Category Archives: Route Setting

True Grip 14′ Results


Thank you to everyone that came out to compete! Without you events such as this would not be such a success.  It was a very competitive event with over 180 participants over the course of the day.  Results are listed below starting with the female divisions.

First Name Last Name Team Name Gender Category Total Points Place
Leah Bell-Johnson Team BRC Female Junior 18,000 1
Sasha Rubenfeld Team BRC Female Junior 17,600 2
Julia Casey Team BRC Female Junior 16,500 3
Caroline Walton Inner Strength Female Junior 16,300 4
Jordan Hartnett Team Sik Bird Female Junior 16,100 5
Maren Stubenvoll EarthTreks Golden Female Junior 7,100 6
First Name Last Name Team Name Gender Category Total Points Place
Maggie Boyer Team BRC Female Youth-A 18,600 1
Lisa Kilmer Team BRC Female Youth-A 17,600 2
Madeline D’Amato Team BRC Female Youth-A 17,600 3
Rachel Cohen Rock’n & Jam’n Female Youth-A 17,000 4
Jessica Hawkins Vail Athletic Club Female Youth-A 16,800 5
Nadine Wong Rock’n & Jam’n Female Youth-A 16,800 6
Hannah Gibbs Inner Strength Female Youth-A 16,800 7
Jahna Walls Team BRC Female Youth-A 16,800 8
Abby Wilson Team BRC Female Youth-A 15,500 9
Camille Olson Vail Athletic Club Female Youth-A 15,400 10
Sara Denhoffer Rock’n & Jam’n Female Youth-A 15,300 11
Sarah Sarno Rock’n & Jam’n Female Youth-A 14,900 12
Camille Garcia Rock’n & Jam’n Female Youth-A 14,800 13
Annabelle Pasnau Team BRC Female Youth-A 14,300 14
Emma Binder Rock’n & Jam’n Female Youth-A 13,800 15
Kacie Palmer Rock’n & Jam’n Female Youth-A 13,300 16
Mackenzie Whitehead-Bust Rock’n & Jam’n Female Youth-A 11,500 17
First Name Last Name Team Name Gender Category Total Points Place
Brooke Raboutou Team ABC Female Youth-B 20,400 1
Ariana O’Brien Team ABC Female Youth-B 20,200 2
Ravelle Nelson Team ABC Female Youth-B 19,500 3
Lillian Friefeld Team ABC Female Youth-B 19,000 4
Madison Larson EarthTreks Golden Female Youth-B 18,000 5
Katy McCutchan *None/Not listed Female Youth-B 17,600 6
Izabela Nowak Rock’n & Jam’n Female Youth-B 17,600 6
Kamawela Leka Team BRC Female Youth-B 17,600 8
Kate Soulliere Lakewood Female Youth-B 17,600 9
Ari Alpert Team ABC Female Youth-B 16,900 10
Aran Sullivan Rock’n & Jam’n Female Youth-B 16,600 11
Caroline Petterson EarthTreks Golden Female Youth-B 16,000 12
Mia Greene Team BRC Female Youth-B 15,700 13
Tali Maximon Team BRC Female Youth-B 15,200 14
Alena Holbert Rock’n & Jam’n Female Youth-B 14,500 15
alexis hull Sport Climbing Center Female Youth-B 14,500 16
Gray Freeman Team BRC Female Youth-B 14,100 17
Amanda MacDonald Rock’n & Jam’n Female Youth-B 13,800 18
Sydney Wanner Sik Bird Female Youth-B 13,800 19
Mia Baud Lakewood Female Youth-B 13,500 20
Katherine Austin Rock’n & Jam’n Female Youth-B 13,300 21
Melina Michie Rock’n & Jam’n Female Youth-B 13,000 22
Zoe Hopkins Rock’n & Jam’n Female Youth-B 12,700 23
Madison Cyr Rock’n & Jam’n Female Youth-B 12,500 24
Chloe Kim Rock’n & Jam’n Female Youth-B 12,500 24
Allison Riley Rock’n & Jam’n Female Youth-B 12,400 26
Margo Salyers Rock’n & Jam’n Female Youth-B 12,400 26
Anna Vertun Team BRC Female Youth-B 10,900 28
Grace Kelly Team BRC Female Youth-B 10,000 29
Terra Gallegos Lakewood Link Female Youth-B 7,400 30
First Name Last Name Team Name Gender Category Total Points Place
Mia Manson Team Sik Bird Female Youth-C 20,200 1
Corinne Otterness Team ABC Female Youth-C 20,200 2
Phoebe Dolan Team ABC Female Youth-C 19,600 3
Emily Herdic The Spot Female Youth-C 18,000 4
Cadance Hurt Rock’n & Jam’n Female Youth-C 18,000 5
Ashley Fisher Team ABC Female Youth-C 17,600 6
Mya Ormsbee Team BRC Female Youth-C 15,800 7
Taylor Berry Rock’n & Jam’n Female Youth-C 15,500 8
