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Steel Town Throw Down Series '20-21

Get ready Pittsburgh and Youngstown, for ASCEND's biggest and bestest Steel Town Throw Down yet! In a 5 event-series, we’ll have 4 qualification competitions culminating in a weekend of semi-final and final rounds for Recreational, Intermediate, and Advanced climbers. And with prizes and awards given at every competition, and cumulative perks, there's no reason not to register for the whole series! Born out of COVID precautions, but inspired by other great climbing competitions, we believe that this new format will be more engaging, more inclusive, and more fun. This new format is intentionally designed to encourage our newer and apprehensive climbers, as well as to satisfy our fiercest competitors. There's a lot to it, so read below to get all of the answers!

Looking for USA Climbing Youth Bouldering Virtual Redpoint Competition informaiton. CLICK HERE.



Qualifiers #1: October 8th - 10th (ASCEND Pittsburgh - Blue Wall)

Qualifiers #2: November 5th - 7th (ASCEND Pittsburgh - Orange Wall)



Qualifiers #3: December 3rd - 5th (ASCEND Youngstown - Cave Side)


Qualifiers #4: February 4th - 6th (ASCEND Pittsburgh - Purple Wall)


Semi-Finals + Finals: March 4th - 6th (ASCEND Pittsburgh)



Participants will start their journey by competing in one or more Qualifying Round, with the goal of earning an invitation to Semi-Finals, or simply having some fun while testing themselves! Then, semi-finalists will compete for a chance to battle it out head-to-head in Finals! In order to be invited to compete in the March Semi-Finals, competitors must place in the top 5 within their division - 5 men and 5 women (those of you who fall in between genders, please choose the category with which you most closely identify) each from Recreation, Intermediate, Advanced - for a total of 30 moving on from each qualifying round. Semi-finals will begin with exactly 120 competitors, 20 men and 20 women from all 3 divisions. At the conclusion of Semi-Finals, the top 6 men and top 6 women from each division will compete in a massive, and super awesome, on-sight finals event!

QUALIFIERS: Qualifiers will follow a standard redpoint format, each consisting of exactly 35 problems, ranging from 100 pts. to 3,500 pts, gradually increasing in difficulty from 1 - 35. Competitors will have 3 hours to try and complete as many boulders as they choose, but only counting their 5 top scores. Flashes will receive full point values, whereas subsequent attempts will yield minor deductions. Scores will be peer judged as there will not be dedicated volunteer judges for every session, though, an ASCEND Steel Town Throw Down representative will be available each session to assist where needed.

Each qualifying round will take place on a dedicated, cohesive section of terrain (blue wall, orange wall, etc), and will be exclusively reserved for competitors until the qualifying round has ended. Each qualifying round will generally run from Thursday evening through Saturday night, unless high demand warrants additional sessions on Sunday. Sessions are 3-hours long, and each session will max out at circa 30 people. The rest of the facility will be open to the public, but capacity will be reduced to accommodate both user groups.

Results and Semi-Finals invitations will be announced as soon as possible after the conclusion of the entire qualifying event, likely early the following week. Competitors may only compete in one session per qualifying event, but are strongly encouraged to compete in mALLtiple qualifiers since there are cumulative incentives as well! (Keep reading...) The cost for each Qualifier is $15 for members or $30 for non-members.

SEMI-FINALS: Semi-finals will run identically as qualifying events, Thursday evening - Saturday morning, and are likely to be held on ASCEND Pittsburgh's Blue Wall. 120 competitors will enter, but only 36 will move to finals. An invitation to Semi-Finals is just an invitation, and the cost is $25 for members or $40 for non-members.

FINALS: All divisions of Finals will run under the same format from one another, beginning with Recreation, then Intermediate, and finally Advanced. Finalists will work through 4 problems, one at a time, in front of a live audience. After a brief preview, each finalist will have 4 minutes to try and on-sight each problem with rest in between. Finals will begin sometime Saturday afternoon and continue into the evening. There is no additional cost to compete in finals.

One of the most exciting aspects of this format, is the opportunity to provide a true Finals experience to our less-experienced, but equally as awesome competitors. Hooray!


Each qualifying round, the top men's and women's finishers of each division will take home premium swag, valued at circa $100 for each winner, from our incredible QUALIFIER SPONSORS. We love them and so should you! We'll be featuring products from these great brands in our stores throughout the series, so stop on in and see what's good.

We also got some sweet swag from some other great FRIEND SPONSORS that we'll dole out throughout the series.

Finalists will battle it out for cold hard cash, for a total prize pool yet to be determined.

Interested in learning more about SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES?


