Youth Climbing Series 2014 dates and changes

Posted by Rob Adie on 17/06/2013
The vast EICA Ratho

At the weekend, the volunteers that run the BMC Youth Climbing Series, the Area Youth Coordinators, met and discussed the dates for 2014 and also decided on some very important changes. These are set out below.

Fixing the dates this early should hopefully give parents and young people plenty of time to arrange their diaries for next year. So if you're planning on taking part in the series in 2014 please record the dates below somewhere to help avoid eventual diary clashes.

So, in 2014, the regional rounds and Grand Final of the BMC Youth Climbing Series will be held on the following dates:

Regional Rounds
Round 1 - 25th January 2014
Round 2 - 1st March 2014
Round 3/Welsh Final - 29th March 2014

Grand Final
Grand Final - 28th June at EICA Ratho, Scotland.

The three rounds are run regionally, so all young climbers wanting to take part should not have to travel too far. To be eligible for the Grand Final it is necessary to take part in at least two regional rounds.

The 2013 series was very popular, with over 850 young people taking part, and a fantastic Grand Final at the enormous Edinburgh International Climbing Arena near Ratho. Report here

Important Changes for 2014
These are some  very important changes for 2014. All these changes will therefore apply next year.

  1. Youth C will lead their climbs, as Youth B and Youth A already do.
  2. In line with IFSC competitions, there will no longer be scoring for merely touching a hold. This means that a hold will have to be held to count for a score. Moving off a hold will still count for a score, but touching a hold will add nothing more to that score.
  3. A time limit of 6 minutes will be introduced for both routes and boulder problems.
  4. Spotting of boulder problems will be stopped.


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Is it possible to have a bit of background info as to why these changes are happening? For me, change 2 and 3 are logical, but I am interested to know why category C will now be leading and spotting on boulder problems is not going to be allowed next year.

Thanks in advance. :-)
Is it possible to have a bit of background info as to why these changes are happening? For me, change 2 and 3 are logical, but I am interested to know why category C will now be leading and spotting on boulder problems is not going to be allowed next year.

Thanks in advance. :-)
3) Rob Adie(author comment)
The Youth C leading came about through discussion with the AYC's about the fatc that all the European federations run their events with Youth C leading as does the BMC in the Lead Champs and the Open Youth events we run. It was thought that it would be better for the progression of the Youth C climbers to start them leading earlier, on the easier Youth C routes, before they have to contend with the harder routes in Youth B and the daunting task of leading them as well.

Spotting was never really intended to be part of the YCS and has gradually crept in over the years, it has always been a contentious issues and it is not taught/encouraged in most climbing walls across the UK. I am sure that most of you know that spotting is a skill that needs to be learnt over a period of time, but it is difficult to quickly assess the competency of a spotter who may volunteer to do so, like you can with a belayer. In most cases a bad spotter is worse than no spotter at all, and this has caused accidents in the past. It was decided by the AYC's to remove spotting altogether from the YCS but at the same time make some adjustments to the route setting guidance that the setters use for the rounds and the final.

Theses changes will include - not setting problems to the maximum height of the boulders available for the younger categories and setting down climbing routes on big jugs on each problem, to allow competitors to down climb off the problem from the top or any point on the problem if they want to. These were used in last weekends final to good effect.

I hope that answers your questions.


Rob Adie
Concerning the three rounds planned to run regionally, can you confirm that this will be the case for Wales from now on and we will no longer have a Welsh Final as currently all participants north and south have to attend all three events. Also, Welsh participants currently travel 4 hours to the Welsh Final depending on if it's south or north, so distance is still an issue.
Can you explain why the event dates have NOT been moved forward. Having discussed with some other regions we had the impression that many are in favour of bringing the whole series forward to the late autumn, with a final in April at the latest. The reasons for this are two-fold. Firstly, there is a massive impact on Group A and B who are in the midst of important exams in June. Secondly, many of our climbers are expressing an interest in climbing outdoors which we could accommodate better with an earlier finish to the competition season.
Also, the gap between the regional final and UK final of 11 weeks is such a long period in which to sustain training and motivation. Has any consideration been given to this?
Finally, we had a lot of problems this year with rounds set over holiday periods and we have noticed that the 1st March is at the end of half term week. Please can this be shifted?
Oh no not again - why oh why do you choose dates that are around the February half term for some parts of the country? This happened this year and I see that you have chosen 1 March 2014 which is also part of the half term break. Surely if this is a competition for children to compete in then school holiday dates should be taken into consideration and avoided. Are the dates for the YCS just chosen around other competitions and events that might be on? Who are the Area Youth Co-ordinations and why don't they seek the opinion of parents before you meet so that you are aware of the school holidays? I can't find their details anywhere to be able to contact our local one about this to express my disappointment again. Is there any flexibility in these dates? I'm sure the venues haven't been confirmed at this early stage so surely the most sensible thing to do would be to change this particular date now. I know there will be a lot of disappointed children when they realise they can't compete in the competition unless this date is changed. Come on BMC have a heart and do the right thing for 2014 and change 1 March to a different date. You will make a lot of children happy if you do and at the end of the day we want to encourage them to participate to make the competition a success.
your points in order;
1. There will still be a Welsh final on March 1st.
2. The dates have not been moved forward, as this ws not brought up at the AYC meeting. It was felt that taking everything into consideration, spring term for the rounds and June for the final strikes the best balance. There is always a concern about exam interference, and it seems the concensus amongst parents is that those with exams treat it a a bit of a welcome distraction from the drudgery of revision. Yes, possibly too much of a distraction at times, but I'm sure the average GCSE student could free up revision / climbing time by sacrificing Twitter and Facebook momentarily :)
And yes, go outdoors - it is excellent experience and can even be beneficial to the competitors.
3. The gap between round 3 has been lengthened back to nearer what it was historically - this allows a reasonable time to benefit from a training program, and for those qualifiying for the final to train together and develop a team spirit. There has never been a problem in motivation the kids for the CS final!


