SuperTopo on the iPhone with rakkup: guidebooks reinvented


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Messages 1 - 45 of total 45 in this topic
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Original Post - Apr 3, 2013 - 06:30pm PT
SuperTopo has long been looking for the perfect iPhone app partner and we found them with rakkup. The rakkup app gets you to the parking area, gives you turn-by-turn approach directions and helps you select which climb is best suited for you. It then incorporates the SuperTopo Red Rocks Climbing guidebook where you find photos, history, detailed beta and topos. It is by far the most feature-rich and innovative climbing guidebook app available today.

Right now only the SuperTopo Red Rocks Guide is available (just in time for Red Rocks Rendezvous) as well as the rakkup Smith Rocks guide.

There is a free Red Rocks sample that you get once you download the app for FREE at the iTunes store.

The complete Red Rocks guide is available on the iPhone for an introductory price of $9.99. Offer expires in one week..

Here is how it works:
1 - Download the free app in the iTunes store (and check out the free sample that is included)
2 - To buy the complete Red Rocks Guide for the iPhone, go to this page
3 - Send!

Brief Tour of the app in 5 screen shots
1) First you get an overview of all the climbs (cams are trad climbs and bolt hangers represent sport climbs).

2) Next, you can scroll around and find which climbs are best suited for you by sorting by difficulty, reading the beta, history, etc.

3) Once you select your climbs, the app gets you to the parking area and then gives you turn-by-turn navigation on the trail: just follow the red arrow. Yes, the rakkup founders Rob and Todd hiked every single approach in red rocks with a GPS to get this data!

4) Once you are near the climb, you can browse photos from the SuperTopo guidebook to get oriented. You can also see beta, history, and written descent beta and more.

5) Finally, get a color SuperTopo on your iphone and follow it up the route.

>>> Download the FREE app and check out a free Red Rocks sample here

Frequently Asked Questions
Post any questions you have about the app below and I will answer them here:
Q: What about descents?
A: At this moment there is no decent tracking in the app for the climbs that have walk-off descents. However, the written SuperTopo descent beta is included in the app.

Q: how does this app affect battery life?
A: Like all apps that use the GPS capabilities of your phone, it drains your battery quickly when the GPS is being used in Map Tracking mode. This app should work for 1-2 hours in Map Tracking mode if you start with a full charge. When you are not using the GPS function and just browsing through the app, your battery should last a normal amount of time. So there are a few options:
a) carefully use Map Tracking mode by turning it off when you don't need it.
b) get a $20 extra external battery like this one good for 1-2 charges or a $40 battery like this one good for 4 iphone charges
c) use a portable solar charger with a built in battery. Our current favorite is the SolarMonkey Adventurer.
d) a combination of all of the above

Q: Does the app work with no cell signal?
A: Yes. Or course you need a cell signal to buy the app.

Q: When will there be more SuperTopo's available on the iPhone through rakkup?
A: Red Rocks is our pilot project. If it goes as well as we hope, then we hope to add Yosemite SuperTopo guides to the app soon.

Chris McNamara and the rakkup founders at Red Rocks Rendezvous
Come by the Outdoor Research booth on Saturday April 6 at the Red Rocks Rendezvous to get a demo of the app from Chris McNamara and the rakkup founders Rob and Todd. All money from purchases of the app during the Rendezvous go straight to the Access Fund.

Please tell a friend about the free sample and promo price!
We are in the "trying to send" phase... we need help getting the word out. If you like the app and free sample, please tell a climbing friend, app addict, Red Rocks junkie. Thank you!

>> Like the rakkup Facebook Page
>> Like the SuperTopo on rakkup Facebook Page


Trad climber
Apr 3, 2013 - 06:35pm PT
Intersting, although it does take a bit of the adventure out.

Is Rakkup only associated with ST Books, or can any guide book publisher partner with them?



