Throughout this whole process I learned a valuable lesson: there is a vulnerability with setting. You create something and put it out in the world, and people are free to critique it and say whatever they want about it. Whether you are a beginner, novice, or expert setter, you are not excluded from criticism. You can hear it at any gym including ours and I know I do it too. I don’t enjoy that aspect of setting, but I doubt anyone does. It doesn’t matter that you nearly put your heart and soul into that cool problem, people are not around to see that part. Even experienced setters get certain feedback I’m sure they’d rather not hear.
That vulnerability was never more present than comp day. I felt really excited but also a little nervous to have my friends and the public try our routes. I was worried about the comments people would make and then taking them to heart. Sensitivity, you are a curse. I haven’t done this enough to develop a thick skin, I thought to myself. And then, it happened.
While I watched a stronger climber try one of my routes, he jumped down from the finish and yelled, “terrible route setter, just terrible route setting.” I won’t pretend it didn’t hurt (for the record, he wasn’t aware it was my problem). In a sea of positivity, that one negative comment always seems to have more weight than you want it to. Tis life.
I felt better after talking to some of the girls and asking how their routes panned out. None of them reported any hurtful comments, just the occasional feedback on how to improve a move or two. People frequently came up to us to comment on a job well done and how much fun they had on a particular problem. Later in the comp, the guy from earlier clued in to the fact that this was our first comp as setters (I think he eventually noticed all the pink shirts in the room) and made a point of commenting on how well we did. I took it with a grain of salt.
I felt quite proud to belong to a group of women who pulled this comp together. It was really cool to see so many of us amongst the other climbers watching the comp unfold. We were easily identified as we all sported our neat pink shirts. A small group from Moncton made the drive up as well, and they seemed to have a good time. Actually everyone seemed to be having a wonderful time. Eventually, that one negative comment became a thing of the past.
Remember the two expert routes I set on the 55 degree? Yeah, they were sent quite quickly as I kinda suspected they would. They broke the beta on one of them, which eliminated a couple of moves. And the other one wasn’t as burly as I expected. Height was definitely a factor here. But, they seemed to enjoy them and only one saw a flash so I’ll take that as a victory. It was fun to watch them crush something I made.
It was a lot of work, but I got the sense that if given the chance we would definitely do it again. I propose a repeat next summer as a last hurrah before our gym closes for good. It was a week well spent. No drama, no arguments. Just pure route setting fun, with a tiny sprinkle of frustration and trial and error! 🙂
We are very fortunate to belong to a gym that encourages a bunch of noobs to take a crack at new opportunities.
We done good, ladies. We done good.
Climb on xx