Climbing Industry Gathers In Pittsburgh – 2023 CWA Summit Week A to Z

CWA Summit week in Pittsburgh

CWA Summit week in Pittsburgh

If you work in or around climbing gyms, you know our big week is coming soon.

The annual CWA Summit is North America’s largest gathering of the climbing industry. Since 2007, the Climbing Wall Association has organized the Summit, where climbing gym managers, routesetters, coaches, prospective owners, brands and services come together for a few days of education, research, networking and more.

And the Summit isn’t the only event happening that week…

Grip Showcase 2023 Pittsburgh at Iron City

CBJ Grip Showcase

Like last year, CBJ is highlighting top hold brands in the Grip Showcase. Each brand gets a full route with exclusively their shapes, and a worldwide vote will determine which brand wins the CBJ Grip List Showcase Pittsburgh Award. The ace setting team at Iron City Boulders will craft the routes, and Iron City Boulders will also host the official Summit afterparty on May 18.

Setter Showdown

In a first, the renowned Setter Showdown is being hosted alongside the CWA Summit. For nearly a decade, Louie Anderson has organized these half-competitions, half-clinics for routesetters interested in learning and challenging themselves. The Showdown will take place at ASCEND South Side on May 15-16.

IFSC World Cups

Okay, these events aren’t in Pittsburgh, but they’re still huge for the competition and indoor climbing scene. For the third year in a row, Salt Lake City will host an IFSC Bouldering & Speed World Cup, which will be held in Pioneer Park on May 19-21. In addition, on May 16-17, an IFSC Paraclimbing World Cup will be held at The Front. Tickets for both World Cups are available here.

CWA Summit Pre-Conferences

2023 CWA Summit

The reason we’re gathering in Pittsburgh! This year’s CWA Summit will be held May 17-19 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, with additional offsite certification events taking place on May 15-16. Each day is packed with valuable activities for any climbing gym manager or staff member, and it’s not too late to decide to attend! Late registration is available through May 1, and walk-up registration is available up until the event starts. There are still discounted rooms for $159/night if you book by May 1.

First, we highly recommend using the official CWA Summit app to plan your schedule; it has the most complete and accurate information, with tools to build your schedule and exhibitor visit list. Note: the app uses your local time zone, so if you are not in the Eastern time zone the schedule may seem misleading.

2022 CWA Summit Expo Hall
Over 70 industry brands are on the Expo Hall map this year. (Pictured: some of the vendor booths at last year’s Summit; photo by Devin Dabney)

Highlights and new stuff this year:

  • Coffee & Collaboration – three days of small group discussions, 1-on-1 connections, networking and mentorship (free registration required).
  • Opening Night Rooftop Afterparty (Wed May 17) – Drinks, music, dancing, and of course networking on the convention center rooftop terrace overlooking the Allegheny River and Pittsburgh skyline. Sponsored by Walltopia.
  • Afterparty and CBJ Grip Showcase (Thu May 18) – Block party with live music, food trucks, drinks, and a chance to climb at Iron City Boulders on freshly set routes from the CBJ Grip Showcase. Shuttle provided from/to the convention center 7:00pm to 12:30am. Sponsored by Walltopia, Mammut and Rock Candy.
  • Closing Night Afterparty (Fri May 19) – Immersive, state-of-the-art lighting and projection mapping, live music, climbing, food, drinks, and great giveaway prizes at ASCEND Point Breeze. Shuttle provided from/to the convention center. Sponsored by OnSite.
A 2022 CWA Summit educational session
The seminar lineup this year includes more than 40 educational sessions. (Pictured: one of the routesetting presentations last year; photo by Scott Rennak)

Combined Schedule of Events

There is so much planned for this week; it can be a bit mind-boggling. Here’s the complete schedule PDF of the 40+ educational sessions (more details are in the app). Expo Hall hours, product presentations, as well as food and social hours are dispersed throughout the day:



  • 8:00am to 4:00pm – Work at Height Competent Certification
  • 8:00am to 5:00pm – CWI Provider Course
  • 8:00am to 5:00pm – Setter Showdown at ASCEND South Side


  • 7:00am – Registration and badge pick-up opens
  • 8:00am to 4:00pm – Work at Height Competent Certification
  • 8:30am to 11:30am – Coffee & Collaboration (free registration required)
  • 12:00pm to 8:00pm – Expo Hall open
  • 1:00pm to 2:00pm – Lunch provided by CWA
  • 5:00pm to 8:00pm – Appetizers and drinks
  • 7:00pm to 8:00pm – Womxn’s Cocktail Hour
  • 8:00pm – Opening night rooftop party


  • 7:00am – Registration and badge pick-up opens
  • 7:00am to 8:00am – Coffee & Collaboration (free registration required)
  • 8:00am to 8:55am – Product presentations
  • 9:00am to 11:30am – Educational sessions
  • 11:30am to 12:30pm – Lunch provided by CWA
  • 12:30pm to 2:30pm – Educational sessions
  • 2:30pm to 2:55pm – Product presentations
  • 3:00pm to 3:30 – CWA introduction
  • 3:30pm to 4:30pm – Keynote from Kareemah Batts
  • 4:30pm to 8:00pm – Expo Hall open with appetizers and drinks
  • 8:00pm – Afterparty and Grip Showcase at Iron City Boulders


  • 7:00am – Registration and badge pick-up opens
  • 7:00am to 8:00am – Coffee & Collaboration (free registration required)
  • 8:00am to 8:55am – Product presentations
  • 9:00am to 12:00pm – Expo Hall open
  • 11:00am to 12:00pm – Lunch provided by CWA
  • 12:15pm to 5:00pm – Educational sessions
  • 5:30pm – Closing party at ASCEND Point Breeze

Climbing Business Journal is pleased to be the official media partner of the CWA Summit.