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A Day In The Life: Route Setting the British Bouldering Championships with Max Ayrton


We managed to catch Castle Ambassador Max Ayrton fresh off the back of route setting for the prestigious British Bouldering Championships, and get a behind the scenes glimpse in the day in the life of a competition route setter.

Earlier this month I was part of the routesetting team for The British Bouldering Championships. Events like this are not your usual every day setting gig. The goal is the same: to set interesting boulders that look good and will challenge the climbers. However if everyone does a problem first go, or no one does it, then that Boulder is essentially useless to the competition. The most important thing is to split the competitors and get a result at the end of the final. Knowing where that level is and getting it right is something that only really comes with experience.

The wall for this event was built specially, a large scaffolding structure, this provides some challenges versus a climbing wall. The first day started with lifting all the mats into place, followed by unboxing all the holds that had been provided for the event. Beta Setting had provided a brand new demo set for this competion, which meant we had loads of brand new shapes to play with when we started setting the finals.

The 8 finals problems were all on the wall in about half an hour, but it took the rest of that day and the morning of the next before we were happy with them. We could then take them down, marking the position of each hold with small pen lines on the wall so that we would be able to put them back up on the wall on Sunday. We would only have about 45 minutes to get all the problems up and tagged and to make any final tweaks. We set the Semifinals next, took them down, and finally set the qualifiers.



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As the youngest member of the setting team I tried to bring more of the modern dynamic style to the comp this year. I felt this style had been under represented in previous years, and while not everyone likes it there is no denying it is here to stay in competition environments. The mens last problem in the final was mine, it took a while to get working, but i was really happy with the final move where you had to swing into a toehook and catch a hand at the same time. Amazingly the first climber out on that problem did it perfectly! 

Editor's note: No wonder Max was pleased: here's how UKClimbing described it: "The final boulder was the real showstopper, though, with 3 double dynos in a row, including a funky toe-catch dyno to finish" and the men's winner Nathan Phillips refered to this problem as having "one of my favourite moves from the British Bouldering Championships, courtesy of Max Ayrton."




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Overall the competition went well, people seemed to enjoy the problems, there was a good range of styles in every round, and we got a good split in the finals, a good job all round.

Now I just need to train some endurance ready to set the British Lead Climbing Championships in September!

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