Climbing wall

WWU students complete climbing wall routesetting training


In preparation for exciting expansion of the Walla Walla University climbing wall, three WWU students completed a climbing wall routesetting clinic conducted by a certified climbing wall routesetter and the head routesetter for Portland Rock Gym in Portland, Oregon.

The group met at Portland Adventist Academy for the clinic, which covered specific routesetting skills, including safety procedures, setting techniques, rope systems for ascending and hauling equipment, forerunning (testing a route and giving feedback to routesetters), and the important thought processes behind routesetting.

Routes on a climbing wall are changed regularly to offer new challenges for climbers. While no certifications are required to set climbing routes, knowledge is required to set a route that is safe and enjoyable for climbers.

Will Howard, senior engineering major and WWU climbing wall manager, said that when setting new climbing routes the first thing to consider is the safety of the person setting the route. “Routesetting involves ascending a rope while hauling holds, bolts, and tools. These things can weigh a lot. If the setter doesn’t know the proper systems and techniques, accidents can happen,” he said.

Routesetters must also consider the safety of the climbers who will use the route. Trained routesetters know how to properly secure climbing holds and set routes that provide an appropriate level of challenge for climbers of varying skill levels. Challenges may arise if the routesetter creates a climb that includes many dynamic moves or challenging holds.

“Rock climbing is a sport that exercises both the body and mind,” said Howard. “It is also a social sport. You can catch up with friends or make new ones while waiting for the next climb. Walla Walla’s climbing community is also a really positive one. If someone is working really hard on a route, bystanders and other climbers start cheering them on.”

The new and expanded WWU climbing wall, located in the Winter Educational Complex, will feature double the square footage of the previous wall and the addition of bouldering routes. The new wall will include routes for climbers of all skill levels from beginner to advanced climbers. Funding for the new wall was provided by WWU and the Associated Students of Walla Walla University (ASWWU).

The new climbing wall is scheduled to open in October. Wall hours will vary during fall quarter due to capacity limits during COVID-19, and specific cleaning protocols will be in place. Watch the WWU news feed for news about the climbing wall opening and check the WWU Department of Health and Physical Education website for climbing wall hours of operation.

Posted Sept. 10, 2020

Climber climbing an indoor climbing wall full of colorful holds.