Trad climber
Auburn, CA
Apr 3, 2013 - 06:38pm PT
While headed up Lotta Balls on Friday I looked over to the right to see a guy using his iphone to figure out where his belay was located. He was quite mortified to learn that I had seen him :-)

Trad climber
Apr 3, 2013 - 06:43pm PT

Thanks Chris. Be ready for all the "old skoool" tech haters to rag on this.

The only thing better is my Chipotle app. WHich is pre-loaded with cash and has my order already in it. You dont even have to wait in line. You go to the front and pick up your already paid for burrito.

Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 3, 2013 - 06:44pm PT
Prod, right now just SuperTopo.

And I am a huge fan of the Chipoltle app. The veggie burrito is my current favorite "save me when driving on the freeway in a culinary wasteland" meal.

Trad climber
El Dorado Hills, CA
Apr 3, 2013 - 06:48pm PT

Social climber
San Francity, CA
Apr 3, 2013 - 07:01pm PT
If the app doesn't live up to my (low) expectations, can I place the phone in a crack, sling it for pro, and climb on?

Trad climber
El Dorado Hills, CA
Apr 3, 2013 - 07:14pm PT
Please please please!!!.....
Make it say:

"The Monkeys Are Sending"

Once the correct belay spot is found.
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 3, 2013 - 07:16pm PT
Great suggestion, GhoulweJ!

Boulder climber
Apr 3, 2013 - 07:18pm PT
Woah.....just when u thought the adventure was gone...the times they are a changin!!

Social climber
Joshua Tree
Apr 3, 2013 - 07:25pm PT
Most of those smart phones have accelerometers in them, so you could make it where if they fall *(V exceeds some setpoint), it will give a shout:

"The monkeys are not sending. Sweet fall though, bro-dizzle, we calculated it at 1.276 meters. You'll get it next time!"

Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 3, 2013 - 07:36pm PT
Great idea. Finally a way to accurately tell how long everyone's falls are. Downside is all those epic stories of 50+ foot falls would actually be called out as 20 footers (same phenomena as "I once caught a fish the size of...")
Some Random Guy

In a chair, drinkin' a beer, watchin' the show
Apr 3, 2013 - 11:18pm PT
brilliant! the gps function is awesome. but...if u already own the red rocks book in pdf format do u basically have to buy it over again for the app or can the existing one u own be integrated into the app?

-gonna have to get that chipotle app-
Jon Beck

Trad climber
Apr 3, 2013 - 11:34pm PT
Very nice. I have loaded pages from guidebooks onto my phone to refer to when I am not being watched.

What about Android support? Apple smart phone is only 43.5% of the smart phone market in the US, Android is 51.5%
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 4, 2013 - 12:15am PT
Not sure about the timeline on Android support. Yes, ideally it would be out at the same time, but remember that overall us climbers are a small group and therefor the business are small with small budgets. Right now rakkup is 2 guys, SuperTopo only has one full time employee (me)... so there is a lot to do with only a few people on a really small budget!

This is also a start-up, and it will take some popularity of the app to inspire the next versions and expanded offerings... so once again, please tell a friend!! Here is the Supertopo on rakkup page, right now it is very lonely and could use some likes and comments!

And while on the FB, why not show rakkup some like

As far as getting SuperTopo on rakkup if you already bought the Red Rocks ebook pdf: again, at this stage with the limited people, budget and time we had to put getting the app out as a priority and push off the integrating of special pricing for past purchasers until down the road. However, the good news is the Red Rocks book on rakkup is only $9.99 and as I think you can see from the free sample on the iTunes store, it is a LOT of climbing app for that price. Did i stress enough the turn-by-turn approach beta!! All for the price of 2 beers at the Mountain Room Bar.

Thanks again guys for the comments, suggestions and support. This has been a ton of work for all involved so the positive energy, word-of-mouth and suggestions are all much appreciated!!
Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
Apr 4, 2013 - 12:40am PT
Chipotle app?! Who knew?