Grace Remmert Team BRC Female Youth-C 15,400 9
Caroline Bechtel Team BRC Female Youth-C 14,600 10
Margarite Ford Team BRC Female Youth-C 14,600 11
Grace Ryan EarthTreks Golden Female Youth-C 14,300 12
Olivia Day Team BRC Female Youth-C 14,200 13
Ella Aizeki Team Sik Bird Female Youth-C 14,100 14
Ella Perington Team BRC Female Youth-C 13,900 15
Ona Melvin Lifetime Fitness – Centennial, CO Female Youth-C 13,300 16
Melissa Caid Rock’n & Jam’n Female Youth-C 12,400 17
Grace Martin Team BRC Female Youth-C 11,800 18
Lauren Choi Rock’n & Jam’n Female Youth-C 11,300 19
Guilia Leubben Rock’n & Jam’n Female Youth-C 10,700 20
Ryan Ganjon Female Youth-C 9,500 21
Kayleigh Evans Female Youth-C 8,500 22
Chloe Kusser Female Youth-C 8,500 22
Peyton Roeder Rock’n & Jam’n Female Youth-C 8,500 24
Kaelyn Harris Team ABC Female Youth-C 6,700 25
Maya Miserlian Rock’n & Jam’n Female Youth-C 1,100 26
First Name Last Name Team Name Gender Category Total Points Place
Lydia Dolan Team ABC Female Youth-D 18,000 1
Olivia Kosanovich EarthTreks Golden Female Youth-D 18,000 2
Emery Jansen Team Sik Bird Female Youth-D 13,800 3
Kiera Johnson Lifetime Fitness – Centennial, CO Female Youth-D 13,500 4
Klara Meymaris Team ABC Female Youth-D 13,500 4
Kalia O’Brien Team Sik Bird Female Youth-D 13,500 6
Mae Sterner Team ABC Female Youth-D 12,900 7
Isabelle Link Team ABC Female Youth-D 12,400 8
Ceri Evans EarthTreks Golden Female Youth-D 11,500 9
Taryn Chase Rock’n & Jam’n Female Youth-D 11,000 10
Brooklee Baybeck EarthTreks Golden Female Youth-D 10,700 11
Katrina Canfield Team ABC Female Youth-D 10,700 12
Margaux D’Amato Team ABC Female Youth-D 10,020 13
Cate Sarinopoulos Team ABC Female Youth-D 9,800 14
Harper Staunton Sik Bird Female Youth-D 7,400 15
First Name Last Name Team Name Gender Category Total Points Place
Courtney Brown Female Adult 14,800 1
First Name Last Name Team Name Gender Category Total Points Place
Remi Arata Team ABC Male Junior 24,000 1
Ben Lindfors EarthTreks Golden Male Junior 23,500 2
Juan Montoya *None/Not listed Male Junior 22,500 3
Stefan Lavender Team ABC Male Junior 22,300 4
David Bonan Team Sik Bird Male Junior 22,100 5
Brendan Boyd Rock’n & Jam’n Male Junior 20,500 6
Jasper Pont Team BRC Male Junior 20,200 7
Brett Maytubby Team BRC Male Junior 19,700 8
Jacob Kibbee Rock’n & Jam’n Male Junior 19,400 9
Patrick Bodnar City Rock Male Junior 19,200 10
Nick Lyon Male Junior 19,000 11
Thomas Kalina *None/Not listed Male Junior 18,500 12
Wesley White Rock’n & Jam’n Male Junior 18,300 13
Alexi Lainis Team BRC Male Junior 17,700 14
Forrest Denham Male Junior 16,100 15
Tully Henke Male Junior 15,700 16
Bryce Kelly Team BRC Male Junior 15,500 17
Asher Blackburn Team BRC Male Junior 15,500 18
Caleb Vacura Male Junior 14,200 19
Seth Parker Inner Strength Male Junior 11,800 20
Charles Losche EarthTreks Golden Male Junior 11,800 21
First Name Last Name Team Name Gender Category Total Points Place
Jess Walker Rock’n & Jam’n Male Youth-A 22,400 1
Skyler Bol Inner Strength Male Youth-A 22,400 2
Ryan Mike Team CityROCK Male Youth-A 22,300 3
Max Donovan Rock’n & Jam’n Male Youth-A 20,400 4
Beckett Aizeki Team Sik Bird Male Youth-A 19,900 5
Raphael Angoulvant Team CityROCK Male Youth-A 19,600 6
Christopher Tomaschow Inner Strength Male Youth-A 19,000 7
Cole Myers Team BRC Male Youth-A 19,000 7
Brian Dalke Rock’n & Jam’n Male Youth-A 19,000 9
Timmy Dolan Team ABC Male Youth-A 18,500 10
Spencer Platt Team BRC Male Youth-A 18,500 11
Hunter Allen-Bonney Team Sik Bird Male Youth-A 17,800 12
Nathan Dalke Rock’n & Jam’n Male Youth-A 17,600 13
Kaden Weston Rock’n & Jam’n Male Youth-A 17,300 14
Skylar Drakos Team Summit Male Youth-A 17,100 15
