Routesetter Education Roundup

Photo: Rock Candy Holds
Photo: Rock Candy Holds

Many would say that routesetters create the core product of indoor climbing. It is certainly an art form, and also a craft; one with tools you need to keep sharp. Here’s some beta on routesetting resources and upcoming clinics around the country.


According to its website, the B.I.G. Initiative’s mission is, “to take concrete action to help Canadian womxn achieve their goals in climbing.” This is done in three integrated steps: providing training, strengthen networks, and providing visibility. Part of that mission includes routesetting workshops offered throughout the year.

What: Flannery Shay-Nemirow and a team of routesetters lead courses that range from Introduction and Advanced methodology. Internships are also offered. In particular, the upcoming Introduction to Routesetting course will go in-depth into the details commercial routesetting. The course will include information about tools and safety, holds, and quality control. It will be open to eight participants (“womxn who have never set before or have very limited experience setting,”) and span two days. The cost is $125/person. Climbing ability at a V4 or 5.10 level is required.

When: July 29-31 (2019)

Where: BoulderHouse and Crag X (in British Columbia, Canada)

How to Sign Up: Submit an application here

Louie Anderson routesetting clinic
Photo: Louie Anderson


Louie Anderson wrote the first real book on routesetting, called Fundamentals of Routesetting and still widely used and referenced in the industry. He also started the Setter Showdown.

What: Anderson tailors his clinics the specifics of the host gym, and courses typically run for three or four days. Topics can range from routesetting introduction to advanced education. For example, a past Advanced Routesetting course cost $425/person and covered: Aesthetics, professionalism, setting efficiency, forerunning skills, understanding grades, and customer enjoyment. Anderson prefers to focus on bouldering, saying that it is easier to work with setters in that discipline.

When/Where/How to Sign Up: Anderson typically teaches 2-3 courses per year. Although none are currently slated, he can be contacted via email here to set something up.


This Boulder, Colorado-based collective includes routesetters from all over the country. Services offered range from consultation for gyms to full service partnerships and routesetter training.

What: A typical routesetting instructional course includes education on creative movement for all abilities and body sizes, discussions of wall aesthetics, hold labeling, and risk management, as well as information about team management, hiring, scheduling, and workflow. A sample three-hour “Head Setter Clinic” given by Sarah Filler, Jeremy Ho, and TJ Sanford at the Climbing Wall Association Summit last year “ cost $295/person.

When/Where/How to Sign Up: Although no clinics are currently slated, the institute can be contacted here to set something up.

Rock Candy Support Your Local Routesetter
Photo: Rock Candy Support Your Local Routesetter



Rock Candy has been actively promoting its informational and educational tier, called Support Your Local Routesetter, for some time—particularly with regularly scheduled clinics.

What: The fourth clinic of the Support Your Local Routesetter series will be led by Earth Treks’ Director of Routesetting, Ward Byrum. It will cover fundamental design theory for routes, with hands-on opportunities for those in attendance. Held on July 27-28 (2019) at Rock Mill Climbing (Akron, Ohio) registration for this clinic is closed.

When/Where/How to Sign Up: Rock Candy plans to host more of these free clinics in the future. It is likely the next one will be held in the fall with a focus on competition setting. Once that clinic is confirmed they will post it here.


USA Climbing has been holding clinics for some time, particularly as an offshoot of its famed Routesetting Committee. The clinics are typically separated based on USA Climbing’s “level” scale of certification, which ranges from 1 to 5. More information about that system can be found here.

What: A Level 1 clinic will be instructed by Momentum’s Head Routesetter, John Oungst, and open to 20 participants. The fee will be $200/person. A USA Climbing Routesetter Membership (which costs $55 and can usually be purchased at the time of registration) will also been a prerequisite for those in attendance.

When: June 30-July 1 (2019)

Where: Shaker Rocks (Shaker Heights, Ohio)

How to Sign Up: Visit here, or contact John Oungst via email with questions

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