setting is the idea of “first thought” setting. You already have tons of techniques and sequences banked away if you’re experienced. So, rather than spending time thinking, rethinking and trying every subtle body position, you instead follow your first thought. It’s almost like not thinking while you’re setting. And the great thing is the routes always tend to have that mystical “flow”. Maybe it’s born out of turning our brains off and setting by intuition. Or, maybe it’s really the “force” that Ben Kenobi taught all of us so many years ago. Afterall, didn’t he state that one had to empty their mind of all thoughts to be one with the force?
A lot of us here at the BRC have recently acquired Scooters this summer. It’s kinda the new hot thing to do in our tiny microcosm of the climbing universe. A few of us setters, myself included, are also part of the scooter gang. But, unfortunately, not all the setters own a scooter.
I felt sympathetic for my less fortunate brethren and started a ride share program to spread the joy of scooting. The ride share program primarily involved driving the few hundred feet to Whole Foods and back for lunch, while carrying 470 lbs of merry setters. The following is a ‘before’ picture. We have no ‘after’ pictures because i lost both of these setters on the way there.
If anyone does find either of the two setters sitting behind me, please contact the BRC immediately so that we can come collect them. On a scooter, of course. They are probably still wandering aimlessly around the backside of Whole Foods.
All that remains to be done, is to find a suitably appropriate name for our scooter gang. I’d like to dream up something really cool, like the Vesperado’s or Naughty boyz Scooty Club, but i’ll probably just end up calling it something dumb like the Donkey Patrol. Once we get the name down, we’ll definitely be almost as cool as these cats below.
I’m headed off for a few weeks to visit my wife’s family in the Czech Republic, and to check out Venice, Italy, before it’s swallowed by the sea. Enjoy the routes at the BRC while i’m away!
We have a few changes here at the BRC as we roll into September. We’re starting our four-week bouldering turnover again. There was great feedback on it, and it was sorely missed. This means that we’ll be setting a couple Thursdays a month, which means a few noisy mornings for the usual Thursday AM climbers.
Our kids’ team programs are starting back up, so you may find more kid friendly routes around the gym. We try to keep them adult friendly as well, so don’t worry! August 23rd-24th we’re having tryouts for the BRC Team, and we’ll have 3 specific routes and boulder problems in the expansion for them. Good luck to all the kids on their team placement
And lastly, our saddest news. Setters come and setters go, some return and some just go the way of the Dodo. Our very own Stephanie Marvez has decided to move on. She’s doing a three-month climbing trip and then who knows? She is definitely welcome and has expressed interest in guest setting here in the future. Have fun living in La Casita (her trailer) Smarvz! Also, TJ Sanford has returned to Boulder. You may see some of his routes popping up here and there in the gym.
We’ve got a great spread of resistance routes up right now, generally more crimpy than slopey. Fall sending temps are just around the corner, don’t forget to get into the gym and get your training on!
I get a lot of people interested in setting here at the BRC. There’s a wide range, from people with Level 5 USAC route setting certifications to people with no experience setting, from 5.10 climbers to 5.14 climbers, gym members, local kids team members and so on. At the moment, I’m not currently looking to add any route setters, as I have a full crew. Living in Boulder, and route setting being a somewhat covetous position, this is often the case at many gyms. However, here are some tips on how to get hired.
Get me a professional resume. This might seem obvious to most, but I have a lot of people interested that forego this. If one of my setter’s decides to leave, scrolling through my stack of resumes is where I start the hiring process. We do keep them on file… sometimes for a very long time.
2. Climb at our gym. This is important – not because I want some kind of loyalty or elitism, but because you need to be familiar with our routes and what we’re looking for. I’ve been to some gyms where their idea of difficulty is just no feet, big reaches and awkwardly hard moves. Geographically, this seems to happen the farther you get from actual real rock.
