Why waste time trudging back and forth searching climbing routes?
Spend less time searching and more time climbing with Climb-On Maps
To find out more behind how Climb-On Maps got its start and what’s in store for the future, Josh interviews Climb-On Maps co-founders, Stefani Dawn & Rick Momsen
More about the episode...
Josh sits down with Climb-On Maps co-founders Stefani Dawn & Rick Momsen. Climb-On Maps is a brand making ultra detailed maps to help you find your favorite climbing routes faster so you can cut straight to the climbing even quicker. After countless vacations of wasting precious climbing time trying to find routes, Rick and Stefani decided to hop in their van and drive to some of the best climbing areas, including Joshua Tree and Red Rocks, to completely map out these destinations in great detail. Climb-On Maps doesn’t just make it easier for climbers to get to their desired climbing destination, it also helps them plan their days better, and helps add a reference point of direction which adds a serious element of safety when heading off the beaten path. In this episode of the ReddyYeti podcast we take a closer look at how Stefani and Rick developed Climb-On Maps...
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What is Climb-On Maps all about?
Stefani: “In short, we map the approaches and walkoff for some of the largest climbing areas in the US. The reason for it is to help keep people from getting lost and get climbing faster…”
Rick: “We’ve spent a lot of time on vacations where you get down to an area and spend half your time looking for what you want to climb rather than climbing. We enjoyed our weekends and got a little frustrated with that and had the ‘aha moment’ that this is what we should do…”
Stefani: “Rick, he’s been in the mapping industry for over 20 years so it just seemed like a good combo. We love climbing…”
What are some of the popular climbs that you have mapped out?
Stefani: “We’ve currently mapped four areas. We’ve mapped Joshua Tree in California, Red Rock in Nevada, Smith Rock in Oregon, and we’re getting ready to release our latest map, City of Rocks in Idaho…”
How long does it take to create a guide for each area?
Rick: “That really depends on the area. Smith Rock for example is a bit more self contained and they actually have a really good trail system. Red Rock Canyon and Joshua Tree are quite a bit larger and those are very complex and confusing… We actually have quite a few trails mapped out there that say don’t go this way…”
Stefani: “Particularly for Joshua Tree and Red Rock we put in very very long days mapping. We were out there for at least 10 hour days, if not longer. Often we were just climbing into the van afterwards in the dark, throwing food in our mouth, and going to sleep. For the larger areas it took us several months, day after day after day. We would take only one day off, a rest day, every 10 days…”
How did you go about mapping each area?
Rick: “We walk around with high resolution GPS unit so the accuracy is half meter just a foot and a half so it’s really high quality data. So we’re walking the trails and stopping at intersections and confusing parts and taking pictures and all this gets recorded with a coordinate… It’s not just walking and collecting the location of the trail but a lot of information of what we’re encountering. The pictures are really important to reference as well…”
Stefani: “People ask us why don’t you use the satellite imagery data for your background of the maps and there’s a couple of reasons for that. One is, our maps actually go down to resolutions far beyond what the satellite imagery is. So, our resolution is down to about 1 to 2,400. As a reference, most of your hiking trail maps are 1 to 24,000, 1 to 35,000. Our resolution is very detailed…”
What got you guys into climbing?
Rick: “I think for me my interested in climbing was it was always out of reach, no pun intended. I grew up in Kansas so, I loved climbing trees and scrambling up on rocks. I got into a little bit of mountaineering when I moved to Oregon after college and didn’t actually climb rock until I moved to south Korea… I climbed for seven years overseas and then came back to Oregon…”
Stefani: “My rock climbing start is a little different from Rick’s. My first time rock climbing was in the early 80’s. I grew up in Austin, Texas, had a curiosity about climbing and took a weekend climbing class out of a place called Enchanted Rock. It was kind of old school so the experience was I was pretty much thrown into climbing…”
What made you decide to hop in a van and do the van life?
“Stefani: “When we first started Climb-On Maps we knew that we’d be on the road a lot, so we decided to get a camper van and we decided to get a van that had 4-wheel drive… That was when we first purchased the van; to be able to live on the road and do the mapping without having to set up and take down a tent…We were away from our house so much, in Utah that it just made sense to no longer have a home base but, to live out of the van...”
What has been the growth in terms of sales since you got started with Climb-On Maps?
Rick: “Our first map which was Smith Rock came out a day before the Smith Rock Crag & Classic and that was 2017.
Stefani: “The initial awareness of Climb-On Maps amongst the climbing community has only been about a year… In the public eye, we’re still a very new business…”
How do you get the word out there?
Stefani: “We’ve been going to some climbing events. We did a couple of them last year and we’ve expanding the number of events this year. That, we’ve found has been a great way to meet people… What we end up seeing is when we first tell people that we make maps of approaches and walk offs there’s a little bit of a puzzled look on their face. They’ll say ‘I have a guide book why do I need this?’ When they actually see the map and see the difference, what it shows, the level of detail, the additional information… When you look at a map you can instantly at a glance see if there’s two walls adjacent to each other that have the climbing you want. People get blown away by the amount of information on the map…”
Rick: “One of the things that’s nice about a graphical presentation of the map is you get to see the relation of everything and where things are in context to others...Crag X may not look like it has a whole lot to it but, you can see on the map there’s crag Y and Z next to it which could be really helpful to plan a day…”
Where do you see Climb-On Maps headed into the future?
Stefani: “That’s a great question and as business owners, you’re always encouraged to have a 1 year plan and 5 year plan. We’ve done things a little more organically. It’s a self funded endeavor… When we first set out to do Climb-On Maps we decided there were four key areas that we wanted to do. We figured initially that if we couldn’t do Red Rock or Joshua Tree we would not start the business… by accomplishing those two, that was the impetus for us to say let's do this thing… we have other areas in mind that we’d love to map. We actually have a small free map that we’re going to be releasing soon for the Gunks in New York…”
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