I would never try to cover up my natural need to be competitive. I accepted it as apart of me when sweat begins to pool during a simple raffle pulling at any little event. Naturally, when my life as a climber began I was ecstatic to find competitions occur year round. Climbing competitions range from small local dyno comps (one move wonder climbing problems) to national and world climbing cup competitions (sport or boulder).
Rundown of a red-point climbing competition
Generally these competitions last four hours. You sign up to your ability with a little bit ambition. It is always ideal to ask the front desk what grades they consider Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, and Open. This means anyone could compete, regardless of skill level. Bouldering does not involve ropes. Protection is provided by spotters and padded gym floors.
Gym setters put up brand new climbs from all ranges of difficulty. Each individual boulder problem has an exposed or hidden value of points that will be calculated at the end of the competition. Easier climbs has less points than the more difficult climbs.
In order to gain the points from a problem the climber MUST climb from start to finish with a controlled stance. No points will be granted if you cannot reach the top-out hold or if you swing and fall off the top-out hold. A controlled top out with two hands is seen as a necessary requirement for competing a single climb.
Once you finish one problem you will get one/two signatures from either a judge or a witness. A witness could be someone who was standing there and saw you complete the entire climb start to finish. The honor system is taken seriously during competitions.
At the end of the four hours your total score will be calculated from the top three or five problems completed. Some competitions calculate the entire points gained, this would include points from easier climbs too.
My happiness level in life peaks when I am climbing in the natural landscape of outdoors, and competing in a crowded indoor climbing gym. I have ~20+ competitions under my belt during these five years of climbing. There has been a point in my climbing career where I won first place female in seven consecutive competitions. Here are a few tips and tricks I have learned throughout the years competing.
Tips & Tricks:
- Train beforehand:
Two weeks before the competition, try to focus on hangboard training and gauge your ability to the hardest climb you can finish. I always think Metolius climbing has a great hang board training guide for all abilities. It is quick to complete (10 minutes) before or after a climbing session. http://www.metoliusclimbing.com/training-boards.html
One week before the competition, get the miles in. Red point bouldering competitions last for a full four hours. Most people feel like they are not rushed, but you need to have some endurance strength in order to get the hardest problems. So simulate a red point competition from start to finish, attempt to climb for that four hour time frame. This will help you gauge how long it takes you to warm up to start working on harder problems.
- Rest day: try to not climb 1-2 days before the competition. Don’t worry about loosing muscle mass, it will only be a couple days! Conserve your energy and heal up as much as possible. You especially want your tendons in top shape to pull down hard.
- Arrive an hour before start time: This helps when you will be competing in a gym that is new to you. It is good to feel comfortable and settled before a competition starts. Start by doing stretches, and some light traversing.
- Scope out possible problems: If you are able to get a scorecard before competition starts take a look around at the problems. However, dont touch! Never touch climbing holds before a competition, even if your not hanging from them. Some may qualify this as cheating and you will not be able to compete. So look, don’t touch. Visualize the entire climb in your head. Mark down climbs to your ability on your score card with a little tick. Organization can get you far in a quick four hour competition.
- Sucker problems: from my experience the setters always put up one high point climb even though it is easier than the point value reflects. So I say try everything once, you never know.
- Sit and observe during rest minutes: check out fellow competitors. They might have some secret beta that you have not tried before. Or if you see someone get another problem very easy, this might encourage you to try it out too.
- Project one or two problems: Project harder problems the second half of the competition. This means give it all and the rest of your energy for one or two problems that will top your score. Give your problem 2-3 good goes, if you are unable to finish it in those attempts step back and take a 5-10min rest. During that resting time, don’t forget to hydrate and eat a little bit of something. You can be surprised how much energy you can regain from a small break.
- Have fun! I know this sounds cheesy and obvious. It is hard to relax sometimes when competing. Keep in mind your score and what you want to do, but have fun with your fellow competitors. For me friendly competition is what makes me climb stronger and try harder. Enemies are not created at bouldering competitions.
So just get out there and try a red point competition! Even if you don’t feel like your good enough to compete, just sign up for beginner or intermediate. If you climb a few problems above beginner you will get bumped up a class! I love competitions. It allows me to meet a greater chunk of the climbing community. Faces are always psyched, and the prizes always keep on rolling.
Stay psyched and climb ON everyone!
Stonewear Designs Ambassador
Mad Rock Climbing Athlete
Rise Bar Advocate