What is speedclimbing?

Speedclimbing is one of the three disciplines in modern sports climbing. The biggest difference to lead or bouldering is the standardized wall. The wall is exactly the same in every gym and on every competition all around the world.
The ultimate goal of speedclimbing is simple: climb the wall as fast as possible. Because of the standardized wall, every single attempt to climb the wall (also called "run") is comparable. This makes it also possible for the climbers to optimize their moves (also called "beta") until they are absolutely perfect. This is the reason why it is even possible to climb that 15 meter wall in five seconds.
This is what makes speedclimbing so exciting!

How does the competition work?

A speedclimbing competition consists of two parts: training, qualification and final.

In the training, the athletes have to runs which have no meaning for the result. They are used to check out the wall and to get used to the conditions.
In the qualification, all athletes climb the wall twice, once on lane A and once on lane B. Only the better attempt is used for the result. The best 16, 8 or 4 athletes will qualify for the final, depending on how many athletes compete. In this stage, it does not matter if the athletes win or lose the race, only the time counts. False starts lead to immideate disqualification, even when the athlete has already a valid result from the previous run.
The final consists of multiple elimination stages. This is where it gets exciting! In the final, the time does not matter anymore, it's only about being the first one at the top. In every round, the first place competes against the last place, the second place competes against the second last place and so on. The winner of each round advances to the next round. The loser is eliminated. When only four athletes are left, it's called the semi-final. The losers of the semi-final compete again, in the so-called small-final, for the third place. The winners proceed to the final to determine who wins the competition.

What is so special about that wall?

The speedclimbing wall was originally designed in 2004 by the famous route-setter Jacky Godoffe. Everything about it is precisely normed. It is exactly the same in every gym and competition all around the world. That includes the wall itself, the holds and the position of the holds. This unfinification makes it possible to compare the results of climbers from all over the world.

Here are some specs:

  • 15 meters high
  • 5° of titlt
  • 5.15 meters wide
  • 20 big holds
  • 10 small holds

More information can be found in the official speed licence rules by the IFSC.