Chino Davis Team SCC Male Youth-A 15,700 16
Vincent Smith Rock’n & Jam’n Male Youth-A 14,900 17
First Name Last Name Team Name Gender Category Total Points Place
Daniel Martins Sport Climbing Center Male Youth-B 18,700 1
Mateo Gallegos Team ABC Male Youth-B 18,600 2
Connor Jansen Team Sik Bird Male Youth-B 18,600 3
Devin Wong Team Sik Bird Male Youth-B 18,400 4
Ethan Pitcher Vail Athletic Club Male Youth-B 18,000 5
Will Sharp Team Summit Male Youth-B 17,600 6
Jack Mason Team BRC Male Youth-B 17,600 7
Aspen Sivey Rock’n & Jam’n Male Youth-B 17,600 8
Hagen Hall EarthTreks Golden Male Youth-B 17,500 9
Austin Leech Team BRC Male Youth-B 17,300 10
Max Manson Team Sik Bird Male Youth-B 17,200 11
Tommy Pasnau Team BRC Male Youth-B 17,200 11
Owen Dehmler-Buckley Rock’n & Jam’n Male Youth-B 16,600 13
William DeMartino Inner Strength Male Youth-B 16,200 14
Davis Wuthrich Rock’n & Jam’n Male Youth-B 15,900 15
Henry McGowan Team BRC Male Youth-B 15,900 16
Wilson Schultz EarthTreks Golden Male Youth-B 15,300 17
Mason Smith Rock’n & Jam’n Male Youth-B 14,600 18
Joel Waits Rock’n & Jam’n Male Youth-B 14,400 19
Robert Strong Rock’n & Jam’n Male Youth-B 13,500 20
Damian Ho The Spot Male Youth-B 13,000 21
Sebastion Melendez Rock’n & Jam’n Male Youth-B 12,400 22
Matthew Lyndon Rock’n & Jam’n Male Youth-B 11,900 23
Caleb Rider Rock’n & Jam’n Male Youth-B 11,500 24
Caden Sader Rock’n & Jam’n Male Youth-B 11,200 25
Damien Moore Rock’n & Jam’n Male Youth-B 9,600 26
John Fillion Team Evergreen Male Youth-B 9,100 27
Ford Adams Team BRC Male Youth-B 8,600 28
Jack Ganjon Rock’n & Jam’n Male Youth-B 8,100 29
Gabriel Dupon Miramont Crushers Male Youth-B 5,600 30
First Name Last Name Team Name Gender Category Total Points Place
Colin Duffy Team ABC Male Youth-C 21,500 1
Luke Davison Team ABC Male Youth-C 19,400 2
Brody Nielsen Vail Athletic Club Male Youth-C 18,700 3
Noah Morton Team BRC Male Youth-C 18,600 4
Chris Deuto Team BRC Male Youth-C 18,000 5
Tanner Bauer Team Male Youth-C 18,000 6
Callum Coulson Team BRC Male Youth-C 18,000 7
Jordan Fishman Rock’n & Jam’n Male Youth-C 17,700 8
Ashtyn Bee Focus Male Youth-C 17,200 9
Noah Rand Team BRC Male Youth-C 14,400 10
Kaedyn Woodard EarthTreks Golden Male Youth-C 14,200 11
Henry Meadows The Spot Male Youth-C 13,900 12
Boston Dunlap Rock’n & Jam’n Male Youth-C 13,800 13
Liam Sullivan Male Youth-C 13,500 14
Lewis McGowan BRC Male Youth-C 13,500 15
Ben Bicknell Team BRC Male Youth-C 13,300 16
Jack Petterson EarthTreks Golden Male Youth-C 13,000 17
Luke Lowe Rock’n & Jam’n Male Youth-C 11,200 18
Sergio Delgado Male Youth-C 10,100 19
Christopher Mentzer Rock’n & Jam’n Male Youth-C 9,600 20
First Name Last Name Team Name Gender Category Total Points Place
Benjamin Dantas Vail Athletic Club Male Youth-D 18,000 1
Sam Kuepper Team BRC Male Youth-D 17,700 2
Lukas Bergsten Vail Athletic Club Male Youth-D 15,800 3
Kaitek Johnston Team BRC Male Youth-D 15,700 4
Austin Reitz City Rock Male Youth-D 15,200 5
Patrick Dobranowski Rock’n & Jam’n Male Youth-D 13,800 6
Jackson Turner Rock’n & Jam’n Male Youth-D 12,400 7
St. John Tsuno-Wayne Team BRC Male Youth-D 11,900 8
Finn McDaniel Team ABC Male Youth-D 11,600 9
Dawson Bauer Team BRC Male Youth-D 11,600 9
Connor Falk Vail Athletic Club Male Youth-D 11,600 11
Evan Kuepper Team ABC Male Youth-D 11,100 12
Tyler Corcoran BRC Male Youth-D 10,300 13
Calvin Meymaris ABC Male Youth-D 8,400 14
Zachary Hurd Rock’n & Jam’n Male Youth-D 3,600 15
First Name Last Name Team Name Gender Category Total Points Place
Zach Vose Male Adult 19,800 1
Jeffrey Miller Male Adult 17,200 2
Justin Doss Male Adult 13,800 3
First Name Last Name Team Name Gender Category Total Points Place
Matthew Dalton Male Open 21,200 1

