Setting Women Of The Heist

Get the play-by-play of the first women’s competition in the United States from Sydney McNair!

This week I had the unique opportunity to set for the FIRST female ONLY climbing competition in the US.
The competition was held on September 21st at Central Rock Gym – Watertown. Besides the unique factor of it being a female only climbing competition, the route setting crew was also ONLY women. Kasia Pietras headed up our all women’s setting crew and did a fantastic job! I’ve known Kasia for probably 10 years now, but have never spent time with her in a working capacity and all in all it was a great experience.
We had crew of three people, including Kasia and I, who were there every day and then three more people who were able to give us a few days through out the week as well to help us make this competition happen. So a huge thanks to Michelle, Melissa, Allison, and Andrea!! In two days we set 60 qualifier boulder problems, then focus on the finals round.
For finals, the competitors climbed two boulder problems and a route.
Yes…a route!
We were given holds for our hold sponsors to set the finals boulder problems. Atomic sent us a series of red heart shaped holds, which Kasia did an excellent job creating a fun, technical, finals boulder problem. Teknik also sent us purple holds, shaped by their female shaper, Zoe, and with those I set a burly compression climb on pinches leading into crimps, and a slightly heady finish.
The day of the competition was very stressful for Kasia. Her biggest concern was that our dozen or so Open qualifiers problems were tweaked too soft from what they were originally. A couple of our forerunners were concerned initially that they were too hard and borderline impossible (which I did set a few that felt like they were…) so Kasia and I went around and discussed changes.
While I set the finals route, she changed the Open category’s qualifiers.
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The day of the competition, we realized that maybe we didn’t need to change them SO much. I felt bad as Kasia stressed out the entire qualifiers round contemplating what we would do if all the Open competitors flashed everything. Luckily…we only had two ties going into finals and a distinct top 6 going into finals. PHEW.
However, the finals round was again, stressful, we tweaked all of the finals so they were a bit more difficult, but as any setter knows there is a very fine line between tweaking it just enough…and too much.
Finals was exciting. Everyone finished problem one with a few falls by two competitors to add some separation going into problem two. Now, problem two probably stood at solid V8 prior to us tweaking it before finals, for finals itself it was probably more V9 and burly. Meagan Martin who normally would CRUSH this type of problem, pinches and dynamic, compression moves, struggled…Delaney used her impressive contact strength to get through the bottom section, but was shut down on one of the dynamic moves later on, as was Francesca, who I also thought would do well on this problem. Then came Angie Payne. Angie squeezed the juice out of the pinches on finals two to get the highpoint for the competition. Kyra also did well, but her unsure foot placement kept her from sticking one of the last compression moves. Last out was Sasha, I wasn’t sure how she would do on this problem since I know she’s been more focused on sport climbing, but her superb contact strength tied her with Kyra.
Finals two, was for me, and I think to everyone, a bit disappointing. It was the perfect example of the setters getting nervous and over tweaking. I think our version prior to the changes we made would have been perfect and someone would have finished or been very close to finishing. Lesson learned.
Last up was the route. Kasia and I came up with some fun sequences and ended up with exactly what we were hoping for in terms of separation and sends on the route. We expected everyone to get to at least clip 5, which everyone did, Meagan fell going for a deadpoint move off of the second of three volumes in the middle of the route. Next up was Delaney who we expected to finish and she did, but it was obvious she was fatigued from all of the previous climbing. Then Francesca showed us her experience and composure by fighting through the volume section and falling going onto the headwall. Angie, who had such an impressive climb on problem two, battled through the first two volumes before pumping out on the crimp section between volume two and three. Next was Kyra, she cruised up to the headwall, fighting the pump, but was unable to make the last clip and came off going for one of the crimps below the finish hold. Last but not least, Sasha: like Delaney we expected Sasha to send as well…and she did not disappoint. Though clearly tired from the previous rounds, Sasha floated the route to the last clip, where she fought back the pump (and a chicken winged arm) to make the clip and pull through the last few moves to the finish, and first place! 
At the end of the day, the comp was a HUGE success with over a 150 competitors, a great finals round, and lots of fun.
So if you didn’t make it out this year…don’t miss it next year! Congrats to Sasha, Angie and Delaney on their placements at the first ever female only competition in the states and congrats to Kasia on a successful competition!
– Sydney McNair, MR Sponsored Athlete
Read the Setting Interview of Sydney by CruxCrush.
MAD ROCK gives a BIG THANKS to The Heist Organizers:
Brittany Marryot, Andrea Brennen!