Two New TruBlues!

Last week, we installed two new TruBlue Autobelays in the Expansion Room of the BRC!

This opens up at least 6 new routes for your solo gym adventures!  Bare with us as we test the new positioning as they might move slightly to give you the best experience!

 

Thanks to HeadRush Technologies for such a great product!

Posted by Aubrey Wingo, 0 comments

Ages 5 & Under – Free Rentals and Stickers!

Parents!  Do you have little ones scrambling all over your walls?  Or maybe you’re a member already at Boulder Rock Club but you don’t always bring your kids crushers?  Well, we are hoping to make climbing more exciting for your kids.

Boulder Rock Club is offering Free Rental Equipment and a brand new and exclusive BRC Sticker to all kids ages 5 and under with their Day Pass, Punch Pass, or Membership.  Even more exciting, new stickers will be available throughout the year so you can collect them all!

 

Rock climbing for young kids helps build coordination, confidence, and strength all while having fun.  Our mezzanine area is route set to be accessible for all ages and sizes.  If you are ready to try a class, check out our Tiny Tots programming!  New sessions begin at the start of every month!

 

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Day Off School Camp – October 12

 

Join us for a fun indoor rock climbing experience.  Our expert instructors will teach basic safety skills, play rock climbing games, and more!

Ages: 6-14, Kids will be grouped by age and experience.

9am-3pm

 

To Register, Click Here!

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Climbing Club Starts Next Week!

The school year is here again.  That means so is our fall season of Climbing Club!  Keep the summertime fun going and keep your child active and learning with rock climbing!

Climbing Club is separated into three age groups: 6 to 8, 9 to 11, and 12+ with techniques advancing with each age group.  All gear is provided.

 

To see all dates and to register online, visit:

BRC Climbing Club

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MAS Chicas – Women Motivated to Achieve Success

MAS Chicas – Women Motivated to Achieve Success

At the Boulder Rock Club, our goal is to not only provide you with a great climbing experience with new routes and great community, but we also want to make you a better climber.  We offer several different instructional programs to get you started, but one of the number one questions that we get is, “well, I’m climbing 5.?.  How do I get better?”

One of your options?  Adult Climbing Teams and Training Programs.

For the ladies, Joslynn Corredor, one of our personal trainers, has designed her team, MAS Chicas, or Women Motivated to Achieve Success.  This 6 week training program is specifically built by women for women.  We sat down with Joslynn to break down her course a little bit more for your information!

1.  Tell us a little bit about yourself!

I am originally from Southern California.  I grew up close to the ocean, where I fell in love with surfing and running. I found climbing after my collegiate running career, and was attracted to self-motivation aspect and the great community, similar to both surfing and running. After college I moved to Boulder, Colorado where I fell in love with climbing. My favorite place to climb is Rocky Mountain National Park. I am a strength and conditioning coach and have been training for about 5 years. I have my bachelor’s in exercise science,  CSCS, USA weightlifting level 1, and  Functional Movement Screening certifications.

2.  Why should I do a training program like PMA/MAS Chicas?  What are the benefits?

I would highly recommendMAS for ladies who are wanting to push their grades, get general fitness help, lifting technique, climbing workouts, and get pushed with motivated women that climb a similar grade. There is nothing better than receiving beta from other women! 

3.  What is involved?  How much climbing?  How much lifting?  etc.

Climbing is 75% of the class, the other 25% being warm-up and conditioning. We have a warm up routine at the beginning of every class, before starting to climb. Climbing workouts include: hangboarding, technique refinement, mental training, and Campus Boarding for MAS +.  We then do conditioning involving: lifting technique, core, and antagonist training for injury prevention. The class is two hours long so bring a snack/water because we will be moving most of the time.

