USA Climbing (USAC) provides instruction, training, and certification to routesetters at various levels for competition routesetting. Since 2006, the USA Climbing Routesetting Committee (USAC RSC) has developed and managed the structure of the clinic instructional programs and certification system that USA Climbing now uses for sanctioned competition climbing. The USA Climbing Routesetting Committee is constantly working to further professionalize and standardize competition routesetting with an overall goal of increasing the quality and consistency of competition events and support the work of routesetters. The USA Climbing Routesetting Clinic and Certification Program (USAC RCCP) is managed by a Program Administrator in cooperation with the Chair of the Routesetting Committee and USA Climbing staff.
USA Climbing Routesetting Committee
Bret Johnston, Chair
John Oungst, Athlete
Kasia Pietras, Athlete
Routesetting Clinic and Certification Program
Mike Bockino, Program Administrator, firstname.lastname@example.org
Level 1 certifies that a routesetter has successfully completed a USA Climbing Level 1 Routesetting Clinic and demonstrated basic proficiency of routesetting fundamentals and basic skills for competition routesetting.
Level 1 Clinics provide instruction for new and experienced routesetters alike, giving individuals an opportunity to learn and practice fundamental routesetting skills valuable for commercial and competition routesetting. In a Level 1 Clinic, one day is spent focusing on route-specific setting and another on boulder setting, with various exercises presented. Each routesetter is asked to set both routes and boulder problems and is given the opportunity to work with others in the forerunning process, gaining valuable feedback from the experienced USA Climbing Routesetting Instructor and peers alike. Routesetters gain insight into methods and techniques dealing with efficiency, hold manipulation, creative movement, aesthetics, youth routesetting, forerunning and the calibration or “tweaking” process.
Level 1 Certification is provided to successful participants who have demonstrated proficiency in the basic routesetting skills presented and practiced, and an understanding of the methods and ideas introduced regarding redpoint and on-sight competition routesetting.
Ability to climb 5.10 & V3
6 months routesetting experience
Level 2 Certifies that a routesetter has successfully completed a USA Climbing Level 2 Routesetting Clinic and demonstrated sufficient knowledge of onsight routesetting and other skills necessary to set effectively for Championship level events.
Routesetters must apply to participate in a Level 2 Clinic and are selected based on a combination of factors including their general and USAC specific competition routesetting experience, resume, references, personal application, and the gym and/or region they represent. Level 2 Clinics have a significantly higher level of intensity than the Level 1 Clinic, with exclusive focus on onsight competition routesetting, specific exercises targeted to challenge routesetters, and with more detailed evaluation.
The goal of the Level 2 Clinic is to provide an environment for experienced competition routesetters to demonstrate their skills, learn specific techniques and approaches for onsight competition routesetting, organization and teamwork, and to evaluate the ability of those individuals to work effectively as routesetters at USA Climbing Championship level competitions. In this clinic, we focus on challenging setters with respect to fundamental aspects of Championship routesetting. Knowing the USA Climbing youth categories and routesetting effectively for them in an onsight format are the most important aspects. In addition, being familiar with competition organization, USA Climbing rules, and having fundamental skills of strong communication, leadership, and time management are also incredibly valuable. Our goal is not only to have Level 2 routesetters working at Regional and higher events that are experienced and creative with respect to the craft of routesetting, but also those that approach the work at these events with a high degree of professionalism, attention to detail and ability to work well with others to contribute to an effective team.
In a Level 2 Clinic, one day is spent focusing exclusively on boulder-specific setting and another on route-specific setting, with a third emphasizing competition organization, management, rules and judging. Each routesetter is expected to set multiple boulder problems and at least one route, testing their knowledge of USAC youth categories, difficulty levels, and how to effectively and fairly divide a field of competitors, all while working constructively with others in a fast-paced environment. Additionally, routesetters are evaluated on their creativity, understanding of hold manipulation, ability to work within routesetting constraints, organization, communication, leadership, management, and teamwork – all important skill sets for an effective Championship routesetter, and specifically, potential Chief Routesetter, to have.
