Latest Updates

August 9th, 2023
  • Search the summits now supports the use of quotes in your queries to make an exact search for what you want. Prior to this, when you typed a summit name in, a bit of “magic” occurred to give you the best results. This magic relied on the fact that summit names are usually just two words long. So if you type: Mount Waddington the search engine performs an exact search for you. Then if you type Mount Waddington winter ascent, the search engine will still use an exact match for the first two words and then search for the last two words in any order/place within the saved trip reports. So what happens if you search for a summit with a name that is 3 words long? For example: Mount Queen Bess? Well, the search engine isn’t that smart, so it will search for the phrase: Mount Queen and then separately the word Bess. Imagine if someone had a trip report on Mount Queen Mary with their friend Bess. Naturally, you’d get a result you didn’t want. Now you can use quotes to search “Mount Queen Bess” and will look exactly for that phrase in the text. If you want winter ascents then just type: “Mount Queen Bess” winter ascent. To make it easier for you, I’ve updated the autocomplete to include quotes automatically when you search. I hope this improves the experience overall!
  • Refreshed the opengraph image to showcase the newer look of the site
  • Updated the SEO description as well.
August 7th, 2023
  • Well, it's been a busy month out in the mountains, but I do have a few minor updates!
  • Improved text highlighting. Sometimes a search might only show one word and no context. This has been fixed by changing the text highligher settings.
  • Added black background on image pop-ups to clean up skinny images with a massive white border on the side.
June 29th, 2023
  • Refined the auto-complete search experience a bit further:
    • Cleaned up OSM names which fixes issues with summits named like: "Mount Seton/Goat Mountain" in OSM. Now auto-complete recognizes the values as an alternative name
    • Changed the way latin american summits are handled as often they're often officially named like: "Cerro Aconcagua" but usually only referred to as: "Aconcagua"
    • Added some text normalization to fix bad apostrophes in the summit names. E.g. Puʻuhonuaʻula is now saved as: Pu'uhonua'ula
    • Removed duplicate locations
  • Updated the map preview logic so that it will display for more summits now. Previously, the map would not display if there was more than one match e.g. "Goat Mountain". But in some cases you may type "Aconcagua" and the API would return both "Aconcagua" and "Aconcagua Sur". It's safe to assume we just want "Aconcagua" since it's both unique and an exact match.
  • Fixed a long standing bug in image previews and more recently in auto-complete where a result with an apostrophe in it would break the expected text up.
  • Started indexing mountain project routes, but only if they are alpine routes. The site isn't intended for regular climbing routes at the moment. Thought that may change in the future.
June 18th, 2023
  • Preview maps have now been implemented, giving you context on your search location!
  • There are a few caveats, some I hope I can work through others may not be so easy to fix.
    1. A map will only be displayed if there's a single summit that matches your query. Eventually, I may show multiple points on the map but in the first iteration this approach is the easiest.
    2. The query will need to match the peak name. If you're doing more refined queries such as "Ember Mountain Garibaldi" that will omit the preview map as well
  • That's probably the last major feature for the summer, but the explore map does open up lots of possibilities! E.g. avalanche and weather forecasts embedded into the search results
  • The focus for the next few weeks will be increasing more search sources and refining the search experience to get better search results
May 31st, 2023
  • Auto-complete search is live!!
  • It took me awhile to think about the best way to do this. In the end, I'm exporting OSM data, filtering for peaks and pushing that into the search index.
  • This means not all peak names will be present and with some odd names, misnamings, etc. But I feel it's a great improvement overall
  • If anyone reads these and has feedback, please don't hesitate to reach out!
  • In other news we've hit over 250,000 indexed pages and 500,000 images!
  • I'm working on a preview map next and the auto-complete work laid all the ground work to make that happen.
May 15th, 2023
  • Fixed a bug where image previews would not correctly display descriptions with double quotes
  • Summer is in full swing, so the rate of new features will slow down a touch. With that being said, I have some neat ideas for a preview map and autocomplete in the works!
May 3rd, 2023
  • I have successfully migrated to a new cloud service provider that has reduced operating costs by over 50%!!! Great news for the future of searchthesummits.
  • No changes on the frontend side of things, but I can now shift focus back to that with the cost problem now solved!