Sure, we value talented climbing, but we also value participation and determination! Aaaand we love giving away sweet prizes and doting on our competitors as much as possible. Thus, we're tossing in two fun incentives to come out and compete for as many qualifying rounds as possible.

RAFFLE: Competitors will receive 1 raffle ticket for every qualifying round for which they register, but registering for all 4 rounds will land you a bonus of 4 additional tickets, for a maximum of 8! Sometime in mid-February, we'll host a virtual raffle event, where we'll give away:

      • 4 ASCEND Memberships for 12 months
      • 4 ASCEND Memberships for 6 months
      • 4 ASCEND Memberships for 3 months
      • 4 ASCEND Memberships for 1 month
      • ... and likely more! 

TOP CUMULATIVE SCORERS: Tallying top 5 scores from each qualifying round and semi-finals, we'll proudly present the men's and women's top cumulative scorers for each division. They will have shown up, and thrown down, more consistently than anyone else. For their valiant efforts, each will receive a $50 ASCEND Gift Card, a special trophy, and of course... supreme bragging rights!


In addition to a t-shirt, we're also slinging patches, and super cool stickers and pins from our favorite sticker maker Sticker Mule, so that you can most optimally sport your love for competition, ASCEND, and the Rust Belt region! Available products will be optional add-ons when registering for each round. See below for mock-ups!


  • How are the Recreation, Intermediate, and Advanced divisions determined?
    • Competitors will self-select their division based on an honest assessment of one's climbing ability. Here are the benchmarks that we recommend:
      • Recreation: V1-V3 | consistently sends purple circuit (V1-V3), often sends yellow circuit (V2-V4), works on blue circuit (V3-V5)
      • Intermediate: V3-V5 | consistently sends blue circuit (V3-V5), often sends orange circuit (V4-V6), works on pink circuit (V5-V7)
      • Advanced: V6+ | consistently sends pink circuit (V5-V7), often sends red circuit (V6-V8), works on white circuit (V7-V9)
  • What if someone who has already been invited to Semi-Finals places in the top 5 in a subsequent qualifying round?
    • Competitors who have already received an invitation to Semi-Finals will not receive a second invite, rather, the top 5 competitors, excluding previous top finishers will be invited. For example, if the top 3 finishers of a later qualifying round have already been invited, finishers 4-8 would instead be invited.
  • What if an invited semi-finalist cannot attend semi-finals?
    • In the event that any invited semi-finalists cannot attend, the next highest scorers from the 4 qualifying rounds will be invited. This process will occur sometime in mid-February.
  • What if a competitor notably out/underperforms the rest of the division? TLDR: ASCEND's goal is to host a fair and equitable competition, not only by attempting to prevent and adjust for intentional foul-play, but by ensuring that all competitors are competing against the most appropriate peers. We will do our best to outline the mechanisms in place to control these factors, but we also ask for your trust, patience, and understanding as we work with you on making this a wonderful and transparent experience for all who are involved.
    • If a competitor notably outperforms the rest of their cohorts, scoring judges may decide to permanently bump that competitor up to the next division, where they will remain for the rest of the series. This would only occur after their first qualifying event.
    • If a competitor notably underperforms the rest of their cohorts, scoring judges may decide to personally contact that competitor and suggest that they register for a more suitable division for the next qualification round. That being said, if a competitor is particularly set on placing in a challenging division, we will not stop them from trying.
    • Frequently switching divisions is discouraged, but if a competitor is set to receive invitations to the Semi-Finals in more than one division, the competitor will only receive an invitation in the highest division, and all other invitations will be rescinded. For example, a competitor gets 1st in the Intermediate division (and isn't flagged for a notable outperformance), and then competes in the next qualifier round and places 5th in Advanced, they will enter semi-finals as an Advanced competitor.
    • At the end of the day, think of this whole series as 3 different competitions by division, where ideally, all competitors accurately place themselves in the most representative division from the start, and moving in between is only reserved for special occasions.
  • How will scores be marked and tallied?
    • Competitors will turn in scorecards at the end of each competition, and within a few days, scores and rankings will be published online.
  • Will you be closed to the public during these competitions?
    • Nope, except for the finals rounds in March. We're doing our best to remain as open as possible to the public, including comp preparations. That being said, some areas of the facility will be closed at times. We'll do our best to clearly communicate any notable closures.
    • Typically, assume that the competition wall will be closed beginning the Monday before each competition.
  • Is there a separate youth division?
    • No, but youth competitors are more than welcome to compete in which ever division suits the best.
    • ASCEND Pittsburgh and ASCEND Youngstown will be participating in the USAC Local competitions events. CLICK HERE for more!
  • May I arrive early to warm-up?
    • Yes! But please no more than 30 minutes, and we ask that you refrain from watching the other competitors.