How the app “revolutionized and rejuvenated” hiking and mountain sports in France

As in the old days, when the family was confused in the mountains, we spent 30 minutes praying for the faded 1980s map in all directions and arriving at the shelter before it got dark.Hiking like an activity Outdoor More generally, as Alice, 25, proves, she hasn’t missed a digital shift. “It’s still very practical to be able to see many IGN maps, even when they’re disconnected, as is often the case in high mountains,” confesses a young woman who was barely old. Ifigenia.

No, I’m not talking about Greek mythology here, but about the “oldest app”. Outdoor “Since 2010, it has been recognized as a” pure and hard cartographic reference “, so according to Tim MacLean, it is an” indispensable tool for hikers and mountaineers. ” He was the 2017 founder of startup Whimpr, a community application for mountain sports enthusiasts with over 10,000 free users and 1,000 paid customers, and purchased Iphigénie last December.

Thanks to the ability to download IGN maps to your smartphone, hiking practice in the mountains has been rejuvenated.
Thanks to the ability to download IGN maps to your smartphone, hiking practice in the mountains has been rejuvenated. –Gaetan Haugear

“Hiking is no longer perceived as cheap”

“Over the last decade, hiking has been gradually digitized, leading to a renewal of practitioners,” emphasizes Tim MacLean, who relies on Iphigénie’s annual growth rate of 15% since 2010. An offer of € 25 per year is offered. According to Iphigénie, economic standards are decisive. “IGN’s paper maps cost 13 euros, which is over 1,000,” said Tim MacLean. So why not keep all the updated maps in your pocket for a small fee? And in the app, you can always find your way on the map via the blue dots of GPS. This is very valuable. »»

Such accuracy would certainly have put an end to so many heated discussions (and so many moments of doubt) on hiking trails almost everywhere in France. However, half of Iphigénie’s 100,000 subscribers (90% French) are over 50, showing a tendency for hiking people to rejuvenate. Wider Magazine’s editor-in-chief and writer, Sylvain Bazan, realizes his vision.

“Hiking keeps a relatively old audience, but few practitioners rely on old-fashioned maps. The Covid-19 is an extraordinary catalyst outdoors, and the app is easy for many young people to do natural activities. They have revolutionized and rejuvenated hiking. Holidays on hiking trails are no longer perceived as cheap for the majority of their thirties. »»

“We are not yet the Tinder of mountaineering.”

As Tim MacLean points out, a big change, especially with Whimpr, an app “for 25-50 years old than Iphigenia”. “Access to the alpine world isn’t easy, but it’s not only available to people who have lived there for about a decade,” he continues. It is an experience that builds up little by little. Digital contributions do not cause anyone to climb the summit of Mont Blanc overnight in crampons. But without replacing the guide’s advice, it’s a tool that accompanies us. »»

The Whimpr app is widely used for mountaineering.
The Whimpr app is widely used for mountaineering. -Ulysses Lefebvre

And it includes breaking news, over 150,000 route descriptions, and community feedback to emphasize your outing while creating exchanges. “But we’re not the climbing The Tinder yet,” laughs Tim MacLean. Alice, who lives in Chamonix, uses both Iphigénie and Whimpr for regular ski touring, trail running and mountaineering exercises.

“We must never rely on electronic devices.”

“Whympr’s social and community aspects make it possible to significantly invigorate mountain practices,” she believes. Before I leave, I rely heavily on the exact slopes and many user posts that show where good snow is, as well as the sectors to avoid due to the threatening shellac. Hervé Qualizza is the mountaineering coordinator of the National Ski Mountaineering School (Ensa) in Chamonix (Haute-Savoie) and has long supported the integration of these applications into training. ..

“But the average hiker shouldn’t tell himself that he could face bad weather, thanks to all the help his smartphone provides to him today, he specifies. Mountains are a dangerous environment and you should never rely on fragile electronics for wind, cold and even snow. »»

“We can keep a lot of freedom.”

That’s why Ensa trainees learn to learn maps, compasses, and altimeters as they did before new technologies emerged.Nevertheless, these really confused many practices Outdoor..

“Thanks to Iphigénie’s GPS points, we’re no longer lost like classic maps,” says Sylvain Bazin. This assumption opens the traveling project to less professionals. You can also keep a lot of freedom depending on whether you choose to follow the trails provided by the app. “Basically, the appeal of hiking can be annoying without much reliance on technical assistance, even if it means betting on your (bad) sense of direction many times, right?