A climbing competition
("comps") is usually held indoors on purpose built climbing wall
A climbing wall is an artificially constructed wall with grips for hands and feet, usually used for indoor climbing, but sometimes located outdoors as well. Some are brick or wooden constructions, but on most modern walls, the material most often used is a thick multiplex board with holes drilled...
There are three main types of climbing competition:
- Difficulty: competitors climb the same route(s) one after the other. The winner is the one who reaches the highest point(s) on the climb(s); if several competitors reach the top (or the same high point) the time taken may be used to determine the winner. In many 'on sight' competitions, the climbs are 'weighted', meaning that the climber's score on the first climb may be only worth 10-15% of his overall score, while his last climb may be worth as much as 45-60%. This is because oftentimes, routes increase in difficulty, respectively from first to last. Often, in more important, higher-level, 'Post Season' competitions,isolation is used to ensure that the competitors cannot see the problems before climbing them. Alternatively, some difficulty competitions involve a number of routes. Each route is assigned a point value based on difficulty. Competitors climb as many routes as they want, and their score is derived from their top few completed routes (with the exact number of routes differing between competitions). If a tie-breaker is needed, the numbers of "falls" (attempts) is counted. Some competitions limit the number of attempts, others do not. There are several categories of competitive climbing for US climbers; locals, regionals, divisionals, nationals and ultimately world championship competitions. One must qualify to attend regionals, divisionals, and nationals.
- Speed: on two identical routes, competitors race each other to the top. The first to reach the top wins. This practice of competition usually involves routes that are more on the easier side. This enables the climbers to climb faster because they are not worrying nearly as much about techniques used in difficulty. The two competitors (often going head to head) stand on timer switches which start when their foot leaves the switch. The climber's then race each other to the stopping buzzer at the top of the climb. If a climber falls off the route during the speed climb, they are immediately lowered to the ground and automatically lose the race. Speed climbing has become quite a spectacle as it can now be seen in a number of athletic events including the X-games, and almost all USA climbing events.
Bouldering is a style of rock climbing undertaken without a rope and normally limited to very short climbs over a crash pad so that a fall will not result in serious injury. It is typically practiced on large natural boulders or artificial boulders in gyms and outdoor urban areas...
: Competitors work through a series of boulder problems on either a time limit, or an attempt limit for each problem. Points are awarded for completing each problem. In a tie-break situation or where limited attempts are allowed then points are awarded for the fewest number of attempts required to complete the problem. Bouldering competitions at higher levels usually use Isolation as well as the roped competitions. In the USA, ABS (American Bouldering Series) organizes regional, divisional, and national comps.
Sometimes climbers must climb the route on sight
. This means that they are not allowed to see other climbers on the route, or receive any form of advice (beta
Beta is climbing jargon that designates information about a climb. In rock climbing this may include information about a climb's difficulty, crux, style, length, quality of rock, ease to protect, required equipment, and specific information about hand or foot holds...
) from other climbers, and have only a limited amount of time to visually inspect the route from ground level. (Otherwise later climbers would be able to learn from previous competitors' mistakes, giving them a considerable advantage.)
In addition to competitions, festivals such as the Phoenix Boulder Blast and the International Climbing Festival (held in Lander, Wyoming
Lander is a city in, and the county seat of, Fremont County, Wyoming, United States. Named for transcontinental explorer Frederick W. Lander, Lander is located in central Wyoming, along the Middle Fork of the Popo Agie River. A tourism center with several dude ranches nearby, Lander is located just...
) are a gathering place for rock climbers from around the world. They feature trade shows for climbing specific merchandise, clinics from world-renowned climbers, and parties.
There can be open competitive climbing or youth climbing.
Youth climbing is competitions for children under 18 years of age. These competitions are separated into category's such as 11 and under, 12-13, 14-15, etc. Competitions can be held anywhere across the country, for that reason, competitions are divided into divisions. There are five divisions. In the end, there is a national competition that invites the top 5 climbers from each division to compete. There are about 30 girls and 30 boys invited to compete in national competitions. There are two sections to these competitions, the semifinals and the finals. Only the top ten people competing can make it into finals. At the end of the final round, the top four winners of every age category would be invited to compete in international competitions. In the United States, Youth Climbing is organized by USAC (USA climbing). The world championship competition is administered by the International Federation of Sport Climbing
The International Federation of Sport Climbing is the international governing body for the sport of competitive climbing, which consists of the disciplines lead climbing, speed climbing, and bouldering...