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USA Climbing announces changes to the 2020-2021 climbing season

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Among these changes are regional qualifications going virtual, a recreational series and a new annual Women’s Conference. 

Youth Bouldering, Collegiate and Paraclimbing Qualifying Series 

The bouldering qualification series for youth, collegiate, and paraclimbing leagues will go virtual starting November 2. 

 “We felt this was really the only option to ensure a Bouldering season given the state of the pandemic and our gym partners,” wrote Marc Norman in an email to Gym Climber.  

USA Climbing believes the virtual format will provide the safest possible experience for athletes, allow much less travel within regions, be less expensive for most members and minimize impacts on climbing gyms, said USA Climbing in a press release. 

USA climbing is working with the Medical Committee, the Rules Committee, its gym partners, Regional Coordinators, and other key stakeholders to finalize “alternate plans for the Championship season to ensure Regionals and Divisionals may proceed,” wrote Norman. 

USA climbing will partner with a third-party to return to competition this fall, it said in its press release. It intends to announce this partnership as early as this week, wrote Norman. Virtual event registration fees, $30 nationwide, will also be paid through this third party. 

Participants will use a free app to self-score his or her number of attempts and tops of the boulder problems–scores for each competition will be the sum of the top five boulders successfully topped. Competitors must upload “video verification” of their top five boulders for each event to the app to maintain integrity, said USA climbing. All members can watch the videos and USAC staff and Regional Coordinators will review them. 

The season’s events will be held during two-week periods in November and December at participating gyms. Gyms will sanction and label boulders open for attempts during the two-week competition window. Since collegiate, paraclimbing, and youth qualifications may occur at the same time, the leagues may be able to share problem sets.  

“The Routesetting Committee and Routesetting Program Manager will work closely with USA Climbing’s Certified Routsetters, we will endeavor to achieve as much standardization of grading across the country as feasible,” said USA Climbing in its press release. 

Event live leaderboards–in the app–will be updated with each successful top of a boulder, and USA Climbing will compile results within two days after the event on (called the Regional Qualification Leaderboard). 

Return to In-Person Events 

USA Climbing is also finalizing a “Return to Sport” document that will guide this season’s in person events. USA Climbing expects to share the guidelines by early November. As per the guidelines, in person events must be cancelled or confirmed at least 30 days in advance. Registration fees for these events will depend on the protocols, and fees for cancelled events will be refunded. Membership fees will not change.


New Recreational Series

There is a new recreational series in the works.  

“USA Climbing is developing a recreational series that will offer a non-competitive track for both entry-level and experienced climbers to have the chance to experience competition in a less intimidating atmosphere,” said USA Climbing.  

USA Climbing aims to begin the series in early 2021, and it will use the same app technology as for this year’s regional qualifications. There will be youth and adult categories and a $30 Recreation Membership. 


Women’s Conference

On September 21-26, USA Climbing will host its first annual Women’s Conference: Women in Climbing Virtual Summit, made possible by a generous anonymous donor. The Summit is a week-long event to celebrate women in the climbing community, including presentations on women’s leadership development, leadership in the climbing business, building a more inclusive climbing culture, senior women in climbing, perfectionism and confidence, and health and injury considerations for female climbers. The presentations will be free to USA Climbing members and open to everyone. 

“We provided a list of items that we really wanted to fund, but simply were unable to and the donor agreed to them. We are very excited to bring to the forefront specific topics women and girls face in our sport and [in] life in general,” wrote Norman. 

The anonymous donor has committed to supporting the Conference annually. 


 Further details on all changes can be found here.

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