It is that time of year again where we are looking and asking for volunteers for our Youth Climbing Competition on March 26th. These events don’t happen without the key support of volunteers like you who show up to support these kids as they pursue their passion for climbing and make incredible lifelong memories. Below I have laid out some important details for why volunteers for climbing competitions are so vital and why getting these events to happen is far harder than many other sports. If you could, take the next 3 minutes or so to read about this below. We really rely on the amazing support of our climbing community to make these events happen.

Is it hard to volunteer? Are you qualified?

We know volunteering for a role you have never performed before might seem daunting, but the whole volunteer process is very fun and enjoyable. You get to watch climbers climb very impressive routes while supporting the pursuits of our local youth climbers. All it requires is a clear understanding of a few rules and a willingness to pay attention. We’ll teach you the rules, but the attention span is all on you! 😊


This upcoming competition is an Onsight Top Rope & Lead Climbing Competition. What does this mean? An Onsight event means climbers don’t get to see their routes before they are a going out to climb. They also don’t get to watch others climb to see what they should do. This tests them both physically and mentally, not getting the chance to see how to climb the route from watching others.


At an onsight top rope and lead event, there are even more volunteer slots needed to be filled than at a bouldering competition. They are laid out below:

  • Judge: Scores the climb based off of a route map. Assesses control of certain holds and the completion of the route
  • Top Rope Belayer: Belays top rope competitors on their climb. Only requirement is to be top rope certified!
  • Lead Belayer: Belays lead climbing competitors on their climbs. Must be lead certified. (This is the hardest slot to fill, so if you know how to lead belay, we highly suggest you sign up for this slot if you can)
  • ISO Monitors: Are the volunteers who get the competitors out of the isolation area and out into the competition route flow on time.
  • ISO Check-in: Check competitors in to the isolation area.


Why do climbing events need so many volunteers? Why does this make climbing competitions harder to run than other sports?

We need MANY volunteers for climbing competitions to run. In comparison to other sports, the number of volunteers required is much much higher.

  • To run an onsight event for 250 competitors an almost 2-1 competitor to volunteer ratio is required.
  • Compare this to:
    • Swimming, where for a 200 competitor meet in an 8-lane pool only requires about 20-40 volunteers/officials.
    • A soccer tournament for 200 players only takes 20-40 volunteers/officials. This means climbing requires 2.5 to 5 times the number of volunteers these other sports need.

The other driving need for so many volunteers are for volunteering parents (the lifeblood of these events) to have coverage to be able to step away when their children are up to climb so they may watch. The number of slots factor this necessary flexibility in.

Most of the time, we do not get enough volunteers soon enough, which causes a lot of added stress to the hosting gym and to the event coordinators. So not only do we ask you sign up, but the sooner you can sign up the better!


Why this matters?

I was once a youth competitor for 7-8 years of my life. I can without a doubt say that climbing, and more specifically competition climbing, changed my life. I have lifelong friends and connections from the experiences, it gave me an environment to develop  confidence in myself and my actions, it provided me an avenue to learn how you should pursue and value what you are passionate about, and it taught me that no matter how bad you are at something (and believe me, I was bad at this), if you put in committed time and focused effort, you can achieve great success.


I know to my core that none of this would have been possible without the gyms willing to host, the volunteers in the USA Climbing organization who organize the events, the parents who endlessly supported their kids, and to the volunteers of our climbing community who gave just a little of their time. I can say without a doubt the actions of these groups and people changed my life.


I want to thank those people for all they have done for me, and I would like to thank everyone willing to volunteer a little of their time at this event and in future events on behalf of all the midwest youth competitors.


Thank you for all you do,

Logan Dirksen

A Climb Iowa Gym Director, a former youth competitor, & a past, present, and future volunteer