Speed climbing is a climbing discipline in which speed is the ultimate goal.[1] Speed climbing is done on rocks, walls and poles and is only recommended for highly skilled and experienced climbers.[2]

Competition speed climbing, which takes place on an artificial standardized climbing wall, is the main form of speed climbing. However, there are other variations of speed climbing which take place outdoors. In pure speed climbing, time is everything but it is also common to record speed ascents while observing a particular climbing style or ethic. For example, there are many speed records in which the climb was done according to free climbing ethics. In popular culture speed climbing may be best known for a viral video featuring Dan Osman climbing Lover's Leap via the Bear's Reach route (5.7, 120+ meter) in 4 min 25 sec.[3] This clip was originally featured in the movie Masters of Stone IV.

Competition speed climbing

Competition speed climbing as governed by the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) takes place on 15m artificial walls. Competitors climb a 5-degree overhanging IFSC certified wall, with an auto-belaying system from the top of the wall. Since 2007 the IFSC has created a standard wall for the world record. The standard has a simple rule and it involves climbers competing on the same route, side by side, and whoever reaches the top first wins.[4] The holds and order are always identical, and the difficulty rating is around F6b (approximately YDS 5.10c), which is a level most recreational climbers could complete. The IFSC also sanctions speed climbing competitions[5] and those events that entail world record attempts.[6] Speed climbing competitions was one of the three climbing modalities included in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Time is determined by mechanical-electric timing (the competitor leaves the starting pad and strikes a switch at the top of the route). When mechanical-electric timing is used, the climbing time is displayed with an accuracy of one hundredth of a second. In the rules modification in 2018,[7] the possibility to use manual timing was removed, and the mechanical-electric timing should record with a precision of 1/1000 second. This precision is only used for ranking in case of a tie. Further, the timing system needs to announce a false start, which is considered a start earlier than 0.1 seconds after the starting beep.

Standardized Speed Climbing Wall

For such competitions, the speed climbing wall along with the holds have been normed by the IFSC in a way that records are comparable.

Speed Climbing World Records and Champions

The standard wall used is 15 meters tall.[8]

2021 Speed climbing World Champions are Danyil Boldyrev from Ukraine and Natalia Kalucka from Poland. The IFSC Climbing World Championships took place in Moscow, Russia.[9]

Men's World Record History
Date Time (s) Person Location Competition
May 6, 2022 5.17[10] Indonesia Kiromal Katibin Seoul, South Korea World Cup
May 28, 2021 5.208[11] Indonesia Veddriq Leonardo Salt Lake City, USA World Cup
May 28, 2021 5.258[12] Indonesia Kiromal Katibin Salt Lake City, USA World Cup
April 30, 2017 5.48[13] Iran Reza Alipour Nanjing, China World Cup
September 12, 2014 5.60[14] Ukraine Danyil Boldyrev Gijon, Spain World Championships
August 31, 2014 5.73[15] Czech Republic Libor Hroza Arco, Italy World Cup
August 30, 2014 5.76[16] Czech Republic Libor Hroza Arco, Italy World Cup
October 13, 2012 5.88[17] Russia Evgenii Vaitcekhovskii Xining, China World Cup
August 27, 2011 6.26[18] China Qixin Zhong Arco, Italy World Championships
Men's Olympic Record History
Date Time (s) Person Location Games
August 3, 2021 5.45[19] France Bassa Mawem Aomi Urban Sports Park, Tokyo, Japan Tokyo 2020
Women's World Record History
Date Time (s) Person Location Competition
May 6, 2022 6.64[20] Poland Aleksandra Miroslaw Seoul, South Korea World Cup
August 6, 2021 6.84[21] Poland Aleksandra Mirosław Tokyo, Japan Olympic Games
November 21, 2020 6.964[22] Russia Iuliia Kaplina Moscow, Russia European Championships
October 19, 2019 6.995[23] Indonesia Aries Susanti Rahayu Xiamen, China World Cup
April 26, 2019 7.101[24] China YiLing Song Chongqing, China World Cup
April 22, 2018 7.32[25] France Anouck Jaubert Moscow, Russia World Cup
July 22, 2017 7.32[26] Russia Iuliia Kaplina Wroclaw, Poland World Games
April 30, 2017 7.38[27] Russia Iuliia Kaplina Nanjing, China World Cup
April 23, 2017 7.46[28] Russia Iuliia Kaplina Chongqing, China World Cup
July 11, 2015 7.53[29] Russia Iuliia Kaplina Chamonix, France World Cup
June 21, 2015 7.56[30] Russia Iuliia Kaplina Chongqing, China World Cup
May 17, 2015 7.74[31] Russia Iuliia Kaplina Central Saanich, Canada World Cup
October 19, 2013 7.85[32] Russia Iuliia Kaplina Wujiang, China World Cup
Women's Olympic Record History
Date Time (s) Person Location Games
August 6, 2021 6.84[33] Poland Aleksandra Mirosław Tokyo, Japan Tokyo 2020
August 4, 2021 6.97[34] Poland Aleksandra Mirosław Tokyo, Japan Tokyo 2020

