Community takes time. Between sessions in front of spray walls and first steps toward best friends, climbers work hard to ingrain themselves into their local scenes. Whether indoors or out, experience can bar newer climbers from the access all people might prefer in their first days of climbing. Beginnings can be difficult.
RockBase co-founder Kelsen Chau has spent the last two-and-a-half years working with his team to build something different. Like all who work in climbing, his story begins with a love for the sport. His love manifested all around the world. Through business trips and climbing gyms, Kelsen found the word-less language of movement that all climbers appreciate about the discipline.
Given time, Kelsen would realize that finding climbing partners, whether travelling to a new city or simply a new gym, had its difficulties. He wanted to create something that would bring climbers together, face-to-face, belayer-to-climber, without taking away from the climbing.
“It’s supposed to be a mechanism that supports human experience. I want you to spend your time on the wall or at the crag. I want you to talk to people and interact with them, get to know them and their story.
“From a very human standpoint, I want people to talk. I feel like giving them something to talk about is the best way people have ever done it. Why not find one place, for one group of people and start there?”
Taking the climbing community in hand, Kelsen and his team, many of whom have full-time jobs outside of the work directed toward this app, began developing. RockBase is unique.
Historically, climbing apps put function over form leading to crashes, errors, navigational difficulties and related frustrations. The level of detail climbing necessitates often becomes difficult to replicate in an application-based format. RockBase has managed to crack the code on this problem through the extensive attention to detail their two-plus years have necessitated.
Upon downloading the app, you are asked to fill out a small section of information. Where some partner-matching apps ask for detailed data, RockBase asks primarily for your name, your climbing level, and your interests.
With the basic information set, you can then expand upon your profile. This process allows the climber to set a bio, a profile picture, and describe the sorts of gear that they have. Filters within the partnering functionality further allow the climber to set preferences for those partners they might want to have. This means a climber can choose to climb exclusively with people of the same gender, exclusively with their friends, and the range of their partners’ climbing grades.
With the basics established, the application then diverts between indoor and outdoor climbing. A person has the option to select gear for both categories and the app displays that gear through cleverly designed icons.
With your personal details sorted, you can then decide whether you want to input your geographic location or simply turn on the RockBase GPS function. This location function allows climbers to set the distance they would like the app to search for potential partners in. The reach of that distance moves with the climber meaning that a person can go to the crag and check the app to see if other users have started climbing nearby. The app also automatically populates a list of nearby climbing gyms so users can select from their favorites or discover new locations wherever they go. The RockBase team is actively working to include a list of open crags as well.
This makes it much easier for route climbers to find partners both in and outside of the gym. Bouldering has become popular in recent years as it asks nothing of its patrons. Route climbing requires a partner, but without a platform to find partners, becomes difficult to access. Even the most consistent route climbers have to ensure their partner can arrive at a specified time if they want to climb on a rope. Now, climbers can select for the times they most often go route climbing, whether indoor or out, and the app will provide users who match your availability.
After finding a prospective partner, you can send along a message or request a friendship depending on their privacy settings. For private accounts, friendship will be required to access their information as with all social media accounts. The messaging function exists largely to facilitate a climbing a session, where the home function displays and organizes your upcoming sessions.
By breaking down the events into upcoming-sessions, sessions-awaiting-response, and invites-awaiting-response, the climber can intuitively organize their upcoming schedule with just the tap of a finger.
For those wanting to set up a group climb, the organizer need only friend those climbers they wish to invite and create the event. The organizer can then adjust any aspect of the event at any time and their event goers will receive a notification on the event itself that denotes an adjustment has been made.
The final aspect of the application comes in its wallet format. Today, many climbers have many punch passes, memberships and day passes running at the same time. The wallet lets climbers organize these memberships by recording the barcodes onto the user’s profile. This makes it easy to check in and out of the gym, never worrying about losing the plastic tags that have come to define the modern gym membership.
While some climbers will feel skeptical regarding another climbing app, RockBase features an unprecedented support structure for the modern climber. As the app grows in its user base, establishing sessions will only become easier. The question, “Who is the app for?” is easily answered by all who seek a climbing partner. Their attention to detail, the smooth nature of their operating system, and the intuitive nature of the RockBase design speaks for itself.
The app goes live today, June 1, alongside a launch campaign supported by over $3000 in prizes for prospective users. To enter, simply download the app, follow RockBase on Instagram, like the post below, and tag a friend. Each additional person you tag counts as an extra entry. If you post to your story it also counts as an extra entry, just tag RockBase. For those without Instagram, downloading the app, in itself, will count as an entry. Entries begin June 1 and close June 30. Prize selection will occur by direct message on July 2.
Check out their website here.