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Guide to the Paraclimbing World Cup

Guide to the Paraclimbing World Cup

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On October 9th and 10th, adaptive climbers from across the world will make their way to Sender One Climbing (LAX) in Los Angeles to compete in the IFSC Paraclimbing World Cup. This event will be the third of its series and the first on U.S. soil. We can't wait to share this experience with the community and some of the most inspiring climbers. In preparation for those planning on attending the event, or following along via Livestream, we've put together insightful information about Paraclimbing.

We hope you will join us for another historic event in climbing!

A Brief History

Adaptive climbing is a relatively new sport gaining notoriety in the 1980s primarily due to Hugh Herr and Mark Wellman. Herr was 17 when he was tragically caught in a blizzard. The frostbite he endured caused him to lose both legs. Herr configured special prosthetics for free climbing and went on to get the FA on Vandals a 5.13 in the Gunks. Wellman survived a 100-foot fall that broke his back and allowed for little use of his leg, despite his injury he committed to being the first adaptive climber to climb El Cap.

It wasn’t until the late 2000s that Paraclimbing broke into the competition scene, starting with the Extremity Games. Soon after, USA Climbing got onboard to include adaptive climbing in the framework of ongoing competitions. The momentum continued with the 2012 World Championships for Climbing, which held an adaptive category for the first time ever. 

The last 20 years have seen much growth for Paraclimbing in the competition scene and we look to help foster the continuation of that growth, optimistically with the inclusion of Paraclimbing in the 2028 Paralympics.

Paraclimbing athlete with a blindfold on is climbing up a indoor rock wall on top rope.

Paraclimbing Categories

Paraclimbing athletes have faced challenges and overcome obstacles that their able-bodied counterparts likely could not imagine. The drive to perform and succeed is truly inspirational and a joy to watch. 

Paraclimbing is broken down into 20 different categories based on the climber’s type and level of impairment and gender. Each category has unique qualifications, rules, and ways that the climber will make their way up the wall.

B: Visually Impaired/Blind

  • Subcategories: The B category is separated into three subcategories. Climbers will range in sight ability from impaired central or peripheral vision to fully blind. 
  • Climbing: The vast majority of B climbers will use a ‘sight guide,’ a partner on the ground who aids the climber’s beta and route via a headset. Prior to competing  B athletes along with their sight guides are able to preview walls to visualize and memorize the routes. 
  • Routes: B1 routes are typically around 5.10a to 5.11d. Athletes are fully blind and move slowly and methodically up the routes.
    B2 and B3 climbers have some ability to see so high contrast between holds and the wall is necessary. These routes typically range from 5.10c to 5.12b.

AU: Arm/Forearm Amputee

  • Subcategories: The AU category is separated into two subcategories. Climbers here will have an amputation at the shoulder or forearm or a limb deficiency so that the athlete has one arm and one stump for use in climbing. 
  • Climbing: Precise footwork is paramount for climbers in the AU category who may also need to rely on one arm dynamic movement.  
  • Routes: AU1 routes are typically around 5.10a to 5.10c. Athletes use only one arm to climb so plentiful footholds and good footwork are key. Low angled walls and shorter moves are desirable for this category.
    AU2 climbers use one full arm and one stump to climb. Depending on the nature of the stump it may be used to hook holds, but pinches and pockets are less useful. Routes are usually between 5.10c to 5.12b.

    AL: Leg Amputee & Paraplegic

    • Subcategories: The AL category is separated into two subcategories. Climbers here will either have no usable muscle function below the waist or have a lower limb amputation. 
    • Climbing: Paraplegic competitors will campus their way up an overhung route. Athletes with a lower limb amputation may choose to climb with a prosthesis or not. 
    • Routes: AL1 routes are set on highly overhanging walls using large holds.
      AL2 routes must be set to accommodate climbers with or without a prosthesis and those with either a left or right amputation.  Difficulties usually range from 5.11d to 5.13d.
    Paraclimbing athlete making their way up a climbing wall on top rope.