Outdoor Speed Climbing

Pure speed climbing

Full speed climbing is done in such a way that maximizes speed and minimizes danger. When climbing with a partner the climbers will alternate between regular free climbing, simul climbing, aiding, and at times sections of roped soloing. Speed climbing can also be done by an individual in which they alternate between forms of rope soloing, aiding, and free soloing. Strictly speaking, this type of speed climbing is not a style but a combination or perhaps a type of aid climbing. However, the complexity of combining all the styles together leads to what can be recognized as a separate style with its own particular techniques used in no other style.

Speed climbing offers a number of benefits and these include the opportunities to stress-proof learned climbing techniques and to learn more about pacing.[35] Pacing is important since a broad array of paces contributes to the climber's versatility to navigate crags and rock types. A faster pace for most climbers is said to be less strenuous than climbing at their normal speed.[35]

Style climbing

Records can be recorded while climbing in a particular style. Each of the methods ultimately handicap the rate of progress with the exception of free soloing.

Free soloing

The simplest way to increase the speed of climbing is to shed all safety precautions such as belaying and placing protection. For some climbers, this is the same as replacing the strength of the rope and the safety gears with mental toughness.[36] This leads to free soloing as rapidly as possible. While strictly speaking this qualifies as full speed climbing or a type of style climbing it is different enough to be recognized as its own category of speed climbing.

Outdoor Records

Most speed climbing records lack the standards normally associated with objective records. Hans Florine has written "I will be the first to say that climbing is silly. To make rules about it is just piling ridiculous on top of silly."[37] There are no sanctioned speed climbing competitions on significant rock features. Nearly all climbing goals and records are self-designed, self-timed, and self-officiated; few are well documented, and many are disputed.

The collection that follows abides by these loose standards.[37]

The time format below is either hrs:min or hrs:min:sec.


