Craig McClenahan: An Interview with Touchstone's Head Route Setter
"What do climber's use for birth control?" head route setter Craig McClenahan asked the Touchstone Blog. "Their personalities."
Craig, whose biting wit and charm grows irresistibly on people, has been climbing over thirty-five years, since the mid-seventies, when he started at the local crags of Mount Diablo. For the past 15 years, since early 1996, Craig has worked for Touchstone Climbing Gyms as the head route setter, enjoying the flexibility of his position and working for the Melvins, the family owners of Touchstone.
When he's not busy setting new routes at the gym, or crushing 5.13+ in Sonora, he works for the Dodge Ridge Race team, skiing three days a week from December through April. He skis with his wife Erica, who he's been with for 16 years, and his daughter Kaylee. The eleven year old Kaylee races, and placed fourth for her age group in the Central Series. She's top 60 for California. He also spends time as a "grand-dude", hanging with his grandson Berkeley and his daughter from a previous marriage, Avery. What's the appeal of rock climbing for you?
I suppose being in nature, with friends and family. But also it's instant Zen, to redpoint hard you have to turn off the external and internal dialogue, perform the beta, perfectly; there is nothing else. And I think we are all doing battle with the awkward 5th grader that resides deep inside us all, we are constantly trying to prove that is our past.
Craig climbing The Even More Fabulouser Jackalope (v7)What are the challenges of route setting?
Keeping five gyms on a 10 week rotation, while maintaining quality. That's 563 routes and 518 boulder problems, we receive NO
complaints. Also I have 12 employee's, so managing a crew of egomaniacal, teenagers (age range of 21 to 44 years old) presents its challenges.What are your goals/vision with the route setting in the gym?
I always try to make my routes safe and fun, it's going to be in the gym for 10 weeks. It's going to be someone's project, and another person's lap route, and someone's warm-up. So it has to be something you are psyched to get on repeatedly.
Craig started skiing at Dodge Ridge with his brothers and friends in 1971. He skiis with his family at Dodge Ridge still but also makes trips all over the central Sierra to Sugar Bowl, Northstar, Bear Valley, Badger Pass, Mammoth and more. Here's a picture of young Kaylee tearing it up during a slalom race.How will you be setting for the upcoming comp series?
Our standard 70 problems (10 V0's, 10 V1's, 10 V2's, 10 V3's, 10 V4's, 8 V5's, 6 V6's, 4 V7's, 3 V8's, 2 V9's 1 V10, 1 V11 approx.), possibly an Onsight Final, 3 Problems for the top five Men and Women. Is there anything else you'd like to mention on the blog? NEVER
alter the rock. Follow your heart. Never stop trying, don't listen to the haters.
Craig crushing the Triple Cracks (v7) in his local area of Sonora
Labels: Craig McClenahan, route setting, skiing