Be a route climber. We have both bouldering and roped routes at our gym, but the solid majority of our real estate is for roped climbing. In my experience, boulderers tend to make bad route setters, especially if they NEVER climb ropes. Their routes will be very cruxy, lack footholds and flow, have bad clipping holds/positions, and tend to be very inconsistent. They don’t understand how building a pump with no hard moves can make a route hard. Since we focus on routes, you should have solid experience in that realm.
Have solid route setting experience. We don’t train route setters here, we expect you to have a solid background, whether it be from some top grade gym with lots of route setting clinics in your belt or some tiny gym in Hawaii that you traded for membership. We don’t trade membership for setting, and I typically don’t let people set for free to learn the trade. This takes too much time away from my setting in order to instruct, re-set the routes afterwards and then fix all the spinners/seized holds that are the result of a brand new setter using impact drivers.
Possess great climbing technique on all climbing angles. From slab to continuous 45-degree walls, you should have a full toolkit of techniques in your belt to conquer any climbing situation. I’ve had people with little experience ask me about setting, but when I watch them climb and they can’t figure out heel hooks, toe hooks, kneebars and drop knees, and instead just try to power their way through a move, it makes me very wary of their setting ability. I’ve also seen some really great steep climbers that couldn’t set a worthwhile slab climb.
I don’t care how hard you climb. It’s nice to know for forerunning, but I have plenty of strong setters. I also have some setters that top out at 5.12-. That’s okay, as long as they can find that nice “flow” on their routes. The majority of our clients climb in the 5.10-5.11 range anyway. It doesn’t matter to me that you can flash 5.14a. On the flipside, if you are struggling to redpoint 5.10- in the gym, you probably don’t have the climbing ability necessary to set.
If you’re short – be able to set sequences that taller people don’t just skip and ignore. Nothing kills route flow like easily botched sequences.
If you’re tall – be able to set EVERY route so that short people can climb them. 70% of our clientele are between 4’10” and 5’8″. This includes almost all women and children, and about 1/3 of male climbers. This is the biggest thing I struggle with when working with taller setters.
Have a strong desire to work. This is just as important as route setting ability. If you won’t wash holds for me, help with the awful work fixing t-nuts behind the wall, show up on time and forerun routes, I don’t need you. Route setting isn’t just the creative activity; it includes all the grunt work as well. I don’t really care if you’re famous, climb v15 and are dating Beyoncé. You need to be amped to help me with gym wall maintenance just as much as route setting.
Take criticism well. Newer route setters will be supplied with plenty of feedback to get them up to speed with the BRC’s routes, no matter your previous amount of experience. I definitely will be forerunning and tweaking your routes at some point. Deal with it well.
Set FUN routes. Sometimes we get lost in our desire to set crazy creative, super technical, über powerful or impressively thematic routes. Sometimes difficulty trumps all for us. What we always have to remember is that we set for clients, routes are our product and that this is a business of recreation. We provide fun. So if you find yourself wondering what the first and foremost ingredient in your route should be, just remember – fun trumps all.
Having climbed for nearly 17 years, in addition to 23 years of guitar playing, my neck is just wrecked from excessive wear and tear. The biggest culprit from the climbing side of things is most definitely not the climbing, it’s the belaying. If i spend a day belaying at the crag these days my neck will be sore for the next two days. Soon i started to worry whether climbing was something i could actually continue doing into my late 30’s and beyond.
In stepped my wife, bearing the gift of some CU belay glasses. Since then, belaying has become infinitely more tolerable and pain free. A couple years have passed and now i’m testing a brand new pair of belay glasses by Y&Y. I still swear by belay glasses, for both indoor and outdoor climbing, but there are a few things that make Y&Y belay glasses stand out amongst the competition. They are now my primary set. They also have the added benefit of making you look like a mad clockwork scientist at your local climbing crag. Mad Clockwork Crag Scientist
Having used these for almost 3 weeks now, mainly here at the BRC and Rifle Mountain Park, they’ve held up well. The construction seems solid and they didn’t skimp on materials. They’re made from stainless steel and high transparency prisms. The arms are strongly resistant to deformation with their ‘memory alloy bows’ which have a high capacity to remember their original shape.
The nose pads are significantly bigger and more comfortable than my previous glasses. This might be a head size thing however, as my wife prefers the older glasses. She felt that the ‘one size fits all’ was a bit far reaching, but she was still able to use them. However, let it be noted that she can also easily fit into childrens sunglasses.
The second big plus were the hinges. At first i thought these might just be an added piece that could break, but they fold up so much nicer than the CU’s. It was always a huge frustration packing away my CU’s, especially into their awkward little box case that they never quite fit into. Which brings us to the best part of this product: the case.
I absolutely love keeping my glasses case clipped to my harness. If i leave them around my neck, lenses tend to get scratched. The velcro tab is great too, i prefer to use that to open and close during my climbing session and then use the zipper when the climbing day is over.
All in all, these are solid, well built belay glasses, but this simple case is probably the best little design feature out of all the belay glasses on the market today.
I’ve been wanting to blog about this for a while. I feel like there’s a very different theory about routesetting for competitions and routesetting for commercial gyms. Granted, I have limited experience in the former and, perhaps, too much in the latter. Often people forget that there’s some key differences between the two. So let’s dive in.
There are some basic things we strive for in competitions. The difficulty is supposed to build to help eliminate competitors at different heights, rather than be cruxy, where everyone would then fall at the same spot. There should also be no resting holds and spots to de-pump. The pump factor is a big eliminator in comps, so it’s crucial to keep it going. Elimination at many different holds is key to a competition because it allows us to separate the field with less ties.
For instance, say we’re setting a mid 5.12 comp route. The first ten feet might only be 5.11, the next ten feet 11+, the next ten feet 12-, and the last 10 feet solid mid 12. At no point in the route will there be any jugs out of character from the other smaller holds. The route will be a consistently building “resistance” route made to knock competitors off at variable heights mainly due to their inability to recover. And, bam, now we’ve separated our 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th place competitors.
Another interesting thing in comp routes is the element of risk. This can be another great elimination device. A classic example would be to add a very slopey, slippery and minimal footchip. When the competitor is climbing through the sequence, if there is any lapse in focus or body tension, they can easily slip and fall off the move. It’s basicly adding some mental desperation to routes.
Sequencing in comp routes becomes more involved as well. A competition is testing a climbers stamina, strength, technique and ability to creatively deconstruct the “puzzle” set before them under the constant pressure of the pump factor. A typical comp route takes 4 times as long to set as a commercial route. The reasons are twofold. We’re performing rigorous reach checks and the routesetters are setting as technically devious as they possibly can. We spend more time trying to force rediculous contrived sequences to confound the minds of aspiring competitors. I feel like this is one of the main reasons commercial gym climbers can love or hate (typically hate) trying out competition routes. They are generally more technically demanding and require you to go much farther out of your comfort zone to creatively “solve” the route. That’s usually where are weaknesses are out hiding. And we all hate finding those…
On the flip side of this are our commercial gym routes. We have about 115 routes up in our gym right now and around 70 boulder problems. My aim for our gym is to have a standard of fun, creative routes, but not so stringent that it doesn’t allow setters to have a distinct style. I don’t want homogenous routes, and I don’t like to control other setter’s vision. Diversity is key here. I love when people have favorite setters they seek out – I think that’s a great thing.
That being said, we all do take turns forerunning our routes for quality control. The difference in doing this commercially rather than competitively is that we tend to add MORE comfortable footholds, especially the easier the grade gets. Things are much less “forced”. There are more body types, sizes and ages that need to make it up these routes.
The main thing I check for when I forerun is whether a route has flow. This can be kind of a nebulous concept, but, an experienced climber that’s climbing a route in sequence should feel it. It’s akin to that feeling you get when you catch your first wave on a surfboard. It just flows.
