Not sure if it's just me but I'm rather frustrated with the route information at our local wall. They have mini whiteboards under the routes which are often smeared to the point of not being readable. They have the colour and grade and sometimes the date but sometimes not.
What if we had a small tough tablet computer under each group of routes showing the information about the colour, grade, date set and route setting. It could also have a way to vote on the grade and give the route a rating (e.g. 0-5 stars) and then show the voting for those who want to view it.
I think the best technology for this would be eInk so it doesn't need mains power but they could also run USB wires under the floor to power cheap android tablets.
The other nice things about this would be that the centre can get feedback on the route setters and the accuracy of their grading.
I think, for example, our local wall grading is a bit random and generally quite soft.
What did the wall owner/manager say when you talked to them about this?
Do we really need yet more power consuming devices of plastic, glass, steel, lithium, copper . . . . to do a job that is well served by a whiteboard. If it really is necessary (?) - put a QR code at the bottom of the route - link through to website for feedback - not without impact, but better.
There are at least 2 apps for this already. Vertical Life and Toplogger are the ones I've seen used, but there are probably others.
Suggesting buying a tablet for each line is spectacularly daft. If whiteboards aren't working, ask them to print a bit of paper and stick it behind a bit of perspex, like every other wall ever has always done forever. If you want voting, logging and all that crap, the existing apps do that from the comfort of your own phone.
A bit of paper?
A clipboard and pen under new routes?
This is a clear example where low-tech trumps everything high tech comes to offer (including the fancy new tags+app rubbish breaking out at some walls).
And bear in mind the exceptional IT skills and delicate paws of the average route setter coupled with the careful feet of the average punter. If the white board isn't working why do you expect the tablet to survive?
Leeds Wall / Big Depot did this with some routes (though not with a tablet). A board (or maybe laminated paper) at the base of a route with a pen which you could tick hard/right/easy and suggest grade changes.
Worked well and nice and simple...
And to be honest, one thing my experience of setting taught me is setters don't give 2 sh*ts if yet another person thinks their 6a is a 6a+/5c+ (I guarantee they've had at least half a dozen whiny people saying each one already today), and really don't want to enter into a long discussion about it. If someone thinks a route is nice, not nice, flowy, interesting, boring, confusing, puzzling, then please, please tell your setter. They'll be all ears.
If you think they're out by half a grade, or if you want to spout a long monologue about how your unusually short stature is something they should sacrifice everyone else's enjoyment to cater for at the expense of the vast majority of average climbers, you'll should ask to speak to the volleyball with a face drawn on it.
Long ago at the Welsh 'International' Wall it had the grades on metal plates that were lose, so we turned them around, then guessed the grade afterwards. Much more fun to just go at a route and take it for what it is. It's only training and climbing, it does not need to be so prescriptive or micro analysed.
You want Vertical Life, mate. Or just better info.
Our is on paper behind a perspex shield, all the info you need, no tech, no phone, no problem.
I am in no way selling the product but you need to check out how the Griptonite app works at climbing walls that have taken it on board. It does everything you want and much much more.
1) Walls sets climb, puts QR code up, grades climb, some beta is available, sometimes a video
2) You have your app. You either climb it blind, log climb at end or you can check out the climb before attempting it. At the end you ge tthe choice for comments, feedback and suggested grading.
3) When you have logged enough climbs you get an overview of what you have climbed, what kind of grades and what improvements you have made. You can compare against other wall users both locally and internationally
4) You can even set up your intentions before visiting a wall. Pyramids, grade range etc. Flash rates, max grade etc are given. You can monitor how many climbs you are completing, points scored per session plus a load of other stuff.
Its a bit of fun tbh but can be built into some loose structure when trying to improve. Its very useful to know a block of 12 weeks training has resulted in improved figures without having to go looking for it.
We are just waiting on another piece of kit which links into the griptonite app which should work a bit like strava for climbers. Not sure of its usefulness in the grand scheme of things but interested to test it out.
Genuinely curious: Do people really take their phone to the climbing wall (and have it on them when climbing)? Where do you put it? Awkward in a pocket surely? Second chalk-bag? It's been a while since I've been to a climbing wall, but the only people I remember seeing with phones were (non-climbing) parents photographing their climbing kids.
Why are you determined to take the adventure out of indoor climbing?
Most bouldering buckets have a pocket a phone can be stored in. Not everyone’s cup of tea but if it is, the Griptonite app is about the best and easiest to use. It’s literally a couple of seconds. No big deal. The op asked so I presume he is interested in this kind of tech and it’s nice we are not all the same
Seriously, I wasn't dissing your efforts or your app - I was genuinely curious how people carry a phone on routes. The bucket obviously works for boulderers, but not really for people climbing routes? You're right we are all different - I'm not much into recording what I do - I've rarely entered anything in the UKC logbooks, I'm a cyclist, but I don't use Strava. I was just curious.