What’s in a Name?

One of the little perks of routesetting is naming your route. It is a lot of work to set a route and getting to add that extra bit of personality is a subtle reward to the setter. Sometimes you set a route with a name in mind. Sometimes the name comes to you during the setting process. Some of the current inspirations for our route names:


ISIS (Panopticon; Wavering Radiant; Oceanic; Way Through Woven Branches)

Cave Singers

Nothin’ But Sunshine

Doomtree (Boltcutter; No Kings)


Pulp Fiction (Royale w/ Cheese; Big Kahuna Burger)

Futurama (Mobile Oppression Palance; Citizen Snips; Everyone Loves Hypnotoad)

Breaking Bad (Los Pollos Hermanos; Blue Sky; Heisenberg)

Indiana Jones (X Never, Ever Marks the Spot; We Are History, Dr. Jones)

Baseball (probably mostly only my routes…)

Joltin’ Joe; Mickey Mantle; The Mendoza Line; Purple Mondaze; The Enigmatic Bruce Chen

Magic, the Gathering (probably mostly only Ben’s routes…)

Black Lotus; Gravetiller Wurm; Demonic Tutor; Mind Grind; Door to Nothingness

willful suspension of disbelief

willful suspension of disbelief…according to wikipedia, this can be “seen as the willingness of the audience to overlook the limitations of a medium, so that these do not interfere with the acceptance of those premises.” you might now be asking yourself, “what does this have to do with anything here in the gym” or “how does this even remotely relate to climbing?”

it might take a little bit, but i can explain. the short, vague, non-helpful explanation is that it relates to route setting.

the long explanation:

when you, our customers and members, come into the gym, you see specific features everywhere (layback crack, offwidth crack, stem chimney, pin scars, etc.) and you most definitely see routes going through and around all of these. and you probably think (sometimes) “that seems really contrived, why would i stay on these bad holds when i can reach that feature instead.”

as route setters, we of course see these same features, but we see them in a different way. we don’t necessarily see them as continuous. in other words, we block out the other parts of the feature in order to achieve the particular flow or movement for our climb. if we didn’t look at the features this way, we would be limited with what we could set and would always have to be hyper-cognizant of the proximity to said features. for example, in the front canyon at the north gym we have a really good layback crack; at the south gym right by the front desk we have a splitter crack. if the climbs we set near these always had all features on from bottom to top, it has the potential to be essentially the same climb every time. we would be doing you a disservice by allowing this to happen. we want to mix things up and keep you on your toes (no pun intended).

so it takes a willful suspension of disbelief in order to see the routes in the same way we do. using your imagination and “pretending” that only the specific taped-off portions of a feature exist, not the full thing, is necessary at times. our hope is that it yields more interesting climbs with more satisfying movement and body positions. of course, nobody is going to stop you from climbing straight up the crack. but honestly, how many times could you continuously climb it before you got a little bored 🙂

Choose Your Own (Spinner) Adventure

What is a spinner?