4.  What are the minimum requirements?  How strong should I be climbing before I join?

Minimum requirements:

Leading 5.9 TR 5.10- for MAS Chicas course

Leading 5.11- for MAS Chicas+ course


Here’s what others are saying about MAS Chicas:

“I have done 3 sessions of MAS Chicas. Each time I end of the class stronger, more confident, and more prepared to tackle a variety of routes.  I’ve learned many useful conditioning exercises to keep my body healthy and important skills to keep my confidence up when pushing my limits. Joslynn inspires a “try hard” attitude all while providing a safe and fun environment; you can tell she is passionate about what she does. Taking a climbing class with other strong, motivated women is not only inspiring but FUN!! You feel confident to try a move or route even if you think you’ll fail because you know everyone in the class is doing the same thing. We all cheer each other on (maybe too much!) and create new partnerships for climbing and in life. I can’t wait for the next session!” – Audrey Tobin

“I really enjoyed the class, and even did a session of each (MAS and MAS+).  It taught me how to warm up properly before climbing, focus on specific skills, taught me how to project a route, push my limit, and also gave me tools off the wall to increase strength and movements specific to climbing.  Joslynn is a great coach and really wants to see each person succeed.  She meets you where you are at, listens to what you hope to get out of the class, what you want to work on, and helps you achieve any goals you might have.  The classes are in a small group setting which is really nice, allowing you to get one on one coaching and making it a better environment to connect with the other people in the class which has lead to more climbing partners and friends, Yay!” – Courtney Brendel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Climbing Club and Tiny Tots Registration are Open!

Climbing Club and Tiny Tots Registration are Open!

The school year is only weeks away which means that enrollment for Climbing Club  and Tiny Tots classes is open!

These spots fill up quickly and those who enroll in Quarter 1 will have priority enrollment for the following quarters so don’t miss your chance for your children to be taught by some of the finest instructors in Colorado.

All Climbing Club classes have a 4 to 1 ratio of students to instructors and Tiny Tots classes have a 3 to 1 ratio; this means that your child will get tons of personal attention to learn the skills they need to become skilled and safe climbers.

To register online, visit here to see all Climbing Club dates, and here to see all Tiny Tots dates.

For any additional questions, feel free to call the Front Desk at 303-447-2804.

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A Whole New Rock Club – Remodels and Closures

Hello Friends,

We’re dedicated to keeping the BRC in top form, and are preparing some facility projects later this month. We think you’ll love the upgrades:

  • Men’s bathroom: adding a shower stall and 2 urinals, new counters
  • Women’s bathroom: shower overhaul, new counters
  • Lighting: new brighter energy-efficient LEDs

NOTE: We will be CLOSED Monday through Friday, July 24-28 to make these projects happen. Fortunately a few neighbors will let BRC members climb for free during this time (thanks!):

We deeply appreciate your understanding. Members will not pay for the downtime – we will add days or prorate your monthly payment.

Questions? Please reply or ask at the front desk.

Thanks for being part of our community!

– BRC Staff

 

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Summer Membership Special – 2017

 

We know how nice it is outside right now, but sometimes, you’ve just got to escape the sun and get some laps in indoors!

BRC is offering 3 Months of Membership for only $175.  This offer expires July 1st so hurry before it’s gone!

Your membership will start the day you sign up.  No freezes, cancellations, or refunds.

Any questions?  Call us at 303-447-2804 or email us at frontdesk@boulderrockclub.com.

Posted by Aubrey Wingo, 0 comments

TJ Sanford goes to the Setter Showdown!

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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!

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You can check out more information about the Setter Showdown HERE!

 

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Mini-Cave Setter Competition Results!

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?

-b

 

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Setter Competition Showdown at the BRC

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!

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Newly Refurbished Campus Board!

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!

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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.

Here are a few more pics:

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Let us know how you like it!

-B

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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.

-B

 

 

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The BRC Scooter Gang

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.

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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.

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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!

CIAO!

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Fall climbing season is just around the corner!

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

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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!

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When Route Setters Go Looking For Work

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
Posted by Brent NG, 1 comment

Y&Y Belay Glasses: A Review

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.

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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.

Posted by Brent NG, 0 comments

A little Commercial Routesetting Perspective

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.

1525664_10151902675441984_86809308_nDon’t forget, we’ve got our February 15th competition coming up!  It’s the BCS Prime Comp.  We’re taking your top two boulder problems and your top two routes.  So, if you’ve ever wanted to try out a mixed comp and get the best of both worlds, this is the one to do it at.  The BCS comps are always low pressure, tons of fun and there’s a raffle at the end for some great prizes.  Come compete!

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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.

-Brent Ng

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