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 for additional information.


Any competitors 16 or older, by December 31st, 2019 are eligible to register and compete in the Open category, with a 2018/2019 USA Climbing Competitor Membership.  National Cups are open to all age-eligible competitors. As a benefit for those competing in all Cup Series competitions or if finishing in 1st place, 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, if registering during the regular registration period, up until Wednesday, 11:59 pm MTN, of the week of the competition.  After that regular registration deadline, competitors may still register up until the competition begins, but a $50.00 additional late fee will be applied (refer to Rule 3.6.3).

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 6.4.4. 

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.

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 primary 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 is a score of 25 points. Flashing all four problems in a round four problems is a perfect score of 100.

ZONES = 5 points each
Three ZONE holds are markedworth 5, 10 and 15 POINTS, respectively.  Competitors who control a ZONE handhold receive the points for that handhold.

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

Secondary Scoring Considerations

In the event two or more competitors have the same total score based on the above primary factors 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.

If you have questions about the format or rules for the National Cups, please see Frequently Asked Questions or contact

Founding Partner: