Home > Indoor Climbing

Paraclimbing Expands on the World Stage

The IFSC has announced that three Paraclimbing World Cup competitions will be added to the 2021 Sport Climbing calendar

Climbing is for everyone and efforts to increase the representation of marginalized athletes in competition has long been appreciated by the larger climbing community.

While the sport has several barriers to entry, one of the more challenging obstacles for people with impairments is the relative lack of competitions suited for their competitive athletes.

Briançon 2019 by Sytse van Slooten

Though Paraclimbing competitions require a slightly different format than more conventional competitions, they are exciting tests of strength and the discipline of some of the world’s most incredible climbers.

On November 24, the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) released a statement describing three upcoming additions to the 2021 Sport Climbing Calendar.

In their release, they said, “The International Federation of Sport Climbing is pleased to announce that three IFSC Paraclimbing World Cup competitions will be organised during the 2021 season, in Innsbruck (AUT), Briançon (FRA) and a still to be determined location in the United States.”

The three world cups will take place as follows:

  • IFSC Paraclimbing World Cup in Innsbruck (AUT) from June 2 to 24
  • IFSC Paraclimbing World Cup in Briançon (FRA) on July 16
  • IFSC Paraclimbing World Cup in the United States from October 9 to 10

Sebastian Depke, Chair of the newly-formed IFSC Paraclimbing Committee said, “I am proud to see that there are now four Paraclimbing competitions in the 2021 schedule, and to see that the Paraclimbing calendar itself has been released earlier than ever. I would like to thank all National Federations and Event Organisers for their enthusiasm and for taking the challenge of organising a Paraclimbing World Cup!”

Briançon 2019 by Sytse van Slooten

FFME (French Federation of Mountaineering and Climbing) President Pierre You reflected this sentiment, saying, “We are deeply honoured to host another Paraclimbing World Cup on French soil. It makes sense at all level, and especially in the perspective of the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games where we hope Paraclimbing will get some visibility.”

Though the future development of the sport appears promising, many climbers remain unaware of the methods by which Paraclimbers engage in competition.

Paraclimbing is broken into 20 different categories, 10 per gender. Of these, there are four major categories that are each broken into 4 major groups, each with their own subgroup that depends on the severity of the impairment.

These categories are:

  • B1/2/3 – Visual Impairemen t where B1 refers to the completely blind athlete
  • RP1/2/3 – Refers to athletes of limited range, again where R1 is connoted for the most affected
  • AU1/2 – Refers to the Arm (1) or Forearm (2) amputee
  • AL 1/2 – Refers to the Seating (1) or Leg (2) amputee.

According to their publications, “The IFSC has been hosting Paraclimbing competitions since 2006, when the first international event saw athletes from four National Federations compete in Ekaterinburg, Russia. The movement has grown in recent years, with a regular circuit being added to the IFSC calendar from 2010 and IFSC Paraclimbing World Championships taking place from July 2011. It has become tradition that the IFSC Paraclimbing World Championships run alongside the IFSC Climbing World Championships, promoting athletes with a disability on the same stage as other athletes. Proud of the rapid growth of the Paraclimbing community, with a record 158 athletes registered for the 2019 World Championship in Briançon and of the increasing standard of competitions, the IFSC remains dedicated to developing and strengthening the competitions and support available to athletes.”

Featured Image by Sytse van Slooten