GB Climbing offers unique opportunity for Route Setters

Posted by Thomas Greenall on 19/11/2021
Credit: Lena Drapella

GB Climbing is looking to recruit a small team of route setters to take part in an innovative pilot programme. In December 2020 GB Climbing was successful in winning UK Sport Progression funding to begin work on the progressive development of its competition programme, in pursuit of the long-term strategic ambition to become the World’s leading climbing nation.

The creation of a world leading route setting workforce is an essential part of GB Climbing’s strategy and this pilot is the first phase in a multi-year strategic plan.

The aim of the pilot is to trial an accelerated programme experience, to better understand what it takes to train setters to an international standard. As well as provide a world leading training programme, the recruited setters will then have the opportunity to join GB Climbing’s route setting team, working at National Team Training events, National Championships (British Bouldering Championships & British Lead Climbing Championships) as well as National Youth Training events and national Youth competitions.  

The BMC is fully committed to equality of opportunity for all applicants and aims to select people based on their skills, abilities, experience, knowledge and, where appropriate, qualifications and training. As a representative organisation, working across England and Wales, we welcome those who can read and speak the Welsh language. 

The programme is being designed and delivered by IFSC Director of Route Setting and Tokyo Olympic Head Setter Percy Bishton.

Commitment and Schedule – 1 Year Programme

All selected setters will be required to commit to a comprehensive training schedule followed by consolidation period. The training period will run throughout the 2022 season pre-season with a further consolidation period consisting of GB Senior and Junior Team Training events as well as National competitions:

Training Programme

Setters will attend 2 days of training every 2 weeks, beginning in December 2021. The majority of the days will take place at GB Climbing’s Elite Training Centre in Sheffield however, locations will also change based upon the programme’s delivery schedule*.


  • 9th-10th December 2021

Training Programme Dates:

  • 13th-14th January, 27th-28th January 2022
  • 3rd-4th February, 24th-25th February 2022
  • 10th-11th March 2022

*The above dates are provisional and maybe subject to some change

Consolidation Period

Setters will work as part of a larger setting team to create high level training environments for our GB Climbing team as well as World Class competition experiences at our National Championship events:

  • GB Pre-season Team Training (Senior/Junior Team): 26th-27th March 2022
  • GB Pre-season Team Training (Senior/Junior Team): 16th-17th April 2022
  • British Bouldering Championships: TBC
  • GB Pre-season Team Training (Senior/Junior Team): 6th-7th August 2022
  • British Lead Climbing Championships: TBC

*The above dates are provisional and maybe subject to some change


GB Climbing will provide an expenses reimbursement package for all successful candidates

Selected Route Setters will;

  • Ensure best practice at all times including but not limited to: the health and welfare of route setters, athletes, coaches and GB Climbing staff, follow appropriate guidelines on professional conduct, GB Climbing Social Media policies, safeguarding policies.
  • Work effectively with other route setters, groups of athletes and coaches. Build effective working relationships with Head Setter and other colleagues to create an environment of trust, understanding, shared and individual accountability, knowledge and experience.
  • Be able to work collaboratively and effectively as part of a diverse and dynamic team.
  • Demonstrate a high level of technical understanding for route setting in one of more of sport climbing’s competitive disciplines (Lead and/or Boulder).
  • Provide all of their own personal route setting equipment including: impact driver and bits, tool belt, drill batteries and charger, safety glasses, gloves.
  • Be an existing setter working within the indoor climbing industry and competitive sport, relish new and challenging situations and able to thrive within a high-pressure environment.
  • Display a drive to succeed and embrace hard work, originality, creativity and challenge, learning iteratively with a growth mindset.
  • Act with high levels of professionalism and integrity, be able to handle difficult situations sensitively and to think effectively under pressure, making effective decisions based on professional judgement and experience.
  • Be able to see support and guidance, question and challenge with skill and constructivism, listen actively and both give and receive feedback.
  • Demonstrate and ability to focus for extended periods of time, have a strong work ethic and embrace the environment that setting requires.  


Person Specification

Resident in the UK and able to attend the specified programme hours and events


Current Public Liability Insurance (minimum of £10million)


Current First Aid Certificate


Experience and Skills 

Demonstrate competence with route setting skills


Have a personal climbing level of a minimum of Font 7c and/or route grade French 8b


Experience of working and/or competing in climbing competitions. This experience may include a range of competition levels.


Have experience of route setting for competitions. This experience may also be across a range of competition levels.


Application Process

Due to the focussed nature of the programme, we will only be accepting a maximum of 6 setters to take part in this initial pilot. As such, we will be looking to select candidates based upon evidenced experience and skills;

Initial Application

Should you wish to apply, please send all documentation to GB Climbing Head Coach by 17:00 pm Monday 29th November, including the following;

  • An up to date and current CV including information listed above in the Person Specification
  • A covering letter outlining your motivations for joining the programme and future aspirations, climbing experience and any other relveant information
  • A minimum of 2 professional references

Applicants will be notified of outcome by Wednesday 1st of December.

Induction Days

An induction day will take place at GB Climbing’s Elite Training Centre, based at Unit E, The Climbing Works, Sheffield on 9th - 10th December 2021.


Application & Interview Timetable

Applications Open - 15:00pm Friday 19th November 2021

Applications Close - 17:00pm Monday 29th November 2021

Applicants Notified of Outcome - 17:00pm Wednesday 1st December 2021

Induction Days - 09:00am Thurs 9th - Fri 10th December 2021                     


Programme Head Setter

Percy has been a route setter for more than 25 years, one of the first full-time professional setters in the world. He has helped define and shape modern indoor climbing through roles as a climbing wall manager, CWMA development officer, IFSC chief route setter, and as one of the three people behind the world’s first large dedicated bouldering gym, the Climbing Works in Sheffield. This is the climbing wall which provided the blueprint for the evolution of the modern boulder gym, a successful formula which has been copied all over the world.

He has had influence as a wall builder, route setter, and a gym owner. As well as the Climbing Works, he also is co-owner of Gravity climbing center in Dublin. He designed, wrote and delivered the national competition route setters’ qualification for the BMC, and he currently holds the position of director of the IFSC Route Setters commission.

He is maybe best known as a route setter, and has set competition routes and boulder problems for the world’s elite athletes on the international circuit. This work culminated in 2021 with his appointment as chief route setter for sport climbing’s first ever inclusion at the Olympic Games - an event which will usher in a new chapter in the story of climbing.

The one thing that underpins all the work that Percy has been involved with is his love of climbing

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