NEW YCS format 2021 and beyond

In 2020 the home nations, The BMC, Mountaineering Ireland and Mountaineering Scotland, circulated a survey to discuss changes to the competitions calendar and national competition formats. This gave us the opportunity to look at our YCS and give it a proper revamp. Some big changes are on the way, and Robert MacKenzie (RDO) is here to explain what’s going on.

Wait a minute, I thought we had a format that worked? Why are we changing?

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

In Scotland our competitions don’t get any external funding and aren’t subsidised in any way. Therefore all of our competitions must cover their costs over the year. These costs have, in the past, just about been covered by the entry fees of the 125+ competitors in the YCS, the 150+ in our SYCC and the 200+ in our SYBC, and I mean just.

The costs involved in running competitions is high, but in previous years we have managed to keep this to a minimum mainly due to the generosity of our partner climbing facilities which gave us access to the climbing walls for free or for standard entry fees. This costs the walls a lot of money to do this so we are extremely grateful to them for all the years of generosity and support.

YCS 19 2

However the financial hit the walls take has grown bigger each year and has now come to the point where, as much as they want to, they can’t close the wall for our competitions without reducing some of their loss in revenue, although they continue to subsidise the competitions. Over the past years the costs of putting on a competition have risen in many ways (including the cost of stripping the walls, cleaning the holds, the setting of the routes and problems). This means we have two options to make them more sustainable for the future:

  • Increase the entry fees to the YCS by potentially double
  • Change to format to something that is financially viable

Please know that we understand any format change now or increase in costs will impact many of you and these decisions have not been taken lightly. It has been a long year working through all the possibilities before making a decision.

Ok, so what’s the plan?

Well our main goal is to make competitions accessable to all, so doubling the price of entry isn't something we are prepared to concider. At the same time the competition scene in the UK has changed after format changes were made some years ago in England, Wales and Ireland. But our YCS has been radically different in order to operate separate north and south regions. So, the option to change the format remains the best at this time. So we are going to take this opportunity to move in line with the BMC and Mountaineering Ireland format, hence we are going to move to a single Scotland-wide competition with 4 rounds spread across Scotland, instead of having separate north and south rounds.
Rounds Dates Venue
ROUND 1 18/09/2021 EICA Ratho ROPED
ROUND 2 02/10/2021 Eden Rock Edinburgh BOULDER
ROUND 3 23/10/2021 Perth College UHI ROPED
ROUND 4 06/11/2021 TCA Prop Store BOULDER
Grand Final 27/11/2021 - 28/11/2021 Sheffield ROPED & BOULDER
To try and minimise the cost of the YCS, we will also no longer be able to offer volunteer expenses or free tea and coffee for our volunteers.

What does that mean?

Well in the past we have had separate north and south YCS qualifying rounds, and we have only been able to use facilities that have both roped and bouldering areas.

This time we are going to have all our competitors compete together across 4 rounds. There will be 2 dedicated roped rounds with every competitor climbing 5 routes; and 2 dedicated bouldering rounds with every competitors climbing 10 problems. This will allow us to finally use the fantastic bouldering only facilities we have in Scotland.

Each competitor’s best 3 results will be used to give an overall ranking. The top 3 in each category will make up our Scottish YCS Team that will go onto the Youth Climbing Series Grand Finals. This is an improvement on the old format because if a competitors misses a round they still have a shot at making the team, where in the old format with fewer rounds this wasn’t possible.

So most of the round will be in the South of Scotland? How is that fair?

Well, it’s not and that is why we haven’t used this format before now. We know that without another big facility in the north, using this format will have a significant impact on many of you. However without raising the entry fee of the YCS to an amount that nobody would pay anyway, we don’t have the choice this time around. We hope that soon we will have another large facility in the north that will mean we can run 2 rounds in the North and 2 rounds in the South of Scotland.

