The term “onsight” means that the climber successfully finishes a route, without falling, on the first try – without seeing other people climb it first, and without receiving any advice about the climb. In other words, you climb it on first sight. The climber has to use their ingenuity to solve the sequences and string together the right moves on their own. In an onsight competition, the competitors have to climb sport routes and boulder problems without watching another climber do it first.
In a onsight competition, there is sometimes a “preview,” a short time period (maybe 3 minutes) for the competitors to view the climb from the ground and possibly discuss among themselves how they might solve difficult sections. After the preview period, the competitors return to an isolation area prior to their turn to climb, so that they aren’t given the advantage of seeing others do it or getting further advice (beta).
In a sport (rope) onsight competition, the competitors only receive ONE attempt, and their final score on the route is based on the highest handhold that they reach on their first try. In a bouldering (short wall, no rope) onsight competition, the competitors can have multiple attempts, but they only receive 4-5 minutes to solve the problem. A bouldering onsight score is based on the highest point achieved during that time period, and the number of attempts needed to reach that point.
The term “redpoint” means that the climber successfully climbs the route (from start to finish, with no falls) after more than one attempt, perhaps after seeing it climbed by another person, or perhaps after receiving advice. In a redpoint competition, multiple attempts may be made on the climbs over the duration of the whole competition period (usually around 3 hours).
In a redpoint competition, all climbs are available to the all climbers at once. The climbs each have a point value that is only earned by reaching the top without falling. Competitors can pick and choose which ones to do after discussing them with others or watching others climb them. Coaches, fellow competitors, and parents can give them advice throughout the competition, but only on the ground, not while they’re actually on the wall climbing. The competitors’ scores are based on the points they earn by topping climbs. The number of attempts may be used to break ties.
Seasoned competitors, which format do you prefer? Do you have any advice for new climbers as they start competing for the first time?