How Do Rock Climbing Competitions Work? 

How Do Rock Climbing Competitions Work? 

September 10, 2016

There's nothing more exciting than watching experienced climbers crush during competitions, especially to anyone who has tried it before knowing how difficult it can be. Which factors are used to determine the most skilled climber? How will climbing in the 2020 Olympics be scored? There are several different variations of rock climbing competitions. Here are some competition types:

Speed

This is done exactly how it sounds on a standard route and holds (about 5.10).  Climbers are timed on their way up the wall with the fastest time winning. Speed climbing is unique because the route is the same no matter where it is done using a set of special holds that are carefully produced by one company to ensure that they are the same everywhere in the world. 

On-Sight

This is the type of climbing that is used in National and World Cup competitions. Climbers sign up for the event, and are isolated so that they cannot see the required movements and sequences in advance. Just before the competition begins, the climbers are given a brief look at the wall, and are not allowed to discuss it. The climbers are taken out of isolation one at a time to climb the route without seeing how the other climbers did. The person who completes the most number of climbs in the fewest attempts wins.

Red Point 

Red point competitions are a more relaxed style of competition. Usually a facility will set more than the 4 or 5 problems that an on-sight competition will have - usually around 40-50 problems. Then, all the competitors climb together (like you would normally at a gym). Points are awarded based on the 5 hardest climbs a competitor completes.  

With the 2020 Olympics being held in Tokyo, Japan, competitive climbing will be included. According to Climbing.com, here's what we can expect:

  • Bouldering, sport, and speed climbing will be included
  • 40 competitors (20 men and 20 women) selected by the IFSC (International Federation of Sport Climbing)
  • Medalists will be determined by a combination of all three events (like a triathlon)
  • The competition will last for four days

While there are mixed reactions within the climbing community about the Olympic inclusion, there is no doubt that this will expose some aspects of the sport on a world stage. Check out this video with Tim Rose, Origin’s Director of Youth Programs, to learn more about climbing in the Olympics:

 


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