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Competition Climbing.


Original Post
Tim Lutz · · Colo-Rado Springs · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 5

With women like Janja, Jessica Pilz and the Japanese pushing the standards ever higher, why are there still competition climbs specific for women?

Why don't they climb the same route as the men and win with their high-points accordingly?

The only logical reason i can think of is to save the male competitor's egos.

Menna Mourad · · Portland, OR · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 0

I think men's and women's climbs are generally set in different styles as well as take into account the general height difference. 

F loyd · · Kennewick, WA · Joined Mar 2018 · Points: 361

The local comps are more set up to be unisex and it takes away from the uniqueness that big comps have by separating genders. I think the consumer wants some sort of diversity they can associate with to cheer for too.

Lena chita · · OH · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 1,030


The men’s and women’s routes for comps are usually set differently, in comps where they set different routes for men and women, and in all the comps that I’ve participated or watched, that didn’t have the routes set differently for men and women, the top-Scoring routes end up different for men and women, even though they all get to climb the same routes.

In the Olympic, all other sport events are all male/female separately, i’m guessing it would be against the rules to have a unisex competition format for just one Olympic event?

I think climbing on real rock there are a lot more options of hand and footholds, and on majority of routes neither men nor women are particularly advantaged or disadvantaged. We all know exceptions, routes with blank spans between pockets, or cracks of specific sizes, etc. but overall, 10a is 10a for most people climbing it. Not so on hard indoor comp routes. 
Alex R · · Golden · Joined May 2015 · Points: 16
Lena chita wrote:

The men’s and women’s routes for comps are usually set differently, in comps where they set different routes for men and women, and in all the comps that I’ve participated or watched, that didn’t have the routes set differently for men and women, the top-Scoring routes end up different for men and women, even though they all get to climb the same routes.

In the Olympic, all other sport events are all male/female separately, i’m guessing it would be against the rules to have a unisex competition format for just one Olympic event?

I think climbing on real rock there are a lot more options of hand and footholds, and on majority of routes neither men nor women are particularly advantaged or disadvantaged. We all know exceptions, routes with blank spans between pockets, or cracks of specific sizes, etc. but overall, 10a is 10a for most people climbing it. Not so on hard indoor comp routes. 

Olympic equestrian is unisex, so it isn't without precedent.


I like the separation because I get to watch twice as many routes being climbed. But I also think it would be cool to have a combined event. It is complicated though, if you listen to route setters being interviewed during IFSC comps, they constantly are mentioning how they attempt to make routes "fair" by balancing the number of reachy moves with cramped moves, or adding multiple foot options. A combined format would make this job even harder.

In IFSC lead world cup in Xiamen last year there was rain that soaked through the wall in such a way to make the women's route unclimbable, but the men's route was untouched. They cancelled the women's semi-final. It really annoyed me, since it seemed like there existed the obvious solution of using the men's route, and no one even brought up this possibility.
amarius · · Nowhere, OK · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 20

Comp routes are usually set at the limit to separate top competitors, tiny holds and controlled transitions are not enough. Setters are starting to use dynamic sequences for lead, I even remember a fig 4 sequence. Many transitions are set to be challenging in a couple of ways at the same time - tiny holds and controlled or semi-dynamic sequences at the limit of reach, bigger holds with  more dynamic or compression based, again at limits of reach. Statistically, women are shorter than men, and have less reach, they would be disadvantaged from the start. There were a few routes this season that shorter competitors could not do even on women routes, while the taller ones just cruised through. Same applies to men - Ramon was shut down quite a few times because he physically could not do a sequence due to his shorter stature.
Transition to the new style of climbing seems to be very morpho dependent.

It is likely someone will remember comps of yesteryear when women and men competed on the same routes. It would be impossible right now - the fields are very tight, based on climbing on the rock women are 2-3 grades behind at redpoint, not sure about onsights, and plastic is even more restrictive.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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