Age Categories
Point System

The Origins

Sportclimbing and climbing competitions developed as a natural progression from the long established sport of Rock Climbing. While the first competitions took place around the 1940's, it wasn't until the 1980’s that a number of national federations began to formulate rules and hold large-scale events. 

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The Indoor Alternative

With the advent of Indoor Gyms and Artificial Climbing Walls, climbers were able to climb and train at times and in weather that precludes climbing outdoors. In New Zealand numerous climbing walls have been developed and as a result of ready access to these facilities Sportclimbing has flourished.    

Competition Climbing

Due to the fun and excitement generated by Sportclimbing more people began to climb on artificial walls and inevitably they began to compete with each other. In response to the growing interest in competition climbing a the UIAA, an international climbing organisation establishes a set of Competition Climbing Regulations through its subsidiary the ICC. The ICC Regulations have become the standard and in conjunction with established Age Categories, allow climbers to compete on an fair and consistent basis.

Internationally, Sportclimbing has exploded into a fully professional world touring circuit often drawing up to 200,000 spectators. Following these trends, the sport in New Zealand is experiencing an almost exponential growth in popularity attracting a diverse range of competitors and spectators.

In New Zealand competition climbing typically takes one of the following forms:


Fun Events that are typically facilitated the owners of Gyms and artificial climbing walls with the events intended to give people an introduction to the sport in a fun setting.


School Competitions allow purples from different schools to compete with each other but in a less formal environment than in the National Competition Series.


The National Competitions Series is a formal and internationally sanctioned series of competition events. The series is run annually, commencing with a number of Regional Competitions and culminates in a National Final held before the end of the calendar year. The National Competitions Series is administered by the New Zealand Sportclimbing Federation (NZSF) with competitions run in accordance with ICC Regulations. During each competition season climbers may compete in a number of events and in doing so accumulate points towards their National Ranking.

Modern competitions generally require walls that are high and overhang to  provide competitors with challenging routes. The climbing walls used for competitions are typically in excess of 15 metres (45 feet) in height and overhang by up to 6 metres (18 feet).

Difficulty and Speed

 There are three main types of competition:

1.     Difficulty competition - a competitor’s place is determined by the height that he/she attains on a route of not less than 12 metres (36 feet).

2.     Speed competitions - where the time taken to ascend a route determines a competitor's placing on a route of no less than 8 metres (24 feet).

3.     Bouldering competitions with 7 - 10 problems each of 5 - 7 moves. The final round comprises of 3 - 5 problems of 5 - 7 moves.


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Copyright Steven Riddell 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 & 2003.