Tag Archives: route setting

Social Outcast with Steve Arsenault


On Sunday, November 17th,  2013 we will be hosting the 6th installment of the Boston Rock Gym Social Outcast Club.

Social Outcast Club is a unique way for climbers to learn, socialize and share experiences about what we all love in a fun, relaxed atmosphere. During each gathering, several BRG climbers and guest speakers cover a range of climbing topics!


Who is Yoda?, an introduction to the new Route Setters of the BRG

Setting high goals and training for them!, Aleksey Shuruyev
How an average climber can climb big walls in Yosemite
First Acsents, Steve Arsenault
Steve Arsenault is one of the biggest legends of the Mount Washington Valley. Steve was the first climber to ever establish a big wall route on Cathedral back in 1967 (Pendulum) and has continued to set routes all over New England as well as the rest of the country. Some of his more famous routes are Cro Magnon and Jane (Crow Hill, MA) as well as Intimidation and Book Of Solemnity(Cathedral Ledge, NH) and VMC Direct Direct (Cannon, NH).
Bring in used and unwanted gear, and sell it or swap it with another climber. Another man’s trash is another’s treasure.

WHEN: Sunday, November 17th, 2013 at 7PM.

COST: FREE for members or with a day pass.  *$10 Day Passes will be available after 4 PM

WHAT TO BRING: Your favorite food and drinks for potluck table—and a smile of course…

ADDITIONAL: Please email us, or let us know if you want to share your experiences and show your videos at one of the upcoming meetings.

Social Outcast - Nov 2013 250

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Hey everyone, just wanted to give you a head’s up that we have a comp this Saturday the 12th of March, so there will be a LOT of ropes unavailable through out the week for route-setting, and additionally we have a huge construction project going on this week as well. The gym is still open normal hours, but there will be some messes, and some unavailable climbing. Thanks for bearing with us this week as we work to improve the climbing experience at the gym!

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By Gavin Heverly

All photos by Stephanie Crumley

For those of you whom have been living under a rock, this past weekend was the Eastern Mountain Sports/NE2C Nor’Easter Fest up at Loon Mountain in New Hampshire. The event was a slammer jammer mash-up of music, cyclocross racing, bouldering competition, outdoor climbing clinics, vendor village, and really, really bad food selection. I went up for the main events on Saturday and to support our head route-setter Maxim Zolotukhin in the UBC Pro Tour finals. He placed 16th in qualifiers which didn’t quite get him in to finals. Boston Rock Gym was also the partner gym for the event, and we helped with some logistics, volunteers, as well as climbing holds and crash pads and some other random stuff. The Geekhouse X BRG cyclocross team was also along for the ride as their team captain and Geekhouse owner Marty Walsh was racing!

The author being a social butterfly in the vendor village.

At any rate, Saturday went down something like this: Woke up super early to get Marty to the race. We arrived at Loon and skipped our way right to staff parking. A nice luxury of being an event partner. Thanks guys! Marty got suited up and we scoped out the cyclocross course. It looked, as Marty put it “like a mountain bike course”, which meant that a lot of the roadies in the race were going to be not psyched, but guys like Marty whom have a mountain bike racing background were stoked!

The Custom Built Handmade GEEKHOUSE Cyclocross machine ready to roll.

Marty rocking the coolest cycling kit on the entire course as he rolls through some of the switchbacks on the race course.

After the cross race was over, I headed over to the vendor village to chat up some pals I hadn’t seen in a while at the Prana and Evolv tents. Everyone seemed pretty psyched on the cross race seeing as how the entire vendor village was basically in the center of the course. Overall the cyclocross race was pretty awesome. A great course and a welcome addition to the Nor’Easter. It definitely helped make it seem as though there was something HAPPENING since there were bikes whizzing past you all throughout the day. A nice element. There was also some big stage with bands playing. But I didn’t really pay any attention to it, and that seemed to be the general consensus. Although after the UBC comp, some more big name bands like The Gaslight Anthem played, as well as !!! (Chik Chik Chik), and The Walkmen. And while I didn’t stick around, I would guess a great deal more people were interested in that.