Ian Walton (AYC rep, Comp Comm)
To avoid half term completely it looks like this year the 2nd round would have to be either 8th February or 8th March.

If it were the 8th February then round 1 would have to be 11th January, the first weekend back after the Xmas hols, possibly pushing it for volunteers or if it were 8th March the 3rd round would be the 5th April which would then encroach on the Easter holidays here (popular still for ski trips and foreign languge trips).

The majority of the GCSE exams are done by the 14th June, A levels a bit later but still mostly done here (in Nottinghamshire, the exam times are set by the exam boards, not LEAs though).
8) Tim
Thank you Rob and The BMC, it’s great to see that plans have been made so far in advance for next year, this will definitely help us in the planning of our junior squad training program. As for the dates; all the kids I worked with this year from our wall have moved heaven and earth to be at every round, with overwhelming parental support – I’m sure they’ll make the 2014 dates that seem well justified.

Changes 1, 2 and 3 that you’ve announced sound like really positive improvements and I know a lot of our group C kids will be totally psyched about the prospect of leading in a competition (with a healthy dose of nerves too, I’m sure).

Change 4, not having spotters? Rob, you’ve explained your rationale behind this this decision as best you can but my issue with this is the consistency of the messages that we teach to kids (I’ll save the helmets whilst leading for another day). I will always teach kids (and adults for that matter) to diligently spot each other, because a good spotter is better than no spotter at all; it reads quite shamefully that the BMC would rather take away a safety measure because it is not delivered correctly, than, take action to ensure that it “is” delivered correctly when you have every power to do so (and responsibility I would argue too), which would improve the safety and confidence of the kids in this competition.

From my understanding, this competition is open to everyone, of every ability, with some great stories from kids just starting out in climbing and prepared to give the YCS a go for good fun. This is not an elite competition and some of the kids need the support of a decent spotter as they push themselves to the edge of their ability at whatever level that might be. The venues for these competition rounds are large walls with lots of instructors / assistant instructors on the books, and perhaps it could be part of their duty as a host wall to provide enough spotters. They are of course busy on these days so maybe the instructors from visiting walls could be pre-booked to spot. Quite frankly, at all three venues we visited the for 2013 YCS, spotters were openly requested from crowds of parents as a last minute thought; perhaps the BMC could find a way to plan this safety feature into the 2014 YCS in advance.

You say that this new method was tested at the Grand Final but that's a completely different crowd to the mix abilities found in the regional events.

So to conclude: great job! But sort out the spotting and the message your delivering to new young climbers!
Please reconsider you decision on the dates for the YCS. Making youths decide if they will compete of concentrate on their exams is wrong. I work with these youths & can see first hand the impact of this. It need changing ASAP.
10) cru5in
It is not always possible for team members to train together when there could be a 4 hr drive between them!

I also agree that putting added pressure on the children during an important exam time, which could have an impact on their future, is very Inconsiderate. I therefore ask that you reconsider.
Many thanks
11) Anonymous User
Just wondering whether it would be worth me entering next year. I was born in 2000 and can indoor top rope up to around 6a+ and lead 5/5+ after not climbing for a while due to lack of time. I can also trad lead a mod and second up to HS. Please advise whether it is worth entering or not next year. Thanks!
12) Anonymous User
My son is interested in entering the 2014 competitions. Unfortunately the first round clashes with his senior school entrance exam, does this mean he can't compete this year....or can he as long as he does the other 2 rounds?
13) Anonymous User
HI, in response to no 5, I must say that half term is preferable to many parents as the children are well rested and don't have school work to contend with. after all we are talking about one day!!!!! not a school day and what ever day they choose it would clash with someones plans, decide what is important to you!

