It is easy to criticize, so very easy. It’s almost natural to see what we don’t like and hang onto it. But, some things absolutely need to be praised.
I’ve been going to the gym(s) more lately. Under the guise of training for a comp, I’ve been climbing every chance I get. With that comes a heightened awareness of when routes turn over. And, we’ve had some doozies lately.
This brings me to my first item worthy of praise. After initially only having one, VEM now has several route setters trained to use the lift that lives in the setter closet. That is making it much easier, and more appealing, for these route setters to get in and turn over walls, versus when their only option was to jug up and down and hang from ropes while crafting 60 foot routes. So, thank you, VEM, for allowing more setters to use the lift!
Obviously, the next bit of praise goes to route setters!
Now, while some route tags do date back to September (*cough* auto-belays *cough*), many of the real prize walls are flipping quickly these days! The wave wall, the prow, and the north wall of the canyon being most recent examples.
So, big thanks to RJB, RTK, BCM, and JAM who lately are tearing it up with some fine, fine routes.
I’ve given this one a couple of runs. Notably out of my sending range, but, I’m on a mission to push it up until the comp and this route looked tasty. Made it five clips clean at best. Got beyond the sixth with effort, but no love on the yellow pinches leading to the seventh clip.
Nobody uses the natural features of the walls quite like BCM. This is another example of that. The arete comes into play with hands and feet on this very challenging 5.10d. Be sure to scout out your holds from the ground. There are a few around the left corner that are critical as you are pushed away from the right arete. BCM rarely uses a hold that can be skipped and if you choose to, you are typically increasing the grade of the climb unnecessarily.
Oh, this is my new favorite. I came back to this one two days in a row. After three hanging my first try out, I attacked it with confidence on day two. I blew past my first hang from the day before, but, with a full evening of climbing behind me, the pump came on strong halfway up. There is a blue right hand pinch towards the top that requires (my beta, anyway) a high step and a throw to an orange sloper that is positioned to be very positive, assuming you can get to it. That was my second hang on day one. On day two, I didn’t clip from the orange hold and moved beyond it to find that I couldn’t clip from any other position. I had to back off and never recovered. Still a project and psyched for the redpoint! I’d say this is 11+ movement and holds from start to finish. Calling it a 12a is not out of line; it is so sustained, you’d better bring a 12a effort if you want the send.
Right next to this route is a new purple 5.9+ from RTK. This is a solid 9 lead, perfect for warm up, cool down, or lap running. Also on this wall is a white 5.11 by JAM with a wicked mantle finish reminiscent of Emotional Content in HCR.
These are so good! BCM who once set “Slopers for Beginners”, “Slopers Intermediate” and “Slopers Advanced” at VES is back at it with Dihedrals for Dummies and Dihedrals for Experts. You might want to book your chiropractor appointment ahead of time, cause your hips will need realignment when you are done here.
Proud to have earned my expert badge with the flash.
For a little change of pace, I visited VES to share in “crack Thursday”. Andy’s crack repeatedly spit me out and the crack to the left with the roof didn’t treat me much better. Even with taped hands, I managed to leave some skin and blood behind. Like they say, though, it’s good training for the mountains.
Thanks and praise to route setters everywhere. It is a lot of work with a little reward. Know that we are thankful for your efforts, us gym climbers, even if you don’t hear it often enough.
Looking forward to getting to the MN Climbing Co-op next week. They had a recent setting session, so there is a wall with new problems just a waitin’ for me.