Using Data to Make Connections in Climbing Gyms

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© Klimbz
Image: Ken Haller, founder of Klimbz, connecting with the great outdoors. © Klimbz
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According to the State of Climbing Report 2019 published by the American Alpine Club, 65% of climbers are between the ages of 18 and 35, based on data provided by the Outdoor Industry Association. In other words, “OIA’s demographic data suggests that if you head to the nearest gym or crag, you’ll see a lot of Millennials.” Forbes reports that Millennials spend an average of five-and-a-half hours per day on their phones. The mobile world is here and climbing gyms are inevitably part of it.

In an industry with roots in the wild, digitization doesn’t come without push back. CBJ once reported on the ban of phones/media devices in climbing areas at one gym which had concerns they would negatively impact the sense of community or endanger climbers because users would not be adequately aware of their surroundings. Responsible use of headphones, specifically, was reinstated in bouldering areas after a survey showed gym members did not feel they were negatively impacting the sense of community.

What would it look like for technology to exist in climbing gyms not only without inhibiting community but also as a tool for improving connections between climbers, setters and competitors? A tech innovator in the climbing industry is embracing exactly that ethos: Klimbz, a leader in data-driven gym management software.

Engaged Climbers of All Abilities

Climbing gyms often cultivate an unparalleled sense of community, but first encounters can be intimidating for inexperienced climbers, as pointed out in this article on CBJ. By taking a proactive approach, climbing gyms can positively impact new climber retention and promote inclusivity. With Klimbz, gyms help first timers get an understanding of the layout of the gym and assist them in finding appropriate climbs to try with the filtering of routes in the platform.

© Klimbz

When there can be 200 routes and boulders to choose from at a climbing gym, sorting through the options can become overwhelming, even for the most seasoned climbers. Incorporating a platform like Klimbz at a gym allows members to see what is new and create To Do lists, and the Recommendation engine suggests similar climbs to try.

Members inspired to climb harder grades and coaches of youth teams with sights set on local competitions or USA Climbing championships can use the Coaching section to create workouts with various exercises – from climbing 4 x 4’s to pull-ups – to record progress and make changes to training regimes according to hard data.

“During the months I am chasing grades for my team score, I find that the tracking and compilation tools are very useful. Maybe, if I used it more, I would be way stronger!” says Chris McFarland, Operations Manager at the Salt Lake City facility of Momentum Climbing, which incorporates the Klimbz app across many of its climbing gyms for climbers and routesetters.

Empowered Routesetters

For employees in any industry, technological advancements can mean loss of employment, when labor power is supplanted by machine power. According to Forbes, up to 1 in 4 workers will need to change occupations due to the impact of automation. Klimbz was created with the opposite goal in mind: to empower routesetters, the indispensable employees behind the most important product of any gym.

© Klimbz

“Using a route management software is the best way to provide a comprehensive, real-time assessment of route distribution within the gym. Coupled with a customer interface, users are provided with tools to track their climbing and progress and easy ways to locate new routes within their range and ability,” says McFarland.

Gyms pay professionals to create innovative, thoughtful and intricate movements on walls, creativity which can’t be replaced. By integrating the Klimbz platform into routesetting management, operators open the space for a gym-wide dialogue between climbers and routesetters which can support the creative routesetting process with quantifiable data on climber preferences. This basic information helps routesetters develop into well-rounded artists at the top of their trade.

Klimbz also helps to improve communication between routesetting teams and operations. Climbers enter their ticks, attempts and quality ratings of completed routes on their phones at any time, and routesetters receive feedback from any location to improve setting strategies together, decide on new route styles or holds, coordinate setting schedules and communicate with managers.

“I think it’s really important that people can look at the boulders, see what’s set and give us some feedback. When I’m setting, it’s very important to me that the climb climbs well, that it’s appropriate for the grade that we’re putting on it as well as visually appealing for people,” says David Daviau, routesetter at Hub Climbing in Toronto, which supports the performance of its routesetting team with the Klimbz platform. “Klimbz is definitely really good for making our lives easier in terms of organization.”

Community-Centered Competitions & Leagues

On July 19th, dozens of climbers crowded into Momentum Millcreek for a 24-Hour Climbathon fundraiser of nearly nonstop climbing. Altogether, 41,000 feet were climbed to raise money for Elevated Mountain Guides (EMG), a climbing nonprofit with the mission of making the outdoors more accessible to underserved communities. Throughout the competition, the scores of competitors were automatically calculated and followed in the Klimbz app. “It worked so well, I can’t thank you enough!” said Nikki McGee, Founder of EMG.

Four years ago, Momentum Indoor Climbing decided to engage their community by starting an Adult Bouldering League in their gyms. For the past four years, they have been successfully using Klimbz to run aspects of the league. Over the years, a handicap scoring system was developed that allows beginner climbers to “compete” against advanced climbers, making the experience more enjoyable for all competitors. 40 participants per gym consistently sign-up to compete. The scoring and managing of the league is taken care of through Klimbz and reduces the time and energy required of gym employees.

Since 2016, the Klimbz platform has been used by climbing gyms across North America and Australia to easily track scoring of climbing competitions and leagues, events which can bring gym members together or unite climbers for a specific cause. It takes the spreadsheet to the next level by automating the process and placing the data in the hands of every competitor for immediate results entry and viewing. The goal? Successful, community-centered climbing focused on helping gyms and climbers become better.

“The fact that everyone got seamlessly scored and entered into the system without my even knowing it is a testament to how well your system worked in real time,” said Cliff of GP-81 in Brooklyn, in response to using Klimbz for the GreenPoint RedPoint competition.

Contact Klimbz (info@klimbz.com) today to bring the fully customizable platform to your community’s climbers, league participants, routesetters and competitions.

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This story was paid for and produced by the sponsor and does not necessarily represent the views of the Climbing Business Journal editorial team.