Level 2 Certification is provided to successful participants, denoting their competency to set for Championship level competitions. Routesetters with Level 2 Certification may apply to official USAC Internships at higher level (Divisional and National) competitions.
Level 1 Certification; Significant USA Climbing competition routesetting experience; Chief Routesetter experience
Ability to forerun a minimum of 5.13 & V7
Level 3 Certifies that a routesetter has successfully completed an Internship at a Divisional or National level competition and is qualified and eligible to apply for an Apprenticeship position at any National level competitions.
Routesetters with Level 2 Certification may apply to Divisional and National Internships announced on this website. These positions are very competitive because USA Climbing only has a small number of National events with limited Internship positions offered and there are many experienced and interested routesetters. During an Internship, a routesetter will work in all aspects of the Divisional or National level competition routesetting with a Level 5 (Or Level 4, Approved by Routesetting Committee) Chief Routesetter and an experienced team.
Events at which National Internships have typically been offered include: Bouldering Youth Divisionals, Bouldering Youth Nationals, Sport & Speed Open Nationals, GoPro’s Vail Citizens Nationals, Sport & Speed Youth Divisionals, and Sport & Speed Youth Nationals. Each event is different but typically requires a week of work. Interns are not compensated and must arrange for their own travel.
5-7 days for each event
Level 2 Regional Certification
Significant experience routesetting for USA Climbing Championship level competitions
Able to forerun 5.13 and V7.
Bouldering and Sport Climbing
Level 4 Certifies that a routesetter has successfully completed an Apprenticeship at a National level competition and is qualified and eligible to work as an Assistant Routesetter at any National level event. Level 4 Endorsements, in Bouldering and Sport Climbing, certify that a routesetter is competent and eligible to be Chief Routesetter in the discipline(s) for which they have the endorsement(s), at USA Climbing Divisional level competitions.
Routesetters with Level 3 Certification may apply to Apprentice positions for National competitions announced on this website. These positions offer a small stipend and a travel allowance and give Routesetters who have completed a National Internship the opportunity to continue to gain experience with National events. During an Apprenticeship, a Routesetter will work in all aspects of National level competition routesetting with a Level 5 Chief Routesetter and an experienced team. A Routesetter who successfully completes an Apprenticeship will be awarded Level 4 Certification.
Routesetters with Level 4 Certification are eligible to apply to Assistant positions for any National competitions announced on this website. Assistant Routesetters at National events are paid a full salary and all travel expenses and accommodation are covered.
Endorsement(s) in each specific discipline (bouldering/sport climbing) may be awarded to those Routesetters with Level 4 Certification who are considered highly qualified to be Chief Routesetters for Divisional Level events in the specific discipline AND who have received a positive report from a USA Climbing Level 5 Routesetter while working at a USA Climbing Divisional or National level competition.
Level 3 Certification; AND
Significant experience routesetting for USA Climbing Championship level competitions.
Ability to forerun a minimum of 5.13a or V7
Bouldering and Sport Climbing.
Level 5 Certifies that a routesetter has successfully completed a National Chief Routesetter Practical and is qualified and eligible as a Chief Routesetter in the discipline(s) for which they have the endorsement(s), at USA Climbing National level competitions.
The most experienced Level 4 Routesetters who are interested in becoming National Chief Routesetters, may formally request to the Chief Routesetter of an event for which they have been hired as an Assistant, to undergo a “Level 5 Practical Review” at. This request must be submitted at least one month prior to the competition and then approved first by the Chief Routesetter and also the USA Climbing Routesetting Committee. If approved, the Assistant Routesetter will work closely with the Chief Routesetter in the preparation and execution of the event and their work will be reviewed by the Chief Routesetter, Chief Judge and Chief Organizer.
5-7 days for each event
Level 4 Certification
Experience at 4 or more National level competitions
Ability to forerun 5.13 and V7.