1) Someone who would rather be inside riding a bicycle that doesn’t go anywhere.

2) Someone who ‘cuts wax‘ on the turntables.

3) A hold that has, for various reasons, worked itself loose and rotates freely on the wall. (See also: loose rock)

4) A bolt that has been cross-threaded in the t-nut and, as a result, is somewhat to extremely difficult to remove.

While I cannot speak to the first two examples (I prefer an out of doors bicycle), I have a good deal of expertise in the latter two. I can tell you that example three, the loose hold, is remedied by a simple turn of a wrench to re-tighten the bolt, and is no big deal. Example four, however, can be a nightmare…

To set the scene, it’s 8:15AM on a Friday and you are a highly paid, highly regarded routesetter. You are hanging from a rope thirty-some feet off the ground, lowering yourself with a gri-gri and stopping every few feet to remove holds from the route you are stripping with your impact driver. You reach precariously to your left to remove a green Teknik Hooded Fang, but the bolt won’t budge. You think maybe the battery for your impact is dying so you whip out your faithful hand wrench and give it a go. The bolt still won’t budge. You give it everything you’ve got and hear the dry, sickening crunch of the t-nut ripping free of its plywood shackles and you know you have a spinner.

There are now two options for how to proceed. If you choose to fix the spinner from the climber’s side of the wall, go on to Option One. If you choose to fix the spinner from behind the wall, skip ahead to Option Two.

Option One: You have chosen to remain on the safe, free, and well-lit climber’s side of the wall. You holler for someone (probably Keith…) to toss you the breaker bar and pry bar while another, less fortunate individual makes their way to the backside of the wall to assist you. When you have wedged the pry bar between the hold and the wall and your teammate behind the wall gives the signal, you crank down on the breaker bar while applying tension to the pry bar. With decent leverage and a good bit of luck, the cross-threaded bolt turns, slowly at first, until all the threads have worked their way out of the barrel of the t-nut. The hold pops free, accompanied by the cheerful shouting of your teammate behind the wall. From the safety of your rope or ladder you drop the newly removed hold and climb/lower yourself to the ground. Congratulations are in store; you’ve done it!

Option Two: You have chosen to venture back to the creepy, dusty, dark depths behind the climbing wall. You grab a headlamp, vice grips, bolt, screwdriver, and work gloves from the shelf in the setting closet. You then squeeze through several narrow passages, each brief contact with the wall setting loose clouds of settled chalk dust. When you’ve arrived in the general location of the spinner you scramble/climb/sketch your way up the back of the wall, calling for your partner to spin the hold in question so that you might see which t-nut of the thousands is the one you’re looking for. Once you’ve located the guilty party you enter some sort of anchored stance (I prefer the kneebar-the-2x4s technique myself) and apply the vice grips, parallel with the wall, to the t-nut flange. Hint: if the t-nut is sunk into the wall, use the screwdriver to chisel away enough plywood to get the vice grips on the t-nut. When the vice grips have been locked down on the t-nut flange, you screw the bolt you brought into a nearby empty t-nut. You shout “go for it” to your teammate and wipe sweat from your brow with your shirt sleeve, which only smears the copious amounts of dust and grime already on your skin deeper into your pores. When your teammate cranks down on the breaker bar, the t-nut turns until the vice grips come down on the bolt you screwed in, which locks everything in place and lets torque do its thing. The t-nut flange bends and little metal filings seep out of the barrel of the t-nut. Muffled cursing is heard from the other side of the wall until the bolt finally pops free of the t-nut. Success! You carefully scamper back the way you came, hoping that you won’t have to do that again anytime soon.

hard or easy for the grade?

what makes a route hard or easy for its specified grade? how can one route rated 5.10d (just as an example) be so much easier or harder than another route also rated 5.10d?

unfortunately, the answer is not simple. many factors contribute to a route’s difficulty, and many of these factors can combine in odd and unique ways. let’s list some of these factors:

  1. hold size: obviously, the smaller the hold, whether for hand or foot, the harder it will be to use.
  2. hold type: jugs, crimps, slopers, pinches
  3. hold orientation: in order of easiest to use…straight down pull, side pull, undercling, gaston (reverse side pull).
  4. wall angle: this one is subjective. the angle can range from slab (less than vertical), to vertical, to overhanging, and depending on your specific physical strengths and weaknesses, any of these could be harder than the other.
  5. distance between holds: the farther apart they are, typically the harder the move.

