The So iLL Showdown

By January 23, 2014Route Setting
Showdown Blog Feature

As a competition setter, I travel around the country setting for various events and competitions. I have set routes and boulder problems for all ages and ability levels, from unknown, incredibly talented gym rats to Chris Sharma. My setting experiences and involvement in the national competition scene have culminated into one desire: a Midwest competition series that rivals some of the best in the country.

When I joined the Climb So iLL team two years ago, I knew from the get-go that developing a professional, fun, and exciting competition would be high on my to-do list. After months of discussing different concepts with the team, we came up with several unique ideas and the So iLL Showdown was reborn. I say reborn because CSI owners Dave and Dan Chancellor hosted a comp series called the “So iLL Showdown” on their home wall in 2002. Top climbers from around the country competed in this small, but notorious event. Reviving this competition and its name allows us to stay true to our Midwestern, Southern Illinois roots.

Showdown Blog 1

Unlike the day-to-day commercial setting that I provide for the gym, preparing for the Showdown requires extra attention to detail. Several determining factors come into play when planning a professional, high-caliber competition. I have to think months in advance about the grade breakdown of boulder problems, the aesthetics of how the wall will look, the logistics of shuffling competitors in and out of the gym, and so on.

As the chief setter for the event, I must ensure that the problems are fun, challenging, and most importantly, fair. The problems we set must challenge climbers across all styles of climbing. The most well-rounded, not strongest, climber should be the ultimate winner, the Showdown champion. With my experience as a national level routesetter and the help of an extremely talented route setting team, I am fully confident that we will host the most successful competition the Midwest has ever seen.

Showdown Blog 2

On March 22nd, Climb So iLL will host its first indoor bouldering competition, the So iLL Showdown. The competition will consist of two rounds, a red-point round and a final feats-of-strength showdown round. Top competitors in the Open division will take home a cash prize. Register online at

– John