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USA Climbing Announces Significant Changes to 2020-2021 USA Climbing Season

USA Climbing Announces Significant Changes to 2020-2021 USA Climbing Season


Dear USA Climbing Members,

We hope you and your families are staying safe and healthy during these unprecedented times. As the 2020-2021 season approaches, we want to provide you with an update on the significant changes scheduled to go into effect this season and provide some guidance on how COVID-19 will impact the 2020-2021 season. Finally, a special thank you to all the members who completed our member surveys which continue to show significant support for a return to competition as safely as possible.

USA Climbing Youth Bouldering Qualification Series Goes Virtual

With COVID-19 still ravaging many parts of the country and the continued uncertainty it presents, we are excited to announce the Youth Bouldering Qualification Series will be going “virtual” this season. We anticipate partnering with a third-party, to be announced soon, to deliver what we believe the safest possible return to competition this coming fall. The series will begin November 2nd and the Regional Coordinators are working closely with gyms in each region to build out the schedule.

The series will be comprised of “events” held over two-week periods in November and December that will be self-scored via a free application on the participant's, parent's or coach’s phone.  Registration fees for the events will be uniform nationwide at $30 and will be paid through our third-party partner. Participating gyms will identify existing boulders of existing bouldering sets as the sanctioned Youth Bouldering Qualification Series Boulders. The sanctioned boulders will be labeled and will be available for athletes to attempt for the two-week period associated with the specific competition. Via the app, athletes will track the number of attempts and tops and be given a standardized score relative to the grade of the boulder (e.g. V6=60pts). The Routesetting Committee and Routesetting Program Manager will work closely with USA Climbing’s Certified Routesetters, we will endeavor to achieve as much standardization of grading across the country as feasible. Each successful top of a boulder will update a live leaderboard for the event within the app. At the end of each event, USA Climbing will compile the event results within two days into a Regional Qualification Leaderboard housed on usaclimbing.org. Competitor’s scores for each competition will be the sum of the top five boulders successfully completed with only the highest cumulative event score being utilized for Regional Qualification. To maintain the sanctity and integrity of the virtual series, competitors will be required to provide video verification on the app of their top five boulders for each event. The videos will be visible to all members and reviewed by USAC Staff and Regional Coordinators. Competitor scores from within events held in their home Region and Division will count towards Regional Qualification; however, any scores from outside of the competitor’s home Division will not be counted. Only scores accumulated as a Competitor member at the time of the event will be counted toward Regional Qualification.  While Introductory member’s scores will be counted at a specific event, they will not count toward Regional Qualification nor will they be retroactively applied if the Introductory membership is upgraded to a Competitor membership later in the season.

Details continue to be worked out around this exciting new format and more updates will be shared when available. While we recognize it may not be consistent with the event experience you’ve come to expect, we believe it will provide the safest possible return to competition climbing for our youth athletes. We also believe it will provide for significantly less travel within Regions for most competitors to achieve Regional Qualification, will be at less total cost for most members and will greatly minimize impacts on climbing gyms during a time of significant challenges.

Finally, we are also developing plans to ensure the successful implementation of Regional Championships and the Lead/TR (formerly Sport & Speed) Qualification Series which may utilize this new virtual approach and, if necessary, will consider combining Bouldering Divisionals with Lead/TR Divisionals.

USA Climbing Collegiate Qualification Series Goes Virtual

The Collegiate Qualification Series will also be going virtual utilizing the same third-party partner and general format as outlined for Youth. Collegiate Qualifying events will be permitted to be held during the same time period as Youth and in some cases may be able to share problems and/or routes where appropriate. Specific details will be provided in an email to Collegiate members.

USA Climbing Paraclimbing Qualification Series Goes Virtual

The Paraclimbing Qualification Series will also be going virtual utilizing the same third-party partner and general format as outlined for Youth. Paraclimbing Qualifying events will be permitted to be held during the same time period as Youth and/or Collegiate and in some cases may be able to share routes where appropriate. Specific details will be provided in an email to Paraclimbing members.

2020-21 Rulebook

Thanks to the tireless efforts of the Rules Committee chaired by Matt Ornes and Rules Committee members Alex Johnson, Brad Weaver, Jaime Ray, and Kevin Costanza, and staff liaison John Muse, the 2020-21 Rulebook is expected to be published by early September. Due to the significant changes in transitioning to IFSC rules, we strongly encourage all members to familiarize themselves with the Rulebook more than ever. USA Climbing Education Manager, Rebecca Ingraham, will also be working with the Rules and Judges Committees to put together information videos to assist with the dissemination of these significant changes.

The COVID-19 “virtual qualification” rules will be issued in a separate Addendum to the Rulebook.