One thing that helps with that is not making it overly bouldery. Our route climbers at the BRC tend to agree with that sentiment as well. I’d much prefer to work a 5.14- with a slew of v6’s, v7’s and v8’s heading up the wall than a 14- with a v10 at the start and 5.11+ climbing to the chains. Consistency in the climb is still important in commercial routes. If there is a crux, it should generally be only ONE V-grade above the rest of the moves. Since it’s a commercial route, and not built for elimination, I don’t fret if there’s a resting hold, or if the crux is low.
And lastly, I think there are two main types of routes in commercial setting. You have your techy routes built to make your gym climbers think, try, scratch their heads and try again(these can still have “flow”) and then you have your flowing resistance routes. Ideally, to me, a gym should have them split about 50/50. Some people love not having to think and just getting laps on lots of fun, flowy routes. Others view those routes as great warmups. And then there are those who want to wrack their brains on a route trying 10 different sequences to “optimize” their beta. So, once we get to the 5.10 level and up I try to have routes from both camps.
Anyway. I’ve blathered on long enough. Next week, to start out February with a bang, we’ll have our next Routesetter of the month! It’s as much a mystery for us as it is for you! We’ve missed a number of months previous because all the routesetters were naughty and had to be put in a Harry Potter sized routesetting closet for a while. Now that i’m finally letting them out, we’ll learn some fun facts about one of them. Probably whoever brown-noses me the most.
Really. They said low 50’s and sunshine. Instead i went running uphill on ice at 6am. It was my birthday present to myself. I haven’t blogged much lately, and i apologize. The holidays kicked in and then procrastination and a whole lot of rationalization convinced me to let it easily slip my mind.
Much has happened in the interim. Our Marketing manager over at CMS, EJ Nogaski, has left to move out east and pursue real estate, raise his family and occasionally climb at the Red River Gorge. We wish you well, EJ. Live it up out in the Bluegrass state.
Chris Van Leuven is taking over EJ’s position. If you see him hanging around the office, make sure to say hi to our new marketing manager and his dog, Jake.
Speaking of dogs…. we love them here at the BRC. My dog Louis and Chris Wall’s dog Charlie are frequent loiterers in the BRC office. We have two newcomers though. First, of course, is Jake. And second, is Bear, Cathy’s newest family addition. Bear is a german sheperd/border collie mix and has drummed up quite a bit of attention from all the kids passing by the office door. But be careful, she’s going through a biting phase!
As far as routes go, we have a pretty stiff set in the expansion bouldering right now. This set was all about dynamic, bouldery and comp-style big moves. I promise…. the next one will focus on kid friendly and technical problems. I’ve added a few more routes to the gym. We’ve been short on 5.12+, and i’ve tried to add it in areas that can be top-roped or auto-belayed. There’s a new crimpfest up just left of the small bouldering cave on the auto belay. Warm your fingers up good and give it a go.
We’ve also hired a new part time setter, Aubrey Wingo. Aubrey moved here from Florida and is currently working to attain her level 2 USAC setting certification. You’ll see some routes tagged “ACW”. Feel free to let us know what you think of her routes and welcome her to the crew.
What if routesetting was a lot more like a video game? A lot of routesetters these days have certification levels so that they can set at comps, etc. For example, you can be a level 1-5 USAC routesetter, the upper eschelon gaining privilege to set at the most elite competitions. I’d really like to start my own video-game-inspired, BRC leveling system. So, being the head routesetter, i’m now imbued with the power of granting levels to my routesetters. What follows is the new official BRC setter level list:
Stephanie Marvez (A.k.a. SMARVZ) – Level 15 Sorceress Setter. Mistress of illusion and heroine of the shorties. Commonly found repeating the mantra, “Sometimes you just have to pull…”
Patrick Megeath (A.k.a. PM) – Level 22 Ogre Setter. Champion of peasants, smasher of stiff grades. Often found inebriated with monkeys and loud music.