Youth Bouldering, Adult Bouldering, Youth Sport Climbing, and Adult Sport Climbing.
As part of the USA Climbing Routesetting Clinic and Certification program, USAC organizes Level 1 and Level 2 clinics for routesetters across the country.
The USA Climbing Level 1 Routesetting Clinic teaches participants basic proficiency of routesetting fundamentals and basic skills for competition routesetting. Successful participants will receive a Level 1 Certification. The Participation Fee is $300, and all participants must have an active USAC Routesetter Annual Membership ($70). Beginner and experienced routesetters alike are welcomed as long as they have 6 months or more routesetting experience and can work V3 or 5.10.
The USA Climbing Level 2 Routesetting Clinic teaches and tests participants’ knowledge of on-sight routesetting and other skills necessary to set effectively for Championship level events. There is a competitive application process for Level 2 Clinics and to be considered, applicants should have significant competition Routesetting experience, Chief Routesetter experience, and must be able to work V7 and 5.13. Successful participants will receive Level 2 Certification, having gained experience that can contribute to their effective work at Regional competitions, and are then eligible to apply for official Divisional or National Internships. The Participation Fee is $550, and all participants must have an active USAC Routesetter Annual Membership ($70).
Most large commercial climbing gyms may host a Level 1 clinic at their facility, if they have significant bouldering and route terrain but USA Climbing must review all possible host facilities before scheduling. Level 2 clinics are scheduled by USA Climbing typically two – three times per year based on various detailed specifications of the host facility and location selection based on diverse geographic offerings.For full details visit the hosting page and inquire to email@example.com.
This page lists all currently scheduled USA Climbing Routesetting Clinics. Please read below for more information and registration details for each clinic. Please review the Level 1 and Level 2 Clinic descriptions and pre-requisites on the Certification page before registering or applying for a clinic. Additional clinics may be scheduled for later in the year in various regions. If you are interested in hosting a clinic at your facility, please visit our hosting page. Contact Mike Bockino at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Note: To register for a Level 1 clinic you must first have a Routesetter Membership. You can get this here https://usaclimbing.sport80.com and after having gotten the Routesetter Membership, you can then log-in to your Sport80 account to register for the clinic itself.
If you are interested in registering but want to first ensure there are spots available before purchasing the Routesetter Membership and logging in to register for the clinic, please contact email@example.com and we can confirm availability. Otherwise, you can “wait list” for the clinic you are interested in and we will contact you if any spots become available.
Location: Bigfoot Climbing Gym and Cliffhangers Climbing Gym, Mooresville, NC
Dates: Sept 16/17
Registration is through Sport 80 and is on a first come first served basis. Setters participating in the clinic must purchase a Level 1 routesetter membership to take part in the Level 1 Clinic.
Any questions can be directed to the Routesetting Program Manager Mike Bockino at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our goal is to provide clinic instruction to routesetters throughout the US and in as many regions as possible. In order to do this we need great host facility partners. If you are interested in hosting a USA Climbing Routesetting Clinic please see below or email email@example.com
A Level 1 Clinic is ideal for regular hosts of USA Climbing local or higher level competitions. In order to host a Level 1 Clinic, a host facility must have significant roped and bouldering terrain, sufficient for hosting bouldering and sport local climbing competitions. It is most common for a Level 1 Clinic to have 15 – 20 participants and the best host facilities will typically be larger climbing gyms, those that regularly host USA Climbing competitions at various levels, and those generally interested in training their own routesetting staff and/or welcoming routesetters from outside the facility.
There is no host fee for a Level 1 Clinic. The host facility provides the climbing terrain and additional space for dedicated use during the typical 9am – 5pm schedule of the two day clinic and must be willing and able to accommodate up to 20 total routesetters. Basic requirements we look for in terms of facility hosts include:
Depending on the number of participants, up to 20 individual route lines each a minimum of 24’ tall (ideal is 30’ – 40’) and with variety of top-rope and lead terrain.The exact number and location of route lines is determined in negotiation with the Chief Instructor during the clinic set-up and preparation process.