14) Anonymous User
With regard to the change for the spotting rules, can parents spot their own children, please? My daughter is a confident boulderer and won the UK final for her age group last year, but she is unhappy about not being spotted, and so am I. I've seen her get neck injuries before now in training, and the chances of an accident will be even higher when she pushes herself to the max when the rounds start again. I get that you don't want spotters to have some kind of official BMC tie, presumably in the event of an accident (insurance considerations are what I presume are behind this), but are we still allowed to spot our own children? It's what we'd do in the real world, and it's what the sport specifically encourages us to do. There are posters all over our climbing centres telling us to do it. It is the only one of the new rules that doesn't make sense to us. Please can you clarify.
15) Anonymous User
Hi Rob, this weekend we have enjoyed the regional academy for London & South East region, thank you for that. However in discussion with some parents during this weekend another change to the 2014 series was highlighted which I can't find any details about. This is regarding the split between the London and South East region. Rumors have it that there will be 2 rounds for each region with a grand final involving the 3 top from each category. If this is the case, great! but please think carefully about the grand final venue, as 3 times now we have traveled to a venue in north London with minimal parking. we have spent 3 hours on two occasions and 3 and a half hours on another traveling to North London. This puts our children from the south coast area at a significant disadvantage... Please Please Please consider a venue in the middle of the region to suit everyone not just the London crowd. there will be fewer contestants allowing for the consideration of a variety of different venues.... but PLEASE not far North London.

Thanking you, from a group of South East parents.
16) Anonymous User
So will there be isolation for bouldering?
Because with the 6 minute rule, the person going last would have a much greater advantage than they would have had this year. That is, if there is no isolation.
The 6 minute time limit, is that for each of the three attempts at a problem, or 6 minutes total? (I presume the former.) Does the time limit start from pulling on?

Having read through the comments, I would still question the wisdom of "no spotting", I you are really committing to a hard move on a problem, and don't make it, you are likely to land awkwardly.

Mark Kemball.
18) Anonymous User
Thanks to the BMC and to the AYC's for there sterling efforts again to make the Youth Climbing Series happen. Surely that should be the headline not all the moaning that is posted. Can we remember that most if not all the AYC's are parents and have children competing, so as to seek the opinion of parents is incorrect, and when do you stop asking? And that this is all done VOLUNTARY!!!
As a parent I ask my child (they are the one competing) if all is ok with the dates/exams and training period. Not once have I had a negative response because they want to climb, and like us adults can with a little help tailor a life around more than one thing. So well done to the BMC/AYC's and if you want your child to compete, why not ask them!!!
19) Anonymous User
Why would you not spot a 7-8 year old?
20) Anonymous User
As a newbie to the Youth Climbing Series, having just started a thriving climbing club at the school i work in, can i just check whether the regional venues will be the same as for 2013? When does registration open, is the price the same etc.? I can't seem to find any of these details on the website.

Thanks in advance for any help
21) Anonymous User
I'm trying to find the scoring system for bouldering on the BMC website. Please point me to it, or add it.
22) Anonymous User
Given that the 2014 rounds are fast approaching can you please reply to some of the comments from June onwards
23) Rob Adie(author comment)
Hi Guys,

Sorry for the lack of response on this article, I normally get emails alreting me whne commenst are made, but this is not working for some reason for this article.

For those asking about dates and venues and the London and SE area all this can be found here - - which also has links to the 2014 rules which covers any questions about scoring etc.

The specific questions about the bouldeirng time limit - it will be 6 mins per attempt and there will be no isolation.

We do our best to try and get the best dates for both the rounds and the final - have pushed the final back a week to better avoid as many exams as possible, but with so many different timetables and holiday schedules across the country, as well as trying to fit everything around teh rest of teh competition calendar it is incredibly difficult and we are never going to keep everyone happy.

Regarding the change tothe spottig rules - there are very few walls across the UK that advocate spotting and there are definitely no posters at walls out there that promote spotting. Spotting is a skill that needs to be learnt over a prolonged period of training just like belaying, except you cannot check a competent spotter like you can with a belayer.

The AYC's decided to remove spotting due to the fact that a bad spotter is worse than no spotter and with correct setting and modern matting underneath bouldering wall, there is absolutley no need for spotting in an indoor envrioment.

However if it becomes apparent that due to the design of a particualr climbing wall that a spotter is required to say keep a gap between two competitors on different problems for example, the AYC can choose a suitably exprienced volunteer to perform this function - but this will be assessed on a case by case basis.

But with the new route setting guidance and careful selection of the regional venues there should be no need for each and every problem to be spotted, just because that is what happens when you are bouldering outdoors.

I think that answers everyones questions, if anyone wants to know anything else please let me know.




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