Route Setting at ROKT Climbing Wall – Molly Thompson Smith

Going from training twice a day, 6 days a week as a full-time athlete to not very much has been quite a hard transition for me.
As many of you will know I am currently recovering from injury – after I fully ruptured my A2, 3 and 4 pulleys in my left ring finger.

I’ve been trying to experience some new things whilst I have the time, which is why I lept at the opportunity to try my (one) hand at route-setting when the ROKT climbing wall opened their brand new Berghaus supported climbing wall. I went along just before it opened to check out the new space, and join Luke Murphy (an in-house setter and good friend of mine) to set a handful of cool blocs.

I’ve not really had too much experience in setting; I ‘set’ a problem for a competition in Brighton where 8 invited athletes each had to set their own problem to feature in a competition that evening and another time I set the easy circuit at The Hangar London.

The whole game is fairly new to me and it was strange to go from having high quality, well thought out boulders just put in front of you at comps, and even just at your local wall, to having to put that all together yourself. I know I definitely took for granted how much hard work goes into creating one boulder, let alone an entire competition round or circuit at a gym.

It was hard to come up something original and exciting, but not too wacky or complicated. Luke was there to drill the holds onto the wall for me, as I’m still unable to use my injured finger. Having Luke there to help and bounce ideas off of was really useful, and he could teach me a few things to speed up the process. I learned that unless you have an idea already fully set in your head, sometimes it’s easiest to just put some holds on the wall and go from there rather than trying to visualise the entire boulder from the floor.

The new ROKT wall is a bright, colourful space, which has clearly had a lot of thought put into it. There were plenty of interesting holds to set with and a view over a river, making it a nice place to spend an afternoon. A few hours later, we had set some more problems and filled in all the gaps on the wall ready for opening.

I would like to do some more setting in the future, although maybe nothing too hard or serious at first. I’d like to think it would make me a better climber as I’d have a better understanding of what is required for certain moves, be better at spotting patterns and know what the route setter wants me to do quicker. All valuable skills for having to climb a hard boulder in a competition in under 4 minutes, but hard physical work putting it all on the wall and testing! It was nice to try it out but I’m definitely looking forward to getting back to the climbing!