An amazing opportunity for West Coast womxn climbers is coming this July, as BoulderHouse and Crag X host two routesetting workshops from the Bring in the Girls (B.I.G.) Initiative: Advanced Routesetting takes place July 25 and 26 and Intro to Routesetting from July 29 to July 31. You’ll find full details at the bottom of this post, including links to register. Deadline is June 27 has been extended to July 8. A recent sponsorship from The North Face has also lowered the price way, way down. These workshops are now being offered for free!

From The B.I.G. Crew, guest blogger

Train, strengthen, elevate. That’s the plan.

The B.I.G Initiative was created in response to the growing awareness of the shortage of womxn in leadership roles within the climbing industry. The problem isn’t that womxn don’t want those positions, nor is it that men don’t want to hire more womxn; the problem comes from an apparent lack of resources. Where do you find those womxn? How do you know they are interested? How do you justify training them when there are plenty of men who can fill the positions? That’s where the B.I.G Initiative comes in.

The B.I.G Idea is that it’s worth investing in and elevating the role of womxn in the climbing industry, but that we need to be deliberate about it. We need to take the time to train, strengthen and elevate. Through professional training, project support and the development of a strong and supportive community, we want to facilitate the integration of more womxn in strong, positive roles in the climbing community and give them visibility. Why? Because visibility plants the seeds of possibility.

These are big goals, but we have a plan. The B.I.G Initiative is divided into three categories:

  • Professional Training
  • Project Funding & Support
  • Community Development

Professional Training

We made the decision to start with nation-wide routesetting training. Setting is at the center of our sport. It’s where decisions are made. Setters decide on grades, and they influence style and trends in climbing. So, we want to pull up some seats at that table.

The plan of action is to organize six routesetting workshops across Canada during the summer, four of which are introductory workshops and two of which are advanced. The workshops will take place in Montreal, Toronto, Victoria and Halifax as of July 1, 2019. In numbers, that’s 32 new womxn setters across the country and 16 setters who will have received advanced training, making this the single biggest initiative of its kind in North America.

Bea Evans.

The intro to routesetting workshop will take place over three days and will provide training for eight womxn. Two days will focus on bouldering setting (routesetting theory will be taught as well), and one day will focus on rope access. Participants will learn what it means to set commercially, basic tools and safety, hold choice and route planning and quality control.

The advanced workshops will take place over two days in Montreal and Victoria. The eight participants will learn about commercial setting vs. competition setting, advanced topics in setting (morphology, hitting grades, hitting styles), comp theory and risk vs intensity vs. complexity.

All Workshop Dates:

  • Montreal – Intro to Routesetting: July 1 to July 3
  • Montreal – Advanced Routesetting: July 4 and July
  • Toronto – Intro to Routesetting: July 8 to July 10
  • Victoria – Advanced Routesetting: July 25 & 26
  • Victoria – Intro to Routesetting: July 29 to July 31
  • Halifax – Intro to Routesetting: August 2 to August 30

Flannery Shay-Nemirow. Photo by @thervproject.

All the workshops will be run by Flannery Shay-Nemirow, who has her Level 4 USAC routesetting certification and has a ton of experience setting and forerunning high level national and international bouldering competitions.

It is important for us at B.I.G to bring the kind of knowledge Flannery has to Canadian talent. To do so, we have created a mentorship program so that a womxn in each city (Montreal, Toronto, Victoria & Halifax) can assist Flannery and learn directly from her. The goal is for these womxn to eventually be able to teach some of our future workshops. We want to create new jobs and opportunities for Canadian womxn.

Project Funding & Support

As of January 2020, our plan is to offer support to female-led climbing projects, both financial and any other way we can. Projects can include (but are not limited to) climbing community projects that aim to encourage or highlight womxn and girls, climbing expeditions that are led by womxn, media projects that have a majority of womxn involved in the production or media projects that focus on and highlight womxn in climbing.

Community Development

The long-term goal of the B.I.G Initiative is to mobilize female climbers across the country and create a movement within the climbing community. We want to break down geographical barriers, gym or team loyalties and create a space for womxn to connect with one another in order to educate and inspire each other. We have a created a centralized platform to give womxn visibility through high quality video & photo content as well as a blog. We also want to give visibility to other Canadian initiatives that have similar missions to ours.

Olivia Wyett and Corinne Baril.


The B.I.G Initiative started as a five-person project, but it has quickly become the project of a whole community. The support has been overwhelming. Men, womxn, gym owners, federations and businesses have all told us the same thing: we are in, just tell us what you need.

We welcome all collaborators. For this to work, we need everyone. Here’s how you can help

  • Help us give visibility to female led projects by letting us know about events or organizations that are for womxn and/or by womxn.
  • Hire or give apprenticeships to womxn from the workshops.
  • Promote the work we do, so that we can find the funds necessary to support women’s climbing projects.
  • Apply to be a host gym.
  • Listen.
  • Donate.
  • Volunteer.
  • Share.
  • Write for the blog.
  • If you ask a womxn to volunteer, make sure it’s to help elevate her skills or strengthen her network.
  • Recognize efforts through equitable compensation.

Most importantly, always take into consideration how much and what kind of visibility you give womxn in the industry.

We’re all a part of this.

We created The B.I.G Initiative to bring attention to these issues and begin a larger discussion within our community, but we also created it to DO something about it. Let’s make the road to leadership in climbing less foggy for womxn so that they’ll take a chance and dare try. Because the more womxn can find jobs as routesetters, the more womxn and girls will realize they can consider routesetting as a career path. The more womxn find sponsorship and funding for their projects, the more womxn and girls will dream up new projects and summits to reach. The more stories female climbers tell about their climbing experiences, the more womxn and girls will try climbing, invest themselves in the sport and feel like they are part of a community that represents them.

Let’s think B.I.G.

Victoria Workshop Details

Both workshops are taught by Flannery Shay-Nemirow, last eight hours per day, and are limited to eight participants.

Advanced Routesetting takes place July 25 and 26. Cost is $450 + tax free thanks to the support of The North Face! To be eligible you must have at least one year of setting experience and be able to climb V5 or higher.

Intro to Routesetting takes place July 29 to 31 (two days of setting, one day of rope access at Crag X). Cost is $125 + tax free thanks to the support of The North Face! To be eligible you must have at least 1.5 years of climbing experience, be able to climb V4 or higher and 5.10 or higher. You must also have a lead accreditation.

To apply to the advanced workshop, fill out the form at this link, send B.I.G. your CV, and write us a letter of intent.

To apply for the intro workshop, fill out the form at this link and write us a letter of intent.

CVs and letters can be emailed to

Application is open from May 28 to June 27 until July 8. Applicants will be contacted by July 11 to find out if they have been selected. More details on the advanced workshop can be found here and for the intro workshop here.

Find B.I.G. on these sites:


Read more about B.I.G. in these articles from Gripped magazine:

Montreal Collective Aims to “Bring In the Girls” with The B.I.G Initiative

In Search Of Female Routesetters