once you start looking at combinations of these factors, things get complicated. so when evaluating the grade of a route, it is extremely important to think about and consider all of these factors, especially as they relate to what your own strengths and weaknesses are. i will use myself as an example.

i am not a very good ‘technical’ climber. when things get less vertical and the holds get small, i tend to climb quite poorly. i started climbing at the red river gorge, in southeastern kentucky. for those of you that have climbed there, ‘technical’ is not really the name of the game. techniques such as ‘grip it and rip it’ or ‘yank and yard’ are much more suitable. so when more than that is required, things get difficult for me. but i know this about myself.

so, in rifle, where the lines are steep and powerful, i have redpointed 5.13c. in shelf, however, where the lines are vertical or slabby, and the holds are thin, requiring delicate balance and movement, i have only redpointed 5.12b. quite a disparity! but i adjust my expectations accordingly. in rifle, if i don’t on-sight or flash 5.12a, i’m upset. but when in shelf, i shift my expectations, and am happy just to do 5.12a. and believe me, it doesn’t happen often! to be such a talented climber as to be good at all styles, i believe, is a bit of a rare thing, especially as the climbing gets more difficult and the grades increase.

“how does this relate to what happens at the gym,” you might ask. well first and foremost, it is important to remember that grades are very subjective. there are so many climbers of differing sizes and strengths. if the routes in the gym were to stay up for a really long time, we would eventually get a true consensus on what the grade actually is. much like long-standing routes outside, that have become ‘benchmark’ routes of their respective grades. but, we don’t have that luxury inside. you, our customers, would get bored with the routes and all the holds would be really greasy. plus, we (the routesetters) would be out of jobs!

the second thing to take away from this is that with many different setters, we have many different setting styles. sometimes there are very straight-forward climbs, and sometimes there are more technical and devious climbs. sometimes you’re making big moves on big holds, other times you might have to trust bad foot smears with small hand holds. one setter’s style might be typically hard for you, while another setter’s style might just suit you to a ‘t’. different strokes for different folks.

the third thing to take away from this is that if a route isn’t ‘straight-forward,’ perhaps it can teach you something. i think this point is extremely important. this is up for debate, but i believe that by the time you hit 5.12c, perhaps 5.12d, you have seen all the different types of moves you will encounter while climbing. as the grades get harder, you will see more difficult combinations of these moves, and the holds will most likely get smaller and/or farther apart. to me, this means that even if you have redpointed up to 5.12a or 5.12b, you can probably still learn a thing or two (or more).

with that in mind, some routes that we set might have movement that is either completely foreign to you or seems to be really difficult for your typical style of climbing. it doesn’t necessarily mean that the route is harder than the suggested grade. it could be perfectly reasonable movement for the grade, and this could be an opportunity for you to get introduced to it. these situations can prove that grading something at or above ones limit is really difficult. realize that as you get more acquainted with a certain grade (read: climb that grade A LOT), you can more accurately assess the grades around it. this, of course, takes time. and if you think about it in simple terms, who is more ‘qualified’ to comment on something graded 5.10d: someone who has climbed over 100 5.10d’s in different areas and gyms *or* someone who has climbed 5 5.10d’s at one area or gym.

so before you mark a certain grade on the customer rating sheets, think about all of the factors touched on above. doing so can help the grades in the gym be a little bit more consistent. of course, we (as setters) aren’t perfect. but we don’t miss and/or sandbag our grades ALL the time…

behind the wrenches: tools of the trade

Most jobs require some sort of specialized equipment to complete; be it heavy machinery or a pen and notepad. Just as Jedi’s have their lightsabers and Indiana Jones has his bullwhip, so do the course setters of ROCK’n & JAM’n have their own specialized (or jerry-rigged, in most cases) equipment. Here are a few of the tools that see everyday use on the walls:

The Impact Driver
This is our weapon of choice, the one tool above all others that makes our job tolerable. Between twelve and eighteen volts, the standard issue impact driver, when paired with 5/16 and 7/32 hex-head bits, places and removes holds from the wall with tremendous speed and noise. Additionally, a screwdriver bit can be fitted to aide in placing set screws and foot jibs.

The Hand Wrench
Not as clumsy or random as an impact driver; an elegant weapon for a more civilized age. The trusted backup, and sometimes necessary for holds with deeply recessed bolt holes. On occasion, a setter will set analog or ‘go hardman’ (see upcoming lexicon appendix for definition) and eschew an impact for the quiet professionalism of the hand wrench.

The Breaker Bar
For those holds that don’t want to come off the wall, be they spinners or just plain stubborn. The breaker bar adds a good deal of torque to the standard hand wrench.