Boston's own Francesca Metcalf waiting for her go as Terry climbs on Men's 2 in the background.

Sasha DiGiulian high on Women's 2

The comp started pretty promptly at 3pm. Lights, camera, ACTION! Jason Danforth took the mic and introduced the day’s finalists:

MENS: 6th place Terry Paholek, 5th Ian Dorey, 4th Brian Kim, 3rd Ethan Pringle, 2nd Vasya Vorotnikov, 1st Daniel Woods.

WOMENS: 6th Melissa Lacasse, 5th Natasha Barnes, 4th Alex Johnson, 3rd Angela Payne, 2nd Sasha Digiulian, 1st Francesca Metcalf.

So with that sort of placing going in to finals, it certainly felt like it was anyone’s game. And man did it turn out to be a surprise ending. The turnout for the comp was a little less than what I expected, although with the weather being about 68 and sunny and breezy, perhaps it was both a blessing and a curse for the event. I quickly snagged a seat front and center to absorb all the action I possible could. it became clear early on that Daniel Woods, the crowd favorite, and shoe-in for the win was NOT having such a hot day of climbing. Problem #1 which was a techinical tension based boulder seemed to work against his style and essentially shut him down. New York’s Brian Kim flashed it. Done and done. “What’s this?”, everyone thought as he easily flew to the top. He cruised to the top on number 2 as well. Where as Daniel and Ian Dorey had some real trouble with the opening dyno. Vasya came about as close as you can on #2 without actually sending. Also quite the upset. In the end, it was clear that the men’s competition was going to be east meets west as Brian Kim and Ethan Pringle duked it out.

On the lady’s side, it was clearly anyone’s game. Although I think most people were assuming Angie or Alex would take it. Francesca Metcalf crushed. Although women’s #3 appeared to be a bit reachy for all the competitors. (Editor’s note: I was told over a cup of tea in my living room the following day by one of the route-setters that all the girls botched the beta on the problem.) Natasha Barnes came out of nowhere to fly up women’s 1 and 2 with ease. In the end, it was hard to even tell who would win.

Natasha Barnes come all the way from SF, CA to crush on Women's 2.

All in all a good comp.The organization seemed to be much better than at the Salt Lake City comp. the MC-ing was greatly improved upon, although left something to be desired, and the route-setting was a lot better as well. Here were the surprising results of the day:

MENS: 3rd Daniel Woods, 2nd Brian Kim, 1st Ethan Pringle

WOMENS: 3rd Angie Payne, 2nd Francesca Metcalf, 1st Alex Johnson

The Nor’Easter is a massively valiant effort by the dudes at NE2C to bring an exciting and energized outdoor festival to the East Coast. Combining music, climbing, cycling, and more to give the residents of New England an entire weekend of activities and to grow the community that I know for sure Jason and Pete of NE2C care so much about. So while there are a lot of things that I would do differently, my hat is off to them for their passion, organization, energy, and dedication. The climbing world could use a lot more Jason Danforths and Pete Wards. Looking forward to next year. Count me in, and count BRG in.


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by Gavin Heverly

Ok. We aren’t delusional. We know our walls are not the tallest in the industry. Or even in the Boston area for that matter. But what we WILL brag about is our route-setting. Maxim Zolotukhin, our head route-setter is probably the most passionately obsessed route-setter in the country. And I am not kidding. Then there’s Donny “Hot Karl” Martin. Who has been setting here at the gym for what seems like forever. He cares so much about the quality of his routes, and how much the customers like them that it’s almost a problem. Myself, I have been route-setting for something like 8 years. And I basically consider it to be one of the most scientifically challenging art forms in existence. Anyhow….Maxim will be talking more about the BRG’s route-setting philosophies in a later post.