    RP: Limited Range, Power, and Stability

    • Subcategories: The RP category is separated into three subcategories. It is the most complex of the categories with athlete conditions varying more than any other. Athletes here have conditions that result in a limited range, power, and stability. They may be the result of neurological disabilities, Hypertonia, Ataxia, Athetosis, Impaired passive range of motion, Impaired muscle power, Short Stature, or others. 
    • Climbing: With the range in complexity of athletes in this category the type of climbing and movement strategies will also widely vary.
    • Routes: RP1 climbers have either neurological or physiological impairments that affect all body parts severely. Because the limitations vary widely, the routesetters need to offer climbs with many options. Climbs generally range from 5.10a to 5.11a.
      RP2 climbers have impairments with a moderate impact compared to RP1. RP2 routes typically range from 5.10c to 5.12b
      RP3 climbers have a noticeable neurological or physiological impairment but it does not limit their ability to climb normal routes. Grades in this category range from 5.11d to 5.13d.

    We hope our Guide to the Paraclimbing World Cup has been helpful! We look forward to hosting the 2021 IFSC Paraclimbing World Cup. For more event details and information about spectator tickets, visit our event page.

    Images provided by USA Climbing.
    Information gathered for this article was sourced from the following resources:
    2016-2021 COMMON CLIMBER
    2021 Paraclimbing News
    2021 MOJA GEAR
    2021 Outside Interactive, Inc

    Keep Climbing Kind: Event Recap

    Keep Climbing Kind: Event Recap

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    Sender One launched the Keep Climbing Kind campaign last month in an ongoing effort to bring inclusivity and accessibility to the climbing community. Keep Climbing Kind centers on the four pillars of the Sender One Cares Program which are to Send with Color, Send with Pride, Send with Womxn, and Care for the Crag. We believe it to be imperative that our workplace, programming, and member community represent the demographic of our neighborhoods. 

    The first Keep Climbing Kind nights were held at Sender One LAX on Wednesday, July 21st, and at Sender One SNA on Wednesday, July 28th. Members and guests gathered to learn about local climbing organizations, participate in a group art project, climb together and commit to the Keep Climbing Kind Pledge.


    Sender One is actively focusing on breaking down barriers that limit participation in the sport of climbing while creating a space that fosters a JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion) mindset. The first step to progress is acknowledging that biases, differences, and deterrents exist within our climbing culture. We invite our community to reflect on areas where change is needed and partner with Sender One and our local climbing organizations to act on solutions and to commit to kindness by signing our Keep Climbing Kind Pledge.

    The KEEP CLIMBING KIND Art Project

    Each of our palms is as unique as the individual it is attached to. We came together with different colors, shapes, and sizes to create a community art piece.


    Limited edition stickers are available for purchase on-site at LAX and SNA. 100% of net proceeds will be donated to the climbing organizations that participated by attending our Keep Climbing Kind Nights. Stickers are 1 for $3 or 4 for $10.

    The KEEP CLIMBING KIND - Participating Organizations

    For each Keeping Climbing Kind night, we invited a few local organizations to participate and connect with the community.


    Policy + Advocacy
    Protect the places you climb. The AAC policy team is working hard with partners, lawmakers and agency leaders to address issues facing outdoor recreation. 

    Climb smart, climb safe. For over 100 years the AAC has led climbing education by documenting successes and failures and recommending best practices. 

    Get involved. Our Chapters work on a grassroots level in communities across the country by connecting members through local events, stewardship projects, and education.


    BGC is a social enterprise that strives to facilitate mentorship, provide access, uplift leadership, and celebrates representation in the outdoors and climbing for People of the Global Majority*.

    Our process is adaptive and emergent with a focus on building equitable and just relationships in all the efforts we commit to, including meet-ups and mentorship, resource sharing and redistribution, and employment and industry practices

    Historically, we have focused on Women of Color in climbing, but recognize that our work goes beyond women such that our hope is to have a wider impact on all climbers, specifically those impacted by patriarchal systems.


    Friends of Joshua Tree advocates, communicates, and encourages ethical and environmentally sound climbing practices, and works to shape park policy on climbing and climbing-related issues. Toward that end, Friends of Joshua Tree acts as the liaison between the climbing community and the National Park service.


    Our mission is to become involved in the climbing community by hosting meet-ups for ladies (trans and cis), non-binary, 2 Spirit and friends, stewardship through crag clean-ups, highlighting climbers on our social media platforms, and partnering with climbing organizations for events, raffles, and giveaways.

