Route Setting

What is route setting?

A route is a specific path or “problem” using textured holds and features bolted onto the climbing structure and marked or flagged by tape. These are “set” by our route setting crew. We at the River Rock have something for all ability levels, from beginner to advanced climbing options

Routesetting is about movement. Smaller holds placed farther apart does not constitute a “hard” climb. It is about sequencing movement. Climbing is not like running, where you have the same repetitive movement over and over. It is a combination of physical movements to “solve” the problem (or route) that the routesetters have developed.

What are climbing grades?

Each climbing route has a difficulty grade. The main purpose of a grade is to help you determine if you should try a route or boulder problem and help the climber better assess their ability. Grades are opinions and vary by facility and routesetter. Here at the River Rock our routesetters grade routes after forerunning each other’s problems to gain a consensus of grade. Our goal is to be consistent with grading throughout our facility.

The Yosemite Decimal System

Our top rope and lead climbs are rated using the Yosemite Decimal System (YDS). YDS grades are made of two numbers separated by a decimal point. The number before the decimal describes the class of movement. A well-established trail or paved path would be 1st class, and a scramble on an exposed ridgeline might be 3rd class. All of our routes are 5th class because our hands and feet are required for upward movement and a rope is needed to arrest falls. The number after the decimal denotes difficulty within 5th class. It ranges from zero to infinity. The easiest 5th class routes outside are 5.0. The hardest that exist today are 5.15, but next year that number could go higher! In the River Rock we offer from 5.5 to 5.13.

Routes are often broken down into groups as follows:

  • 5.0–5.6 Easy
  • 5.7–5.9 Intermediate
  • 5.10–5.11 Difficult
  • 5.12–5.13 Very Difficult
  • 5.14–5.15 Expert

The Hueco (or V) Scale

V-grades originated at Hueco Tanks near El Paso, TX in the 1990s. Bouldering legend John “Vermin” Sherman is given the credit for this scale. V-grades are the predominant grading system here in the United States for bouldering. Similar to YDS, the system is not a closed system. Current routes range from V0- to V16. In our gym we have added a VB for basic or beginner routes. In the River Rock we offer VB to V9.