The route terrain should generally be determined planning for approximately 40% of the terrain as “beginner” (shorter walls 24’ – 32’ and slab or near vertical), 60% “intermediate” terrain (24’ – 40’ and between vertical and 15 – 30 degrees overhanging in sections) and 20% “advanced” terrain (24’ – 40’ averaging over 30 degrees overhanging, ie. lead-only terrain).
Approximately 120 linear feet of bouldering terrain with space needed for up to 20 routesetters to work simultaneously.We review the terrain to be planned for a Level 2 Clinic well in advance with the host facility representative and will be flexible where possible to accommodate for the needs of the gym’s regular operation, in consideration of the needs for an effective clinic experience.
Bouldering terrain should be diverse, ranging from slab and vertical to more overhanging terrain, and including aretes, dihedrals, if possible, and with a similar distribution as described above with respect to the relative difficulty and steepness of the terrain.
All routesetters, whether from the host facility, the immediate area, or traveling to the clinic from outside the region, must register directly through USA Climbing for a $200.00 participant fee, and all routesetters must also purchase a $70.00 Routesetter membership if they do not already have a current membership.
As our goal is to offer opportunities wherever there is interest in our Level 1 Clinic, while also specifically trying to schedule clinics in as many regions as possible, we strive to schedule clinics throughout each year in diverse areas of the country.
Benefits to Host Facility:
Host facility routesetters can participate in a Level 1 Clinic in their own gym without any cost of travel. Successful participants will receive a Level 1 Certification.
The facility’s routesetters will benefit from the work of the other clinic participants who have diverse backgrounds and represent many gyms from around the country.
For new climbing facilities, hosting a Level 1 Clinic can be an excellent opportunity to create a positive learning environment for intermediate experience level routesetters at their new gym, to create pre-opening buzz among the community and provide ownership and management a chance to see the work of routesetters within the structured environment of a clinic.
Depending on the number of participants, there will typically be 15 – 20 routes and between 20 – 30 boulder problems set during the Level 1 Clinic. Many host facilities will schedule clinics specifically in the context of their regular rotation, use the clinic as a way to refresh the start of a new round of routesetting, or use the routes and/or boulder problems from the clinic for youth competitive training.
Clinic Duration: 2 days
Host Fee: NONE
Total Participants: 20 maximum
Participant Costs: $200.00 Participant Fee and mandatory $70 USAC Routesetter Membership.
Level 2 Clinics are only held 2 – 3 times per year at host facilities determined by USAC, based on their location, facility details and past experience hosting USAC Championship competitions or other clinics. We only schedule Level 2 Clinics at host facilities that have hosted, or are capable of hosting Championship Level (Regional/Divisional/National) competitions, in both disciplines, and ideally, these facilities also will have hosted one or more Level 1 Clinics. Level 2 Clinics are ideal for host facilities that regularly hold Regional and Divisional events and that are interested in training one or two of their own routesetters, and providing a training ground for other routesetters also seriously interested in becoming better trained and qualified for Championship Level USAC events.
As with the Level 1 Clinic, there is no host fee but the facility must provide the adequate terrain needed for the clinic and then can select one or two of their own routesetters to participate in the clinic. This is determined after review with the RCCP Administrator during clinic scheduling. The individual routesetter(s) are selected by the host facility directly and do not have to apply but must register for the clinic itself ($400.00) as all other setters, and each must also have or purchase the $70 USAC Routesetter Membership. All other routesetters apply for the clinic directly through USAC and will be selected by the Chief Instructor, Assistant Instructor(s) and in consultation with the RCCP Administrator. In any given year, typically two Level 2 Clinics will be held, in different regions, and host facilities will be chosen based on a combination of factors we look for including:
To host a Level 2 Clinic, a host facility must have significant roped and bouldering terrain sufficient for hosting bouldering and sport Championship level competitions (Regional/Divisional/National), and have experience hosting USAC Championship level events and/or clinics.
