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Setter Series: Rosalind Beveridge

Here at Impact, we understand that route setting can seem like a little bit of a 'dark art', so we're spending some time talking to route setters to find out a little bit more about their personal journey into route setting.

Today we are speaking to Rosalind Beveridge, one of the UK's most successful freelance and commercial setters, and GB's first female chief for national competitions. Ros has set for a number of our events and will be joining us to teach the women's IntroPlus and Advanced courses in August. In this post we talk about the things and people that shaped her career, why diversity in route setting is crucial and what advice she would give for the next generation.


Hi Ros, thanks so much for joining us today to talk about your career, diversity route setting and help spread the word about our women's courses. Can you tell us a bit about yourself, and how you got into route setting? 

I started climbing when I was a child when my dad used to take me to the ‘local’ wall over an hour away in South Wales. From here I continued climbing while I was in school and university for the joy of climbing. I moved to the Midlands in 2013 and managed to get a job at the local wall in 2015. 

Here I learnt more about climbing, about movement  and about the sport as a whole through instructing and coaching all ages and abilities. During my time there, I began asking about setting and after some persistence, I managed to persuade my managers to allow me to stay after hours and set one block. After more persistence and through a lot of stripping and hold washing, I began being scheduled onto the resets and became a regular setter there. 

After a few years at this wall a new job opportunity arose in the form of the Depot opening nearby. I went into the wall as management but I was not needed for the setting team and I thought that might be it for my setting career. However a year after this, there was an opening on the setting team and I was fortunate enough that the head setter at the time (Alex Fry) knew I was very keen on setting, had some experience and was willing to learn. From here I was now setting weekly alongside being assistant manager, instructor and coach at the wall. 

A couple of years and a pandemic later, I was given the chance to set at the Junior British Bouldering Championships (JBBC’s) as an apprentice setter by Alex Fry, my mentor and the one who gave me the chance to develop my setting under his guidance. After a successful event, I was invited back by the BMC to set at more national competitions such as the English and Welsh Championships as well as YCS grand finals and in March 2022 I began setting full time followed by going completely freelance as of early 2023.  

How would you describe your style of setting? 

My style of setting depends on the hold selection on the day and what/who I’m setting for and my method might change from day to day depending on my feelings on the day. Sometimes I will find that I have a clear idea in my mind of what I want to set and other times I will choose a hold I like and build a climb around that. I see my setting as a fluid process which changes from moment to moment. 

Can you give us some standout moments from your career that have helped shape the setter you are today?

Setting for national competitions is a big standout for me. To be asked to join the setting team for these events is a huge honour and I revel in the chance to set alongside some of the best route setters in the country. The weeks are hard work and can be mentally and physically taxing but I thrive in these situations and the payoff watching the competitors on your problems will stand out for me looking back at my career.

Other standout moments have been finally deciding to go freelance. As someone who struggles with confidence in their ability, this was a terrifying thought as my life would be dictated by walls giving me a chance, being happy with my setting and inviting me back. I have loved the variety this has given me and has allowed me to learn so much from other setters, climbers and walls to become a more rounded setter. 

There are a lot of moments that really stood out for me but it has always been the small moments that keep me motivated and keep me inspired. My favourite moment that has stayed with me was being given a magnetic wrist band from Alex Fry and dubbing it a ‘setting graduation gift’. While this was a small unimportant moment in the grand scheme of things, this allowed me to believe that I was good enough and that my friends believed in me. 

You have a lot of experience working commercially all across the UK, and setting for national GB climbing events. Using this experience can you tell us why you think it is important to have diverse route setting teams, both in gyms and for comps? 

Diversity on a setting team is crucial and sometimes not for the reasons we think. A diverse team of setters from different backgrounds allows a setting team to see a route from a lot of different angles in terms of accessibility, an important aspect of climbing. We should always be striving to learn more in route setting and no-one should think they know absolutely everything about setting. A diverse team of setters will facilitate this and can allow the profession to grow in the right way while also producing the best possible climbs for any given situation. 

I am also a strong advocate for diversity in setting for the sake of the next generation of route setters. I was very fortunate that the first wall I worked in had a female owner/setter so I was able to see first hand that setters could be any gender. However this is not the case in many walls and there are no role models for younger and newer climbers to inspire them to start their journey into setting. The quote

'You can’t be who you can’t see’

really resonates in this instance; visibility is crucial when we are younger and if you never see someone like you in that job it becomes a barrier to you in the future. So having diversity in setting will help develop more setters from all backgrounds in the future and I believe we currently have a responsibility to try and make sure this happens. 

Climbing has become more diverse over the years and I think the setting should be able to reflect that.

Our previous women's courses had such a great atmosphere, and created a learning environment that was so supportive, leading to some really stand out blocs from the participants. What are your thoughts on the benefits of women learning together in an environment like this? 

Throughout my life in climbing I have climbed with lots of amazing people and I have met some great friends along the way. I like climbing with anyone who is encouraging and psyched for others as this leads to the best climbing sessions. But some of my greatest climbing sessions have been where I am in a group of women for the reason that we understand each other's struggles. When I was running women’s coaching nights I found that they were the first to try and lift each other up and to encourage growth and learning while giving gentle encouragement to try new or harder things without pressure. Being surrounded by like minded people who have similar experiences as yourself allows you to be yourself and feel comfortable in an otherwise unfamiliar environment. While we may all come from different backgrounds, women are exposed to similar experiences in life and through this bond we can openly learn from each other in a relaxed, fun environment.

What advice would you give other women or underrepresented folks wanting to get into route setting? 

Persistence and continued learning is key. Route setting is a hard profession to break into but by telling people that you are keen and showing them that you are actively wanting to learn can help put you in a good place to be seen. Look out for the setting roles across the UK and apply where you can. While there is currently no formal pathway into route setting this is slowly changing and it is getting better. Be ready to work hard as setting is both physically and mentally challenging and be prepared to do the stripping and washing for a long while. This always seems like the worst bit of setting and can feel gruelling at times but depending on your outlook this can give you some really valuable insights and will help you to learn more about the tools of the trade as well as preparation for the hard setting days ahead.

Think about what you can bring to the team. There could be a multitude of reasons but knowing what you can bring is a great step to being brought in as a setter.

Is there anything else you wanted to add? 

I am always happy to talk about all things setting and I am excited and feel honoured to be helping to deliver courses with Impact in August. But if you don’t manage to make it, feel free to send any questions across and I can see how I can help.

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