At the end of a year that has gone very differently than we expected, we are nevertheless excited to publish Route Setter Magazine for the third year running. Thanks to the contribution of many industry experts and partners, we are able to take a look at central topics that are of concern to the indoor climbing industry: how to efficiently get out of a crisis and how representatives of the indoor climbing industry assess the future; insights into the profession of route setters worldwide; how values can define the success of a business concept, with Sharma Climbing, Memphis Rox, and Womxn Up. As always, an integrated catalog provides an overview of the top products from the brands and suppliers of the gym industry.

Order your printed copy here, or read the full magazine online.

Route Setter Magazine #3


2020: The Year of the Reset

There’s that English expression, “hindsight is 20/20”. How fitting it is that as we enter the final months of 2020 we’re left with so much to look back on. Undoubtedly, we’ve all had a few of those, “had I known then what I know now” moments. 2020 will forever be remembered as the year that went off-script. The year that forced everyone and every industry to reevaluate and reset.

Globally we’ve seen gyms, brands, industry experts and influencers that would often be regarded as competitors come together in an effort to strengthen and safeguard our industry. Time and time again this year we’ve been faced with unforeseen challenges and we’ve put our collective heads together to come up with sustainable solutions and policies that have allowed us to overcome obstacles and to work and climb again safely. 

This release marks our third issue of Route Setter Magazine. Thanks to your enthusiasm and support the project continues and we look forward to publishing further issues for many years to come. Had this year gone to plan you’d probably be reading about an Olympics route setting recap, how to manage the attendance boom at your gym, etc. Instead, in this issue we’ve turned more attention to crisis management, safety measures, and making climbing more accessible. 

As I reflect on this year, I’m proud of how we’ve carried ourselves and how we’ve united to tackle this unforeseen crux. We still have a ways to climb and to say that it hasn’t been easy would be an understatement. I’m encouraged by what we saw throughout the midsummer and fall months in the northern hemisphere when gyms, in most places, had a window where they were able to safely and successfully reopen. It reinforced the fact that if conditions allow, the desire to climb, train and visit the gym still exists in abundance. Thus, the possibility for renewed growth and profitability when we return to normality still remains. Whatever lies ahead, we look forward to climbing on with you.


Matthias Polig & The Vertical-Life Team



CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC IMPACT STUDY - Gym managers’ survey (Christian Popien / Vertical-Life)

LOCKED DOWN, BUT CLIMBING UPWARDS - Interview with Bob Giesberts (Christian Popien)

SHARMA CLIMBING - Interview with Jimena Alarcón and Chris Sharma (Christian Popien, Maria Hilber, Peter Zeidelhack)


THE SILENT SETTER - Interview with Reini Fichtinger (Cody Roth)

DOUBLE EXPOSURE (Analogue Photography & Setting by Reini Fichtinger)

STANDARDS FOR CLIMBING GYMS - Takeaways from 51 pages of tedious reading (Nate McMullan, Peter Zeidelhack)

THE FUTURE OF INDOOR CLIMBING -Interview with Ivaylo Penchev (Maria Hilber)

THE CASTLE IN LONDON - Interview with Mike Langley (Maria Hilber)

WOMXN UP (Jackie Hueftle)


2020 INTERNATIONAL CLIMBERS’ CONSUMER STUDY - Excerpt of key findings (Mariana West, Mareike Stobbe)

PARTNERING UP - What gyms and brands can gain from each other (Maria Hilber)

PRODUCT CATALOGUE – Fresh gear for your gym: Holds & volumes, software solutions, walls & infrastructure, training tools, safety equipment, climbing equipment

Preview of Route Setter Magazine #3 – 2020/21

Get your printed copy here, or read the full magazine online.