The Nose, El Capitan

Regular Northwest Route, Half Dome

Snake Dike, Half Dome

Joshua Tree National Park


Bastille Crack

Third Flatiron



Cat In The Hat

New York

The Gunks


Grand Traverse

See also


  1. ^ Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills, Swan Hill Press; 6th Revised edition (14 Oct 1997) ISBN 1-84037-001-7,978-1-84037-001-0
  2. ^ "Climbing styles in traditional climbing - speed climbing". TimeOutdoors. Retrieved August 4, 2018.
  3. ^ Dan Osman- Lover's Leap
  4. ^ "What the Hell is Speed Climbing?". Climbing Magazine. Retrieved 2018-08-03.
  5. ^ "Event Regulations". Retrieved 2018-08-03.
  6. ^ Stadsvold, Jenna (2017-06-08). "What is Speed Climbing? The Basics You Need to Know". Head Rush Tech Blog. Retrieved 2018-08-03.
  7. ^ IFSC Rules modification 2018 V1.5, April 2018
  8. ^ "Project Information: Speed World Record". Archived from the original on February 13, 2019.
  9. ^ "IFSC - Climbing World Championships (B,L,S) - Moscow 2021".
  10. ^ https://www.ifsc-climbing.org/index.php/world-competition/calendar/?task=resultathletes&event=1235&result=2. ((cite web)): Missing or empty |title= (help)
  11. ^ "Speed Records".
  12. ^ International Federation of Sport Climbing (2021-05-28), Kiromal Katibin DESTROYS the men's Speed world record!, archived from the original on 2021-12-15, retrieved 2021-05-29
  13. ^ International Federation of Sport Climbing (2017-05-15), IFSC Climbing World Cup Nanjing 2017 - New Speed World Records, archived from the original on 2021-12-15, retrieved 2018-07-06
  14. ^ Jan Kříž (2014-09-13), NEW World speed climbing record - 5.60 seconds! WCH Gijon 2014, archived from the original on 2021-12-15, retrieved 2017-05-22
  15. ^ International Federation of Sport Climbing (2014-09-01), IFSC Climbing World Cup Arco 2014 - Speed - Hroza Breaks World Record, archived from the original on 2021-12-15, retrieved 2017-05-22
  16. ^ Edyta Ropek (2014-08-30), Speed Climbing World Record by Libor Hroza, Arco, 30.08.2014 qualification round, archived from the original on 2021-12-15, retrieved 2018-02-15
  17. ^ International Federation of Sport Climbing (2012-10-18), Men's Speed Climbing World Record 5.88 - IFSC Climbing World Cup Xining 2012 - Speed, archived from the original on 2021-12-15, retrieved 2017-05-22
  18. ^ Jan Kříž (2011-07-29), World record in speed climbing 2011 (6.26 seconds) HD, archived from the original on 2021-12-15, retrieved 2018-02-15
  19. ^ Olympics Games (2021-08-03), 2020 Summer Olympic Games - Men's Speed qualifier, archived from the original on 2021-08-03, retrieved 2021-08-03
  20. ^ https://www.ifsc-climbing.org/index.php/world-competition/calendar/?task=resultathletes&event=1235&result=6. ((cite web)): Missing or empty |title= (help)
  21. ^ "Tokyo 2020 Speed Finale Results".
  22. ^ International Federation of Sport Climbing (2020-11-24), Russia: Yulia Kaplina breaks speed climbing world record in Moscow, archived from the original on 2021-12-15, retrieved 2021-05-29
  23. ^ "Aries Susati Pecahkan Rekor Dunia Panjat Tebing". CNN Indonesia. 20 October 2019.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  24. ^ "New Women's Speed World Record by Song Yi Ling". 26 April 2019.
  25. ^ "IFSC Climbing Worldcup (B,S) - Moscow (RUS) 2018".
  26. ^ "Kaplina Sets New World Record, Iran Wins First Gold".
  27. ^ "Records tumble on final day of IFSC World Cup in Nanjing".
  28. ^ "IFSC Climbing Worldcup (B,S) - Chongqing (CHN) 2017".
  29. ^ "Iuliia Kaplina Sets a New Women's World Speed Record". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-15.
  30. ^ "Speed Climbing World Cup in China". 21 June 2015.
  31. ^ "New Women's World Speed Record and Gold medal to Iuliia Kaplina".
  32. ^ "IFSC Speed Climbing World Record - Iuliia Kaplina at Wujiang 2013". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-15.
  33. ^ "Tokyo 2020 Speed Finale Results".
  34. ^ "Tokyo 2020 Speed Qualifications Results".
  35. ^ a b Goddard, Dale; Neumann, Udo (1993). Performance Rock Climbing. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books. pp. 48. ISBN 0811722198.
  36. ^ Fuss, Franz Konstantin; Subic, Aleksandar; Strangwood, Martin; Mehta, Ranbindra (2013). Routledge Handbook of Sports Technology and Engineering. Oxon: Routledge. p. 277. ISBN 9780415580458.
  37. ^ a b Speed Climbing!: How to Climb Faster and Better 2nd edition, By Hans Florine, Bill Wright Published by Globe Pequot, 2004, ISBN 0-7627-3095-1, 978-0-7627-3095-7
  38. ^ "The Nose Goes Sub 2: Honnold and Caldwell Set New Record of 1:58:07". 6 June 2018.
  39. ^ "Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell Break Nose Speed Record". 30 May 2018.
  40. ^ "Alex Honnold's Nose of el Capitan Speed Record Broken in Yosemite". National Geographic Society. 23 October 2017.
  41. ^ "Video: Mayan Smith-Gobat and Libby Sauter Break el Cap Speed Record". 5 February 2015.
  42. ^ "Brad Gobright is Alex Honnold's New Nemesis". 17 March 2018.