January was a busy month for the Vertical Solutions team. As our group was running the first-ever Setter Summit, our sister company, The Front Climbing Club, played host to the Di'namik Bouldering Championships. Having these two events run simultaneously was hectic, to say the least, but also highly rewarding. We saw our route-setting family and VS climbing products put to the test. We watched as our walls repeatedly transformed between route setting classes and the designing of routes for both a Pro and Citizens comp.
Now that we've had a few weeks to breathe, we're able to look back at what we were able to accomplish in such a short period of time. Setter Summit was our chance to impress our team's knowledge onto other setters across the country while allowing them to network and share their experiences. And it was a success! Here's a quick recap of Setters Summit 2023.
Courses, Certifications, and More
When we were dreaming up Setter Summit, we imagined an event that would allow route setters to come together and learn from the best. Our courses became the backbone of the summit. We built courses around soft skills, like effective communication on and off the wall, to understanding setting approaches and user expectations.
I felt going into it that it would be a nice intro to professionalizing route setting geared towards newer(ish) setters and felt it achieved that. It was a fun time to discuss visions of setting with people with different backgrounds and experiences.
As route setting is a hands-on job, it was only appropriate to balance our classes between the wall and traditional schoolroom-style classes. So, we started our days in the Setter Summit Classroom, practicing management skills and partaking in design discussions, and spent our afternoons on the wall, running through real-time routing exercises.
Hold Production, Shaping Clinics, and Volume Design Presentations
What's a route setter without a quality hold and volume? We had our good friend, Chris Neal from Capital Climbing, walk the setters through all the considerations that go into shaping commercial-grade climbing holds. He even assisted our group in designing and shaping their first climbing holds.
Luis Burgos, a designer at Vertical Solutions, walked the group through the process of designing a volume. This interactive clinic gave us the chance to discuss volume usage in the industry and how we might improve volume designs for setters and climbers in the future. The group even worked together to produce new design ideas to be produced by VS later in the year.
Lastly, we also gave our group the grand tour of our hold production sister company, Proxy Climbing, showing setters what hold production is like, from mold creation to final quality testing. We believe that a good setter is made great by the tools and knowledge they possess. We explored what makes a hold worth using and how to enhance one’s setting to make the most out the product in hand.
I enjoyed the diversity of watching a competition, shaping holds, and group discussions as well as setting.
Di'namik Bouldering Championships
Having a well-known bouldering competition happening alongside Setters Summit allowed the group to discuss comp style setting with mentors and watch competition route designing and installment in real-time. After the Pro Finals ended, we sat down as a group to debrief. We went over how our setting team could improve their routes in future competitions as well as the exciting future of the ever-growing community.
They [Setter Summit staff] were all knowledgeable and created an environment where I felt it was laid back yet professional.
The Future of Setter Summit
We ended the summit hopeful for what’s to come; there’s no denying that there’s a boundless future for the setting profession. Engaging with setters with decades of experience and those who are only beginning their journeys showed us that our greatest shared strengths are our passion and creativity. And both were abundant that week. We want to extend a thank you to the team at The Front Climbing Club for co-hosting this event and to Proxy Climbing for donating an arsenal of route setter goods for our group to use. Whether you’re a route setter or gym owner, check out Proxy for all your hardware and hold needs. Lastly, we share our gratitude for the mentors and teachers that shared their expertise and experience. As for the second annual Setter Summit? Well, you’ll have to wait and see what’s in the works.