For now…let’s talk about the HUGE volume holds we just got this morning. Ranging in size from 12″ to FOUR FEET across, these things will be *sick*. Don’t believe me? Come see the masterpieces Max and the rest of our pro-setting team whip up with them for yourselves.



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Problem of the Week #9

by: Chris Mireault

Here is a simple V3 that has decent flow and a progressively harder finish. Set your feet correctly up top on this one and your good to go. Enjoy.

Come and climb it today at the Boston Rock Gym in Woburn, MA.

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Problem of the Week #8

by: Chris Mireault

The “Advent Candle Route,” as some like to call it, has a straight-forward problem with a really nice sidepull/undercling. I find this problem perfect for laps or for a nice little challenge. Difficult for some, not so much for others. Either way it’s a problem worth climbing.

See for yourself! Come climb it today at the Boston Rock Gym in Woburn, MA.


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PROGRESSION in the sport….

By Maxim Zolotukhin

This past weekend I made the drive down Alexandria, VA, for ABS nationals. This was my fourth time attending the event in five years, and while it was the first time I found myself watching from the sidelines during finals, I can honestly say this was best run/set climbing competition I’ve been to in 10 years of competitive rock climbing.

Good looking rock climbers socializing in ISO

The theme of the weekend seemed to be PROGRESSION. This progression manifested itself in every aspect of the competition, from the production, to the atmosphere, to the climbing and the athletes themselves; CHANGE seemed to be afoot.


The first huge leap forward was USAClimbing hiring our good friends at NE2C to produce the event. Putting long time creative differences aside, NE2C and USAC teamed up to put on a spectacular show; professional lighting and sound, combined with Jason Danforth and Scott Mechler’s years of big time MC’ing experience, brought the architecture of ABS nationals to another level. This type of production is imperative to the future success of climbing on a larger commercial-scale. Additionally, local documentarian Pablo Durano was on hand to shoot incredibly tight footage with the help of a giant crane.

Pooch. IN IT.

Another palpable difference this year over comps in the past was the energy and atmosphere surrounding the competition and the professional athletes taking part. It was hard to put my finger on, but everything just seemed…BIGGER. Daniel Woods signed posters for an hour and a half and didn’t put his pen down the whole time. This to me was pretty incredible. I mean, Daniel’s always been Daniel, but this year, he was DANIEL. For our sport to keep growing, we need our athletes to become larger than life; kids need role models, and companies need athletes that are marketable to hang their hats on. Perhaps we’re starting to get there…

Rob D tickling the ivories

Of course, finals themselves did not disappoint. Big props to Chris Danielson, Jamie Emerson, Kyle McCabe, and the rest of the setting crew for basically a flawless performance. These guys are the best in the business and their team chemistry and vast well of comp knowledge culminated in fantastic finals round that was invariably more challenging to set for climbers like Woods and Alex Puccio who keep breaking ground as far as bouldering standards are concerned. Results broke down perfectly with Daniel finishing the first three problems and falling on the last move of the fourth problem (which he quickly dispatched after the last climber’s time was up) and a last-minute ascent of problem number 4 by Puccio who knew she had to send after failing on problem 3 which runner-up Alex Johnson had done. I hope to be lucky enough to collaborate with this team of setters in the near future.

Things Jamie and i both like: Setting, punk rock, scarves, and AMAZING BOULDERING COMPS!!!

And let me just say it one more time: DANIEL WOODS. My Boulder friends Paul Robinson and Carlo Traversi were giddy upon entering ISO on friday. “I can’t believe he actually got stronger!” said Paul. “It really is a new level” added Carlo. Apparently this had been Daniel’s week: Monday – long training session at CATS, Tuesday – long training session at the SPOT where he was supposedly flashing V14, Wednesday – first ascent of The Game V16 in Boulder Canyon after 17 days of attempts and breaking a hold that day, Thursday – flies to Virginia, Friday + Saturday – wins ABS nationals in dominating fashion.