Sean Drolet (A.k.a. SD) – Level 19 Treefairy Setter. Delicate, thoughtful and finger-friendly. What more can i say?
Juan Esteban (A.k.a. Onecho) – Level 15 Orc Setter, Brutish and thuggish, hails from the far lands of Venezuemordor. Hence the accent.
Trevor Markel (A.k.a. TM) – Level 19 Phoenix Setter. That’s right, reborn from the ashes of himself. Hawt. So light and feathery that no grade is honest enough.
Matt Wilder (A.k.a. MHW) – Level 452 Albatross. His exponential leveling has moved him beyond a simple ‘setter’ title. Mr Baines(Castellan of Castle BRC) himself bestowed him with this title. He’s practically achieved flight.
Tony Yao (A.k.a. T-nut) – Level 100 Ninja Setter. Well, duh. Who else could possibly be more ninja than our very own 300 year old Master Yao?
TJ Sanford (A.k.a. TJ) – Level 17 Karate Setter. Ka – Ra – TAY. He chops his way up climbs. They are too scared to fight back.
Jonathan Siegrist (A.k.a. J-Star) – Level ? Gnome Setter. Level ? is usually reserved for video game bosses. Rarely seen and even harder to catch, he has a predilection for gardens and loves to repeat what other people say in babytalk. Slayer of giants, lover of small shiny things.
Jonny Hork (A.k.a J.Hork) – Level 25 Link Setter. Classic, oldschool, and always gets the princess. Plus, he has a little green pointy hat. Our newest setter straight from the Spot.
Dallas Milburn (A.k.a. Dtron) – Level 21 Princess Setter. Tinkerbells his way up climbs with grace, precision and …. the power of pretty. Possesses the ability to make anyone comfortable enough to talk about their problems with him in a grassy field with a nice warm mug of chai. He’ll be returning to set for Xmas vacation!
Seth Lytton (A.k.a SRL) – Level 34.9 Mad Scientist Setter. Conjures up Brutal and devious sequences with an abacus, tea leaves, a small hobbit and a lot of dry ice. Can only be found on “hidden” game levels.
And myself? I’d like to be a level 6 imp setter. ‘Cause it’s at least one level higher than all those level 5 USAC setters, and i could fart fireballs or something else appropriately devilish. And because Tyrion really is the only saving grace for George Martin’s epic sprawling Game of Thrones series.
You might have spied master Yao (T-nut) around the gym the past few days. He’s back in town for a few days. Make sure to say hello, and try out his new 5.12 on the Tsunami.
In other news, We’ll be starting to set bouldering on thursdays twice a month during our busy fall/winter season so that we can pump out a much higher 4 week turnover on all of our bouldering. There will be no room closures, so no roped climbing will be affected! Let us know if you’re psyched on the Bouldering turnover or not.
TJ Sanford and Jen Aycock will also be leaving us at the end of October. They’re heading back to Michigan for the winter and we wish them the best! Thanks for all the hard work and the great, techy routes! Don’t forget to visit!
…for obvious reasons. And monkeys really need to climb. So if all the flood closures are cramping your craggin’ style, you should come check out some of our newer routes. This friday we’ll be resetting the expansion bouldering as well, and the small cave has some fresh problems up.
Jonny Hork, who you might know from setting at the Spot, will be stitching up some routes here on occasion, starting next week. If you liked his problems there, let us know what you think of his routes here!
As we’re moving into the month of October, we’re featuring another routesetter of the month, TJ Sanford. TJ moved to Boulder from Michigan last winter with Jen Aycock (who now works at the front desk!). You’ve probably gotten used to his style by now. He loves setting very sequential and technical routes, and if you haven’t noticed, he LOVES color matching his hold selection. He learned how to climb traveling around the east coast, and a large degree of his inspiration is drawn from the New and Red River Gorges – collectively known as, “Those two gorge places out east.”
