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The Future of Topos?

Topos are an important tool in a climber’s kit. Often they can make or break a climb.

The New York Times published an interactive online topo that might represent the future of climbing topos.

From the early days of climbing there have been written descriptions of climbs. Some descriptions have a topo, which is a graphic representation of the route. They can be drawn, photographed or a combination.

Topos give the shape of a route, the path to take, key features, grades and the protection required. They can include the length of the route, pitches, where to start and how to get off.

Dawn Wall News

Every topo is different and the information they include varies. Some topos are elaborate pieces of art, some are simply doodles. Over time, topos have become very detailed, some people argue too much so. For instance, Yosemite topos include pitch-by-pitch breakdowns of the gear required. In the past, people have said it takes the adventure out of climbing when you have a handbook for each move.

There are climbers who prefer bringing a physical book with all of the routes and there are those who rather bring an electronic device with a single topo.

The New York Times created an interactive topo of El Capitan’s Dawn Wall. You can see for yourself, by visiting here, if this is the type of topo you would bring to the crag.

Here are two screenshots from the interactive topos:

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