Engaging leaderboards for bouldering competitions

Frédéric Massart, 22 March 2021

In a typical climbing competition split between male and female, there will be 3 people on the podium of each category, and about twice as many aspiring to get into the top 3. This means that for a competition of about 100 people, about 90% of the participants do not compete for the top 3.

It is too common to overlook this 90% of competitors.

The majority of climbers will not win, and they know it, however, they are essential to the success of a competition. If the people who know that they won't make it to the top did not participate, then competitions would be rather dull.

So why does the 90% participate at all? Everyone's motivation is different for participating. Competing with oneself is one, competing with friends, or comparing oneself with others is another.

However, being stuck in the middle of the pack at rank 50 is not that fun, regardless of one's primary motivation for entering the competition to begin with.

At UpMost, we strive to keep everyone engaged, and to make a competition an enjoyable experience regardless of one's primary motivation or skill level. That is why we introduced fun leaderboards.

Rankings that are just-for-fun?

Aside from the official leaderboard that competition organisers will elect winners with, unofficial leaderboards can be added to the competitions. Their purpose is to add multiple avenues for participants to feel connected to the competition, and perhaps even to find themselves ranking higher than they anticipated!

The four following unofficial leaderboards are entirely optional and do not replace the official ranking.

The menu to switch between leaderboards in the competition's tablet app.

Free for All leaderboard

Climbing competition rankings are typically split between male and female, and sometimes further in age groups. But in the Free for All leaderboard, everyone is side by side. At first glance this seems like it would be unfair, but how cool is it to beat someone in another category?

Alice is a good climber currently ranked 3 in her division of 13-year-old females, but she is stronger than the guys of her age. In the Free for All leaderboard, she can appreciate being ranked higher than the peers she wouldn't typically be competing against, including her male friends.

The Tribes leaderboard

Finding oneself ranked in the middle of a competition isn't the most motivating is it? Wouldn't it be more fun if climbers were competing with climbers that are roughly the same level? Unfortunately, gender and age groups aren't a bulletproof method, so here comes The Tribes!

The Tribes leaderboard groups climbers of similar skill level into tribes. So, now climbers can compare themselves and compete with climbers of similar skill level, regardless of their age or gender.

UpMost uses its algorithm to compute a climber's skill level and will re-evaluate the tribe of each participant every week. However, the tribes leaderboard is all about positivity! Therefore the names of the tribes do not convey any indication of lower skill than another, and a climber will never be demoted to another tribe.

Just Tops leaderboard

With UpMost, competition organisers have the option to let climbers score Zones, Tops, Flashes, and sometimes even bonus points depending on when the climb was topped. That is great to play with motivation, engagement, and to use a tie-breaker as each option awards different points.

But how would the leaderboard look like if we leveled the playing field, scraped all the extra points, and just focused on tops? The Just Tops leaderboard does just that. It would give Alex, a climber for whom it takes more attempts to top a climb, the opportunity to find themselves ranked equal to another climber who typically flashes the same problems. Now that's motivating!

First Ascents leaderboard

The first ascent of a route is always memorable, and gives a sense of pride to the one and only climber who got to the top first! That is the feeling of historical performance and sense of accomplishment that we are aiming to carry into the First Ascents leaderboard.

It does not matter their skill level, or the difficulty of the climb, if they are amongst the first climbers to top a climb in the competition, they make history! Points are only allocated to the few first ascents, so let the race begin!

This leaderboard gives an opportunity for average climbers to rake a ton of points for being the first to climb a few problems, and possibly find themselves competing neck and neck with that strong climber everyone knows will win!


With these additional unofficial leaderboards, we are confident that engagement and enjoyment levels of competitions will increase. The success of your events, measured by attendance and satisfaction, is what matters to us!

UpMost is a climbing competition management system designed to engage climbers of all skill levels, to save competition organisers precious time, and to drive more visits to climbing gyms. Contact us for more information.