Meet the Routesetters of Woman Up 2019

Of the many things that make the Woman Up Climbing Festival so special, our all-female routesetting crew may be our favorite. With a handful of return setters from previous Woman Up events and a batch of new Touchstone setters, we’re certain these ladies are going to set some absolute classics for the comp on July 20th! Get to know more about each of them here.


Sydney McNair

Home Gym: EVO Rock+Fitness Concord

Setting Experience: 15 years

Years Setting for Woman Up: This will be my third year!

What keeps you coming back to Woman Up?

I love this event because of how supportive everyone is, from the staff and organizers at Touchstone to all the other setters on the crew itself. It’s a lot of fun and such a positive experience!

How did you first get into setting?

I started setting in 2004 at Stone Gardens in Seattle, WA. All of my climbing coaches growing up were also routesetters so that is how I was first introduced to it. All of my coaches were super supportive and encouraging towards any of the team kids who were interested in setting. Occasionally they would let us help put up a boulder if we came in to practice early and I got my first job routesetting because of that. Since then I’ve been very fortunate to grow up surrounded by individuals who have always believed in me and my passion for climbing and routesetting. Tyson Schoene at Vertical World also really helped shape and cultivate my setting and has continued to be one of my biggest supporters. I might not be where I am today without Tyson’s unwavering confidence in me and that is something I hope to provide for others.

Did you face any specific challenges as a female setter when you were first starting?

Fortunately, beyond one incident where it was insinuated that I wasn’t strong enough to tighten my holds with the wrenches provided, everyone I worked with at Stone Gardens and Vertical World during my early days of setting was always super nice, supportive, and encouraging. I know that is not always the case, which is why I feel incredibly grateful for my introduction to routesetting and everyone who helped me along the way.

What are the greatest rewards you’ve experienced as a professional setter?

I enjoy watching the process that climbers of various levels go through when figuring out a climb and the look of excitement or just satisfaction when they finally get to the top cleanly. I’ve also had moms at competitions tell me that their daughters want to become routesetters after seeing me and a few other women in the area setting for their competitions. So that is pretty cool, inspiring the next generation of female setters.

Would you encourage more women to consider a career in setting?

I personally love setting. I love the physical and mental challenges that come along with setting these puzzles for people to figure out. I think there should be more women in routesetting just because of how fun it can be, but I also think more women in routesetting benefits all of us in the climbing community as well. So, yeah! To all the women who have an interest in routesetting and want to see where it might take them, go for it!

If you were an animal, what animal would best reflect your climbing style?

Oh jeez…Well, while growing up my coach Tyson used to joke that I climbed like a sloth. Really, really, slow…But I don’t know if that would still hold true today. Maybe a jaguar? Slow, stealthy and methodical and then fast when necessary.


Ali Krayer

Home Gym: Earth Treks Climbing Centers

Setting Experience: 6 years

Years Setting for Woman Up: This will be my second year!

What keeps you coming back to Woman Up?

The absolutely amazing and inspiring women who run this event, the brave and powerful climbers who compete, and the unparalleled experience of getting to work in a team of all female routesetters. There is so much inspiration, collaboration, and support in setting for Woman Up.

How did you first get into setting?

I had to be very persistent for a long time until the head setter of the gym I worked at finally gave me a chance and let me set a few boulders. He saw some promise in me and let me set once a week outside of my full-time manager position there.

Did you face any specific challenges as a female setter when you were first starting?

Having to work/set for free in order to prove myself. My size and strength constantly under scrutiny and lack of positive feedback.

How were you able to overcome those challenges?

Mind over matter and also the industry evolving with more and more female setters and a larger, industry-wide conversation about diversity and inclusion. Also, climbers and gym members telling me they love my setting, the way it makes them think and move, definitely keeps me going and motivated.

What are the greatest rewards you’ve experienced as a professional setter?

Honestly, just watching people climb and try hard and get really psyched on my creations on a daily basis with climbers of all abilities. It’s a pretty gratifying experience. Having a job that combines my background in climbing, visual arts, and mechanics is really fulfilling. Routesetting challenges me to use all of these parts of myself simultaneously.

Would you encourage more women to consider a career in setting?

Absolutely. I think it is an amazingly creative and fun career.  If you are cool with a lot of hard work and critique, then you should go for it.