Tablet computer - £500(?)
Paper and pen - under 50p
Too many people think that technology is the answer. Sometimes it is, but a lot of the time it isn't. Keep it simple. Simple is efficient
> Long ago at the Welsh 'International' Wall it had the grades on metal plates that were lose, so we turned them around, then guessed the grade afterwards. Much more fun to just go at a route and take it for what it is. It's only training and climbing, it does not need to be so prescriptive or micro analysed.
Precisely. It is training, and when I am training I want to do so efficiently, not ending up wasting time and energy on something too easy or too hard for my purposes. So I want to know grades. Not knowing the grade if for exploratory new routing.
But I hate the idea of all this technology bollocks.
> Genuinely curious: Do people really take their phone to the climbing wall (and have it on them when climbing)?
I would imagine that nearly everyone takes their phone to the climbing wall, but keep it in their bag and do not carry it on routes.
I went to one wall where they didn't label recently set routes for a few days, and had a grade voting book at the desk. I quite liked the idea.
Somebody famously once said "There are only two grades that matter, those you can get up and those you can't". I think that's particularly valid for indoor routes
> What if we had a small tough tablet computer under each group of routes showing the information about the colour, grade, date set and route setting. It could also have a way to vote on the grade and give the route a rating (e.g. 0-5 stars) and then show the voting for those who want to view it.
I think they'd be updated just as (in)frequently and (in)accurately but would be switched off, crashed or broken far more frequently than a smudged whiteboard and you'd have an ongoing software maintenance task as tablets and OS's are replaced.
Alien Rock in Edinburgh achieves voting by having a whiteboard with all the new routes marked on (panel and colour) and you can write your vote into one of the boxes provided.
It is also a fun game because you get to see if your ability to estimate grades is any good (new routes don't have grades marked).
Indoor grades are based on a wilful admixture of fantasy and flattery. No point in trying to make them accurate - never mind the laughable idea that punters are going to vote for more accurate grades. Plenty of "6a" gym climbers who struggle with VDiff and plenty of "6c" climbers who would struggle on outdoor French 6a.
Also: please no more screens and no more "tech solutions"!
> I think they'd be updated just as (in)frequently and (in)accurately but would be switched off, crashed or broken far more frequently than a smudged whiteboard and you'd have an ongoing software maintenance task as tablets and OS's are replaced.
They'd probably get a good kicking in technophobic rages.
> Somebody famously once said "There are only two grades that matter, those you can get up and those you can't". I think that's particularly valid for indoor routes
Why more so for indoor routes?
Please note the smiley, meant to indicate that it's not a serious comment.
Hi, its not my app. Its one i use and have been impressed with. Not for everyone but i like to record stuff.
With regards to ropes/lead, tbh it works in exactly the same way. Kendal wall have it now and it is even easier on ropes. Phone sits in my coat pocket while i belay. Climber finished, zap bar code and done.
I did think about the app idea, but it has a problem that you won't have you phone with you while climbing.
Our local wall tried Vertical life but they tended not to update it as it was too much effort
> What did the wall owner/manager say when you talked to them about this?
Oddly they used to have the routes on printed paper behind some perspex which at least were readable, but they changed to the whiteboard idea which is smuged off very quickly.
Continuing on your wry theme, I most enjoy the routes that are in both camps but the right way round.
It could be argued that because indoors is simply training for the real thing easy access to accurate grading information is even more important.
Sorry can't resist being a little contentious today, I'm bored.
At the risk of taking this seriously, I'd argue that there's only one important grade indoors - the one you can't quite do but might be able to do if you really work at it.
Routes you seem to have no chance on but eventually work are more satisfying still.
> At the risk of taking this seriously, I'd argue that there's only one important grade indoors - the one you can't quite do but might be able to do if you really work at it.
I normally start easier to warm up, then do some harder stuff that needs work and then go back to easier for stamina training.
If the grades are all over the place it makes planning your climbing harder.
> If the grades are all over the place it makes planning your climbing harder.
Must be where you climb. In my experience grades are rarely if ever "all over the place". Yes, sometimes I find a warm up route is harder than I wanted, but then I find my partner (same grade climber roughly) says "Hmm, that was easy - don't know why you struggled." It usually more about my strengths/weaknesses than miss-graded routes. Thinking back over the last couple of years, I can only think of one indoor route that was by consensus seriously miss-graded, and that was a very unusual tufa-based route - more like climbing outdoors than indoors - and was given an 'outdoor' grade rather than the more typically soft indoor grade. Comments were made and the grade was adjusted the next week.
What I tend to find is the back room (lower walls, some lead and mostly top ropes) has very soft grades, perhaps a whole grade softer e.g. likely an F6a could really be a 5a.
Then for the main lead room it's likely only one or two half grade softer than outdoors, e.g. F6a+ maybe F6a or F5+ however randomly get a route that's actually on-grade or harder than the expected grade and that's quite a shock.