Ascend Climbing Tracker Case Study

ascend logo on screen

Ascend Climbing


Ascend helps rock climbers record their climbing activity and track their progress with only the phone in their pocket.

I've designed & built this product since 2017 with my business partner at Avalanche Apps.

Big idea, limited resources

Ascend began with a need we heard over and over: I want to track my rock climbing like my running/cycling. We explored the market and nobody has cracked the code on how to create a rock climbing tracker for mobile.

With just Jeremiah and myself, we set out to tackle the challenge of creating the "Strava of rock climbing" over the last 2 years. Within the first year we successfully built a product that tracks vertical climbing with only the phone in your pocket.

ascend screen highlights
onboarding process

Customer research & feedback

Rock climbing is an increasingly popular hobby in the United States and has long been popular in other parts of the world. Our customers are dedicated to their sport and have been extremely helpful in the feedback they have provided. We integrated feedback surveys with NPS questions to help generate qualifiable feedback.


Following a proven monetization model

Since our initial concept was based around Strava, we decided to analyze them and their competitors to determine the best strategy for monetization. The tricky part: how do you monetize when you have to give away the most valuable part of the app? (the climbing tracker!)

We found that the industry standard is to sell advanced insights and analytics to help dedicated customers gain more growth from time spent using the app. This proven strategy is looking promising for success although it is a slow race due to the large number of users needed.

ascend insights
purchase process

Getting more from the tracker

After creating a functional tracker and creating a monetization strategy based on the exercise app industry, we went deeper into the customer journey to go beyond just tracking.

I designed a map view to show nearby climbing locations to help users discover and plan their next climbing trip.I also designed a social networking system to allow users to find, connect, and share with friends. These features help people encourage each other while adding a natural viral growth component to the app.

climbing stats
ascend map of gyms
search friends screens

Getting featured by Apple, when you're not ready

In 2018, Ascend was featured by Apple on the iOS App Store. This was a wonderful opportunity to gain a large new audience, but unfortunately we were underprepared for such an influx.

As you can see in the charts below, the large spike is the millions of impressions and thousands of downloads that followed, but our overall growth pattern barely changed. This is the next challenge to overcome with Ascend, how do we retain our users?

ascend featured by apple in the app store

App Impressions vs Downloads with Apple Feature

graph of revenue
ascend icon app store button
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