NEW YCS 2019 format

Now that a fantastic year of competitions has come to a close, the ClimbScotland team and our Competition Coordinators have sat down to chat about the YCS 2019 and decide on any changes we should make. Robert Mackenzie (RDO) explains whats going on.

Why do we need to change anything if this year was a success?

I know, I know. I can hear all the questions flooding in already.

And they are all very good questions, and I hope I can answer most of them in this article.

We all agreed that this year was a great year for Scottish youth climbing, with over 60 competitors taking part in the YCS in each region, with equal numbers in the north and south qualifying rounds (something we haven’t seen in 10 years), the creation of our Scottish Youth Squad and the awesome Academy and Real Rock weekends that followed, rounding off with 14 top ten and six podium positions in the YCS Grand Final, giving Scotland a 3rd place regional ranking. This year has been epic, however, as strong as it was, changes have to be made.

YCS 19 2

The BMC and Mountaineering Ireland are adopting a new format for 2019. They have opted for a four qualifying round system with two rounds consisting only of 'routes' (5 routes per round) and two rounds consisting only of boulders (10 problems). They made this choice to allow the YCS to make better use of all the awesome new boulder only venues that have popped up, as well as to give a good even split between routes and boulders.

The Grand Final is going to change too. The YCS finals will now be a routes only day on the Saturday and a boulders only day on the Sunday. Yes, the finals will now be split over two days - and potentially over two different venues.

With all this change going on south of the border we had to consider how our qualifying rounds were going to feed into the YCS finals.

What did we decide?

As our YCS rounds are run by ClimbScotland and not the BMC, we do have a bit of freedom to run our competitions our way, as long as we still end up with the top 30 competitors selected for the Scottish Team which will compete with the Welsh and Irish Teams and the Regional Teams from England in the Grand Final.

So we decided to make as few changes as possible, and have settled on the following format:

  • Three regional qualifying rounds (North and South)
  • A Scottish selection weekend (The top 3-5 from each category will be invited to attend)
  • The YCS Finals
Rounds Dates Venue
1 - North 26 Jan Inverness Leisure
1 - South 26 Jan Avertical World
2 - North 16 Feb Transition Extreme
2 - South 16 Feb Perth College Climbing Wall
3 - North 2 Mar Ice Factor
3 - South 2 Mar EICA Ratho
Scottish Team Selection 23 Mar/ 24 Mar TCA Glasgow/ GCC Glasgow
Grand Final 27th/ 28th April Sheffield
*Dates and venues to follow soon

What does that mean?

This means that each competitor will have 3 qualifying rounds to attend giving 3 competitions to gain valuable comp experience. Results from all three rounds are counted towards the overall score and competitors will have had to compete at a minimum of 2 rounds to be eligible for the squad selection. The qualifying rounds will have 3 routes and 3 boulder problems per category.

Each region will compete separately with 3 north rounds and 3 south rounds. This keeps the numbers in each qualifying round down to a manageable level, keeps the disruption to the host wall to a minimum, keeps the preparation (setting) costs as low as possible and therefore helps us keep the entry fees as low as we can.

The Scottish Youth Squad will be made up of the top 3-5 climbers in each category after the north and south qualifying rounds. The exact number depends on the number of competitors in each category but there would be a minimum of 30 North and 30 South.

The Scottish Selection will be a weekend event over two days where the new Scottish Youth Squad will be invited to compete for their place on the Scottish Team and go to the YCS Grand Final.

“So, there’s no change so far?” I hear you say.

Correct! But wait, for the Scottish Selection weekend we will now mirror the format chosen for the Grand Final. We will have a 'routes only' day on the Saturday and a 'boulder only' day on the Sunday. There will be 5 routes and 10 problems. From this we will take the top 3 competitors in each category who will form our Scottish Team to go on to the YCS Finals.

Why not do what the BMC and MI are doing?

We put out a question to you all on Survey Monkey not long ago asking what you thought about this format, and while there were very little details to go on at the time, the feedback was a majority: “Eh! No thank you!”

YCS 19 So why are we not keeping the format the same as elsewhere then?

While we all agreed that the BMC and MI format is actually a really good idea that would allow us to utilise our awesome boulder only venues and give a good split between routes and boulders, and one day we would like to be able to adopt a similar format, at the moment we just can’t.

We don’t have the facilities to be able to run qualifying rounds of this size. If we take the numbers from 2018 as an indication we would potentially have over 130 climbers plus their parents and our volunteers. There are only four venues in Scotland that can, or would be willing to, host that many people. These venues are primarily central belt which gives a huge travel and financial disadvantage to those who live futher afield.

With the increase in routes needed for a format like this and the number of competitors, this would mean a further setting day (maybe even two) taking up most of the climbing facility. This would effectively mean the host venue would have to be working to ‘limited space’ or closed for 2-3 days during the setting and closed for the competition. As our host climbing walls are commercial businesses it would cost a huge amount for them to be closed for so long. Unfortunately this extra cost would most likely have to be passed on to the competitors.

We get asked a lot why the competitions are so expensive. This is due to the cost of route setting, which is the key element making up a great competition and splitting the field of competitors. This is a real skill and is tough work. With the BMC format we would need the extra setting days which would mean even more expensive competitions.

So due to the lack of facilities big enough to cope and the huge increase in costs we just aren’t able to run this format.

So why are we changing the Scottish Selection weekend?

The last thing we want is our team going into a competition with a format that they are unfamiliar with. This would certainly not give them the best chance at success. So we want our Scottish Selection weekend to mirror the Grand Final to give everyone in the squad a chance to experience the format and prepare themselves for potentially reaching the Grand Finals.

What about our Scottish Youth Squad?

“Does this mean we lose the big academy day?”

Yes, this new format means we won’t have the massive coaching day at the Scottish Selection Weekend. However, we will make sure we find a day in the calendar to have a day or a weekend where we can have this awesome full squad event.

“When are our squad going to have a chance to train together?”

We will make sure we have a date for the big coaching day, but we also have all of our Real Rock events that are open for anyone, North or South, to attend.

YCS 19 3


So let me get this straight!

You’re telling me that our qualifying rounds will be the same as this year and the Scottish Selection weekend is still a two-day event like this year?
  • Yup!
So there are no extra days, or competitions and no massive increase in cost for the Scottish rounds?
  • That's it!
And the only big change is the Grand Final which will be a two-day thing?
  • Yup!


YCS 19 4


Still got questions?

If you still have questions about the competitions, the format or how I like my tea, don’t worry: you’ll get a chance to ask. I will be running a couple of Q&A sessions at the next Scottish Squad Academies. You are more than welcome to attend to get answers to any of your questions.

Academy dates:
  • 18th August - South (Eden Rock)
  • 1st September - North (Transition Extreme)
If you have questions you would like to ask please send them to robert@mountaineering.scot prior to the event and I will make sure we discuss it.

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