As for the Supertopo app, I'll sure be checking it out, though I'm pretty old skool. Technology is great since it's there if you're inclined to want or need it. I think the gripe about some folks' use it of is not the tech itself but rather a complete dependence upon it rather than using it as a supplement to common sense and judgment.

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Apr 4, 2013 - 01:43am PT
Well, I have an iPhone 4S (iOS 6.1.3), downloaded the free app, bought the $9.99 content, and downloaded the content. Two observations:

a) Once downloaded it displayed the highly dubious "Expires 4/3/14" - it's like, if you're selling subscriptions you need to be way, way (did I say way) more upfront about it as I thought I was buying a product. You know, like if I bought your paper guidebook it would not 'expire' on 4/3/14.

b) On opening the downloaded $9.99 content the app crashed and now the app crashes every time you open it immediately after displaying the splash photo.

Better tell your homeboys to 'rakkup' those keyboards and start heading out on the next, version.

P.S. I'm a software guy and know how it goes so I'm fine waiting for a clean 4S version.
chris cosgriff

Trad climber
Apr 4, 2013 - 02:30am PT
I have seen the app demonstrated and it really exceeded my expectations. Getting to the base of alot of these routes can be challenging. I have been on more than one extended route find. Now you get there quick and have great topos fo rht e route. Get me the Android version pronto!

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Apr 4, 2013 - 10:18am PT
Thanks for all the love guys. healyje, I'm sorry your initial experience wasn't a good one but I can say it's far from typical. Rest assured we have done a LOT of testing on this puppy in many environments -- my personal daily driver is a 4S on 6.1.3 same as yours -- and haven't seen a crash at startup before. Bottom line though, we'll respond to the email you sent and either make it right or issue a refund, of course.
Anyway we're here listening and learning, and hope you like what you see. I like the fall-detection feature suggestion especially...

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Apr 4, 2013 - 10:29am PT
Yeah baby! I'm on this! And the Chipotle app!


Trad climber
CA Central Coast
Apr 4, 2013 - 10:33am PT
I can see the virus now, it'll be known as your Ap getting "hardman'd"

Ratings get sandbagged and it suggests routes you'll sure to epic on.

the GPS triggered voice that marks the base of the route changes from "monkeys are sending" to "yer gunna die!".

too much coffee this morning,
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 4, 2013 - 10:46am PT
Roxy, keep the ideas coming. I'll lobby for version 2.0 will be fully monkeyed!

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Apr 4, 2013 - 10:51am PT
It'll say "yet gonna die" when you wander off route!

Apr 4, 2013 - 12:47pm PT
I've had good experiences with rakkup in two situations:

1. At Red Rocks, an area I don't know that well, rakkup has been helpful in preventing me from getting lost, especially in the pre-dawn race to a route. There's nothing more annoying than blowing an alpine start by taking a wrong turn in the dark. Wanna be first on Crimson Chrysalis? Don't get lost.

2. At Smith, an area I do know well,rakkup has all kinds of paths and shortcuts I didn't know about. Not that I'm in a big rush at Smith, but the new paths took me through parts of the park that don't get much travel. It was like seeing an whole new park.

This app needs decent routes, however. Especially at Red Rocks, that sh#t matters -- see Epinephrine.


Apr 4, 2013 - 01:02pm PT
I remember when the ST guide first came out for Yosemite. At first, people complained because the information was so detailed and helpful that it took some of the adventure out. Well, that was true for sure--it did make routes less committing. Before ST, as a newbie, I had some scary and excellent adventures in the valley. (The Braille Book topo from the original guide book gave no clue what was coming, and it felt epic and amazing at the time -- 1993.)

I'll be curious to see if there is similar backlash here.

Also, is there a version where the directions are given by Darth Vader? I often get lost at the roundabound.

Mountain climber
Flagstaff, AZ
Apr 4, 2013 - 02:21pm PT
climbin apps are sweet.

