We’re often asked about our route setting, everything from “can I have a go?” to “do you use templates?” along with some other slightly more obscure questions…
We opened with 7,500 holds and over 1,000sqm of climbing surface. We now have nearly double the amount of holds and another 400+ sq m of wall.
With this amount of climbing area combined with the climber’s insatiable appetite for new routes/blocs it often feels like ground hog day when it comes to setting. In actual fact it’s roughly 15 days each month taken up with setting somewhere within The Boardroom.
~The Boardroom’s head setter Nick Moulden, “feeling” the moves before the holds are placed!
So what’s the process?
We completely remove the holds from a section of wall early in the morning to leave a blank canvas for the route setter(s). The size of the area we “strip” depends not only on how many setters are in that day, but also how fast they can set. Not that it’s a race, quality always comes before quantity!
The holds are then taken away to be washed and dried (which takes a day or two especially in the winter) before being sorted and stored away ready for the next set, which could be the next day.
Not that it’s a race. Quality ALWAYS comes before quantity!
Now here’s where the magic comes in…
Those holds. They’re not just randomly placed in the hope that some divine intervention will align them into routes.
No, each and every hold has been chosen with the greatest of thought as to how it will be held, how it will force you into different positions, to climb in a certain way. Then they’re individually and precisely placed, often replicating movements from the route setters extensive repertoire which they’ve executed at some point in their climbing career; whether it be on rock, plastic or even in a dream. This is the skill every route setter has; being able to imagine the route, being able to feel what it’s like to climb it even before it exists.
Not to mention the ability to climb hard, and climb hard all day. For as if the setting wasn’t hard enough, after all the routes or blocs are set for that day they then have to be tested. Each and every one, tweaked and adjusted if needs be.
This is the skill every route setter has; being able to imagine the route, being able to feel what it’s like to climb it even before it exists.
Then there’s the technical side to the craft; choosing the right length bolt and screw for each hold, safely using ladders, and being able to use a drill correctly. Placing holds fast on a wall without cross threading the T-nuts (the nuts attached to the back of the wall behind every hole) or rounding off the heads of bolts or screws is a skill which needs to be learnt before any aspiring setter will be let loose near the wall.
~Testing, testing ,testing. Nick testing a V8+
Overseeing the route setting…
…is our in-house head setter Nick Moulden, or as he prefers to be known, Hold Relocation Manager! Nick ensures what needs to be set on that day is set, along with help from Becks.
Both of them have been setting for over 10 years and climbing since they could walk. It’s this experience which makes all the difference when the routes or blocs are climbed. Not just in their variety, how they flow and test you as a climber, but in ensuring the routes don’t interfere with each other and it’s safe to make the clips on the lead wall.
Inevitably the grades can and do go askew at times…
When guest setters are in Nick and Becks ensure they are setting the right lines at the right grades. Inevitably the grades can and do go askew at times, and when they do one or both of them will tweak them as soon as possible to bring them back into line. One setters V6 is not another setters V6! Grades vary from wall to wall across the country and because we use a variety of guest setters who may regularly set at anther wall, a variation in grades is pretty much unavoidable.
The plus side with all these guest setters and two brilliant in house setters is a good variety of beautiful routes/blocs to climb.
~Guest setter Liam Halsey setting in The World of Steep