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Why young climbers should not set routes
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itstoearly


Mar 14, 2011, 8:27 AM
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Why young climbers should not set routes
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Kind of a rant here from my own personal experience, but...

I am 6 feet tall. When I started routesetting, I got complaints from anyone under the average height that sometimes my routes were too reachy. OK, fair enough, I said to myself. The purpose of setting a gym route is to be accessible to the most climbers possible at that skill level. So I spent months training myself to set routes that were either not reachy, or had alternate sequences for shorter climbers to use. I now never get complaints that my routes are too reachy.

Now, we have some kids at our gym who climb very, very strong. One 12 year old at our gym recently made it to the semifinals of the ABS finals in Boulder last month. Now, they come to the gym, and set routes, and rate them. Except, often times I won't even be able to do the sit start, because they decided the starting hands would be on a sloper 2 feet off the ground. Sure, no problems for them. They can get right under that hold and move freely. But if you are over, say, 5'5", you're just SOL. Sometimes it is an issue with other moves in the climb, too.

So my gripe is, I had to learn to appease the shorter climbers and set routes accessible to all heights, yet they turn around and seem oblivious to tall climbers.

Anyone else run in to this?

Our gym has a fairly lax route setting policy (all route setters are volunteer), and pretty much if the owner (who is a really awesome guy) knows you, you can set.

EDIT:
This was more of a rant than a request for suggestions. Obviously, this isn't a huge deal. This is indoor climbing. If I can't climb a route because i am too tall, well, sometimes height is an issue outside, too. And you can't complain to anyone outside. It's most the principal of the matter that short climbers ask that I set for them, but they don't seem to return the favor.


(This post was edited by itstoearly on Mar 14, 2011, 8:37 AM)


saint_john


Mar 14, 2011, 8:35 AM
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In reply to:
Our gym has a fairly lax route setting policy (all route setters are volunteer), and pretty much if the owner (who is a really awesome guy) knows you, you can set.

that could be the problem.


itstoearly


Mar 14, 2011, 8:41 AM
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Re: [saint_john] Why young climbers should not set routes [In reply to]
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Well, it has its advantages, too. The gym is in a very low populated area (well, it's densely populated compared to most of the state), so the gym is not a big money maker, even by climbing gym standards. So there really is no budget to hire routesetters. Also, because of this system, we see a huge variety of routes... more than I see in other gyms.

I would not change the way this gym has their routes set. I really just wanted to get this gripe off my chest.


lena_chita
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Mar 14, 2011, 8:54 AM
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Re: [itstoearly] Why young climbers should not set routes [In reply to]
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It is not a symmetrical situation, e.i. you do something to set for shorter climbers, but they don't return the favor of setting for tall climbers. It is very hard to set routes you can't do, and then accurately grade them. Tongue

You are tall, but you have an option of going shorter on your reach.

They are short, and they can't go farther than their reach (or their dyno capability) and set anything that they have any hope of accurately grading. I am sure that them being young and inexperienced in oute-setting has something to do with it, too.

Sounds like it is something that just has to be accepted, and remedied by having a mix of people setting a mix of routes.

Not every route has to be short-person accessible. It is O.K. to have routes that are much harder for shorter people than for taller people, and vice versa. It's only when there is a (real or perceived) imbalance that there is any reason to complain.

I really don't mind that there are routes that I can't do because I am too short, and not strong enough to get around the reach problem. But if there are 10 routes like that to every 1 that is doable for me, then it feels bad. Or, if every route in a competition is made hard by making it reachier, with tracking feet, instead of making it more variable -- that sucks.


itstoearly


Mar 14, 2011, 10:29 AM
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I guess I shouldn't have named this thread "Why young climbers should not set routes" so much as "Why I hate it when young climbers set routes".

I think harder routes are actually easier to set to both tall and short climbers. I mean, slopers are the great equalizer. You can have a dyno off a sloper that has higher feet for shorter people that tell people just cannot use. In fact, I find when I set routes in the 5.11 range, after making sure it is short person friendly, it will often times seem reachy to me, oddly enough.


guangzhou


Mar 14, 2011, 5:35 PM
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Sounds to me like these short and young climbers are giving you an opportunity to climb some very different problems from you strength.

I would think this will improve you overall body positioning skills and help you develop as a climber. I've been on a few routes where my height, I'm only 6.2 was a definitely disadvantage.


Of course, you also don't have to climb every problem or routes in the gym. I am sure some who frequent the facilities enjoy these guys route, you are just not one of them.


milesenoell


Mar 14, 2011, 5:51 PM
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guangzhou wrote:
Sounds to me like these short and young climbers are giving you an opportunity to climb some very different problems from you strength.