The basic terrain details outlined above in the Level 1 section also apply to Level 2 Clinics; in addition we need access to a group or party room space adequate for presentations, and use of a projector if possible. We review the quality of the overall facility terrain and gym amenities on a case by case basis. An active youth climbing team at the host facility that we may coordinate with. The location of host facilities is reviewed, considering not only our goal of hosting Level 2 Clinics in different regions regularly, but also hosting in cities that are easy to travel to, ideally have low cost for reasonable accommodation, and accessible transportation and food options.
Benefits to Host Facility:
Host facility may select at least one but no more than two local routesetters to participate in the Level 2 clinic. This routesetter must already have Level 1 Certification and meet the minimum standards for participation. Successful participants will receive a Level 2 Certification.
Exercises designed to focus routesetters’ skill development on setting for youth, setting on-sight specific for bouldering and sport climbing, and working efficiently and effectively individually and as part of a team.
Instruction and review of organizational aspects of USAC Championship level events, including rules, competition planning, etc.
High instructor to participant ratio (1:6) results in more hands-on time for routesetters and specific feedback following the clinic experience for each routesetter.
There will be 12 routes and between 24 – 36 boulder problems set during the Level 2 Clinic.
Clinic Duration: 3 days
Host Fee: NONE
Total Participants: 12 maximum including 1 – 2 facility host routesetters (all routesetters must apply for participation)
Participant Costs: $400.00 Participant Fee and mandatory $70 USAC Routesetter Membership
As outlined above, host facilities must have adequate additional resources, sufficient to accommodate the clinic type and expected number of clinic participants. A host facility representative, such as the climbing gym owner, manager, or chief routesetter will be expected to communicate initially with the USAC RCCP Administrator and after clinic registration is set-up, then directly with the USAC Chief Instructor, to ensure adequate preparations are made for the clinic.
How to Schedule:
USAC Routesetting Clinics are scheduled through the Routesetting Clinic and Certification Program Administrator, Mike Bockino. Level 1 Clinics can generally be scheduled at any time convenient for the host facility and based on the Chief Instructor’s availability. We will work with a host’s ideal schedule planning, in consideration of whether we determine sufficient interest in the region and based on the timing of the clinic, and the overall schedule of all other Level 1 Clinics. We try to schedule all clinics a minimum of 3 months in advance in order to provide time for USAC to announce and advertise, and for individual participants to register, or in the case of Level 2 Clinics, for individual participants to apply and their applications to be reviewed.
Level 2 Clinics are only scheduled at host facilities that are Championship level competition hosts, and after significant review and planning in the context of the overall yearly schedule of clinics. Generally, the RCCP will offer two Level 2 Clinics per year, in different regions. Contact Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to schedule a clinic.
USAC Chief Instructors are all Level 5 Certified Routesetters with decades of combined experience and Assistant Instructors have worked at numerous national events and are also typically Chief Routesetters in commercial facilities.
Current Instructors and Assistant Instructors include:
Chris Danielson (USAC Level 5 Routesetter; IFSC Routesetter)
John Muse (USAC Level 5 Routesetter; RSC Chairperson)
Luke Bertelsen (USAC Level 5 Routesetter, RSC Member)
Ian McIntosh (USAC Level 5 Rouetsetter, RSC Member)
Molly Beard (USAC Level 5 Routesetter)
Mike Helt (USAC Level 5 Routesetter)
Dave Wetmore (USAC Level 5 Routesetter)
Nic Oklobzija (USAC Level 5 Routesetter)
John Oungst (USAC Level 4 Routesetter)
Mike Bockino (USAC Level 4 Routesetter)
Jeremy Hardin (USAC Level 4 Routesetter)
Josh Haynes (USAC Level 4 Routesetter)
Garrett Gregor (USAC Level 4 Routesetter)