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Format & Rules Overview

The following Format & Rules Overview provides information on eligibility, registration, prize purse, and format for the National Cups.  Please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions or contact cupseries@usaclimbing.org for additional information.


Any competitors 16 or older, by December 31st, 2017 are eligible to register and compete in the Open category, (refer to USAC Rule 5.10.3) with a 2016/2017 USA Climbing Competitor Membership.  Competitors may purchase a DAY-Membership ($10.00) if only competing in one National Cup competition, but must purchase a full USA Climbing Competitor Membership ($95.00) if competing in two or more, and competitors will only receive points towards the National Ranking (outlined below) if they have a USA Climbing Competitor Membership.  National Cups are open to all age-eligible competitors; there is no requirement to compete in order to qualify for the Bouldering Open National Championship.  However, USA Climbing will offer free registration to the National Championship for any Open competitor that competes in all National Cups and any Open competitor that wins one or more National Cup(s).


Competitors may register for the Open category at National Cups through the links provided on the individual National Cup pages of this website; the cost is $75.00 per competitor.

Prize Purse

A $10,000 cash purse will be awarded for each competition with individual payouts, male and female:
 4th  5th 6th
 $1500  $1200  $800  $500  $400  $300  $200  $100

Qualification & Final Round

Open competitors shall compete in a Qualification round on the Friday of the event weekend (or in a separately scheduled round, if on Saturday) in a Redpoint format following USA Climbing Rule 5.4.4. 

The top 8 Open competitors shall advance to the Final round in the National Cups.  The Final round will be run with a 5-minute on / 5-minute off timing structure.  Rules meetings will be run by a Chief Judge in advance of each round at each National Cup.

National Cup Onsight Finals Scoring

As per USA Climbing Rule 14.1, in the interest of developing greater opportunities for adult competitors and exploring organizational and rules concepts that USA Climbing may study and assess as the sport of competition climbing evolves, the National Cup Series will use a finals scoring & ranking format that diverges from the existing Bouldering rules in the USA Climbing Rulebook.

The scoring for the FINAL rounds of the National Cups will be a new scoring format successfully used at numerous major adult non-sanctioned competitions with large prize purses and competitive fields in 2015-2016, including the Mesa Rim Summer Comp (Aug, 2015), Stone Gardens ProAM (Oct, 2015), the Di’namik Competition (Jan, 2016), and the Bend Boulder Bash (July, 2016).

Finals Scoring and Ranking Summary

Ranking performance in climbing competitions is difficult regardless of format and this multi-zone format is intended to simplify the scoring of each boulder problem and the round of competition while recording three important factors – TOPS, ZONES, and FALLS.  Each of these factors contributes to a competitor’s final score, reflected in a single number, with a 100-POINT score being the best possible result in a Final round of four boulder problems.  This multi-zone method is intended to provide clarity and simplicity for competitor and spectator alike, presenting competitors’ results in the form of a single number and creating the opportunity for a “perfect score” of 100, while maintaining the importance in scoring bouldering competitions of completion (TOPS), making significant and variably measured progress (ZONES), and to achieve completion and/or progress in the least number of attempts (FALLS).

TOPS = 25 points
Completing a problem on the first attempt equals 25 points. Flashing all four is a perfect score of 100.

ZONES = 5 points each
Three ZONE holds are marked in each PROBLEM and each ZONE is worth 5 points.Control the first zone and you receive 5 points; the second, 10; and the third, 15.

FALLS = .10 point deduction(s)
A deduction of .10 point(s) for the total FALLS taken to reach the competitors highest point in each problem (either TOP or highest ZONE)


In the event two or more competitors are tied with the same total score, the tie shall be broken based on the competitors’ total number of tops, then total number of flashes.  The competitor with the greatest number of tops shall receive the higher placement, and if equal tops, then the competitor with the greatest number of flashes shall receive the higher placement.  If ties cannot be broken in this manner, then the total number of falls recorded to the competitor’s highest zone(s) will break the tie, with the competitor with the lower number of attempts to highest zone(s) receiving the higher placement.  If neither of these two factors can break the tie, it shall be broken by countback to the Qualification Round, and lastly, with a Super Final round.


As per USA Climbing Rule 11, there will be a 20-minute appeals window following the posting of Qualification results, and a 10-minute appeal window following the posting of Finals results.  If a competitor believes an error has been made they must file a formal appeal (in writing, accompanied by $100.00 appeal fee) to the Chief Judge and the appeals process will follow the rules detailed in section 11.

*Please note, as the only competition on which USA Climbing bases selection of its National Team, the Bouldering Open National Championships will be run with the format outlined by the USA Climbing Rulebook.  As in 2015 - 2016, the competition will have an Onsight Qualification, Semifinal and Final (top 6), and will be scored using the existing USA Climbing scoring and ranking system for Bouldering outlined in Rule 8.4.

If you have questions about the format or rules for the National Cups, please see Frequently Asked Questions or contact cupseries@usaclimbing.org

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