Climbing competition

A climbing competition (or comp) is usually held indoors on purpose built climbing walls. There are three main types of climbing competition: lead, speed, and bouldering. In lead climbing, the competitors start at the bottom of a route and must climb it within a certain time frame in a single attempt, making sure to clip the rope into pre-placed quickdraws along the route. Bouldering competitions consist of climbing short problems without rope, with the emphasis on number of problems completed and the attempts necessary to do so. Speed climbing can either be an individual or team event, with the person or team that can climb a standardized route the fastest winning.

The International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) organizes some of the most important international sport climbing competitions, including the Climbing World Championships and the Climbing World Cup. Sport climbing will be in the Olympic Games for the first time in 2020.


Lead climbingEdit

In lead climbing, competitors climb a long, difficult route designed and set by the route setter and attempt to reach the top. The climber's performance is determined by the highest hold reached and whether or not that hold was "controlled", meaning the climber achieved a stable position on that hold, or "used", meaning the climber used the hold to make a controlled climbing movement in the interest of progressing along the route. In the case of a tie between athletes, the climber's score from the previous round and/or the time taken to ascend the route is used to break the tie.

At championship-level events, lead climbers must climb the route on sight. This means that they are allowed only one attempt, and they are not allowed to see other climbers on the route, or receive any form of advice (beta) from others after the competition has started. Otherwise, later climbers would be able to learn from previous competitors' mistakes, giving them a considerable advantage. Climbers are usually given a limited amount of time to visually inspect the route from ground level before being sequestered.

Speed climbingEdit

Speed climbing with two lanes
Kids speed climbers in Mashhad

Speed is the only factor that counts in a speed climbing event. It is top rope climbing in which competitors climb a slightly overhanging (at 5°) IFSC-certified vertical piste with belaying from the top. Since 2007 the IFSC has created a standard wall layout for the world record. The climbing time is determined by mechanical-electric timing (the competitor strikes a switch at the top of the route); manually timing was allowed as a backup solution until 2018.[1] As of 19 October 2019, Iranian climber Reza Alipourshenazandifar holds the men's 15-meter speed world record; 5.48 seconds, set at IFSC World Cup Nanjing, China on 30 April 2017.[2] Aries Susanti Rahayu from Indonesia holds the women's 15-meter speed world record at 6.99 seconds, which was set at IFSC World Cup Xiamen, China on 19 October 2019, making her the first woman competitor to break the seven second mark in the 15-meter event.[2]

The team speed discipline was introduced as a medal showcase for the 2011 World Championship. It is a relay competition with teams of three. The teams are made up of 3 athletes of the same sex. Before the 2012 set of rules was introduced, the teams had to be mixed sexes. The race is held on the world record wall split into four lanes, two for each team. The first athlete races to hit the button at the top of the wall, at which point the second athlete climbs the second leg to release the third and final athlete whose final button marks the total time.[citation needed]


A bouldering competition consists of climbing on short walls without belay ropes. It differs from lead climbing competitions in that the climber can attempt a route more than once, but like lead climbing they cannot see other climbers on the boulder or receive from others any form of advice after the competition has started. In IFSC and Olympic competitions climbers are given a time of 4 minutes to give as many attempts as they want.[3]

Each competitor's score is determined by the overall number of routes finished and the number of attempts needed. Ranking is further subdivided by either a lead-style scoring system or with the use of a "bonus" hold. In a lead-style scoring system the climber is awarded a certain number of points for each hold they reach, with the highest points awarded for a finished route. The IFSC and Olympic competitions use a bonus hold called the "Zone"; the number of attempts to reach the Zone (if reached) further stratifies the competitors.

Main competitionsEdit

Some of the most widely known international competitions are administered by the International Federation of Sport Climbing, including:

Other widely known international competitions are:

In the United States, the American Bouldering Series organizes regional, divisional and national events.

Olympic gamesEdit

In August 2016 it was announced that climbing would be included in the 2020 Olympics.[4] Athletes will be competing in a combined format; their lead, speed, and bouldering results will be combined to determine the winners.

Youth climbingEdit

The main international youth climbing competitions are organized by the International Federation of Sport Climbing, including:

  • The IFSC Climbing World Youth Championships
  • The IFSC Climbing European World Cup

In the United States, youth climbing is organized by USA Climbing (USAC).

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ IFSC Rules modification 2018 V1.5, April 2018
  2. ^ a b "SPEED WORLD RECORD OVERVIEW". Retrieved 26 November 2019.
  3. ^ "Rules". Retrieved 2019-12-14.
  4. ^