Published in Blog - News on 2nd February 2022
It's only two more days until our First ever She Climbs event kicks off, on Friday 4 February. In our final interview, we talk to guest setter Ros Beveridge.
Ros made some really insightful points and does a fantastic job of introducing herself – so let's dive straight in without any further diversions:
Mile End Climbing Wall: Can you talk a little about your experience as a route setter, how you got into it and the barriers you faced?
Ros: I’ve been setting now for around 4 years in total. I started while I was working at a wall in the West Midlands. I was stripping routes there and I asked if I could set one route after hours so I could experience it for myself. I loved thinking of sequences of movements and I suddenly had the bug. I asked and asked to start setting regularly there and after a lot of asking I finally started setting every couple of weeks at the centre.
When I started working at the Climbing Depot in Birmingham I wasn’t taken on as a setter but after a year of working there, I was asked if I wanted to join the setting team and of course I accepted. I learnt a lot from the Depot setting team and I was able to develop into the routesetter I am today. I now set for the Depot across their locations and I recently went to the Junior British Bouldering Championships as a apprentice setter. That was an incredible experience and I quickly came to realise how much I enjoy creating competition routes!
I think the biggest barrier I’ve faced as a female routesetter is myself. I often find myself thinking I’m not good enough or strong enough to be a routesetter and it’s only recently that I have realised that I can do it and I am good enough. Overall it can be a difficult career to break into for anyone let alone women. There are very few clear pathways into the profession which creates barriers for everyone. In the past it has always been the strongest climbers (usually men) who have been able to get into it. But I have been lucky enough that I was recognised not for my strength but for my understanding of movement.
What does good route setting look like to you?
Good route setting to me is the ability to see who you are setting for. Each climbing centre and competition has different requirements. A good routesetter should be able to see past what they think is needed and is able to put the climbers first.
In a more literal sense, a good route to me is one that challenges the climber at every point, one which lets you learn as you climb and that lets you enter a flow state on the wall with no individual stopper moves. A great route has only one way to the top which is the same for every climber, where there is no advantages for those of specific heights or sizes (the holy grail of setting!).
A route that looks good on the wall is always nice too!
What are you hoping to get out of this event?
I’m hoping to learn from the rest of the setting team and to use the time to share experiences as female setters. I’d love to use this time to share ideas and to experience working in an all female setting team while setting at one of the best competition walls in the uk.
What are you hoping others will get out of it? (Other setters, the climbers/public)
My hope is that we can showcase what an all female setting team can do. My hope is that it inspires other women to get involved with routesetting and that is shows them that they can do it. I hope that the event encourages women to get involved with climbing on competition boulders and shows all climbers that female setters can set in any style and that we can hold our own against our male counterparts.
What would you say to encourage female climbers to come and take part?
Climbing with women is a very different experience to climbing in the gym on a standard evening when the centre has a predominantly male crowd. It becomes an encouraging space which offers support to everyone no matter your ability. This is a wonderful opportunity to climb with others who share similar experiences when climbing all while climbing great routes set entirely by women.
What do you think this event represents for the wider climbing community?
Representation allows sports to grow for the better. If we can inspire other women to get into climbing and routesetting then we can aid in growing the community and sport as a whole. It is easy to fall into the trap of doing the same thing because it’s how it is always done but without change the community can’t grow and improve.
It also helps with changing perspectives such as ‘women set with crimps and really high steps’ as we can showcase that female setters set in a huge variety of styles.
What could climbing walls and the climbing industry be doing to encourage and support more female setters?
The best thing that walls and the industry can do right now is create more opportunities for women to get into route setting. Events like She Climbs are the perfect time to showcase what female setters are capable of.
Creating a clear pathway into routesetting is a good place to start. Currently one of the only ways into setting is to work in walls and be seen as strong enough to set. Setting isn’t about how strong you are but it is about the understanding of movement.
Anything else you’d like to add?
This event excites me as the opportunity to set in a all female setting team is very rare in the industry. However, so many of my skills have developed thanks to supportive and knowledgeable mentors most of whom are men. While I have faced barriers in the past, it has been these supportive guys who have helped me get to where I am. The greatest change comes from those who are at the forefront of their industry and are wanting (and willing) to help out those who are underrepresented and support them in their endeavours. I can’t thank these people enough and I hope their actions also inspire others!
A great big thank you to Ros for taking part and answering our questions. We're off to finish preparations for Friday's event. We can't wait to see you there. If you didn't manage to get a ticket this time, stay tuned for updates about future She Climbs event.