If you were an animal, what animal would best reflect your climbing style?

I’ve been told a snow leopard, but I feel more like a salamander.


Photo by Andrea Laue

Jackie Hueftle

Home Gym: The Spot

Setting Experience: 20 years

Years Setting for Woman Up: 3

What keeps you coming back to Woman Up?

I love the welcoming, supportive atmosphere Touchstone creates for us and it’s super fun to set an amazing event with a group of motivated, hard-working women!

How did you first get into setting?

I had some very good male mentors, though there were also some older male setters who didn’t treat me so well. I was given a lot of freedom to experiment and learn about movement, which was cool. There weren’t many women setting, not even that many other women climbing at my gym. Things have changed a lot, which is awesome!

Did you face any specific challenges as a female setter when you were first starting?

One guy in particular didn’t treat me very well and that was hard to deal with. I think that setting culture has changed a lot in a positive way, where teams are learning to work better together, respect each other, and create a good product and culture in their gyms.

How were you able to overcome those challenges? Do some persist?

Time and fortitude. There are always people who value your opinion less just from the start, though I don’t know if it’s a gender issue or a strength issue, because strength tends to be the first factor determining the social hierarchy in a climbing or setting situation. The best you can do is do your best, work hard, be open to learning and improving, and don’t let other people’s weaknesses of character affect your ability to do your job. There are lots of characteristics that make a good setter and a valuable member of a setting team, and most of them can be cultivated. And yes, of course some issues come up over and over again in different situations, but also there are good people everywhere and it is always my hope that most issues can be solved through good attitudes and good communication.

What are the greatest rewards you’ve experienced as a professional setter?

I love setting. I find it endlessly interesting, and I am so happy to have the opportunity to share what I’ve learned over the years with newer setters as well as learn from the ideas they bring to the table.

Would you encourage more women to consider a career in setting?

Yes, for sure! It’s becoming a viable career path and it’s fun, interesting, and keeps you fit.

If you were an animal, what animal would best reflect your climbing style?

This answer has probably changed over the years depending on my current climbing style and strengths, which have been different for different periods of my climbing life. I was having trouble describing myself so I asked my boyfriend and he said I’m kind of gazelle-ish, but slow. So, like a slow gazelle…He’s probably not wrong.


Camielle Weetly-Gray

Home Gym: Cliffs of Id

Setting Experience: 1.5 yrs, but only one month professionally.

Years Setting for Woman Up: First time.

What are you looking forward to the most about setting for WU2019?

Last year I had a great experience taking the setting clinic at Woman Up. Sharing the space and spending time with other women was so much fun, and I love seeing what excites other climbers, their styles and how they like their climbs.

How did you first get into setting?

I began setting for myself on a wall I built in my parents’ backyard. At the time there was only one gym in Costa Rica and I didn’t enjoy commuting to it.

Did you face any specific challenges as a female setter when you were first starting?

Not really, just the fact of feeling comfortable in a big group of men who have known each other for a long time.

What are the greatest rewards you’ve experienced as a professional setter?

Visually seeing how climbers have fun on my set, and challenging them.

Would you encourage more women to consider a career in setting?

Definitely.

If you were an animal, what animal would best reflect your climbing style?

Jaguarundi (Costa Rican jungle cat): strong, flexible and quick.


Bex Vanegas

Home Gym: LA Boulders

Setting Experience: Less than a year

Years Setting for Woman Up: This will be my first year

What are you looking forward to the most about setting for WU2019?

Meeting rad folx, learning a lot, and having fun.

How did you first get into setting?

When I first started climbing at the gym I wondered who was in charge of making the problems I was working on and how cool that process was. I had a casual conversation with Sean Nanos about setting and a year later he reached out to me and asked if I was still interested in setting. So here I am!

Did you face any specific challenges as a female setter when you were first starting?

I’m super grateful to have such a welcoming and supportive team.

What are the greatest rewards you’ve experienced as a professional setter?

Spying on people working on my problems gives me such joy. I especially love when someone hops on my problem thinking they’ll flash it, only to fall and realize they have to really think about it.

Would you encourage more women to consider a career in setting?

Absolutely. It’s been a boys club for too long, and that’s so boring.

If you were an animal, what animal would best reflect your climbing style?