WOODS: sets his lasers to KILL

Damn. What else can be said? We are witnessing PROGRESSION in every aspect of our sport and I couldn’t be more excited. On the heels of this weekend came the announcement that the IOC will now officially recognize the IFSC, opening the door for climbing to enter the summer Olympics in either 2016 or 2020. Who will represent the US at the Olympics in 2020? My money’s on the progeny of former world cup champions Robyn Erbesfield-Raboutou and Didier Raboutou, who, apart from being the cutest brother-sister team EVER, are also obliterating any rock climbing challenge that comes their way. I hung out with these munchkins in Spain this summer and in Hueco this winter and they are the real deal; Brooke, 8, has lead 5.13 and bouldered V9 on rock, while Shawn, 11, has sent 5.13c, flashed V8, bouldered V10, and reportedly spent multiple days falling off the last move of a 5.14a in France this summer. Sick!!

We here at the BRG have some big plans of our own for the future, so stay tuned.


-Max Zolotukhin-

Photos from Caroline Treadway @ carolinetreadway.wordpress.com


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By Kaleigh Bush

On January 30th, the Boston Rock Gym and Evolv hosted the second annual Heart Of Steel climbing competition. Hundreds of climbers and spectators packed the facility like a can of sardines on Saturday morning to behold a spectacle that unfolded in a style not foreseen by anyone.
The event, spearheaded by Gavin Heverly and Max Zolotukhin, was the product of countless hours spent turning wrenches and toiling over piles of climbing holds in order to satisfy a vision cast by raw ingenuity. The route setters aimed to upstage last year’s event by crafting truly innovative boulder problems and bestowing them upon competitors in a format that would trump prior efforts within the industry to blaze a trail for the future of bouldering competitions.
The qualifying competition was by no means mild-mannered. With more than double last year’s turn out, each bouldering room was at capacity teeming with climbers eager to take a stab at every boulder problem within the varied ranges of ability. The main bouldering room erupted in “oohs” and “aahs” whenever a daring climber flew over the heads of a brimming crowd on one of the more dynamic routes, either sticking an impressive finish or falling onto a pile of spotters like a crowd surfer. With so many motivated competitors anxious to fill up their score cards, the preliminary competition was a sincerely cut-throat redpoint round. Final scores were determined by the top six boulder problems with falls indicated but only detrimental in the event of a tie.
After scores were tallied, finalists were announced: Sidney McNair, Francesca Metcalf, and Sasha DiGiulian would go head-to-head on the female finals problems; Rob D’Anastasio and Vasya Vorotnikov qualified for first and second men’s finals slots while Michael Bautista and Zeb Engberg tied for the coveted third place slot right down to the number of falls taken. As promised by the Heart Of Steel guidelines, only three males and three females would duke it out in the finals competition, so a sudden-death boulder problem was set in a deciding round that sent Bautista to finals.
The strongest climbers who entered the competitive arena for the day performed beyond the route setters’ expectations and, consequently, the finals routes had to be tweaked in order to present a challenge to the finalists. Route setters modified the finals problems behind the scenes while Taylor de Lench premiered his movie Sick: Climbing In New England.
At 6pm, the Heart Of Steel’s level of intensity soared to new heights after a tarp was dropped to lay bare the amended first finals problems. Behind a smokescreen, spotlights, and a soundtrack governed by climactic industrial and metal music, an already unorthodox climbing competition was transforming into an epic production of a finals round. While cash was being taped inside of boxes along the course of the first finals problems, Gavin explained the rules of engagement: each finals problem was endowed with a $200 cash value for each competitor’s attempt. Within the ten minute time parameter set for each climber, the problem could be attempted an unlimited number of times and the only goal was to pull as much money off of the wall as possible. The cash left hanging after the ten minutes expired would be awarded to the first place male and female finalists. After the finalists previewed the problems, they went to war in a face-off boasting a more similar appeal to an episode of American Gladiators than to your traditional bouldering finals competition. All of the female finalists flashed their first problem in an impressive display of fortitude, still managing to outperform the expectations of the route setters. Meanwhile, Bautista dyno’d to his final bill in a fit of bouldering theatrics and Vorotnikov pleased the crowd by fluidly breaking intended beta and easing the plight of a long, exhausting boulder problem that climbed more like a sport route.
Finally, it was time for the mob of spectators to relocate for the second finals problem where, as Gavin had confidently promised earlier, “minds would be blown.” It was then that a second tarp collapsed to unveil the event’s main attraction: the Dark Crystal. The Dark Crystal is a diamond shaped climbing feature littered with climbing holds that dangled in mid-air attached to an adjoining climbing wall. No words can do the revealing moment of the Dark Crystal justice; only a panoramic view of the hundreds of jaw-dropped thunderstuck witnesses to its grandeur. Gavin quickly noted that the looks on the finalists faces upon preview were like, “this isn’t bouldering! What the hell is going on in this room right now?!” The spectators immediately thought the same thing. But nothing short of sheer bouldering insanity ensued thereafter.
The finalists, after a jam packed day of seriously technical and difficult bouldering, were presented with the challenge of conquering the Dark Crystal during their final climb of the evening. Before a massive crowd, each finalist put his or her heart of steel into gear and battled the Dark Crystal in an adrenaline-fueled duel likened to some obsessive video game rivalry between the player and a monster impeding on his or her triumph. None of these finalists had climbed as hard as they did all day to be put to shame by some outrageous climbing feature, and they were out to prove it by way of brute strength and superhuman trickery. It was exhausting to watch. And afterward, we’re all left with the same questions in mind: how will Heart Of Steel one-up its futuristic display of a finals competition next year? How will it accommodate the increasing multitude of climbers and spectators who want to be a part of it? The sky seems to be the limit for the innovators at the forefront of the Heart Of Steel.
All photos courtesy of George Lucozzi/ASA Photographic
Final results in order of how much money each competitor won are as follows:
Sasha DiGiulian-     $450
Francesca Metcalf- $450
Sidney McNair-       $300
Vasya Vorotnikov- $830
Michael Bautista-    $280
Rob D’Anastasio-    $90

