Changes are afoot
From November, we'll be changing the way we set routes at Boulder Brighton. Over the years we've always set whole coloured circuits together on a given setting day, which has worked really well on the whole. However, there are a few reasons why we think it's now better to set climbs by area instead, and we're going to move to the new scheme next month. Here's a bit more info on what it all means!
What's an area set?
From November, when we set routes we'll rope off a single area, strip all the holds, and then re-set the whole area across all the colour ranges. The area will be out of action for the whole setting period, but the rest of the centre will be open as usual.
Will there still be room to climb while setting is going on?
Yes! We will reduce the number of bookable slots in proportion to the size of the area being set for the period of the routesetting, so that the density of climbers in the open areas remains the same.
We like circuit setting - why are you changing things?
We like circuit setting too, but there are a few good reasons why we think area setting will work better, particularly given current restrictions:
- Less disruption in the centre - by area setting we can have more routesetters in the centre at once, and set the same number of routes in one day as we currently normally do across two days. Which means you're less likely to have your session interrupted by routesetting whenever you come to climb
- Moving the big volumes - We use the big green "volumes" to change the angles of the underlying walls around the centre - it's a great way to keep climbs feeling fresh and avoid setting the same moves on the same bits of wall every time. One of the issues we have at the moment is that it's hard to move the big volumes around on areas outside of the Comp Wall without taking extra sections of wall out of action in addition to our regular circuit setting. In "normal" times we always find a way to squeeze this in, but at the moment it's very difficult to do. With the new plan we can set new volumes in an area at least every 8 weeks, meaning that the feel of different sections of the wall will change much more often. Hopefully you'll notice the difference!
- Setter creativity - starting with a blank canvas on setting day is every routesetter's dream. It means our setters can put new volumes up, try new moves, and get really creative on every set without having to worry about squeezing in amongst other climbs or accidentally breaking the beta on climbs that were set on earlier dates in the same area. More routesetter freedom should mean even better climbs for everyone
- New climbs at your level every week - in the new plan, there'll be new climbs for you every week, whatever your favourite grade
- Just as many problems being set - we will still change routes as frequently as before, so there's no reduction in setting overall. In fact, some of the easier climbs will end up being set slightly more often under the new plan. Going forward, we'll fully reset an area once a week.
How will the monthly comp work?
In the new plan the monthly comp will be based on all of the climbs on the Comp Wall, across all of the colours (including the vertical section on the far left). The Blue holds will still be set all over the centre, but instead of being our "comp" set they'll now be more of a "mystery" set that come in at a wide range of grades. With each area starting as a blank canvas, there'll be plenty of scope to have some lovely "king lines" in Blue featuring regularly around the centre.
Won't this lead to people crowding newly set areas?
We'll keep an eye on this of course, but we're confident it shouldn't be problem. We have been area setting our Comp Wall monthly since we reopened in July with limited capacity in place, and this hasn't been an issue so far - and most other climbing centres set this way without reporting major issues. Climbers will need to make sure they socially distance as per the new normal, and make sure they spread out during their climb. With a new area being set every week, there should be enough unclimbed stuff around for everyone to spread out naturally.
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