Tj grew up in Sturgis, a small farmtown in Michigan. He spent a lot of time with the Amish growing up, and a lot of time not rock climbing due to a rather extreme lack of any crags in Michigan. Instead, he spent his time honing his skills at a variety of Board sports… Snowboarding, skateboarding, wake boarding(i believe that’s where you pull someone behind you on a boat and they flip around and scream and holler a lot, not to be confused with water boarding), etc. Basically, anything involving a board.
To round out his softer side, he was also a trained choir baritone. Soon, we might have enough singing routesetters to start our very own climbing-themed barbershop quartet. Or, at the very least, we can be even more raucous and brazen in our attempts to imitate Lionel Richie and Creed on those peaceful BRC setting mornings. We wouldn’t want to bore anyone here, afterall.
TJ also has his blackbelt and teaching degree in Karate. I only recently learned how to pronounce this word. It’s japanese and the “e” gets the lions share of stress. Now i have to emphatically say ‘karate’ at least once every sentence. Karate. It makes me feel like Schmidt from “New Girl”. Unfortunately, Tj has never used his karate on anyone, or on any of his routes. If he did, we’d have some really juicy stories for you.
Well, that about wraps it up. Karate. Perhaps, someday soon we’ll have a video of TJ Karate climbing one of his routes. Or Smarvz, balance issues withstanding. It’ll be the new sub-sport of climbing. Karate.
We’re starting to phase in some new route plaques. They’ll be elegant. And simple. And modern. And humble. And delicious. If you enjoy eating laminated paper products and duct tape. What follows is a snapshot of the new ‘look’. This will allow us to forgo the redundant tape at the bottom of the routes, which excelled mostly in collecting old chalk and dead skin cells while they peeled away from the wall. The rating should also now be easier to read! Yay! In other news, I just ordered a plethora of holds from Urban Plastix (www.urbanplastix.com). You can find them on the outside of the small bouldering cave and on some of our newer routes in the expansion. They’ve got some great shapes that we’re excited to set with. I’m making a concerted effort to diversify our climbing hold selection with other hold companies. Like it’s a mutual fund. And i’m the hedge fund manager. At least i enjoy pretending i am, barking orders like, “Sell, Sell, Sell it all!” to Patrick while he’s setting a route. Which might explain why the setters mostly ignore me these days. Speaking of Patrick, he’s been voted our setter of the month. The polling process was arduous, but since it was only myself voting, we eventually came to a conclusion. He was recently written up in the newspaper as the famous DJ dirtmonkey at night, and the infamous PM during the day while he’s setting routes at the BRC. Who doesn’t love being in the paper? He actually has TWO different DJ personas. Dirtmonkey is the down and dirty dubstep DJ, whereas his twin, Steve French is the sexy and suave house DJ. Steve lays down the smooth beats for the ravers to groove all night long. With one toss of his sublime hair, he can make any woman swoon. Watch out ladies, when Steve French is around, the euro has come to B-town. Besides his monkey DJ thing and all that rock climbing, i wanted to get to know Patrick better. So i asked and i received. Here are some other fun facts about Patrick…. He is now the proud, if frustrated, owner of 3 chickens(maybe a fox got one?). He cooks some excellent Thai dishes. His favorite animal is the Liger. I mean, whose isn’t? And finally, he used to play the saxophone. Perhaps that’s where the budding inspiration for music began. Patrick also used to set for Granite Arch and Pipeworks in Sacramento (or Sac-town as K.Bains refers to it). He has the longest setter tenure here at the rock club, and has a known predilection for pinches and comfy jugs. So, if you see fifty pinches leading the way up the wall to the chains…. it just might be a PM route.
Enough talk. It’s business time. Here is PM with his platinum steel look. Or his vicious kitty pose. I often get the two confused.