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The HEART OF STEEL comp is this Saturday January 30th. Then again, if you are reading this, you probably know that. We have some seriously ridiculous stuff planned. Top Secret things that you will just have to come see for yourself! Here are a few pictures of the prizes and raffle items.



We have some amazing sponsors this year. We want to thank them all. Especially EVOLV for being our title sposnsor! Buy their shoes, they really are the best! Remember, this giant table full of amazing stuff is going out to the recreational, intermediate, and advanced categories. Plus tons of great stuff to raffle off (which means even if you dont place in your division you stand to win!).

We are also premiering Taylor De Lench’s climbing film SICK at the comp, so that’s just one more reason to stop by! Here is the trailer:

See you Saturday! Here is the schedule for the day.

9:00am -10:00am: Registration…getting ADRENALIZED! Free coffee/hot chocolate!

10:00am – 2:00pm Qualifying/Citizens comp…TRY HARD.

2:00pm – 6:00pm Time to unwind…Free food, raffles, video games, sponsor tables, a CAR IN THE GYM, and the world premier of Taylor De Lench’s movie “SICK: Climbing in New England”!!!!

6:00pm – 8:00pm The HEART OF STEEL gauntlet style finals round…The top 3 men and women (that’s right, just 3, no coasting into finals!) will be brought out and a spectacular spectacle will ensue…Two finals problems for the girls, two for the guys; 8 minutes per problem…For each climber, there will be $200 hanging from the wall throughout the problem (10, 20, 20, 50, and $100)…The finalist’s task? to grab as much money as possible in those 8 minutes…after a finalist climbs, the money they don’t collect goes into a pot; then, whatever money they DID grab is replaced before the next finalist climbs…When the dust has settled, whoever has grabbed the most money off the wall through both problems wins the REST OF THE MONEY in the pot that the other finalists didn’t grab. What does this mean? first place could win up to $1200! Where you get on a problem doesn’t really matter, all that matters is HOW MUCH MONEY YOU GRAB! Come witness the insanity!!!!

