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Route Setting on a Tread Wall
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By Mike Anderson
From Dayton, OH
Dec 27, 2011
My goal with this post is to generate some discussion about this topic, and hopefully I'll learn a thing or two. I have only had regular access to a rotating climbing wall (in this case an Ascent Fun Rock) for about 2 months, so I'm a gumby, but the following summarizes what I've learned. Please add your tips.

First, a couple shots of my wall:

My "Ascent Fun Rock" rotating climbing wall wedged into our "Florida Room".
My "Ascent Fun Rock" rotating climbing wall wedged into our "Florida Room".


Lucas training on the Fun Rock.
Lucas training on the Fun Rock.


It's 20 feet around the circumference, with each slat being ~6" wide. It came with only 4 holes per slat, so I drilled it out so that I have 11 holes per slat...room for 440 holds (or so).

I've decided not to use tape to mark the routes, and instead set routes by hold color. This keeps the tape from gumming up my beautiful machine, and reduces clutter, but it does limit the route setting options somewhat. I also think this makes it easier to identify the holds as you are climbing which is an issue on a wall that is rotating. For my size wall, it takes a minimum of about 20 holds of the same color to make a problem...30 makes a good problem.

I start and stop each boulder problem at roughly the same point (within a 3-4 slat range). This way, you can complete a problem, and start on another one. In addition, the start/finish holds are pretty good jugs so I can shake out there if needed. I mark the start of each problem with a short description such as "vertical crimps", "moderately steep juggy", or "steep juggy". This is necessary for my wall because it changes angle while you climb, so I want to pick a problem that is appropriate for the current wall angle.

Here's a photo of the start/finish area:

The starting holds.
The starting holds.


Zoomed in to see the labels:

Route labels.
Route labels.


For setting particular routes, I've stumbled upon some general pointers:

- Avoid really big moves. Big moves leave you stretched out on the wall with your feet possibly falling off the wall before the next hold can be reached. In the case of a motorized wall like mine, I'm often left literally "in the lurch" waiting for the next hold to appear.

- Get some small bolt-on holds for feet. Screw-on jibs are out, so you've got to find some bolt-ons. Atomik has some good sets

- Avoid using handholds for footholds. The wall forces you to climb in a pretty direct line which makes it nearly impossible to force the climber to use small feet if "tracking" is allowed. If you have enough holds, a rule such as "foot chips only" would help. My wall is wide enough that traverses are possible, so making an "S" pattern up the wall will prevent the climber from stepping on the bigger hand holds.

So here is an example route set with yellow Atomik holds I got for Xmas:

Sorting the holds:

Holds sorted by color for route setting.
Holds sorted by color for route setting.


I'm planning a trip to Smith Rock this spring, so my goal was to create a route that is appropriate for vertical to slightly-overhanging angles with knobby/pinchy holds. I wanted the feet to be poor, so it is paramount that I make it difficult to stand on the handholds which would otherwise be great feet (since they are knobs). This is accomplished by traversing. The route starts on the right on the big yellow dump truck at the bottom right of the photo. It climbs up for two moves, then does a big traverse left.

Yellow route 2.
Yellow route 2.


A couple high-step/deadpoint moves lead straight up from here, where it is possible to stand on bigger feet, so I use very small handholds here, then traverse right with some crossing moves that make it difficult to pause on the big feet.

Yellow route 3. <br />
Yellow route 3.


At this point, the feet get tiny again, before reaching the start/finish holds.

Yellow Route 4. <br />
Yellow Route 4.


Let me know what you think, and what your tips are....

FLAG
By Tristan Higbee
From Cambodia
Dec 27, 2011
Me on a mixed route Crisco and I did in Rock Canyon.
I think that's pretty freaking awesome. I don't think I've ever seen one that wide before. How much did it set you back?

FLAG
By Woodchuck ATC
Dec 27, 2011
Rock Wars, RRG, 2008
I've always thought treadwalls are kinda dull, having seen people use them at health clubs like a fancy stairmaster for 10-15 minutes of 'laps'. Having set routes, lunge moves, backsteps, etc. makes it much more worth the time. I've used the colored hold method for years to avoid tape jobs. Great colors, should be quite fun. Looks like you've put alot of work into the methods and plans, so best of luck.

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By Brendan N. (grayhghost)
From Salt Lake City, Utah
Dec 27, 2011
Is yours motorized or gravity-fed? We have a gravity-fed treadwall kore that seems to climb better when it is set as a system wall. When we tried to set routes on it there was a two-move, stop, two-move, stop rhythm that became bizarre.
We are developing a strange sort of fitness, where we climb quickly in the same pattern for a hundred feet. It will be interesting to see how it translates to outdoor climbing.

FLAG
By Mike Anderson
From Dayton, OH
Dec 27, 2011
It's motor driven, and I have to program the rotation speed and angle ahead of time on a PC, so I can't really change it on the fly. I'm still figuring out what the best speeds are. I'm hoping that in the future I'll be able to hack the electronics and set up a manual controller. The nice thing about the programing is that I can put in pauses for shaking and change angle, etc.

I've always felt with any rotating wall that they always make you climb too fast. I've definitely learned a lot about pacing. It seems that the natural way to climb is to go in short, fast bursts with 10-20 second pauses for routefinding, etc. It's actually realy hard to climb at a constant pace for a long time. I can only do it on very easy terrain, or moderate terrain that I have dialed, otherwise I dont have time to chalk, shake and see where I'm going.

Oh, the price for the wall was $3500, but it didn't work the day I went to pick it up, so he knocked it down to $2500. I had to spend about that much in time and materials to get it working again (it needed a new PC and software). I also spent around $500 moving it from WI to OH.

These ones ar not made anymore, so they are hard to find, but I know of a few people who have them.

FLAG
By gmggg
Jan 18, 2012
Very cool!

I steadfastly agree that "jib only" rules for feet are a nice way to go, it also keeps routes fresher in that you can play around with different body positions and somewhat avoid completely memorizing routes.

I'm not sure why you can't use screw-ons though. You can probably get away with self tapping sheet metal screws, or in the worst case a small #10 machine bolt with washers on the back side. Obviously that will add a bunch of holes in your pretty panels - and maybe that's what you're trying to avoid - but I tend to leave screw-ons in place indefinitely and it seems to me that the increased hold volume is worth the work. It also gives you a larger number of regular t-nuts to use for hand holds and route options.

Does your wall stop at the bottom or do you have to keep up with it until your programmed pauses arrive? One bit of training that I like is clipping/gear training. I'm sure you probably don't need to train the actual acts themselves, but it is interesting to train your gear management and handling in stress positions or at a high pump. I found for myself that that helped my efficiency and cleaned up some bad habits (like a strong preference for using my right hand with gear) that really manifest when you're stressed. I found that this helped me assess and deal with tricky situations outside more quickly and calmly.

Interesting to hear that there are no manual control options. Is that just the way your particular wall turned out or is that the system?

FLAG
By saxfiend
Administrator
From Decatur, GA
Jan 18, 2012
Relaxing at the P1 belay of Fruit Loops at Rumbling Bald.
That's really very cool, wish I had one. The climbing gym I used to go to had a treadwall almost exactly like this, except that you could reprogram it on the fly from an attached touchpad. I liked swinging by the gym on my way home from work and getting a 30-45 minute burn in. Great for endurance, among other things.

JL

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