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Q&A with Stephen Meinhold

Sportrock Head Routesetter, Level 4 certified

Q&A with Stephen Meinhold

What is your background in climbing?
I have been climbing for 20 years and setting for about 15 years now. I started climbing in the gym and was hooked. After about a year of climbing I started getting outside around NC bouldering and sport climbing. After my first trip to the New River Gorge it all changed and climbing became my main focus in life. I have since put up numerous 5.13+ first ascents and repeated many of the classic test pieces at the New. I have traveled the world sampling the best rock in Spain, Greece, and Italy, but nothing can quench my send thirst like the New.

What is your background in setting?
Early on I was more focused on competing than setting. I competed in ABS & USA Climbing National events, UBC Pro Tour events, Mammut Bouldering Championships, Dark Horse Series, Portland Boulder Rally, 24 Hours of Horseshoe Hell, and even an Ice Climbing comp. I thought comps started to neglect the competitor for “world cup” style problems so I started to focus on setting to better understand this style. I have been head setter for a few different gyms in NC, PA, and OR over the years, and I have set multiple USA Climbing National events.

What had you interested in joining Sportrock?
My wife recently took a job with a law firm in DC and upon moving to Alexandria I figured I would get back into the setting game. I have known Jeremy and JD over the years of setting and have also run into Lillian around New, so I had an idea of the personality of the gym.  Jeremy is one of the top setters in the country, setting national events annually and Lillian is a crusher outside, both committed climbers. This was the main attraction, working for a gym by climbers, for climbers. I’m all about following the craft, not the crowd.

What will your responsibilities be?
Starting out I will be formalizing the current program, taking all of the action and creating easy to follow data trackers. I also plan on making a route map to show new routes and current totals and trends. Finally, I would like to integrate guide book themes to make gym climbs more descriptive.

What is your goal when setting?
To force you to do whatever I want you do.

Words of advice to climbers who get stumped on your routes?
Seek out beta or work it out with a friend. Sometimes I can set very contrived with a specific sequence, so if you can’t figure it out maybe someone else can. Just like outside, learning how to project routes can help with the redpoint process. More pull-ups always help too.

What would surprise us to learn about you?

Before getting back in the gym I was a high school Chemistry/Physics/Math teacher. I have horrible balance. I am a huge fan of rap and hip-hop.

What inspires you?

My wife and soon to be baby boy… and cookies, all of them.

How would your family and friends describe you in 3 words?

Slow-motion train wreck

If you could be any animal in the world, what would you be and why?

Gorilla, it’s my spirit animal.

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