8:30pm – 9:00pm Awards…who brought their HEART OF STEEL?!?!

10:00pm – Dawn AFTERPARTY…you know what to do

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Climbing enthusiasts everywhere, mark your calenders: on January 30th, 2010 the Boston Rock Gym and Evolv will host the second annual HEART OF STEEL bouldering competition. Flaunting a $2,400 cash purse in addition to a gorgeous line-up of prizes provided by a flock of industry leading sponsors, the HEART OF STEEL appeal speaks for itself. And, believe it or not, this year’s sequel is guaranteed to upstage last year’s inaugural jaw-dropping throwdown.

“Big cash prizes and good competition mixed with incredible event organization make this one of the most well run and unique climbing competitions going on,” explains one of last year’s HEART OF STEEL finalists Jon Glassberg, “HEART OF STEEL is setting the standard and breaking the mold for competition format and style. Period.” Glassberg’s thrilling performance earned him third place overall in the men’s Open division last year. Glassberg is shifting his focus this year by joining forces with the Boston Rock Gym’s elite team of route setters rather than entering the arena as a competitor.

HEART OF STEEL’s distinction as New England’s premier indoor climbing competition was imminent in its countless hours of preparation the first time around. But within the dawning moments of its preliminary competition, HEART OF STEEL proved itself capable of revolutionizing the face of indoor climbing competitions not only in its district, but nation wide. The triple digit turnout was littered with strong, revered climbers; the routes were as futuristic as the concepts that breathed life into the HEART OF STEEL brainchild; Manowar’s ‘Heart Of Steel’ (the song after which the competition earned its appellation- a reference appreciated by fans of metal music) pumped adrenaline into the iron-clad veins of every participant, climber or otherwise. The tone had been set and a vision had been realized. “I love it when a competition has a style and a theme and becomes something that spectators and non-climbers can latch on to and really associate with,” says Glassberg. And this year, we can only expect a fine-tuned version of something that was nearly perfect to begin with. But overshadowing the many aspects of HEART OF STEEL leading up to its main event is the highly anticipated game show style finals round that really awards this climbing competition its rightful badge of honor.

If for no other reason, you won’t want to miss HEART OF STEEL for its outstanding display of a finals round. The event’s most notable distinction is its groundbreaking strategy for distributing cash prizes to the top female and male athletes of the day. Exponentially increasing denominations of cold hard cash are taped along the course of each finals problem, baiting each competitor to shamelessly duke it out amongst the others in an outrageous episode of sheer plastic-pulling pandemonium. Bathed in spotlight, each competitor is challenged to pull as many bills as possible off of the wall, creating their own personal cash pot. “Instead of being awarded a check for finishing in a top position, you can complete a finals boulder problem and have the cash in your hand as a direct result of climbing well in the moment. A tangible reward that is very motivating to climbers,” Glassberg said.

In addition to the generous cash prizes, there’s a whole slew of killer swag provided by some of the climbing industry’s top sponsors. Just some of the loot up for grabs this year include three crashpads; two Nemo tents; sleeping bags, packs, and softshells from The North Face; Evolv shoes; rope from New England Ropes; Petzl harnesses, and more. Additionally, there will be free coffee and hot chocolate, free food, video games, and sponsor tables to take advantage of during down time.

The HEART OF STEEL competition is quickly becoming a benchmark for innovation in the competitive climbing circuit, and everyone made up of the industrial-strength vital organs to handle it is encouraged to be a part of it. “The Boston Rock Gym knows how to throw a party,” Glassberg assures us.

Gavin Heverly on the mic while Vasya V. puts on a show in men's finals last year

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