A spider. I’m all limbs baby!


Zoey Grinstead

Home Gym: Cliffs of Id

Setting Experience: 4 years

Years Setting for Woman Up: This is my first time!

What are you looking forward to the most about setting for WU2019?

Being my first time setting for Woman Up, I am most excited to see what other professional women setters look to achieve in a set.

How did you first get into setting?

After climbing at Touchstone in the Bay Area for years, and being so curious of the inner workings of setting, I was hired as a setter in 2016. After trying too hard to set to crazy right off the bat, I toned back to learn the basics and was then able to set the weird stuff that my coworkers hate (or love).

Did you face any specific challenges as a female setter when you were first starting?

I don’t feel like I face any specific challenges other than what my coworkers face, which would be the possibility of a member not liking a style of a climb. Everyone at the company is very accepting of me and my transition. Even the members love seeing an additional woman on the crew.

What are the greatest rewards you’ve experienced as a professional setter?

The greatest reward is watching a member finally send their project that I set after watching them struggle for so long on it. The satisfaction on their face is priceless.

Would you encourage more women to consider a career in setting?

Yes, if any woman has any interest in a job that combines their creativity and their favorite sport then setting may be for them.

If you were an animal, what animal would best reflect your climbing style?

I would go with a cat. I like to morph my body in weird ways to get where I wanna go. Just like how a cat will squeeze itself through a small doorway.


Flannery Shay-Nemirow

Home Gym: N/A

Setting Experience: 7 years

Years Setting for Woman Up: 3rd year (junior)

What keeps you coming back to Woman Up?

I keep coming back for the people. Woman Up brings so many spectacular humans together. Everyone offers something completely unique and, often, very inspiring. The relationships I’ve built through WU have lasted for years now, and I can’t wait to start some more!

How did you first get into setting?

I started setting in a really small gym in California, but my first exposure was through forerunning US bouldering Nationals and World Cup events. I had a lot of folx encouraging me and giving me advice from the very beginning. I learned a lot from some of the best setters in the country. As my career progresses, I hope to do the same for other up-and-coming setters. Woman Up is the perfect place for that.

Did you face any specific challenges as a female setter when you were first starting?

Ugh. This question. Come to a clinic to find out what I really think.

What are the greatest rewards you’ve experienced as a professional setter?

The best things I have gained from a career in routesetting is a huge amount of knowledge of climbing movement. Learning how to do a move, then how to set a move is an interesting didactic progression that I haven’t experienced much elsewhere.

Would you encourage more women to consider a career in setting?

Heck yes. Let’s blow this spot up.

If you were an animal, what animal would best reflect your climbing style?

A raccoon. I have surprisingly human-looking hands and I’ll do anything for free food.


Megan O’Brien

Home Gym: MetalMark

Setting Experience: 6 months

Years Setting for Woman Up: 0

What are you looking forward to the most about setting for WU2019?

This will be my first year officially setting for Woman Up! I am most excited to learn more about competition setting, and to work with this amazing team.

How did you first get into setting?

I had the opportunity to participate in the employee routesetting clinic at last year’s Woman Up, and was hired onto the Touchstone setting team shortly after. My boyfriend, Cole, has been a routesetter for almost eight years and he has definitely fostered me on my path to becoming a setter. Over the years I was able to observe the behind-the-scenes aspects and became interested in the process myself. I would have ideas for problems and he would help me put them up, and eventually encouraged me to pursue setting on my own.

Did you face any specific challenges as a female setter when you were first starting?

I am grateful to have had a wonderful experience as a female in this industry thus far. Members at my gym were psyched to have a female join the routesetting team, and everyone at Touchstone has been wonderfully supportive of me.

What are the greatest rewards you’ve experienced as a professional setter?

One thing that really sticks with me is when members tell me that they feel like my routes are helping them get stronger. I tend to gravitate towards crimpy, technical routes, and I have had a lot of feedback from people saying that they climb my routes to help with finger strength and to work on technique. And of course, I love seeing people just having fun climbing my routes!

Would you encourage more women to consider a career in setting?

If you are looking for a job that will test you both mentally and physically, I would absolutely encourage more women who are interested in setting to pursue it! Keep in mind that it is pretty hard on your body, but to me having a fun job where I can use my mind and be active is worth the challenges that come along with it.

