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.
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.
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 and less.
Sam keeps our facebook page up to date with current routes, so you can see the current grade spread in the centre