    Ladies Climbing Coalition

    Breaking into climbing can sometimes be intimidating, and so climbing with other women can help alleviate some of the intimidation. It also just changes the experience of climbing. Hanging out, especially in nature, with a group of women is powerful, and we strive to show all women their own power.

    Ladies Climbing Coalition ambassadors host ladies meet-ups in gyms across the nation, and we coordinate and facilitate low-cost climbing trips around the country for all women and non-binary folx who are comfortable in spaces that center the experiences of women.

    Womxn Who Climb

    Womxn Who Climb is an intersectional space for women and non-binary people who climb to connect, share gear and crag advice, and discuss various topics that relate to climbing and each individual’s experiences with climbing (both positive and negative).

    Climbing + Tokyo Olympic Games: Everything You Need to Know

    Climbing + Tokyo Olympic Games: Everything You Need to Know

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    After being postponed last year due to the pandemic, we are finally about to witness climbing’s debut in the Tokyo Olympic Games! In early 2020, we hosted the Pan-American Championships where Olympic hopefuls competed for their spot in the games. The final USA Olympian, Colin Duffy, was selected, along with Alannah Yip for Team Canada. It’s inspiring to think about the amount of dedication, grit, and hard work the athletes must endure in order to mark such achievements.  

    Helpful Things to Know:

    • It’s not only called climbing. It will be referred to as “Sport Climbing” in the Olympics.
    • 20 men and 20 women will be competing in three separate disciplines: speed climbing, bouldering, and lead climbing.
    • Scoring is determined by multiplying the placements from each discipline. The athlete with the lowest overall number wins gold. For example, if a climber places 2nd in speed, 5th in bouldering, and 3rd in lead climbing, their total score would be 2 x 5 x 3 = 30.

    When and Where to Watch:

    The Sport Climbing event will be held from Tuesday, August 3rd to Friday, August 6th with the Olympic Opening Ceremony on Friday, July 23rd. You can stream live coverage of the Olympics on NBC

    Tuesday, August 3rd - Starts at 1am PDT / 4am EDT
    Men’s Combined Qualification – Speed: 1am PDT / 4am EDT
    Men’s Combined Qualification – Bouldering: 2am PDT / 5am EDT
    Men’s Combined Qualification – Lead: 5:10am PDT / 8:10am EDT

    Wednesday, August 4th - Starts at 1am PDT / 4am EDT
    Women’s Combined Qualification – Speed: 1am PDT / 4am EDT
    Women’s Combined Qualification – Bouldering: 2am PDT / 5am EDT
    Women’s Combined Qualification – Lead: 5:10am PDT / 8:10am EDT

    Thursday, August 5th - Starts at 1:30am PDT / 4:30am EDT
    Men’s Combined Final – Speed: 1:30am PDT / 4:30am EDT
    Men’s Combined Final – Bouldering: 2:30am PDT / 5:30am EDT
    Men’s Combined Final – Lead: 5:10am PDT / 8:10am EDT
    Men’s Combined Victory Ceremony

    Friday, August 6th - Starts at 1:30am PDT / 4:30am EDT
    Women’s Combined Final – Speed: 1:30am PDT / 4:30am EDT
    Women’s Combined Final – Bouldering: 2:30am PDT / 5:30am EDT
    Women’s Combined Final – Lead: 5:10am PDT / 8:10am EDT
    Women’s Combined Victory Ceremony

    Take a nap before you get your favorite late-night snacks and maybe some chalk to help with those sweaty hands while you watch climbers from all around the world compete in the freakin’ Olympics! Best of luck to Kyra Condie, Brooke Raboutou, Colin Duffy, and Nathaniel Coleman.  We’re rooting for you, Team USA!

    Bonus content: check out this video filmed at Sender One LAX on How to Sport Climb like an Olympian featuring Josh Levin and the Try Guys!

    LGBTQIA+ Organizations to Support & Accounts to Follow

    LGBTQIA+ Organizations to Support & Accounts to Follow

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    Voices of the LGBTQIA+ community are often underrepresented and misunderstood. However, there are countless leaders and inspirational individuals within the LGBTQIA+ community that deserve to be recognized, celebrated and amplified. 

    We’ve put together a list of change-makers, entrepreneurs, artists, and educators to check out and follow. In addition, discover LGBTQ-focused organizations to support that are advocating and fighting for equal rights.