If you were an animal, what animal would best reflect your climbing style?

I’ve had people tell me I look like a spider when I’m climbing because of my long legs. I like to get really high feet, so my knees tend to end up near my face. I’m definitely more of a daddy long leg type than a jumping spider though!


Sarah Filler

Home Gym: The Spot

Setting Experience: 12 years

Years Setting for Woman Up: Year 3!

What keeps you coming back?

I keep coming back for a few reasons—the all-female setting crew is always amazing to work with, Touchstone is always so welcoming, and I think creating this all-female space is super important for where our industry is currently at.

How did you first get into setting?

I first started setting when I was 14 in my home gym in Buffalo, NY. I was always in the gym and kept asking my head setter at the time if I could try setting and eventually he said yes. It was all downhill from there.

Did you face any specific challenges as a female setter when you were first starting?

Yes—although it was a long time ago, one thing that definitely stands out in my memory is how my input, suggestions, or ideas were just passed over. That was pretty frustrating, but it didn’t stop me from continuing my routesetting career.

How were you able to overcome those challenges? Do some persist?

I don’t quite remember if I handled them that well, but tried not to let it bother me. I was also pretty young when I first started setting so I didn’t feel very confident speaking up about the issue. A lot has changed though, so looking back at it I wish I had said something to my head setter or the other setters—it probably wouldn’t have changed my career, but may have been helpful to their perspective on female routesetters and could have been more beneficial to the female setters they hired after me.

What are the greatest rewards you’ve experienced as a professional setter?

Some of the greatest rewards are the friendships I’ve formed in this industry. As for something setting-specific, I think when comp finals work as we had planned and successfully separate a field—it’s such a stressful thing to get right that when it works well it’s such a great feeling of accomplishment.

Would you encourage more women to consider a career in setting?

Definitely! Women make excellent routesetters for a lot of reasons. It can be intimidating to initially get into it but it’s well worth it. Female setters bring a unique perspective to the world of routesetting and it’s much needed.

If you were an animal, what animal would best reflect your climbing style?

Wolverine with a sword 100%.


Anna Liina Laitinen

Home Gym: Kiipeilyareena (in Finland)

Setting Experience: 2 years

Years Setting for Woman Up: One year (2018 at Cliffs of Id)

What keeps you coming back?

We don’t have anything similar in Europe or Scandinavia so the whole experience felt exotic and exciting! I had such a great time with all the girls and I really enjoyed working and setting long days. I love to set and I got to use some super cool holds I haven’t seen before. So even though I was jet-lagged and tired, I felt energetic and inspired. Can’t wait to be there again!!!

How did you first get into setting?

At first my gym let me set a few boulders and routes for fun. I enjoy being creative, so doing something creative and related to climbing was addictive. Later they asked if I could be a routesetter and I said yes with no doubt!

Did you face any specific challenges as a female setter when you were first starting?

As a female setter I face some problems with lifting heavy boxes! But I’ve got stronger and I’m not afraid of asking for help anymore 🙂

What are the greatest rewards you’ve experienced as a professional setter?

Seeing people having fun on my boulders and finding a project which makes them want to come back is rewarding.

Would you encourage more women to consider a career in setting?

Hell yeah!

If you were an animal, what animal would best reflect your climbing style?

A gibbon


Claire Kawainui Miller

Home Gym: The Studio

Length of time Setting: 1 year

Years Setting for Woman Up: This will be my second time setting for Woman Up!

What keeps you coming back?

I love everything about Woman Up but honestly I’m coming back just to hang out with all girl setters again.

How did you first get into setting?

Two months into my setting career I had the opportunity to set for Woman Up 2018. Being a baby setter surrounded by strong, passionate and amazing women setters really influenced the setter I am today. I’m also thankful to be part of such a small crew where I’m allowed and encouraged (thanks Kessler!) to always push myself and try new things.

Did you face any specific challenges as a female setter when you were first starting?

The only challenges I’ve faced are from how members of the gym view me. I’ve had multiple members ask if I need help moving ladders or crates. They underestimate my strength.

How were you able to overcome those challenges? Do some persist?

Unfortunately they persist, and I haven’t found a nice way to overcome these. Usually it’s slight stink eye followed by a smile and “No thank you, this is my job I can handle it.”