I would think this will improve you overall body positioning skills and help you develop as a climber. I've been on a few routes where my height, I'm only 6.2 was a definitely disadvantage.


Of course, you also don't have to climb every problem or routes in the gym. I am sure some who frequent the facilities enjoy these guys route, you are just not one of them.

+1


sycamore


Mar 14, 2011, 6:22 PM
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I find that at my primary gym, the younger the setter, the lower the route quality, for sure. There are obvious exceptions to this, but I think it primarily stems from the fact that the young, albeit super strong climbers who often set there have very little non-gym experience. This leads to, for lack of a better term, immature routes-- lots of throws and dynos and heel hooks-- that are great for competition training (I guess), but not so much for people who actually climb outside.

Across town at the other gym however, most of the routes are set by a 5.13 trad climber who's been climbing for 20+ years. The routes are thoughtful, intelligent, and actually feel like they directly translate to real rock. Unfortunately, it's farther away, and we don't go as often, but man is it way more fun...


shockabuku


Mar 14, 2011, 7:47 PM
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Sure, it's annoying. Consider how annoying it is to be less than 5 feet tall and have to climb routes set for people between 5'2" and 6'2". My daughter who is 4'10" and 13 years old is in the same boat as the kid you just described and it makes her furious quite frequently.


marc801


Mar 14, 2011, 10:26 PM
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itstoearly wrote:
Except, often times I won't even be able to do the sit start, because they decided the starting hands would be on a sloper 2 feet off the ground. Sure, no problems for them. They can get right under that hold and move freely. But if you are over, say, 5'5", you're just SOL.
Everyone knows sit starts are bogus BS.


itstoearly


Mar 15, 2011, 5:45 AM
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guangzhou wrote:
Sounds to me like these short and young climbers are giving you an opportunity to climb some very different problems from you strength.

I would think this will improve you overall body positioning skills and help you develop as a climber. I've been on a few routes where my height, I'm only 6.2 was a definitely disadvantage.


Of course, you also don't have to climb every problem or routes in the gym. I am sure some who frequent the facilities enjoy these guys route, you are just not one of them.

You are right that it is a chance for me to improve. Part of me, though, gets rather irked when I can't do a V1 because the sit start is like the one I described. I feel cheated, if you will.

shockabuku wrote:
Sure, it's annoying. Consider how annoying it is to be less than 5 feet tall and have to climb routes set for people between 5'2" and 6'2". My daughter who is 4'10" and 13 years old is in the same boat as the kid you just described and it makes her furious quite frequently.

The gym I set at frequently has competitions for high school and junior high students, some who can do 5.12 (and every year or so one who can climb 5.13). I think it is just as rude for someone my height to make a climb that is impossible (or far far more difficult) for someone under 5 feet tall.

When I first started to be conscientious of shorter climbers when I set, I made my climbs for people 5 feet tall and up. I figured that very rarely would I see an adult climber shorter than that. After a bit though, I started having to make climbs for shorter and shorter climbers. One girl at our gym can't be more than 4 feet tall... I like to use her to test most of my climbs. I watch her and see where she cannot reach. Often times it is just a matter of throwing in a very tiny chip for them to either stand on or bump with (it never ceases to amaze me how easy it is for this tiny climbers to use these tiny holds).

marc801 wrote:
itstoearly wrote:
Except, often times I won't even be able to do the sit start, because they decided the starting hands would be on a sloper 2 feet off the ground. Sure, no problems for them. They can get right under that hold and move freely. But if you are over, say, 5'5", you're just SOL.
Everyone knows sit starts are bogus BS.
Yes but as a route setter it is a great way for me to have more control over your starting position. But my philosophy is that the sit start should always be relatively easy for the grade of the climb. Sit starts are only to add length and force sequences, not to bump the difficulty.


shotwell


Mar 15, 2011, 7:41 AM
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Bouldering inside and outside is obviously a different philosophy. In truth, I've been on several problems in the past week where the sit start was the business of the climb. Sometimes, you just have to accept that a move is harder for a person of a different height.

Accepting that sometimes v1 will be harder for you than someone else is an important part of growing as a boulderer. I've had to accept that there are funky, scrunchy moves that will feel way harder for me than my fiance. She has had to accept that there are reachy problems that are way harder for her. Indoors or outdoors, why would you want the problem to compromise itself for you? You can either do it or not. It will be either hard or easy. Just because someone else called a problem v1, v6, or v12 doesn't mean you have to believe it.

It is certainly nice of you to make sure you accommodate shorter climbers when you set. I made sure to do so when I set as well. However, these kids don't have to make it easy for you. Hell, you could even learn something from these funky starts.


itstoearly


Mar 15, 2011, 12:49 PM
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shotwell wrote:
It is certainly nice of you to make sure you accommodate shorter climbers when you set. I made sure to do so when I set as well. However, these kids don't have to make it easy for you. Hell, you could even learn something from these funky starts.

