/ job as a route setter
How do you get into lead/top rope route setting? Do you need IRATA? Or some other ticket? Cheers, any advice appreciated :)
No tickets required, just enthusiasm and a bit of common sense. In my experience there are enough people willing to volunteer to set top rope and lead routes that employment is unlikely. Centre staff often do these jobs anyway.
There seems to be a trend in making a song and dance about which top boulderer did the latest bouldering reset but it's just plastic anyway and ultimately, doesn't matter.
I don't think there is a career in it for you but I would love to be proved wrong. Good luck.
Very very few people make a decent living out of it.
Climbing Wall Manufacturers Association used to offer courses but anyone I know (knew by now probably) who makes money out of it does so on personal reputation not tickets.
I hate to break it to you but if your profile grades are correct you're really going to struggle. You don't necessarily have to climb hard to route set but it does increase your chances.
I work as a route setter for a wall by virtue of working at said wall. Quite a few of my mates are do the same at other walls. It just comes down to having climbed lots of routes, preferably indoor and out. Then also to be able to climb reasonably hard.
Most people that work at walls that set climb high 7s. This is because you need to be fairly strong to haul bags of holds up the walls, jug up ropes etc. Also as you mostly set and then test your routes in trainers while carrying drills, bags of bolts etc clipped to your harness. Its quite hard work.
As for being a professional setter, I think it mainly comes down to reputation. We get pro setters for some of our main lead walls. These guys can set 6 long steep routes in an afternoon from 6c-8a, test them and tidy up all in a few hours.
If you really wanted to get into it, try and get a job at a wall, get a lot of routes under your belt. Probably get up to leading at least 6c-7a. Then you could in house set the easier walls.
Becoming a pro route setter is a long hard competitive and fairly saturated road. Having said that, there are lots of new walls popping up all the time.
Replies confirmed many of my thoughts on the subject. Just wanted to make sure I wasn't missing something huge. For the record, my profile is way out of date, and I have a solid couple of years instructing in the bag at a variety of walls. Met quite a few of the top setters by luck but never asked them how they got started. Yeah, it is a physical job for sure, but hey, I just like working at height :)
I recommend getting in touch with Nathaniel McMullan at Climbing Wall Services. Find out if he's running any rope work and rescue courses. I've found that with this course under your belt you will have more luck getting work.
I'm a proffeional route setter. I work for a number of walls all over the country. This is on the back of having been a chief route setter at two different walls for 5years, an in house setter for 8yrs before that, and having done another couple of years setting on a small local wall before that.
In terms of the grade you climb, you need to be able to climb what you set, in a short space of time with minimal rest, with no skin, after 5 days of setting when your knackered!
There are courses out there, but they won't get you any work really, not as a free lancer anyway. All of my work has come about as a result of recommendations and referrals. If people don't know me, or know of me, they won't employ me. Doing a course is basically saying you don't know what you are doing so had to do a course. They are good way for walls to train their inhouse staff. Bear in mind the courses teach you rope work and safety, not route setting skills. That side of the industry is best done as an apprenticeship as an in house setter.
Experience trumps all, I'll second the post above in agreement. The one thing I will say though is there are a few courses out there that you can do for route setting that will actually teach you a decent amount about the setting itself and not just how to use a grigri or an i'D or how many ropes you should be dangling off, Paolo Fubini at Arrampica certainly used to do a very good course down in London at one of the big walls that was a day of safety followed by 4 days of setting, which would be great experience if you're thinking about setting at some smaller walls, schools and the like to build up your setting experience base. I know that the ABC was looking at bringing in something more formal a while ago (though they move at an incredibly slow pace so nothing might have been done yet). Nate McCullen runs the Route Setting Association that might be worth contacting, but your local wall would probably be your first port of call.
I'd also point out that some sort of accreditation and insurance will be useful if you're planning to approach smaller walls and ones not run by climbers e.g. sport center, school and smaller council run walls.
Although route setting is not regarded in the same bracket as a lot of IRATA work, in the circumstance that there is ever an accident and it goes to court, the courts are likely to judge it in the same way and there is a case to say that because it is a working at height activity and therefore should follow the same guidelines. Having done a reasonable amount of setting and IRATA work I know that there are some working at height guidelines that are just not appropriate but from a personal legal protection and insurance point of view I would like to be seen to be working to at least what is regarded as best practice.
Learn how to place loads of smooth rounded half footballs and slopers on a wall, with no crimps and make it as far away from what you actually encounter on routes outdoors seems to be a common prerequisite.
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