What are the greatest rewards you’ve experienced as a professional setter?

To me, the greatest reward is being a part of such an interesting community. Routesetters are so cool.

Would you encourage more women to consider a career in setting?

Yes! I love my male coworkers but there’s nothing like womxn supporting womxn in the workplace. I’m always in a different and special headspace when I’m setting with other womxn.

If you were an animal, what animal would best reflect your climbing style? 

Definitely a combination of goat, bear, cat, and koala. A goarta.


Ashley Stockman

Home Gym: Cliffs of Id

Setting Experience: 1.5 years

Years Setting for Woman Up: 0…first timer!

What are you looking forward to the most about setting for WU2019?

I am looking forward to meeting and working with other female setters, which is super rare for me to be able to do!

How did you first get into setting?

I had been working with the setters at The Factory Bouldering in Orange County a little over 6 months, forerunning twice a week for them. Then I was asked by the head setter if I would be interested in learning about routesetting and I took him up on the offer. The two setters with the most experience took me under their wings, and I’ve been setting ever since.

Did you face any specific challenges as a female setter when you were first starting? If yes, how were you able to overcome these? Do some persist?

I didn’t face any challenges being a female setter when I initially started. The gym I was working at had given us creative freedom with our routes and I was treated no different than the other setters on the team. It was when I moved and had to work at another gym that I was challenged as a female setter. I would actually get comments from my boss about creating lots of technical routes and for being “small and lacking power,” and he’d challenge me all the time about my routes and intended beta and whatnot. I brushed most of it off and tried not to take it personally. Now, I am very valued by the community of climbers I serve at Touchstone and I have a deeper understanding about how the demographic of a setting team is very important for the overall community.

What are the greatest rewards you’ve experienced as a professional setter?

The greatest reward I have had as a setter has been interacting with the members of the gyms I set at. Most of what they have to say is very positive, so I am so glad that I am able to teach members different lessons about a certain climbing move or new technique, and that other people can relate my vision into their climbing.

Would you encourage more women to consider a career in setting?

I would definitely highly encourage more women to get into setting. I think it is amazing that there are females representing a huge majority of the climbing world.

If you were an animal, what animal would best reflect your climbing style?

I would most likely be some sort of lizard if I were to sum up my climbing. Steezy!


Jen Price

Home Gym: San Francisco gyms (Dogpatch & Mission Cliffs)

Setting Experience: 1.5 months

Years Setting for Woman Up: 0

What are you looking forward to the most about setting for WU2019?

In my experience, it’s pretty rare to set routes with another woman at all, period. It’s sad that an all-women crew feels so special, but it truly is a unique thing to behold. While I dream of the day that a pack of lady crushers were my setting crew, I’m still thankful this event gives us the opportunity to experience that at least once a year.

How did you first get into setting?

I’m brand new at the job, so I can explain why I decided to start: I normally work the front desk at Dogpatch, and had caught wind that a number of women setters had just quit the team. Touchstone was briefly down to one woman setting in the entire company, and it motivated me to apply. I had a strong year of progression in my own climbing, and told myself there was no time like the present to throw myself into the fire.

Did you face any specific challenges as a female setter when you were first starting? 

There are hard days of self-doubt and discouragement since you don’t really know what you’re doing yet, and everyone else appears to be a well-seasoned machine. Honestly though, the Touchstone team has been nothing but supportive and welcoming through the beginning. They want to help you set rad climbs and shred just as much as they do.

What are the greatest rewards you’ve experienced as a professional setter?

Again…I’m taking baby steps, here. It’s been really cool to watch people crush your climb, jump off, brush the sweat off their brow, and fist bump their friends. I live for those small moments when you can see someone tried really hard on a route you put up and was stoked on the send. Sometimes they tell us, and sometimes not, but you can see their face light up if they had a good time.

Would you encourage more women to consider a career in setting?

Of course, duh!

If you were an animal, what animal would best reflect your climbing style?

My power animal will always and forever be a wolf, even though they technically can’t climb.


We’re so psyched to have each and every one of these women setting for Woman Up 2019! If you love what they do and want to learn how to do it yourself, there are still a few spots left in their Routesetting Clinic on Sunday, July 21st—sign up while you still can!

Register for Woman Up