For the past four years, The Rock Climbing Association for Development has been building climbing routes for a sports development project in a rural village on Mount Lebanon. The successful programme has driven economic growth and has brought back a sense of pride to this rural village. Good directions are vital in this environment of busy roads, no street addresses, signs in Arabic and the very real possibility of landmines if you get off trail. The association has started using what3words to help find routes safely.

Rock climbing is a tough sport requiring strength, agility, resilience and endurance – but if you’re going to a new crag for the first time another important skill can make or break your day: trail finding.

Contemporary climbing guide maps, or ‘topos’ generally feature a hand-drawn map of where to park and how to reach the base of the cliff. Too often, me and my climbing partner have battled with ambiguous directions, open to interpretation at the best of times, but especially when hesitantly translated, traveling around Europe.

Guide books contain directions such as ‘After 10 minutes, where the path splits at the big tree, take the left turn’ – it’s not a language issue, it’s that climber trails are not as clearly signposted or well-trodden as hiking trails.

When you’re carrying a heavy pack with ropes and carabiners, taking wrong turns, beset by doubts and uncertainty before eventually arriving at – what you desperately hope is the start of the climb – means you’re frustrated and frazzled even before you really get started.

In the mountains it can be more serious, as squandering precious daylight searching for the routes, increases the chance of being benighted and if the light goes before you’ve rappelled down, you’re increasing the risk of accidents.

We started using what3words so that the main route-builders could communicate where they were working – but the potential of this tool to guide climbers to sectors and even specific climbs is tremendous.

The Rock Climbing Association for Development carried out initial mapping exercise in November 2015 to plot climbing sectors and advertise their locations on the topos posted on our website.

The project aims to promote rural tourism to benefit the local economy and youth in the village, so making the visitors’ climbing experience as easy as possible is important for sustainability. what3words can play a key part in that.”

Will Nazarian & Katy Anderson