What is route setting for climbing ?
At Mountain Extreme, there are two types of route setting going on. The bouldering problems and the top rope climbing routes. As the largest indoor climbing wall in Dubai we take route setting very seriously.
Route setting is to climbing what coding is to video games. The route setters are the magicians who create these climbing sequences which you will keep obsessing about.
Years ago, when climbing gyms first started the routes were set by experienced climbers in the gym. Then in the 1990s as bouldering increased in popularity, route setting emerged as a professional pursuit.
Bouldering opened up people’s mind to what was possible on a climbing wall. It made climbing more precise, more creative and more mental.
By the early 2000s climbing walls became huge canvas where route setters created temporary pieces of functional art. Routes needs to stay up long enough for climbers to solve them, but not so long that they become routine.
Some routes are easy and dull, they are mostly used for warm ups, like pulling on a rowing machine. Others have a magical sequence which takes time to unlock and leaves you buzzing when you send it and come back down.
Route setters need to be creative and bring imagination to the blank wall.
Who are the route setters ?
Route setters aren’t just great climbers, they have a good load of experience and even specific qualifications.
French route setter, Mathieu Pisaniello, holds a national diploma in route opening delivered by the mountaineering federation.
In the UK, the Route Setting Association delivers certifying courses and regulates the activity of route setters with a charter.
Holds matter when route setting for rock climbing
Mountain Extreme stocks more than 3,000 holds of different sizes, shapes and color. This allows the route setters to let their imagination run wild and offer different types of problems or route variations.
French leading hold manufacturer, Expression Holds, designs and fabricates some of the advanced climbings holds globally. Developed with the participation and advice of world IFSC champion Romain Desgrange, the holds allow climbers to work not only on their finger strength but also to develop a deeper understanding of the different grips.
The most commonly used holds provide a horizontal edge that you can hang from. When the hold is extremely positive, which means it has a large lip or is otherwise easy to grab, climbers call it a jug.
A crimp, by contrast, has an edge that’s so thin, you can fit only your fingertips on it. When that edge is oriented vertically and off to the side, it serves as a side pull.
Pockets can be deep or shallow and can restrict you to using three, two, or even one finger. Pinches require you to squeeze the hold with the help of your thumb. Then there are slopers, which are smooth and round and might be used with an open-handed grip to maximize friction or for a mantle move, in which the climber pushes against, rather than pulls on, the hold.
Some are designed only for a foot, with a surface just large enough to accommodate a single toe. Sometimes there’s no foothold at all, in which case climbers must smear a foot against the blank wall, relying on the sticky rubber of their shoes.
Finally, large holds, called volumes or features, alter the geometry of the wall and can be modified by screwing smaller holds, known as jibs, onto their surfaces.