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How to Watch the Canadian Lead and Speed Climbing Nationals This Weekend

Spectators allowed at this year's CEC Lead and Speed National Championships. More women register than men for Oval competition.

As of the February 15 Health announcement in BC, spectators will be allowed to join climbers and coaches at this weekend’s Lead National event. The three-day competition will follow a technical meeting at 7:00 pm on Friday. The schedule for this weekend’s event is recorded below.


Registration for Lead and Speed Nationals concluded this week. In an exciting shift, there will be 49 female athletes, 1 female foreign national, and only 37 male athletes competing in the Lead event. Each climber in each category will have 6:00 minutes to climb as high on their qualification routes as possible. If they time out on the route, then the score they attain by the when their time runs out will be their score for that round.

Scoring on the route is defined by the number of holds attained during an attempt. Each hold is given a score and the climber that gets the highest score will win the round.

The top 26 climbers in each category will advance to the semi-final round where they will continue to compete in that same 6:00 minute format. Those eight who climb the highest will move onto Finals where they will compete once more.

Winning the qualification or semi-final round does not give you any advantage in the final round. It only affects the running order. Running orders for each round are inverse to the athlete’s qualification result. If a climber earns eighth out of eight heading into finals, then they will climb first once the final round begins.

If there is a tie between any of the competitors, the climber who moved highest in the previous round will be given the higher spot. However, if there is a tie in the qualification round, both athletes will receive the same ranking heading into the semi-final. That means that more than 26 athletes can move on to semi-finals if there is a tie at the cut-off point in the field.

Things become more complicated if two athletes tie in two rounds. This is one of the worst-case scenarios from a competition standpoint, as it means the route setters have not been able to separate the field. If athletes tie in one round, and then those same athletes tie again in the next round, the competitor the climbed quickest to their shared high point will be awarded the higher position.


This year’s speed event will feature fewer competitors than would fill an IFSC (International Federation of Sport Climbing) Speed final, but this sport is still developing in Canada. Both USA Climbing and Climbing Escalade Canada have worked hard to develop their Speed programs over this last year. The developing discipline is beginning to take root in some athletes. Spectators may even see national records fall at this weekend’s event.

Unlike lead climbing, the Speed route is the same in each Speed competition. Athletes take two practice runs in advance of the qualification round of competition and then take two qualification attempts to run their quickest possible time.

In a full field, the top 16 competitors would then move onto the final round where athletes go head-to-head in smaller sub-final rounds. The difference in these rounds is the head-to-head nature. Each athlete is only given one attempt to out pace their opponent. Even if they set the world record in qualifiers, a slip here or simply a slower time will cost them the match.

This makes for an extremely exciting, fast-paced round of competition where athletes are struggling to balance power with precision. Though the route is comparatively easy when placed aside the Lead route, it is much more challenging when you have to climb as fast as possible.

In this year’s event, qualifiers will still be essential for pairing up the seeds, as the top ranked will compete against the bottom ranked athletes.

Officials and Information

Results for this weekend’s Lead and Speed competition will be posted live on the Vertical Life app. Download it here. You will also be able to livestream this weekend’s rounds from the CEC YouTube channel. Commentary will be given by Pete Woods and Bonnie de Bruijn. Lead qualifiers will be shot through a static camera without commentary.

The Head Setter for this event is Oscar Lanzagorta with Simon Parton as the Assistant Head Route Setter. Hayden Jones and Mika Hosoi will join these two as CEC Route Setters.


Saturday February 19, 2022

  • 7am – First 10 Female competitors allowed access to Warm Up Area
  • 8:30am – 130pm– Qualifiers Women
  • 8:30am – First climbers
  • 1:00pm – First 10 Male competitors allowed access to Warm Up Area
  • 2:30pm –6:15pm – Qualifiers Male
  • 3:00pm – First Climbers

Sunday February 20, 2022

  • 9:00-10:00am – Iso Open
  • 10:30am – 1:00pm – Semi Finals
  • 1:00-5:00pm – Change over
  • 3:30-4:30pm – Iso Open
  • 5:00pm – Presentation of Finalist
    • Finals to follow
  • 7:00pm – Awards

Monday February 21, 2022

  • 8:00-900am – Warm up Open for All
  • 9:30am – Practice for all
    • Immediately after Practice – Men’s and Women’s Qualifiers
  • 11:00am – End of Qualifiers
  • 11:30am –  Finals (Awards to Follow)