bouldering competitions

Photo: Sander Lückers

The following content has been submitted on behalf of Chloe Mandell, owner of Mandell Experiences and the recently launched Comp Calendar. Brand new, Comp Calendar is your go-to source to find out when and where climbing comps are happening. Competition features are totally free and take under three minutes to submit. Learn more at the bottom of this post.

Fall is upon us, and that means bouldering season in the comp world.

This fall we’re seeing a surprising growth in the overall number of bouldering competitions. Gyms see climbing competitions—a major deviation from the standard day-to-day operations of a gym—as a unique way to rally their community; and it’s becoming possible with the generous support of sponsors, who see comps as a great way to engage with their target audiences face-to-face.

You’ve got the longer runners like the 7th annual Portland Boulder Rally (Oct 7, with a whopping 16 big-name athletes), 9th annual Dark Horse Series (Oct 7, Nov 18, Dec 16, Jan 19), 7th annual Northwest Boulderfest (Oct 14, now accompanied by the Southwest Boulderfest just 2 weeks prior, on Sep 30), and 5th annual Deadpoint (Oct 28, SLC), along with new comps on the bloc, like Asana Boulderama (Nov 4, Boise) and Boulderham (Sep 30, Bellingham).

For those itching to get outdoors, check out the Flagstaff Roof Rally (Sep 30).

Interesting to note: the shift in the USAC Bouldering Cup Series’ calendar after its inaugural season in 2016/2017. While 20th annual Yank-N-Yard (Oct 20-21) and 2nd annual Southern Grit (January 5-6, previously Volcan Cup) remain, Battle of the Bay (Nov 10-11) and The Violet Crown (Dec 15-16) take the place of the Mesa Rim ProAm and Dark Horse.

Applications for inclusion in the series poured in from across the country, meaning these four competitions met USAC’s high standards. Now it’s just up to the organizers, setters, and athletes to deliver.

Summer 2017 recap

Over the summer we were dazzled once again by 50’ of deep water soloing at the iconic Psicobloc wall towering over Utah Olympic Park’s 1,250,000 gallon pool. BaseCamp, out of Reno, hosted its own speed competition up the world’s tallest artificial climbing wall (164’!).

With speed’s inclusion in the new Olympic “combined” format, it’ll be interesting to see if there are more speed-based competitions in the coming years.

Our last summer shout-out goes to Touchstone for hosting the first annual WomanUp Climbing Festival. Touchstone writes,

…this festival is a chance for us to inspire, support, and remind each other that [women] CAN reach that hold, we CAN make that dyno, we CAN lead that pitch—and the industry, too.

From a crew of premier female routesetters to a powerful vagenda of clinics, panels, and presentations, this two-day event is sure to stay.

Who to watch out for this fall

For this fall season, all eyes are on Alex Puccio, who dominated last season’s bouldering comps with an outstanding twelve-win streak. Her accomplishments are unmatched, but young guns like Brooke Raboutou and Ashima Shiraishi can give her a run for her money at unsanctioned events where age restrictions are less of an issue. It’s uncertain who is confirmed for which competition, but boy do we hope their schedules line up.

On the men’s side, it’ll be interesting to see how dominant competitors like Nathaniel Coleman, Jimmy Webb, and Shawn Raboutou size up this year. Each is overcoming recent finger injuries, but there’s a lot of cash purse money on the table this fall, so we’ll see who cleans up (figuratively speaking).

For more information on upcoming comps, check out Comp Calendar at

Chloe Mandell of Mandell Experiences LLC has produced numerous climbing competitions including the Psicobloc Master Series, Portland Boulder Rally, and ProLo, as well as assisted with the IFSC Youth World Climbing Camp, Come and Send It Fest, Dominion Riverrock, and TriState Bouldering Series. She recently founded Comp Calendar, a new, go-to source to find out when and where climbing comps are happening. Competition features are totally free and take under 3 minutes to submit. Comp Calendar believes in remaining simple, inclusive, and informative, thereby supporting competitors, organizers, and spectators alike. But it only works if gyms take advantage of this free resource, so please help spread the word!

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