They could at least include a foot farther out for tall people to use.


shotwell


Mar 15, 2011, 1:03 PM
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You could always ask them.


justroberto


Mar 15, 2011, 1:37 PM
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itstoearly wrote:
shotwell wrote:
It is certainly nice of you to make sure you accommodate shorter climbers when you set. I made sure to do so when I set as well. However, these kids don't have to make it easy for you. Hell, you could even learn something from these funky starts.

They could at least include a foot farther out for tall people to use.
Why don't you suggest that to them. Or, just put one out there yourself and use it.


itstoearly


Mar 16, 2011, 9:07 AM
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justroberto wrote:
itstoearly wrote:
shotwell wrote:
It is certainly nice of you to make sure you accommodate shorter climbers when you set. I made sure to do so when I set as well. However, these kids don't have to make it easy for you. Hell, you could even learn something from these funky starts.

They could at least include a foot farther out for tall people to use.
Why don't you suggest that to them. Or, just put one out there yourself and use it.

I always feel bad altering another setters climb. But your are right, I should ask (assuming I can actually meet them in the gym... I only go to that gym once a week because of time constraints).


matterunomama


Mar 25, 2011, 7:44 AM
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After a lot of bitching and moaning about routes being set by one young setter being too reachy, too burly, too crimpy, I've started to watch the kids on the climbing team. Too reachy?-->the 4'10" kiddo does it. Too burly?--> the skinny little girl minces her way up. What I do notice is that the ROUTES are good but the grading is off.

Now I just settle on my all purpose excuse: I'm too old for this.

The ultimate example is Ashima Shirashi: watching her shames me into silence every time:http://www.dpmclimbing.com/...bs-v11-and-v12-hueco

Maybe I should just get coaching from the team coaches. Watever they are teaching those kids sure works.


rtwilli4


Mar 25, 2011, 7:57 AM
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guangzhou wrote:
Sounds to me like these short and young climbers are giving you an opportunity to climb some very different problems from you strength.

I would think this will improve you overall body positioning skills and help you develop as a climber. I've been on a few routes where my height, I'm only 6.2 was a definitely disadvantage.


Of course, you also don't have to climb every problem or routes in the gym. I am sure some who frequent the facilities enjoy these guys route, you are just not one of them.

+1. Thread over.


jomagam


Mar 25, 2011, 8:13 AM
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In reply to:
It is not a symmetrical situation, e.i. you do something to set for shorter climbers, but they don't return the favor of setting for tall climbers. It is very hard to set routes you can't do, and then accurately grade them. Tongue

You are tall, but you have an option of going shorter on your reach.

It is pretty symmetrical. Short climbers have an advantage on slopers with high feet, or high steps; basically any situation when hands and feet are close.

No wonder that elite rock climbers tend to be shorter than average. I know there are other factors too, like weight, but you'd think that there would be more above 6 feet if reach was such a king.


freezeus


Mar 25, 2011, 9:08 AM
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Matt...I think if you ask the little buggers, especially the one that's turning into a sandbagger with his ratings they will adjust just like you have adjusted for them....

By the way your sit start on the 5.11 on the single pillar is way too scrunched up for me...

Remember with this last full reset almost none of the climbs were built by kids because they were competing in the comp and weren't allowed to build.

All of the current boulder problems have been built by adults...


DoctorWhat


Jun 1, 2011, 9:28 AM
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Our gym has several good route setters and we have a pretty good variety in the types of routes we have. Also, they get changed frequently - more frequently than I can keep up with. Yet we still have a lot of the more experienced climbers that will come in and make up their own non-official routes to challenge themselves and each other. I think if you want to climb there is always something to climb.


linteater


Jun 3, 2011, 10:16 AM
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Wow it's good to hear from the setter's point of view :) I'm somewhat new to climbing (less than a year) and 5' tall. My husband is 6', and routes that I love he'll hate, and vice versa.

I do occasionally get frustrated when it seems the route setter just gives up accomodating the short person at the end of the route. It's happened quite a few times when I get to the top of a route only to find that there are no intermediary holds (I only need a chip! Just one tiny chip, I say!!) between the last hand/foot hold and the ending. The route could be a 5.10a or lower up until that point, but then the dyno I have to do from a precariously balanced position skews the rating entirely for me.

But then I realize that I have some routes easy when I can high-foot it past the parts my husband struggles on.

All that to say, thanks for thinking of the little people. I think the maturity that comes with age just makes you more likely to think of people other than yourself, and I really appreciate it!


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