    LGBTQ Center Orange County

    Their mission is to advocate on the behalf of the OC LGBTQ communities and provide services that ensure its well-being and positive identity.

    Los Angeles LGBT Center

    They are building a world where LGBTQ people thrive as healthy, equal, and complete members of society.

    Equality California

    They bring the voices of LGBTQ+ people and allies to institutions of power in CA and across the US while striving to create a world that is healthy, just, and fully equal for all LGBTQ+ people.

    It Gets Better Project

    This nonprofit organization aims to uplift, empower, and connect LGBTQ+ youth around the globe through storytelling and building community.

    Transgender Law Center

    The largest national trans-led organization, TLC changes law, policy, and attitudes so that all people can live safely, authentically, and free from discrimination regardless of their gender identity or expression.

    The Trevor Project

    Founded over two decades ago, The Trevor Project is the leading global organization that responds to the crisis of LGBTQ youth suicide.

    Out & Equal: Workplace Advocates

    They work exclusively on LGBTQ workplace equality by partnering with Fortune 1000 companies, government agencies, and organizations across industries and diverse missions.


    For over 30 years, GLAAD has led a dynamic media force that takes on challenging issues to inspire cultural change while rewriting the script for LGBTQ acceptance. They aim to create a world where everyone can live the life they love.


    We're matching up to $1,000 in donations for the Human Rights Campaign!

    For every Pride item purchased in June AND July, $2 will be donated to the @humanrightscampaign. Choose from our Pride tank (available in two colors), an Organic Climbing chalk bag with a Pride patch, or get the Pride patch on its own! Contribute in person or online. 

    Dads Who Rock

    Dads Who Rock

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    We're wishing a Happy Father's Day to all the climbing dads in our community. Thank you for being our role models and cheerleaders, for the encouragement and support, for being fun and adventurous, and for being here with us. Thanks for being our ROCKS. We hope you enjoy a cold beverage, your favorite meal, and maybe a solid climbing session to celebrate you.

    We asked a few dads some questions about fatherhood and climbing. Check it out below!

    Happy Father's Day!

    Jason Chang

    Sender One Member Since 2013

    How do you balance fatherhood and climbing?
    It helps that I have a kid on the Sender One Climbing Team so I can bring him to practice and get a climbing workout in while he trains. But I also find that I need to have some kind of physical activity as an outlet so I usually make time for 2-3 sessions a week in order to maintain my sanity.

    What are some of the biggest challenges of being a climber and father, or being a climber's parent?
    Being old and frail. Just kidding. Probably the cost. It's not a cheap activity, especially if your kid travels for competitions. But also being old and frail.

    Do you mainly climb with your kids, or do you have your own group of climbing friends?
    I climbed with my kid when he was around my ability, but he has since eclipsed me in capability so we don't session together as much. I do enjoy taking him outdoors and supporting him as he works on projects. So, I have a small dad group that I climb with and there's a mom group that I sometimes get adopted by. 

    Did you start climbing before your child? If so, how was it introducing them to climbing?
    I started first and when my son started climbing it was very obvious that he found something that he was really into. He didn't enjoy mainstream sports when he was younger and then when he started climbing it was amazing to see the difference in passion and dedication to learning.

    What is your favorite thing about being a climbing dad?
    I love being a climbing dad. One of the best things is seeing your kid grow and develop as a human in the context of being a competitive climber. Being involved with the youth competition climbing community and having great friendships with the families both near and far. Earlier I mentioned the cost but there's also a great reward to having an activity that you share with a son or daughter that gets you active and outside.

    Do you have any advice for other climber dads?
    You can't force a kid to like something you like. But you can give them opportunities to explore and keep it fun so they're willing to try it and discover if they truly like it themselves.


    Todd Presner

    Sender One Member Since 2016

    How do you balance fatherhood and climbing?
    Now that Mateo is almost 13, it’s easy since he climbs with the Sender One training team and enjoys going on outdoor adventures with his dads, Todd and Jaime. It’s definitely important to have a supportive partner who, in our case, has his own sport (ocean swimming), which makes for good balance. Mateo is a lucky kid who has climbed all over the US and Canada, including Maple Canyon, Squamish, the New River Gorge in West Virginia, Red Rocks, and the Red River Gorge in Kentucky. He prefers climbing in places with “friendly animals and bugs” and enjoys being out in nature.