The Pry Bar
Used in conjunction with the breaker bar to remove spinners. As the name implies, one simply places the end of the pry bar behind the hold and pries on the other end while turning the breaker bar. This procedure helps keep the cross-threaded t-nut from spinning while being worked on.

The Vice Grips
When fixing spinners, one setter is on the front side of the wall with the breaker bar, another setter is behind the wall with the vice grips firmly locked on the flange of the offending t-nut. We employ several different styles and sizes of vice grips for different spinner scenarios.

The Thread Tap

A bit of preventative maintenance, the thread tap is used to clean out t-nuts, thus reducing the risk of cross-threading.

The Angle Grinder

Occasionally, a bolt will be so cross threaded in a t-nut that attempts to remove it with the breaker bar do nothing but fuse the bolt’s threads to the barrel of the t-nut. Enter the angle grinder. Bathed in the shower of sparks and debris kicked up by the grinder’s rotating, circular blade, a setter cuts through the barrel of the t-nut from behind the wall and removes the spinner from the wall. Eye protection is a must!

The Sawzall

Used for the same purpose as the angle grinder, the sawzall is employed when the fused t-nut can only be accessed from the front side of the wall.

The Hold Washer

To the uneducated eye, this may look like a standard industrial dishwasher. To the educated eye, it may look like a CMA L1-X standard industrial dishwasher. But to the course setter’s eye, it is the hold washer, that great metal box that transformers ugly, dirty holds into beautiful, clean holds in a matter of minutes. Just add vinegar.

Five Questions: Rylan M.


1) Do you own a harness?

I get asked that a lot, for some reason. Yes, I own a harness. It’s in mint condition.

2) What is the most frustrating aspect of routesetting?

Naming three months worth of routes after Futurama characters and quotations that no one picked up one. That and fixing spinners. And waking up at six in the morning to drive through DTC traffic.

3) How’s the fantasy team doing this season? What’s your team called?

It’s still early, but I remain optimistic. Maybe I should have drafted Jered Weaver over Tim Lincecum, but that’s just nitpicking at this point. Either way, the Cornwood Fancymen should rake in the points this year.

4) Why twobills?

Twobills is a nickname I picked up on a climbing trip. Basically, my entire net worth was represented by two bills in my wallet. They were not big bills…

5) Beatles or Stones?

Beatles. No contest. Exile on Main Street and Let It Bleed are phenomenal albums, but the Stones really watered down their catalogue over the years, to the point that I think they’re this weird parody of themselves. And no one will ever write a better song than Eleanor Rigby.

behind the wrenches, an exclusive behind the scenes look

let me set up a scenario for you: you get out early from work or school on friday, perhaps the weather isn’t looking too great for the weekend, and a quick sesh at the gym seems like the best option. you’re super psyched because it’s only 1230 and the gym probably just opened. you pull into the parking lot and see plenty of other cars; maybe it’s already packed in there because everyone else had the same plan as you did. you walk up to the door and pull but GASP…it’s locked! you cup your hands around your eyes to get a better view, and sure enough, there are people climbing in there. you pull again, but yup, still locked. what’s going on?!!?!?!

behind those locked doors are the fearless ROCK’n & JAM’n routesetters, fully immersed in a cave and high volume setting day. these are the days that we take the extra time to set in the lead cave as well as catch up on some easier graded routes that have been overlooked over the past weeks. for example, on friday january 6, 2012, there were 5 setters, ng, jg, cc, la, and khn. between us, 9 routes were set. now i can’t personally take credit for the volume (neither can corey) as we got the cave routes (more on that later). but lucas and keith each bucked up and set 2 routes apiece, while nathan was the real champ racking up 3 routes! he counted up all the holds and found he had bolted 156 holds to the wall. 156! and a lot of the holds that these guys used had to be washed. they went up and down their ropes a lot! after a while, even in the most comfortable harness, limbs start to go numb. plus hauling heavy buckets, filled to the brim with holds, up and down the walls can get a bit tiring, to say the least.


nathan on rope and ladder stripping and re-setting the 5.5, 5.6 and 5.7 on the slab wall


nathan hauling a big feature up the slab wall


gotta make sure you choose good holds. so many options...


