“It is that spirit of positivity and support that we wanted to embrace in our name. KAYA represents the power of the climbing community to motivate ourselves to dig deep, try hard, and give our best efforts, whatever the circumstances.”
In 2019, a small group of climber technologists designed a service unlike any other. Detracting from the platforms of the past, KAYA leapt onto the scene with a mission to connect climbers. Utilizing data technology, KAYA’s developers spent and spend their time optimizing their platform for community betterment. With a data-based approach built to foster progression, KAYA paired the two pillars of climbing: community and performance.
With over 200 gym partners and a rapidly growing community, KAYA has established itself on the international landscape. By taking action to support outdoor coalitions alongside the gym and competitive communities, KAYA removed barriers that once separated climbing’s many disciplines. In doing so, it produced a cohesive narrative that suggests a more social approach to progression.
Although KAYA received attention over this last year, understanding the application starts at the beginning. After downloading KAYA, it will ask you to make a profile. By selecting your difficulty range, disciplines, height and ape-index, the application begins to optimize for your interests. It then offers you the opportunity to follow friends, athletes and areas to further refine the content it presents.
Upon entering the application’s space, KAYA then breaks into five pre-selected categories. The first is the feed. On your feed, you can oscillate between content that is For You or content that content you are Following. The For You content brings you across climbs within your grade range that you may find interesting. The Following content features posts from those users you follow. This category also features KAYA’s messaging platform and allows climbers to post their own ascents to the feed. Whether you climb indoors or out, there is space for your ascent on the KAYA platform.
The next category features the application’s search function. The search page allows the user to search based on their current location, or by one of the eight preselected options. The Top selection takes you to your recent searches, where the Profiles, Climbs, Gyms, Destinations, Areas, and Boards selections take you to items related to that selection. For example, in Areas a person might type in Grand Wall Boulders in order to see all problems within that area in Squamish.
Upon choosing one of these selections, the climber will again have an opportunity to optimize their search across even smaller sub-categories. The app will first take you to a gallery with content related to the area, but if you wish to optimize by classics, popular, or climbs best suited for you, this remains possible and accessible. The app will even take you into the Grand Wall’s subareas, such as the Animal Magnetism area.
The next large category features the logging function. It allows you to find your climb based on your outdoor climbing area or gym, and log it into the app. If the climb does not yet exist on the app, it offers the climber an opportunity to be the first to share beta for that climb. This beta is an important part of the user experience. The function brings people closer together as the community strives to progress through the social sphere that is so easily seen in the gym. KAYA fills this function with its platform.
If you do not feel like posting, KAYA still allows for the logging of climbs based on difficulty and attempts. The climber can then use this data month-to-month to isolate micro-progressions in their ability. This is useful for identifying plateaus. Sometimes it feels like we do not make progress, even though we are climbing boulders at-or-near our limit in fewer attempts than a month prior. This detail is essential. There are many ways to progress, and KAYA draws attention to each of them.
Finally, a challenge function allows climbers the opportunity to have fun with their community. While there exist far too many challenges to put into a comprehensive list, these competitions provide a no-pressure platform to push within the sport. Although KAYA does focus on the community, the user experience is individualized.
The final category takes you to your profile. This profile tab features your height, total sends and top grade logged on the app. It shows an ascent pyramid and provides climbers the opportunity to dig a little further into the metrics behind their climbing. Climbers can of course change their profile pictures and their route grades, leave a bio and even drop their t-shirt size should they end up winning a prize through a challenge. All of these features strive to bring focus toward the individual’s unique experience in the sport. In this way, KAYA resists the comparison sometimes present in climbing’s other online platforms.
Beyond the functions of the app, KAYA has aspirations of supporting its community. For example, the recent Squamish Rampage event was fully supported by KAYA. KAYA offered its platform to host the competition free of charge. The virtual event not only supported social distancing, but provided an opportunity. The historically bouldering focused competition transformed to include single-pitch sport and trad climbing.
It also provided an updatable leaderboard that gave climbers results in real-time. Together, these features gave Rampage the opportunity to extend into a multi-day competition that spanned the month of August. This provided for more funds and more participants than ever before. All of this money went to Squamish Access Society to make climbing more sustainable in Canada’s most popular climbing destination.
As the sport becomes more popular, climbing will have a greater impact on outdoor spaces. By giving away their platform to these coalitions, KAYA works toward its big mission of growing climbing sustainably. Powering access, sustainability, and stewardship begins with these access societies and coalitions.
KAYA aims to facilitate the growth of climbing in this increasingly technological world, all while maintaining its connection with reality. For these developers, that has meant community first. With that said, the upcoming release of their premium product, KAYA PRO will transform the premium user’s experience into accessible data analytics unprecedented in climbing’s sphere. More on that to come. Check out KAYA here!