USA Climbing Return to In Person Events

In addition, we are finalizing a “Return to Sport” document that will guide us when scheduling and hosting in person events during the 2020-2021 season.  Due to COVID-19, it is imperative that protocols are established with athlete and competition attendees’ safety in mind.  These protocols are based on information and conversations that we are having with local health officials, the CDC, WHO, the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (“USOPC”), the International Federation of Sport Climbing (“IFSC”), the recently formed USA Climbing Medical Committee.  We anticipate sharing these guidelines by early November. These guidelines will include a minimum time of 30 days for an in-person event to be confirmed or cancelled. Should an in-person event be cancelled USA Climbing will provide refunds for any registration fees collected.

Membership Changes

All renewing members, except Introductory members, who maintained their membership for the 2019-20 season will receive a 15% discount on their 2020-21 memberships as a thank you for maintaining your membership. USA Climbing relies on member dues, event fees, sponsorship and fundraising to operate and could not do it without your support.

For those who selected auto-renew when purchasing their 2019-2020 membership, your membership will renew on September 30th, 2020 to align with the start of the 2020-21 season on October 1st, 2020. If you desire not to auto-renew your USA Climbing membership, please follow the steps below:

  • Sign into your USA Climbing Account
  • Click on the “Memberships” tab
  • Click where your membership says “Current” or “Renew”
  • Scroll to the bottom and select “Cancel Auto-Renewal”

New for the upcoming climbing season, memberships will become rolling memberships, whereby when your membership is purchased it will be current for 365 days from the time of purchase.  This will ensure that all members have maximized value for their membership annually instead of a shortened period based on when it was purchased. Current members will be able to renew starting September 1st. Memberships will be in a “pre-paid” state until October 1st in which the membership will go to a current status. Memberships in a “pre-paid” status will still have access to renew any certifications required with that specific membership which are accessed through the membership platform.

Membership fees will remain the same as last season and not see an increase. Event registration fees will be standardized for Youth, Collegiate, and Paraclimbing “virtual” Qualification events at $30 as described above. Event registration fees for in-person events will be determined after protocols are designed.

Reminder of SafeSport Training & Certification Renewals

If your membership requires SafeSport training, a Background Screen, or any other certifications, please ensure they are in a current status prior to returning to competition. Your certifications can be accessed by logging into your USA Climbing account and clicking on the respective certification tab. Memberships need to be in a current status for a member’s participation to be allowed. If your Core SafeSport Training has expired, you are only required to add and complete the 15-minute annual refresher. Repeating the Core Training is not necessary.

2020-2021 Tentative Schedule

    • Youth Bouldering Qualifying Season – November 2 to December 27
    • Youth Bouldering Regionals – January 16, 2021
    • Youth Bouldering Divisionals – February 20-21, 2021
    • Youth Lead/TR Qualifying Season – January 30 to April 4
    • Youth Lead/TR Regionals – April 24, 2021
    • Youth Lead/TR Divisionals – May 29, 2021
    • Youth Speed Qualifying Events – January to June
    • Youth C/D Festival – June (TBD)
    • Youth Nationals – July (TBD)
  • ELITE (formerly OPEN)
    • Team Trials – March (TBD)
    • National Cup Series all disciplines – April to October
    • National Championships – November (TBD)
    • Collegiate Qualifying Events – November to February
    • Collegiate Divisionals – March or April (TBD)
    • Collegiate Nationals – April or May (TBD)
    • Paraclimbing Locals – January to March
    • Paraclimbing Nationals – April or May (TBD)

Recreational Series

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. The series is still in development but will utilize the same virtual technology from the Youth Qualification Series and we hope to launch this series in early 2021. The series will include both youth and adult categories. The series would require a $30 Recreation Membership. Introductory Members will be able to compete in the Recreational Series in addition to their respective.

Women’s Conference

USA Climbing will be hosting a Women in Climbing Virtual Summit on September 21-26th. This week-long educational event is designed to celebrate women in the climbing community. With presentations for young female athletes, coaches and parents, the week will be filled with virtual presentations on topics including:

  • Women’s Leadership Development
  • Leadership in the Climbing Business
  • Building a More Inclusive Climbing Culture
  • Senior Women in Climbing
  • Perfectionism and Confidence
  • Health and Injury Considerations for Female Climbers  

Presentations are open to all and are free to USA Climbing Members. More information on this event can be found here.

Year-end Awards and Recognition

USA Climbing is introducing new best-of-season awards to celebrate and recognize contributions across the entirety of the climbing community. A full description and nomination criteria for each award can be found here. Award nominations are due by August 20, 2020. Submissions will be reviewed by an award selection group and USA Climbing will announce all winners on September 20, 2020.

Regional Realignment

USA Climbing previously published Regional Realignment maps for the coming season. These maps and more information can be found on clickable maps HERE for Youth and HERE for Collegiate. Please take extra time to identify your new Regions and Divisions. They can also be found below.

Youth Region/Divisions: 

2021 Youth Region Map

Collegiate Divisions:

Collegiate Division Map


Founding Partner: