KVH is in the House: The Scoop on Momentum’s Newest Setter

A self-proclaimed ratchet spinner and hold tightener for Momentum, Kyle Van House is the newest full-time setter in the Momentum family. Kyle, originally from Vancouver, WA has set for a variety of climbing gyms primarily in the Portland area and as guest setter for competitions throughout the Northwest. Kyle has had the opportunity to set for a variety of USAC events and a ton of local competitions including events held at Momentum. You may even have climbed a “KVH” route or problem before, but there will be many more where that came from. The following are some questions I had for Kyle.

Kyle Van House setting a collaborative problem with Kyle McFarland.
Kyle Van House setting a collaborative problem with Kyle McFarland.

How did you get introduced to Momentum? I first heard about Momentum in 2008, when I competed at the Divisional competition and thought it was the raddest looking gym with striking prows and overhangs. The next year I went to forerun the routes for the National Competition, which is where I met Kyle McFarland. We got to chatting and stayed in touch over the years while I was still living in Vancouver. Then in 2010 I came back to set the Divisional Competition with Kyle M. and Molly Beard (renown National Championship setter, and has even put in a fair share of routes at Momentum over the years).

Where did you learn to climb? I learned to climb at Stoneworks, a really small gym in the suburbs of Portland, OR in a town called Beaverton. This place is the birth of my climbing and it is still close to my heart. This is also where I met my climbing coach and routesetter mentor Molly Beard, back in 2006. She has been the most influential person in my climbing life, setting, life and remains a really good friend of mine. She taught me a very classical climbing style which involves (what most people would call these days) a very European flare, where you can tech your way through a lot of hard and burly cruxes. This bled over into my setting style, but it has been adapted to the techniques and styles I’ve picked up bouldering, over the last 4 years. I can’t give Molly enough respect and gratitude for I am today!

Where is your favorite place to climb? Half of the reason I moved to Utah was for the world class climbing (a lot of which has been established by our gym manager, Jeff Pedersen). I particularly like Maple Canyon, Logan Canyon, St. George/VRG, the cliffs up by the Causey Reservoir. These areas I had visited prior to moving here and there were a handful of routes that I only got maybe one day on, which was frustrating, so it’s nice to be here full time and take those rigs down one by one. There is also a place called the Rat Cave, which is about 15 minutes outside Portland, which is definitely a test of endurance, stamina, strength, and just pure thuggery. The easiest thing on the wall is 11d, so it’s a very unique warmup routine that you have to get accustomed to. That area has been my home during the last year I lived in Vancouver; It’s easily accessible and the routes are very fun: knee-bar and beta intensive. Leavenworth, WA also is some of the best granite bouldering in the country. I guess to sum it up, I love everything (except slab, granite slab in particular…and trad.)

Where have you been climbing since moving to Salt Lake? Since I’ve been here it’s been too bloody hot to climb (Moved in the hottest months of the year!), so I’ve only gone out to Joe’s, LCC, and Maple, all one day trips. I plan on getting out a lot more once the weather gets a little more realistic and resembles hell a little less!

Kyle climbing Hobbit in a Blender at Hueco Tanks.
Kyle climbing Hobbit in a Blender at Hueco Tanks.

What do you like and dislike about setting? I absolutely love setting. I love having the freedom and creativity of putting particular movement and sequences. It can be very frustrating sometimes, but the hard work is definitely worth the results.

Could you describe the style of your setting? My style of setting? I can’t answer that because every climber is different, with a different set of tricks they bring to any given climb. So Mister/Misses Macho Man/Woman may campus the whole route and Mister/Misses Tech-master will find a way to cut through that.

Crimps or slopers? I absolutely hate hate hate crimps, but they’re a reality of climbing. I just try to give the customers crimps, because that’s who I’m setting for; not myself.

What was your favorite event to set for? My favorite event I have set for was the SCS Youth Nationals at Stone Summit in Atlanta, GA back in 2012. I love setting for the kids at events like that. It’s fun to see them do well, try hard, and come off the routes being psyched to come back for more.

What advice would you give other setters? The most important part of setting is to be mindful; mindful of the climbers at the gym, their strengths and weaknesses and your own strengths and weaknesses as a setter. The more things you keep in mind, the more people will be stoked on your routes. That’s my advice to other setters; HAVE FUN, don’t get discouraged (keep at it), mind your ego, keep it humble, don’t have an identifiable style (be able to set anything), don’t have attitude, and listen to the people who climb on your routes! Those things will make you more fun for other setters to work with as well as keep the climbers in the gym happy.

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