Outdoor Insider Fall 2015 - Page 17

find in a climbing guidebook. This method helps users learn about the grading systems and is simple to implement. Using specific grades, however, tends to keep climbers from pushing out of their comfort zone into harder climbs. “I am only a 5.8 climber--I can’t try the 5.10,” is heard too often at climbing gyms. If using specific grades, it is best to make the grades slightly soft compared to outdoor climbs in the area. Setting is a product we offer to users, and soft grades make people happy. We need not be deceptive, just nice. Sandbagged grades have no place in an indoor climbing gym. circuits can work especially well for bouldering. Grade ranges: Instead of using specific grades, each climb is assigned a rating that corresponds to a range of grades. For example, a gym could use Level 1 to Level 5, with each level spanning two to three grades. Level 2 climbs could span 5.8-5.10b, for example. This encourages people to try routes that challenge their abilities and can build confidence if a climber is unsuccessful in finishing a route. Using grade ranges can help change a climbing culture that is grade driven, allowing climbers to develop a full range of movement techniques rather than just trying the next hardest thing. Aesthetics Circuits: Setting circuits is common in Europe and has made its way into U.S. gyms. Different route colors correspond to the difficulty. Pink routes are easy, blue intermediate, black hard, red really hard, for example. Circuits leave the grades out completely. In addition, each circuit color has a variety of route styles (such as technical, powerful, committing, and sustained). Climbing all the routes in one circuit will make a climber well rounded. Setting Climbing grades are subjective, and they vary from area to area and gym to gym. What is important is to have consistency of grading within your facility. To achieve this, every reset should have a reference route—a route that all other climbs’ grades are compared to. The grade of the reference route needs to be in the mid-range. Simply use the grade at the peak of your grade distribution bell curve. All setters should climb the reference route and come to a consensus about the grade. Visual aesthetics and movement aesthetics affect a climber’s experience, consciously and subconsciously. Studies have found that food that looks good tastes better than the same food presented poorly. It is no different with the aesthetics of route-setting. Here are a few suggestions for improving your gym’s aesthetics. 1. Set by hold color only. This may not be a possibility for all climbing facilities, but if you have the hold selection, eliminating tape will make the entire wall more visually appealing. A