5.12+ in the making. just need to come up with a sequence.

then there are the ladders. they have names at rj1. our largest ladder is a 35 ft extension ladder named ‘widow maker’. i can’t say exactly how heavy this beast is, but a typical ladder of this size clocks in around 85 lbs. and this isn’t a comfortable 85 lbs. our second largest ladder (and the only other one to earn a name) is a 32 ft extension ladder named ‘bertha’. she is definitely the little sister of ‘widow maker’, but is a force to be reckoned with all the same. a typical 32 footer weighs around 70 lbs. now we’re certainly not the largest guys around, but 4 days a week we’re hauling and moving these babies around. you get good at finding balance points quickly, otherwise you’re dropping the ladder onto the mats.

so on a day like january 6, corey and i got to use the big ladders, since we were setting in the cave. i started out with ‘widow’, corey on ‘bertha’. we got them into the cave and started stripping our routes. at this point, you might ask yourself: ‘what about the really steep section of the cave? the wall doesn’t seem vertical enough to get the ladder to prop up against it.’ i was getting to that…you essentially pin the top of the ladder against the roof, and weight it enough to allow it to sink and shift into a stable position. and sometimes it decides to sink and shift a little when you’re higher up which usually induces a bit of terror and a minor panic attack in me. other setters reactions may differ. and it gets really fun when you’re hauling up a heavy hold or a large volume.


corey on 'bertha', in the roof

once on your ladder, you may realize that the section of wall you need to either strip or set on, is too far away from your ‘comfortable’ perch. so you have to squeeze your upper body through the rungs and lean through to the other side of the ladder. this to me is absolutely terrifying, but sometimes it’s what the job requires. january 6 had it’s fair share of these maneuvers. and we were able to set both of our routes without the use of a rope, which is a rare but exciting feat to accomplish. of course, it required standing near the very top of a fully extended ‘widow maker’. but it’s just another day on the job.


me through the rungs near the top of 'widow maker', close to the top of the lead cave


corey on 'widow maker'

i guess that’s it for this episode of behind the wrenches. hopefully this gives you, our faithful members and guests, a small bit of insight into what goes on during our typical setting sessions. we certainly have off days, sometimes you just don’t feel like you have good moves. it happens. and we do need to hear about it. many times, though, that’s the only feedback we hear. keep in mind that some positive feedback from time to time lets us know what kinds of movement and climbing styles you guys enjoy, and also lets us know that all of the effort we put worth week in and week out isn’t all in vain.


3 brand new slab climbs (green, white and orange @ 5.7, 5.6 and 5.5 respectively)


straight up the center, red 5.11 (corey) and white 5.12+ (jamie)

Changing of the Guard

After thirteen years of service, head routesetter/handyman Brendan Aiken has packed his bags (and his family) and headed off into the wild Montanan sunset. Brendan was a tremendous routesetter and his setting style was an inspiration for myself and the rest of the setters here at Rock’n and Jam’n. Furthermore, his ability to move the biggest ladder, Widowmaker, around the gym was something to behold. Needless to say, he will be missed.

Though Brendan may be gone, the gym is still in good hands. Namely, mine and Nathan’s. As of this week, Nathan Gray and myself are taking over routesetting operations. Brendan’s routes surely will be missed, but I can promise you that we will still provide the high quality routesetting you’ve come to expect. If anything, the setting will only get better, as we’ve already got some great things in store for the coming months.

As always, we love to hear from the folks that climb our routes (or ‘rigs,’ in the parlance of our time), so if you have any questions, comments, constructive criticisms, high praise or other such things, don’t be a stranger. Leave a comment on the comment board, talk to the counter staff, track down a setter (hint: they’re here in the mornings) or email me at

Fridays are Cave Day

It’s noon on Friday. You’re standing outside RJ2 and the doors are locked. You notice the sign on the door that says Friday 3:00PM-11:00PM, yet when you peer inside you notice the lights are on. Further examination confirms your suspicion: there are people inside. But they aren’t climbing. No, they’re all thirty feet off the deck, balanced precariously atop massive aluminum extension ladders, grappling with brightly colored plastic holds and power tools. What is this? What’s going on?


It’s Cave Day! Utilizing the extra time before the gym opens on Fridays, the routesetters do battle with the imposing lead cave, setting everything from The Jug Haul to The Sick Project for your climbing enjoyment.

Speaking from five years of experience, I can tell you that Cave Days are brutal; setting off the big ladders is terrifying, and hanging from a harness with twenty pounds of jugs strapped to it for three hours is excruciating. Forerunning the routes is exhausting, and there always happens to be a cross-threaded hold or two to contend with. But the end result is a well planned, expertly executed route that beckons to be climbed, and watching customers warm up on The Jug Haul or whip off The Project is reward enough to bring me back next Friday for another round of setting/self-abuse. That, and the solid paycheck.48

So the next time you come in on a Friday afternoon, by sure to thank those who spent their morning toiling over a 5.10 out the belly of the overhang. They deserve it.