    What are some of the biggest challenges of being a climber and father, or being a climber's parent?
    The challenges were much greater when he was younger since sleep deprivation was a real thing. While I can’t just pick up and go climbing whenever and wherever I feel like it, I value my time climbing more and try to make several trips a year and make them count. Although I’m outside on real rock a lot less, I love gym climbing at Sender One – and it’s great to see the young climbers progressing so quickly through the grades!

    Do you mainly climb with your kids, or do you have your own group of climbing friends?
    It’s everything. I try to climb outdoors with Mateo when we can go on a trip, and I also have a number of climbing partners who are parents, too. This is great since we can climb together with our kids. I am also part of a queer climbing group called “Homoclimbastic” (it’s a real thing, you can google it!), a network of LGBTQ climbers, allies, and friends. We do a couple of trips each year and sometimes Mateo will tag along.

    Did you start climbing before your child? If so, how was it introducing them to climbing?
    I started climbing around 1999 or 2000 at Mission Cliffs in San Francisco and have pretty much been climbing for the last 21+ years. I took a break in 2008, when Mateo was born, but never fully stopped climbing. I think I brought Mateo to the climbing gym before he could really walk, and he started climbing as soon as he could pull himself up.

    What is your favorite thing about being a climbing dad?
    I love seeing the children of climbers excel at climbing. It’s great to see them grow and achieve so much in the sport.

    Do you have any advice for other climber dads?
    Patience. While everything may seem to take much longer, your priorities and appreciation of climbing (and the outdoors in general) will shift in countless positive ways. It’s not only about “the send,” but also the memories of being outside together, climbing on the same rock, and enjoying the beauty and movement of our sport with family and friends.


    Rick Shar

    Sender One Member Since 2018

    How do you balance fatherhood and climbing?
    It’s not too difficult to be a climbing dad because climbing is an activity we all can enjoy together. It helps that while my daughters are with their youth teams, I can climb too. In other sport/activities, I have to drop them off and pick them up, or just wait around.

    What are some of the biggest challenges of being a climber and father, or being a climber's parent?
    I wish my daughters can belay me, but they are too young and lightweight for now. Another challenge is having to constantly buy climbing shoes because they go through them so fast.

    Do you mainly climb with your kids, or do you have your own group of climbing friends?
    I climb with other parents when my girls have climbing practice. 

    Did you start climbing before your child? If so, how was it introducing them to climbing?
    I had an Intro to Climbing class at Sender One LAX. My girls saw photos from the session and wanted to check it out. During winter break, I took them to Sender City on their first visit, then to the gym the next day. After that, I got them both a 5 punch card and they were hooked, climbing about 6+ hours on each of those punches. 2 weeks later, my oldest daughter, 8 years old at the time, tried out for the Comp Team and made it. 

    What is your favorite thing about being a climbing dad?
    Seeing my girls challenge themselves is fulfilling. Watching my daughter climb 13s isn’t bad either. 

    Do you have any advice for other climber dads?
    I used to want my girls to push harder grades and even lead climb more. Now I want to make sure they are enjoying it, and don’t get scared or frustrated. An important piece of advice: learn to give a soft catch when lead belaying your child if they are very light.

    Charles Landis

    Sender One Member Since 2013

    How do you balance fatherhood and climbing?
    Tough one! Climbing comes first!! (lol) No, seriously, being a father always comes first. But we do like to climb!

    What are some of the biggest challenges of being a climber and father, or being a climber's parent?
    I always wanted my kids to excel at whatever they were doing, whether it was climbing or anything else.  But there's a fine line between inspiration and being overbearing.  I try to find that line.

    Do you mainly climb with your kids, or do you have your own group of climbing friends?
    I mainly climb with my own friends but Emily and I still get to the gym occasionally. It's a great father/daughter experience.

    Did you start climbing before your child? If so, how was it introducing them to climbing?
    No, I started climbing at the same time they did.  In fact, the kids' desire to climb was what got me into it.

    What is your favorite thing about being a climbing dad?
    The climbing community is a wonderfully healthy place for adults and kids.  So I really enjoy the comradery and community.  So does Emily.

    Do you have any advice for other climber dads?
    Just have fun!!

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