Why route setters matter

The video above features Bret Johnston, who is now Director of Routesetting for Planet Granite Gyms. He was making fun of me when we camped and played ping-pong in Ceuse this Summer, so I hold grudge against him; when I grow up I am going to be VP of All Routsetters in the World and he will report directly to me, will see who gonna make fun of whom 🙂 Just kidding.

We always had good routes at PG gyms, but with Bret settings became even better. Let us discuss how important are good route setters.

One can argue that setters do not matter at all because:

  • lots of great climbers came from small and simple gyms that rotate their holds once in millennium;
  • you can always make your own problem with a little of imagination, by choosing or eliminating holds on the wall;
  • ultimately, what matters is your desire to climb, not exact position of plastic on the wall;
  • there is always people in gym that discuss routes and grades and blame route setters all the time instead of climbing and having fun.

Those are actually valid points. For really talented and psyched individuals will be great independently of anything. But still, for many of us high quality routes matter because:

  • we get more psyched when routes are great and tend to work harder on fun routes;
  • not all of us have imagination or experience to create our own problems;
  • our own problems will always bias toward the style we strong at, our mind will trick us to hide our weaknesses; we benefit when others set for us;
  • beginners improve quicker on high-quality routes with interesting moves;
  • competing climbers need examples of what they might face at comps, that usually requires experience of setting routes for the comps and following trends in setting.