Route setting is incredibly important to us. It's the life blood of our business. We pride ourselves on setting at least 40 roped routes and 80 boulder problems each month.
Whilst most of our staff have the opportunity to route-set we have dedicated route-setters that work 5 days a week, setting top rope, lead and bouldering problems throughout the centre.
We want every visit to Creation to feel different and we appreciate that there is nothing worse than climbing the same old routes time and time again. Our route-setting rota is checked everyday to ensure there is a good spread of routes on slabby, vertical and overhanging walls.
Of course, we don't always get it right. Sometimes things upset the rota and this means we can get a little behind, but we are always striving to keep an up to date portfolio of routes across all the grades.
Like all other climbing walls, we get a lot of questions about setting and grading, so we have put together these Q&A's to help answer some of the most frequently asked questions.
How do we decide what route to put up?
This really falls down to the individual route-setter. We have a rota of when routes were set so the route-setters have a good idea of which routes need to be taken down, or stripped, and which ones are not due to come down yet. We try to have a complete re-set of the centre every three months. That's a lot of routes considering most lines have 3 routes and we have over 100 lines of climbing.
Once the route-setter has decided where they are going to work, they set up their setting and safety lines and strip a route off the wall. These holds then get washed in special detergent. The setter will then pick another colour of holds from the storeroom and set a new route.
Why do you sometimes set same colour or similar colour routes next to each other?
We do our best to avoid this. However, sometimes it's simply down to human error. If the route-setter hasn't noticed the same colour on an adjacent panel they can sometimes set a similar colour route by accident. Sometimes, it's down to the choice of colour holds available in the store room. In most cases when this happens we will usually strip the older colour off the adjacent panel soon after (moving it ahead of the queue in the stripping). This may be why a route which has only been up for a month or so suddenly disappears.
Your grades are wrong!
No, they're not. We get this one constantly and it's such a huge debate in climbing walls, we could spend hours typing a long winded reply. You will find as you climb at different centres, the style of setting changes and so does the grading. One centre may grade a perfectly reasonable 6a climb as a 6a, where as another may set is as a 5+, and another may set it as a 6a+? Why, it's all about how the route is set, how it is supposed to be climbed, how short or tall a person is, how much technique a person has. A new, fairly unfit climber with little experience and technique will have a much harder time scaling a 6a route than a regular 6a climber with lots of experience, stamina, and technique.
Once you have climbed a few routes in a centre, you will usually get the feel for how the grading is set and can adjust your climbing accordingly. We feel that our grading is fairly consistent, but we are only human; we do sometimes make mistakes but we are happy to re-appraise any route that you feel is wrongly graded. Just grab one of our floor walkers or have a chat with the reception team.
Clean your holds!
We do. Every time a route is stripped of the wall they go through a special cleaning procedure to remove the chalk and boot rubber. Creation has a lot of users and they use a lot of chalk! You will probably find bouldering holds get dirtier quicker than roped route holds as there are a lot of dedicated regular boulderers that come in and get stuck in to the new problems which are set each week. This can give the impression that the holds are always dirty when they're just well used!
Are features in or not?
Yes. Unless specified on the route tag, all aretes and features are included in a route.
Can we have more different style holds please?
We increase our pool of 28,000 holds on a regular basis. We retire old discoloured, chipped holds on a regular basis too. Climbing holds are expensive, especially the large ones! A good typical 40 holds route can cost up to £150 so it's an expensive game to replace them all the time. There are lots of new manufacturers breaking in to the climbing hold market lately and this will probably result in increased competition and hopefully a reduction in cost. We will keep adding to our range of holds, but if there is a particular range of holds you would like to see then please drop us a line.
Why are there not more easy 5/5+ routes?
We do try to keep a good spread of routes across the centre. Unfortunately, sometimes we are simply restricted by the sets of holds available to us on any given day. If a route-setter strips an orange 5+ then they have to try and pick a set of holds that does not clash with any others on that panel, or adjacent panels. If there are no holds of sufficient size to get another 5+ up then a harder grade route might get set instead. This means that once the holds are cleaned, they will be used later on to set an easier route on another panel. This might not be a top rope route though! As we invest in more holds this problem should become less noticeable.