Scarpa Athlete Yann Genoux is a full-time route setter working across the world at some of the world’s biggest climbing comps.
This year he is setting at the IFSC Lead World Cup in July, is Chief setter for the British Lead Climbing Championships in October and setting at the Nordic lead climbing championships in November.
We got a slice of Yann’s time to discuss his role setting at these competitions and touch upon some of his outdoor exploits.
Hey Yann, can you tell us how you came to be in the position of setting the routes and acting as the chief setter at these renowned climbing comps- what was your career trajectory?
“I had an opportunity about 10 years ago to go setting a big comp in Denmark, I wasn’t up to the job at the time to be fair but decided to go ahead anyway. I made a lot of mistakes, so I decided to try and learn from the best and volunteer at some other comps in this country and to understand how it works better. Then I got better and started to get asked to more comps.”
Can you describe an average work day when your setting for a comp like the IFSC world cup?
“When setting a World Cup, we would start like anyone I guess, “Coffee”! Lot’s of it. The workday is usually pretty relaxed as all setters at those comps know what they are doing, There is always a little bit of stress of course, but that’s what I like about it!”
What does being the Chief or head setter entail compared to ‘just’ being on the setting team at one of these competitions?
“It means that if anything goes wrong, all the other setters can blame you!!! Well, kind of, I guess as a chief I will start by communicating with my team, the wall where the comp will be for logistics, holds available/volumes, … way in advance. Then at the setting time, I try and oversee the comp, making sure of a good split in all categories, a good mix of styles, and of course safety. During the comp I stay very alert and report and analyse what worked or didn’t work to improve future comps.”
What’s the trick to getting through a manic day of route setting? caffeine and carbs or do you have another secret?
“For me, coffee and milk chocolate coated rice cakes!”
What advice would you give someone looking to learn about route setting and maybe get into the profession?
“Ask a wall to get experience for free, and start setting and exploring the basics of what works or does not, that’s how I started.”
In your opinion what makes a top-class route, or what features are beneficial, in both bouldering and lead climbing?
“A top-class route or boulder (for a comp) to me, will first separate the climbers, secondly it will have some magic to it, not too mainstream, be spectacular and finally, it will be a route or boulder that the competitors will enjoy. It is harder to achieve in Lead in my opinion as it is riskier to set spectacular moves, but we try. I really like bouldering too because it allows you to be very creative.”
At your ‘home’ walls at the Spider gyms do you find your setting to be more creative than if you’re employed abroad or by someone else?
“Not really, it might be slightly harder as I really know all the feature of the wall and what works there or not.”
Alongside working with all that plastic you’ve climbed all over the world some amazing places like France, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, and Turkey- where would describe as your favourite global climbing location and where’s next on the list?
“My home crag in France is my favourite, because I feel at home and relax, see friends, and even have space to put up new routes. Next on the list is Rodellar in Spain, I’m going there next month.”
What’s the craziest technical dynamic move you’ve pulled off and what route was it on?
“Possibly on a route called “Matrix f8b” in Spain with Gaz Parry, I still have a rib out of place from it!!!”
What would be your ideal selection of Scarpa shoes for a climbing day on routes- indoors and for setting in?
Great Chatting Yann, we’ll keep an eye out for your routes at the comps this summer.
Check out Yann’s Scarpa Team Profile to find out more about his favorite routes and climbing locations.