Words by Alice Kao & Randy Casillan | Photos courtesy of Randy Casillan
How did you pick routesetting as a career?
I didn’t grow up knowing that I wanted to be a routesetter. I guess I just fell into it. I was great at math and science as a kid, but nothing in college motivated me. I started climbing at ClimbX a local climbing gym with a bunch of friends and they were looking for routesetters, so I applied, got the job, and started setting. I really like the mental aspect of climbing. I’m always figuring out stuff and creating puzzles for people.
I got more serious about routesetting when I got my level 1 USAC certificate 4 years ago. I really wanted to set at other gyms and I thought it was a good career development opportunity. Some of the skills I learned at the clinic were definitely helpful, and I use them in my setting all the time. It was also helpful to meet people that make a career out of setting because I wasn’t sure at the time it was possible.
I like my job because most of the time it doesn’t feel like work.
You’re also an instructor, what do you teach?
Lead, private classes, technique classes. I like teaching people figure out how to climb better.
What are you doing when you are not climbing?
When I’m not climbing I’m playing Magic the Gathering at a local store in Garden Grove called Legendary Lotus. I’m always looking for a good game on the mezzanine, so hit me up if you’re interested!
I also like strategy board games. “Ticket to Ride” is really fun and is great for beginners.
What’s your setting style?
People think of my routes as tricky. I don’t think about it that way when I’m setting, I just want to make a puzzle for people to solve.
What’s your favorite move?
I go through phases, but right now it’s Knee bar. Next up is Gastons.
You’re the one that comes up with cool names for route cards. Where do you get your inspiration?
I pick a theme and I google a bunch of related words off that theme.
I did a whole section of the wall on Wes Anderson Movies.
Once I used “Frozen” words on the beginner wall. I thought the kids would like it.
On the wall right now is “Summer” in different languages.
I also like to use references to things I grew up with – ie, cartoons from the 90s, pro wrestlers.
Do you have a favorite route in the gym right now?
My favorite route is the black 12c on the arch.
I like good coffee – ie Keane, Portola or good espresso.
I have a Disneyland annual pass. I go to Disneyland with my girlfriend before or afterwork. My favorite ride is Jungle Cruise.
What would you do if you were not a setter?
I don’t know.. I guess I might be a professional magic player, but that’s too hard…..