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Published in Blog - News on 28th January 2022

Gracie Martin Q&A

In part 3 of our series of She Climbs mini interviews, we talk to Gracie Martin.

Mile End Climbing Wall: Can you talk a little bit about your experience as a routesetter, how you got into it and any barriers you have faced?

Gracie: I have been setting on a freelance basis for over 5 years now, both for commercial and competition/event sets. I first got into setting via the local wall I was working at.  Like many people I started by stripping and washing holds.  Initially I actually really disliked setting, mainly because I was always frustrated that I couldn’t create the boulder I was envisaging.  Thankfully I stuck with it, and with lots of time and guidance I started to improve! 

Especially when I first started setting, as a woman, I felt very underrepresented. It would be rare to ever have 2 women on the setting team.  This is definitely changing and its much more common to at least see another woman on a set.

What does good routesetting look like to you?

Good routesetting for me is when a boulder has a definite flow.  The moves are intricate and force you to be in just the right position for something to feel easy.  The pinnacle of a good bloc for me is when you force someone to have an “ah ha! Got it!” moment, when they unlock the sequence. 

What are you hoping to get out of this event?

The opportunity to set and climb with other women and share knowledge. 

What are you hoping others will get out of it (other setters, the climbers/public)?

The chance to connect with other women and share knowledge.  

What would you say to encourage female climbers to come and take part? 

This will be an inviting and safe space where you can meet other women and come together to try hard on some cool comp boulders! 

What do you think this event represents for the wider climbing community?

The chance for the women’s climbing community to come together and grow.

What could climbing walls and the climbing industry be doing to encourage and support more female route setters?

To be honest I think the same applies for any gender.  We need to have clear pathways with regards to how to get into the profession.  There needs to be a set structure and development route.  This is something that I did, and still do, find hard to navigate.


Massive thanks to Gracie for taking part in the event and taking the time to speak to us. She Climbs takes place on Friday 4 February. Find out more here.