Setting like a woman

One of the beautiful things about this life is that nothing is ever perfect. Somehow, all these chaotic elements get thrown together and create beautiful sunsets, amazing rock features and hands capable of squeezing, pulling and crimping their way to the summit. Not wanting to step too far into the realms of spirituality and such, these things amaze me. It is this ‘imperfection’ I think that continually drives us to find more, push harder and better ourselves in the areas of our lives that we are most passionate about. Or at least it should.

Dan Gorden on male problem 2
One of the beautiful moments of setting at night

Part of my role as the head setter for the Australian Nationals this year will be to review and reflect on how the setting team performed and how well the ‘problems’ we set fulfilled their intended purpose. If you managed to read my earlier post, ‘#mysetter’ you would have read how impressed I was with the teams performance, especially with all the pressures and confines of the event. Setting for 16 categories in 2 days and 2 nights, with 10 categories having finals and 2 categories having semi finals. That’s 28 sets of boulders put up and taken down for a 3 day comp…………. 

Still, as I stated in my opening paragraph, nothing is perfect, and one of the things that drives me is the pursuit of constant improvement towards that perfection. So that vein, the junior problems were a little hard, but we did not account for how fatigued the athletes would be after 3 days of competing, plus the junior finals were the first boulders we set AND the 8 boulders set had to suffice for 6 categories, spanning from 14 year old girls to 19 year old men……. excusable.

However, the open female boulders, were too hard, too burly, too…. well, male centric. The qualifications were too hard, the semi’s were too hard and the finals were too hard. I failed to rectify the problem in both the second 2 rounds. Tired minds, tired bodies, either way, it didn’t work.

Female Final 1
The Purple volumes were just too tough for the women

It has been something that I have been reflecting on since the event. Ideally, a prefect comp is where all problems get at least one top and competitors are split based primarily on tops and attempts to tops. The first women’s final had no tops. Not one, and the women were as fresh as they could have been. Talking this over with World Cup climber James Kassay, he was pretty blunt….. “so, I need to teach you how to set for women apparently”. I completely agreed. But as we talked we came to a realisation. Where are all the women setters?

I don’t claim to know everyone, but the only person I can think of that has set at high level events is Carlie LeBreton. Further than that, how many female head route setters are there internationally? When was the last female head route setter at a world cup? Has there ever been one? I am happy to be educated here, so please, feel free to inform me. But there is no denying that there is a huge gap in women setters, at the very least in Australia, if not through the international climbing community. We have seen the rise of female climbing globally, again in the words of James “The women on the world cup circuit are really f*#@ing strong. We were working the same problems together”.  So why no female setters?

Ocea, a rising female star in Australian Climbing

Whilst I love self improvement and as I said before, the pursuit of self betterment is one of the things that drives me, pushes me to set in a new way, think in new ways and climb in new ways. But when it comes to setting for women, whilst I would be super excited for James to mentor me…….. I think I want a woman to do it.