… are nearly over. Fall is quickly coming our way and the busy season is nearly upon us. Enjoy the last few hot and slow days. Soon the humidity will chill out in the gym and the outdoor temps will be pristine. The most perfect time of the year, as far as climbing is concerned, is nearly here.
I’ve been enjoying these past few weeks by moving in to my new home(homeowner!), running more and climbing less due to finger and shoulder injuries. Surprisingly, i’ve found that cardio fitness does a surprising amount for climbing… after not climbing for a month, i didn’t get pumped up a hard route on the tsunami. Normally i’d be pumped out of my gourd with that much time off. Once i start climbing full time again, my new program will involve much more running and much less climbing. It might even reduce the injuries. I’m sold.
As far as routes go, we reset the small cave this morning. There is a really even spread of grades in there. One of our front-deskers, Tyler, came in to help out as well. Let us know what you think of his routes, they’re marked, “TS”. There are some short and hard vertical problems up as well, involving nasty and tiny crimps, or funky sloper traverses. See if you can unlock them!
I’ve had some requests from some climbers to watch the bouldery nature of our more moderate 5.9’s and 5.10’s. Fret not! You have been heard! I’m double and triple checking that there are enough footholds on our moderate routes to reduce the pulls and increase the technical aspect of those climbs. This has been stressed to our setters as well. Hopefully this will increase the flow and decrease the frustration that may or may not have occurred.
In other exciting news… a new set of mini-cave bouldering has been stitched up. There’s also a new open foot traverse circumnavigating the entire inside of the small bouldering cave – big holds, big fun!
I’m out early today… gotta prep some music for a wedding this weekend. Climb hard this weekend!
With the new terrain in the expansion, we’ve started doing “splitzy routes”(my newly coined term)… it’s crowded down low and lots of space up top, so we have been splitting a route into an easier and harder variation. You’ll start to see a few more of these. Because of our splitzy routes, we’re up to 110 routes right now. We’re, admittedly, a little low on 5.9’s, and we have an overabundance of 5.11+, 10- and 10. It should start normalizing over the next couple of weeks, as we adjust for it during setting.
A lot of our SCS comp routes are starting to come down, so we’re setting twice in the expansion this week. There are some new moderates and a couple of low-grade 12’s that went up today. Last friday some new hard stuff was put up in the tsunami, so if you’re fixing to crank some easy or hard 13’s, go check them out.
If you’ve been following the blog at all (i’d be amazed) or have been climbing in the gym and actually pay attention to our route names, then you most likely have noticed the proliferation of “Dally” themed routes. It is in honor of Dallas (aka Dtron) who is leaving mid-august. Only, we’re in desperate need of good Dally route names. It’s really been a steady downhill dive ever since the “Dally Lhama” and “Dilly Dally” were used up. I mean, “Dally Donkey”, my last Dally route, is fairly contrived and far-reaching. The donkey theme is my go-to move when the creative juices are all dried up. So, feel free to post some dally themed route names in the comments and maybe we’ll use them!
Also, If you see a skinny little Dally romping and frolicking his jolly little way about the gym, make sure to wish him well in his journeys.
I’ve been contemplating a routesetting game lately…. We’ll leave a vote section up on each new route for the “Guess who the routesetter is?” game. Only… i might even give a task to each setter to emulate another setter. Sound complicated? Sound fun? Maybe both?
What follows is an example to abate any confusion you might have:
Let’s suppose Patrick (PM) was instructed to set like Ng (myself). If you happen to vote NG then patrick wins(i guess you kinda do too). If you vote PM then YOU win and he loses! If you vote TM for some odd reason then everybody loses. What do you win, you might ask? Pride points and bragging rights. Increased gym status. Personal power and greatly increased climbing abilities. And who wouldn’t want all of that?
Okay, i’m off to go running. Apparently, i have a honey stinger addiction. The only way to live with the guilt that accompanies the excess calories is to overtrain myself. Or so i was told by Smarvs and McNichols. Proper NMA‘ers, if i do say so myself.