When looking at the new format we looked at the travel times incurred for those coming from different areas, and for the majority of our competitors this new format actually reduces the travel time and therefor overall cost of the competitions. However for some there will be significant increases in travel times and therefor attending the competitions will be much more of a commitment. We understand that this is unfair, but we haven’t taken this decision lightly and we apologise for any increased pressure this will add. Again hopefully we will soon have another facility in the north that we can use to balance the YCS better.

UPDATE on the decision about venues

We are delighted to be able to announce the venues for the 2021 YCS and have been working hard to deliver a new format of competition which mirrors what is happening across the other home nations and provides a great experience for our young climbers as they return to climbing after a very difficult year for our walls and the wider climbing community.

The change to an all-Scotland competition using the UK and Ireland Format of 4 rounds, means there are potentially double the number of competitors of the previous north/south regional YCS events. The results of only 3 events are used in rankings, so the ideal distribution of those events would have been to hold 2 rounds in the north and 2 in the south. Unfortunately there are no venues suitable in the north that can cater for both bouldering and lead climbing with the two biggest bouldering walls located in the central belt. This meant we were extremely keen to at least have a roped event in the north and Transition Extreme in Aberdeen is currently the only venue in the North that can cater for a roped event, taking various factors into account, such as capacity and access.

However, with funding pressures and a possible decrease in the numbers of competitors (and therefore income) due to the impact of Covid on participation, our budget available to pay for route setting and hire of the host walls is limited and we are grateful that the host walls have been able to generously support the competition at a cost to them.

Unfortunately, we could not agree a financial settlement with Transition Extreme that was within our budget and we know this will be a blow to the competitors based in the north, who must now travel south for all 3 (or 4) comps. However, we are grateful that Perth UHI has stepped in to host an event, so at least one competition will be easier to attend for those climbers based in Inverness and Aberdeen.

With Tokyo 2021 fast approaching and GB climbing now established we think the future is very bright for competitive climbing and we want to ensure that working with our fantastic volunteers and host walls that this years YCS series continues to offer the same fun and inclusive experience that they have always delivered.

What about our Youth E competitors

As we confirmed last year, following the UKC wide survey released by the BMC, Mountaineering Ireland and Mountaineering Scotland, to all competitors and parents/ gaurdians, the decision was made that Youth E will be invited to compete in the qualifying rounds, but will not have a Grand Final.

What about our 70+ strong Youth Development Squad?

The Youth Development Squad selection in 2020 will carry over to this year. So if you made the squad last year, well done you have a place on the 2021 squad. We have provisional dates for Development Squad Academies already.
Academy Dates Venue
Academy - Back to Basics 30 june - 01 July 2021 Cummingston & Moy Rock
Academy - Back to Basics 14 - 15 July 2021 TCA Prop Store
Mock Comp - Reintroduction to Performance 07 - 08 August 2021 Perth College Climbing Wall
Mock Comp - Reintroduction to Performance 21 - 22 August 2021 Perth College Climbing Wall
*All dates and venues are subject to change following COVID-19 restrictions

We also have all of our Real Rock events that are open for anyone, North or South, to attend.

RealRock sessions aim to support the transition from indoor to outdoor climbing for young people aged 8-17 years old. Whether it is trad, sport or bouldering you're into, come along to progress your outdoor climbing experience.

YCS 19 3

So let me get this straight!

All competitors will compete in 4 rounds, 2 roped rounds and 2 boulder rounds?
  • Yup
I only need to attend 3 of the 4 rounds, my best 3 results will be used to get my overall ranking and the top 3 will go to the YCS final?
  • You got it
There’s 1 roped round in the north, 1 roped round and 2 boulder rounds in the south?
  • Until we can have a more balanced spread, yeah
You’re not doubling the price of the YCS
  • Nope
We will still get a Youth Development Squad with Academies and get to work with the legends, Calum and Robert?
  • Definitely

YCS 19 4

Still got questions?

If you have questions you would like to ask please send them to prior to the meeting and I will make sure we discuss it.

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