The goal at a bouldering competition is to climb four or five short climbing problems in as few tries as possible, over three rounds (qualifications, semi-finals with 20 climbers and finals with 6 climbers).
One boulder consists of six to eight moves, it is 4.5 meters high and thus can be climbed with just safety mats instead of ropes. The climber has to start with both hands on the marked start holds and finish with both hands on the marked top hold.
The climber who needs the fewest tries for the problems climbed wins. For boulders that don't get climbed to the “Top”, a so-called “Bonus Hold” gets designated, which has to be held to reach the “Zone”. For the end result, the first consideration is the number of tops, then the number of tries for these ascents. The next consideration is the number of Bonus Holds reached, and once again, the number of tries is considered.
In qualifiers, the climbers have to climb five problems, having five minutes per problem. Between each problem, there is a five minutes break. All climbers start in a certain order into the competition until all participants have given all problems a try.
Normally, there is more time, but harder problems in the next round: In semifinals, the top 20 climbers from the qualifiers have the same time for four problems, the top six reach finals.
This is where the real test for body and mind starts: In finals, every athlete only has four minutes per problem. Only when all finalists have attempted a problem, everyone moves on to the next problem.