Updates for 2021 USA Competitions

In May, 2019, USA Climbing established a Competition Task Force to take a global look at competition climbing and make recommendations to the USA Climbing Board. Those recommendations, originally submitted in November 2019 and revised February 10, are aimed at improving the National competitive season and format and fostering athletic development. A summary of the recommendations is below.

  • The Youth division will have two tracks: A Recreational series and a Qualifying series
    • The Recreational series:
      • Climbers 17 and under are eligible.
      • Competition format may be different than traditional onsight/redpoint formats. Gyms that experiment with different formats must foster a fun, collaborative atmosphere.
      • Each region may host a fun Recreational “Championship” at the end of each season.
    • The Qualifying series:
      • Climbers will continue to be assigned to the D/C/B/A/Jr age categories.
      • Climbers in this series may not compete in the Recreational series.
      • There will be regional competitions (Qualifying Events, or QEs) for Sort and Bouldering disciplines. These competitions will have standardized formats (onsight or redpoint). 
      • A competitor’s top two QEs will determine their Regional rank. Each region will establish how many QEs a competitor may compete in.
      • Regional championships will be capped at 20-25 athletes per category, based on athlete rankings.
      • D category climbers will no longer compete in either Divisionals or Nationals.
  • Speed for youth climbers
    • Like in the 2019-2020 season, speed will take place at Divisionals but not Regionals.
    • In addition, Speed Qualifying Trials (SQTs) will be held around the country. 
    • B/A/Jr competitors may qualify for Speed Nationals through Divisionals or by achieving a time at an SQT that meets or beats the qualifying time for their gender/age category that year.
    • C climbers may qualify for Nationals only by placing high enough at Divisionals. They will continue to climb a non-standardized jug route.
  • National C/D Climbing Festival
    • The festival will be two days long and held in conjunction with USAC Youth Nationals or a US-based World Cup.
    • The festival will include skills-based competition and convention-style presentations and workshops for athletes, coaches and parents.
    • C and D climbers who qualified and competed in Regionals are eligible.
    • C climbers who qualified for Nationals will be asked to choose between the Festival or Nationals.
  • Collegiate Competition
    • USA Climbing will seek NCAA sanctioning for climbing as an Emerging Sport and eventually a Sponsored/Varsity sport.
  • Paraclimbing
    • Creation of a local season for paraclimbing. The season will serve as a qualifying series for Paraclimbing Nationals.
  • Open and National Cup series
    • The Open season will consist of a National Cup series, a National Championship and a Team Selection Event.
      • The National Cup series will run in parallel to the IFSC World Cup season.
      • The Team Selection Event will be used to select US National Team members. Eligible athletes will be determined by National Cup Rankings and/or Open National Championship results.
  • Adult Recreational Series
    • Possible creation of a Recreational series for climbers of all abilities ages 18 and up.

The full list of recommendations can be found here.

The USA Climbing Board of Directors will vote on whether or not to accept the recommendations on February 19th. Feedback may be sent through the USA Climbing forum and via email to 

Stay tuned for a closer evaluation of the pending decision to end the Youth D competition season at Regionals. 

 Feature image by Blake Berson/USA Climbing

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