How about linking the beta on this forum to the app as well? for updated route beta, trip reports,access issues...

awesome stuff!
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Apr 4, 2013 - 02:42pm PT
The Rakkup guys will make it right for you, don't worry about that. They are climbers just like you and me and are certainly not out to make a quick buck. Contact them, explain your problem and I'm sure you'll get taken care of in a way that makes you happy.
Don Paul

Big Wall climber
Colombia, South America
Apr 4, 2013 - 02:45pm PT
Brilliant! If you're looking for ideas for version 2, I'd say, anything that makes it interactive. Users could leave comments, or add photos or gps coordinates. Link to trip reports, let people upload trip reports from pitch 25 on Iron Hawk. The iphone is super powerful, with a camera/video and gps built in. Its a personal tracking device, although that makes some people nervous about big brother it could also help someone rescue you. There's lots of weather aps. The possibilities are endless.
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 4, 2013 - 06:28pm PT
Great suggestions. Keep em coming. And many thanks to everyone who is helping us spread the word!

Trad climber
Apr 5, 2013 - 03:21am PT
The next big project:
1. Take a Google augment reality glasses.
2. Add there a software (an app).
3. Now they show me the way to the crag. Highlight trail. Warn about awkward and slippery spots on an approach, etc.
4. Highlight routes.
5. When I begin to climb they show me holds. Footholds. Give me advises like "High step to the right and drop the right knee... well, now you can reach that crip".
6. Highlight protection spots and give me advises like "Use the purple C4 here. Do not forget to extend this piece with at least 6" draw".
7. Warn me about rope length.
8. Manage my rack ("Do not use your last red C4 here, you'll need it to build an anchor, place the green after a couple of easy moves").
Todd Kutzke

Apr 5, 2013 - 12:40pm PT
Hey everyone, Big thanks for the feedback on this thread and for getting the word out. I'm super stoked that we are partnering with SuperTopo to bring the climbing community the most innovative high quality digital guides out there. This wouldn't have been possible without a great publishing partner like SuperTopo. Thank you Chris.

In response to Prod's question about whether we're looking to partner with other authors in the future, the answer is YES. Please check out authors-and-publishers to learn more.
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 5, 2013 - 06:28pm PT
Ok, We listened to your feedback on pricing and are going to change the price from 9.99 for one year to $19.99 to own the book forever (right now the code is set so that it will actually say 99 year license).

Anyone who bought the book for already $9.99 gets to own it forever as well (A way of saying thank you for being an early adopter).

AND, if you buy the book before Sunday at midnight, all the proceeds go to the Access Fund.

Trad climber
Apr 5, 2013 - 09:26pm PT
For life, Chris , are you sure? Who can forsee the future. I would wager folks would be happy with 5 or 10 year license. Make some money!

Trad climber
Where the Hoback and the mighty Snake River meet
Apr 20, 2013 - 02:06pm PT
Techie question bump.

Will there be a windows os version?

I'm shopping for phones and not really crazy about apple.

The gal who helped me at AT&T is a young climber, I told her about this app and she was pretty excited. She is the one who told me to ask if a windows os version is in the works.


Big Wall climber
Apr 20, 2013 - 02:44pm PT
good for u cmac. i hate to carry all those damn books around.

Trad climber
Tampa, FL
Apr 20, 2013 - 06:57pm PT
What a nice app - quite a few years ago I started to make a "climbing diary" app that, "in my mind", had about 50% of the features of this. It never really got off the ground due to lack of skill, lack of energy and lack of time.

This is great - have you thought of making a paid version of this that would operate as a climbers diary - i.e. the user would build their own database?
Josh Nash

Social climber
riverbank ca
Apr 26, 2013 - 06:32pm PT
I really hope that app will eventually include yosemite. Right now I have a PDF reader on my phone and have the books downloaded. So I use my phone as an e reader. I then also reference the Tom Harrison map app as well as the mountain project app for pic references of routes. Yeah I know it's not adventurous but I really don't climb all too often and hate wasting time wandering around looking for the crag.

