Onsight Vs. Redpoint Setting

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?

Anyway, May the flow be with you.




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