(written by Stefan Geiss)
The starting point for the whole project was my passion for drawing. I always liked drawing of all sorts and at some point i wanted to create my own topos. Later on, this passion began to be a hobby of its own, meaning i wanted to draw topos of the whole climbing area „Schwäbische Alb". The plan was to publish them in one complete book. My wife Constanze was my greatest supporter. Being a climber herself, she helped researching crags that were difficult to climb on my own, for example Schaufelsen. She also dealt with finding missing route names and developed a database with all routes and grades.
While researching, i got to know many climbing areas that were previously unknown to me and i also found many new routes. Therefore, i sometimes brought the drill instead of the pencil and created new climbing routs. When i worked in the Lautertal in 2003, i discovered the „Hohenhundersingen" that had not been bolted until then. Since i was interested, i contacted the person who looked after various crags in that area. That happened to be Uwe Kiefer, who invited me to join him making this area accessible. I introduced him to my idea of creating a complete new climbing guide and learnt that he was planning an open source Topo Project which was initially to be about "Uracher Alb".
Since then, we have often contacted each other for various questions regarding climbing and nature protection and we exchanged a lot of information. Four years later, i had to face the fact that the guidebook could not be printed by the publisher i had worked with, for several reasons. So this project seemed to be impossible to finish. A lot of work wasted...
I then quit working with the publisher and did not quite know what to do with all the topos. They sat in a box for two more years and I was frustrated.
When Uwe finally learnt that my project was not going to happen, he had the idea to combine his open source project with all topos and data we had already collected. He explained that using an online concept would meet my requirement to be as "up to date" as possible regarding the topos. The Open-Source idea provides the possibility to update the topos when routes are reorganized or changed, or new routes emerge..
So, in 2012,we decided to start the project, altered the drafts to make them web compatible and Uwe managed to work his way through content management, web design and the time-consuming work of creating databases and uploading and designing everything. Using smartphones and tablets outdoors, enables users to find all kinds of information within seconds. So why carry the heavy guidebook to the crags, when you already have everything at hand?
Being „tied in" now does not only mean the hot end of the rope for us, but also using the hot and fast Internet accesses. It took two more years to get everything ready: 520 drawings, 170 descriptions, 500 charts, 520 pictures and 520 PDF files. On top of that, it was not quite a walk in the park to do all the paperwork regarding licenses etc.
Finally in 2014, we were able to proudly present a platform that can be used online and offline and is completely free of charge. It is open source at its best; a groundbreaking project for route charts and topos worldwide. It is free, made by climbers to be used by climbers.
So, if you have topos of crags or even an area, make sure to get the CC+SLA license and send it to us. We will then publish it here on "RockTopo". Both licenses (Creative Commons + Source License Agreement) will protect you as creator and also the whole project to keep creativity and the spirit of the community high.
Finally, the three of us wish you a lot of fun on RockTopo.org and hope for your support.
At this point we would like to thank especially Julia Pünsch, for her translation of the SLA license, and the correction of our project pages in English.