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jul 25, 2013 - 04:20pm PT
If you're headed to Rifle this summer, we've got you covered! The new Rifle Mountain Park guidebook from Wolverine Publishing is available in rakkup, or you can get both the print and digital versions at a reduced price. See for details.
More books are in the pipeline, too. Anywhere you guys particularly want to see?

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Aug 22, 2014 - 05:02pm PT
Since there was a lot of interest in this thread in an Android version of rakkup, I just wanted to say that we've released it today in the Google Play Store. It took longer than we'd hoped but we're proud of the result. We hope you like it.
We have lots of other exciting stuff in the hopper for the rest of the year, too. I'll drop a brief note here when we have specifics to share, but there's more information on the rakkup website and you're always welcome to contact me directly.
Thanks to the community and happy climbing!

Trad climber
Aug 22, 2014 - 05:21pm PT
Will I earn TacoPoints(TM) for my successful sends?

Trad climber
minneapolis, mn
Aug 22, 2014 - 05:26pm PT
SuperTopo has long been looking for the perfect iPhone app partner and we found them

Man, that was funny. Biggest laugh I had this week, by far.

sometimes I worry that I'm not sufficiently entertained by Taco-surfing. Not a problem this week

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
Aug 23, 2014 - 05:45pm PT
Chris make sure to CYA on the "forever" licensing terms...
Maybe let them have "forever" licensing on the existing as-is product with bug-fixes for 12-24 months. Then they have to pay extra in a few years for content updates with new routes and conditions.

So you have a hybrid subscription/update model, continuing revenue when new value is added (new platforms, new routes, bug fixes and features), but people get to keep what they initially buy "forever". You'll have to deal with different software release branches- bug fixes only for each major version to give to people for up to 12 months after initial purchase, then separate major versions that add new features. The content packs can also be versioned so you pay for an initial chunk, then get a deep discount when you upgrade to the latest version.

Have fun sorting out the details.

This definitely looks like a great product for folks unfamiliar with an area and limited free time to not get lost on the approach and blow plans for the one big day. For example, lots of climbers with day jobs who come to Vegas for a work conference would be able to make great use of this.

Boulder climber
Aug 28, 2014 - 10:26am PT
Im curious - does anyone think that smartphone climbing apps are the future of guidebooks? Will the printing press draw its wheezing last breath at the hands of a bunch of silicon chips and organic LED screens?

I personally like books, and will never abandon them. But I do admit there is some value to the app form of the guide too. Maybe the future is both?

Trad climber
South Slope of Mt. Tabor, Portland, Oregon, USA
Aug 28, 2014 - 09:48pm PT
Used it in Red Rocks. Took me right the base of the route and when we go there it kinda freaked me out when a voice said " You have arrived. Rack up"

So I did.

Love the app! Thx Chris!


Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Oct 9, 2014 - 07:44am PT
Regarding the discussion above about subscriptions: effective immediately, all of our three-year subscriptions have been changed to "forever" products that you own and keep. SuperTopo's guide to Red Rocks has always been this way, and now it's across the board. We were able to get approval from all our content partners to respond to the customer feedback and we hope it brings you more of what you want.
This includes retroactively extending all previous purchases, too. New purchases will include one year of free guidebook updates, but previous purchases bought as "three year" subscriptions have been grandfathered to get the full three years of updates as well. After one year, updates will be available at a reasonable cost which will naturally depend on how much and how often each guide is updated.
My sincere thanks to the people here who took the time to share their opinions. Please feel free to email me or post at rakkup.com if you have questions.
We update our apps constantly to keep trying to make the experience better and hope the next time you head to Red Rocks or one of the other areas we cover, you'll give us a try.
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