# of years setting? About 4
# of comps set for? 20 or so! Including both Youth ABS and SCS Regionals and an SCS Divisionals hosted by your very own VW!
Setting exploits? Working with the best route setting team in the country every day! Also I had the opportunity to be head routesetter for a small competition over in Spokane in 2012 and everything ran super smooth and almost perfect so I was pretty proud of that. Also getting paid to do one of my favorite things in the entire world!
Favorite tape color? White looks good on everything. Except now we color coordinate holds and that means using old mank.
Drill of choice? Dewalt 12V
Ideal setting tool quiver (tools of choice)? A lift! That doesn’t fit in the tool quiver… I’ve loved the mini-Walt that I’ve been using the last couple years. Ratchet, tap, and wire brushes are always a necessity! Love the big wall harness that Boss Ross gave me and the Metolius daisies/quickfixes. Suppose I should get a Mini-Trax soon for the heavier buckets…
Setting pet peeves? Double taping holds, having just ONE martini bolt in a bucket full of sockets, minimal amount of holds to get you up the wall, and aesthetics. The route or boulder problem definitely has to look good.
Sandbagging or grade coddling? Neither. I definitely have sandbagged a lot of routes before, but I try my best not to. Don’t focus on the grade, focus on the climb.
What are your favorite grips? Teknik – Such simple shapes but so much fun to climb on and to set with. Texture is fantastic, too. I think I’m spoiled by being in a newer generation of routesetters and polyurethane holds. E-grips always seems to put out new and original shapes after being in the game for so long. You’ll never go wrong with the Pusher Boss or any of the rad ETCH volume holds. Also bubblewraps, bubblewraps, and more bubblewraps.
Who are your setting heroes? The guys I set with every day! Tyson Schoene is definitely my biggest hero in all aspects of climbing: route setting, coaching, being a top athlete, etc. Bret Johnston and Ross Halverson are such a huge reminder every day to always put up something new, something different that you haven’t done before. Merg, Josh, and Devo are always a blast to work with as well! I will never be able to emphasize enough about how awesome the crew is at Vertical World. Irreplaceable. Mike Helt and Molly Beard are two of the most experience routesetters in the country and I’ve grown up through youth competitions climbing their routes at every local event. I loved being able to finish my attempt on a route and run over to talk to them about it. Mike and Luke Bertleson taught my Level 1 USAC Clinic and the two are absolutely amazing. Anyone who has set a route that I’ve climbed on in a competition has my thanks – you all are the reason I’m doing this today.
What inspires your lines? I grew up in the gym and on competitions so showy movement is definitely something I am always psyched on. But you can’t set competition routes in the gym every day. Fun movement and anything that puts you out of your comfort zone to make you think is a good route. Someone once told me that a route that’s weird and a route that’s hard are two very different things and for some reason I like that a lot. I’d rather climb a route that was something I wasn’t necessarily good at and come away from it being a better climber than climbing something that was easy for me mentally but purely physically challenging. I don’t know if that influences my routesetting at all but I like to think it does.
What makes you take your routesetting seriously? I take everything I do seriously! Rock climbing is my life. I grew up in the sport and had a community that gave me so much opportunity to do amazing things and now I feel like I’m giving back. Routesetting, coaching, and everything I do in the gym is, in my mind, giving back to the community and using those experiences I’ve had to help others. My position as a routesetter and coach is huge because I can use both those skills to better the next generation.
Favorite climbing style? I prefer bouldering and sport climbing. My favorite style is pulling you car up to the climb, getting out of the car without hiking, setting your pad or rope down, gearing up and GO! Oh wait…. What do you mean we can’t drive our car into the gym? I don’t want to go anymore! I particularly like pinches and pockets and am not very fond of crimps, but I know that’s the opposite of what most people are strong at, so I try not to use pockets a lot specifically. I like the occasional slightly overhanging power climbs, but I probably would pick delicate-slab movements and hip turns anyday!
Kyle Van House
Andy Nelson Facilities Coordinator / Instruction Coordinator / Route Setter
Street Cred: AMGA Climbing Wall Instructor, WMI Wilderness First Responder, Easy Street Veteran.
Climbing Experience: I started climbing in college on a bit of a fluke. I only needed a few general credits to graduate, so I was filling them with various outdoor PE classes, backpacking, snowshoeing, running; all things I had done before and knew I would enjoy. Then I took Beginning Rock Climbing. After day one I was immediately hooked. I continued and took the second class in the series, then became a TA for it (which also sparked my love of teaching this sport, but that’s a different story). After several quarters as a TA Vertical World offered me a position and I’ve never looked back.
Favorite Climbing Area: There are several areas that have special places in my heart. First would have to be the Far Side at exit 38. It’s where I first climbed outdoors, where I honed my technical skills, and the Snoqualmie Valley is where I spent a good deal of time as a youngster. For sheer beauty and volume though I would have to say Icicle Creek in Leavenworth is my current favorite area. It seems like you can’t walk 100 feet without running into a pristine rock face, and being nestled in that alpine environment makes it seem so surreal.
Alex Borst Director of Route Setting
Aran Kagen Team Coach / Route Setter / Instructor
Street Cred: Attended ten national youth climbing championships and countless divisional and regional championships, which has yielded a hefty bag full of medals (and participation ribbons). Graduated with honors and distinction from CU Boulder (2015) with a B.A. in “thinking and thinking about thinking” (AKA Philosophy/Psychology double major)
Climbing Experience: I first climbed at my own birthday party at the Redmond Vertical world actually. I loved it so much that I immediately joined one of the youth programs. I was 9 at the time, and shortly after, I joined the Vertical World climbing team. I continued competing with the team until I had to leave for college. Rock climbing taught me to work hard, developed my sense of humor, and helped me in so many other ways. Currently, I’m very happy to be back here coaching the team and route setting!
Favorite Climbing Area: You mean besides the Redmond VW steep zone? I think Bishop, CA has got to be my favorite place I’ve ever climbed. Everywhere you look, there are incredible boulders to climb with lots of safe fall zones. There’s also some variety in rock types and beautiful scenery to take in. Last and most importantly, you can get some amazing cheesy bread in town that is to die for.
Julia Bakun Front Desk/Route Setter/Instructor
Street Cred: AMGA SPI, Wilderness EMT, B.S. in Biology-Physiology, I have worked at Vertical World since 2010, ex-VW team kid.
Climbing Experience: I started climbing on the VW Climbing team in 2008. I participated in many competitions including a few nationals. I have since become well versed (big thanks to my mentors and friends) in the many facets of climbing such as bouldering, sport, alpine, trad, and other types of type two fun.
Favorite Climbing Area: Smith Rock, Squamish, Gold Bar, Index, Indian Creek, R.I.P. Redmond 55.