Hey guys, I am finally back down in London after my exam stress- back to climbing and training most days and doing some setting which is very exciting! I want to share with you some more things over the summer so I will hopefully be posting in smaller chunks more often from now on…. enjoy!

Ropes, RIGS and Routes

I recently completed the RSA level 2 course which goes through everything you need to know to start setting routes. I had only done a little boulder setting in the past, so it was great to go through the process of rigging up systems for setting on ropes. Putting holds on the wall while dangling in essentially what is a big reinforced nappy, hauling yourself and heavy bags up a rope by doing hundreds of unstable squat/pull-up movements and concocting stimulating climbs with nothing but a noisy drill, some plastic shapes and a full bladder, is VERY HARD WORK!

Needless to say some more experience and greater efficiency in the whole process will improve my speed and reduce the perspiration. Even in the couple of days hanging around 10 meters up in the air with power tools, the situation almost became second nature. One of my favourite parts of the course, apart from the actual setting, was the rescue scenarios. Lets just say I became friends with my partner on the course very quickly…

Lifting a casualty from their fixed position on the wall, attaching them to your harness and lowering the two of you to safety

At the end of all the safety and practice we all set some routes to a brief. The course was held at Reading Climbing Centre so if you want to try my route it’s the blue 5+ on panel 28-

Course instructor and Climbing Wall Services owner Nate Mcmullan giving our routes the seal of approval

Competitions, Creativity and Controversy 

I like setting boulders because I find it more creative and less restrictive. I recently set some of the boulder problems at White Spider in Tolworth for their monthly competition. It was really nice getting back into the boulder setting mind-set. You have to set something with the aim of it being a certain grade. You always want to try and make the problems interesting, fun and satisfying. This means making them challenging but doable relative to the grade. You have to work out what you want the route to make people do and think about. What style of route will it be? Will it be cruxy, continuous or require a change of pace and control? Will the route be satisfying to climb?

My fellow co-setters testing out our new creations

A ‘satisfying route’ can be extremely subjective. When I set my problems the other day I was mainly looking to create a cohesive and functional movement sequence that was challenging in a certain way, or a couple of ways. When the moves are performed ‘correctly’ (there are many ways to conduct moves depending on build, strengths etc…) with techniques and strength hopefully relevant for that rough grade, the sequence should feel strenuous but flow and be topped rewardingly. That’s the theory anyway.

Setters ideas are never going to be all things to all people and setters themselves are not perfect (although some are undoubtedly better than others), but then neither is real rock. Indoor grades are therefore a rough estimate and mainly act as a guide. If a problem ‘doesn’t suit you’ or a move is pretty ‘horrible’, it’s probably either because it’s highlighting a weakness, there is a better way to do it or occasionally the setter is intentionally being a bit nasty. I think setting is a bit of an art and I am trying extremely hard to become the best setter possible. I hope I will be able to bring a smile to peoples faces through setting for many years in the future.

If you want to try some of my new problems get down to White Spider in the next month and if you need some beta you can always ask. If you think you have come up with any new beta please also let me know!

Happy climbing!





One thought on “Setters eye view

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