Route setting isn´t easy. Every route setter knows that it is hard work and needs dedication. Setting isn´t just bolting the climbing holds to walls. Setting routes can be described as a form of art. Good routes challenge climber’s physique and brain and also teach climbing techniques in a natural way. Whether you’re just starting out, or already had some experience, here are some helpful tips for route setting.
By far the most common error is to set routes, that feel like climbing a ladder. Feet follow hands, and you are repeating same sequence over and over. Boring! You cannot avoid it in the most beginner friendly routes, or boulder problems. As the most important thing for beginner climbers is to have fun getting to the top. However for routes ranging from 5 to 6a, you can use holds more creatively, by making some under moves, siders, easy heel hooks etc.
Many novice setters set by a linear plan. Sometime even the more experienced route setters are guilty of letting it slide when they are making some of the easier routes. The lack of motivation often leads to thoughtless setting and bad routes. You can avoid this by thinking ahead. What is the purpose of this route? Is it meant as a warm-up, is it trying to teach some specific climbing technique or what?
Don’t set far above of your own climbing ability
Ramping up difficulty by reachy moves
A good trick for measuring maximum reach distances is to stand on foothold, have your arm fully extended and place the next handhold somewhere between your elbow and the wrist. If you have any doubts, you ask somebody shorter than you to test-run the route. You could fix it by adding a foothold or an intermediate handhold and make the route go a bit more sideways.
Routes that lack flow
Hurrying up to finish a route, and not thinking about footholds
Setting easy routes with the unwanted spares
Remember positive attitude that reflects to the customer experience
These are just a few points we’ve picked up. They are not absolute truths set in stone (no pun intended). We hope with these tips you get more positive feedback from your customers, and one day you will be setting some of the gym favourites.