April 30th, 2023
  • Removed the "fuzzy" search setting as the data seemed to indicate most people aren't using it. Instead I've added fuzzy search as a fallback server side. This just means that if a search returns no results, a fallback to fuzzy search will occur and those results will be returned instead. This should hopefully improve the overall UX.
  • Added support for blogspot images! While blogspot sites are rarely updated these days, they contain lots of valuable information and images. Those images are now going to be searchable moving forward!
  • I'm no working on a preview map of sorts. That way a search with a single summit will show the location on a map making it easy to pinpoint what you're looking for. This will require some trial and error and given my new schedule may take some time to materialize.
April 24th, 2023
  • I've spent the past week overhauling the indexing logic in order to more easily support some new improvements to the search content
  • The first of those improvements is better text selection for forums like clubtread. Beforehand, I'd include all text, but that meant things like usernames, join dates and other miscellaneous information would get dumped into the search highlights. This is now fixed and should be live once the club tread content is re-indexed.
  • Secondly, I was only indexing images if they had an associated caption with them. However, this limits search results quite a bit. What if your caption just said "On the summit!". Well you'd likely never get that result. Now searching is also done against the title of the page. This should broaden the available images on search. The downside is that some miscellaneous photos may show up.
  • Finally, I've enabled image searching for some sites that never have an associated captions, like clubtread. This wasn't possible without the aforementioned change. A few more select sites may receive this treatment as well, but for now I'm just experimenting.
April 15th, 2023
  • Did you know there's 6 different ways to represent an apostrophe in text? I sure didn't... but you can see all of them here: ( ' )
  • The problem with that is, the trip reports may contain one of those apostrophes but your search query uses another. For example: A search for "Shark's Fin" will not return results if the text is indexed in its normal form as: "Sharks Fin". Subtle... I know!
  • The good news is this issue is fixed, but will take a little time to correct the search results. Once all content is done being re-indexed a search using any version of the apostrophe will match any text with another or the same version of said apostrophe.
  • Also changed the first page image previews so that they now also have a pop up instead of taking you to the image page, which was clunky
  • Consolidated/optimized the server infrastructure to improve costs. More to do, but the maintenance costs are much more sustainable now
April 8th, 2023
  • Facebook posts are now searchable in a limited form!
  • This means many of the great posts in SWBC PeakBaggers and other groups can be made searchable
  • There's a few caveats in that not all posts can be made searchable, so I'm focusing on the more obscure or notable ascents
  • It will take some time for these posts to begin to appear as the process is a bit more manual than other sites, unfortunately.
  • Otherwise, I've done quite a few big backend improvements to eliminate some technical debt and will continue to do more out of sight improvements over the coming weeks
March 27th, 2023
  • I've added a new image preview bar on the main results page to hopefully enhance the user experience
  • As part of this change I've removed some clutter around how the search details and drop downs are displayed
  • journals dating from the early 1900's to 1980s are now indexed!
  • Made some security and general backend enhancements to ensure the site continues to operate well
March 21st, 2023
  • I've successfully launched a new internal service that ensures new trip reports and content are pulled in more frequently (within 24 hours for most sites).
  • Most of my attention was spent on getting this critical new service launched, but I did do some minor front end tweaks to the image popups.
  • My focus now is on a digitization project for alpine journals and continually adding more sites to the search engine.
  • I plan to add a few minor updates including image previews in the search results and maybe GPX files in the search results too.
March 14th, 2023
  • This week has been mostly minor updates and non-visible changes, but a busy week nonetheless
  • Updated image popups to fill the screen better
  • Improved messaging when no search results are returned
  • Fixed a non-terminating connection bug in the page indexing worker
  • Refactored backend metrics and indexing pipeline logic
  • Work continues on automation to enable continuous polling of sites. Currently I need to kick off the jobs manually.
March 7th, 2023
  • Image searching is live at last! At least in the form of a beta launch. Go ahead and try an image search
  • You can expect some bugs while I iron out the user experience, but I'm working hard to eliminate all of them.
  • Note that images generally have small captions and so there's less usable text to search. A search for Mount Baker will show less images than Baker.
  • We're starting off with around 110,000 images at launch and I expect many more in the coming days and week or two.
  • This will probably be the last major user-facing change to the site for a little while. I need to focus on updating the backend systems to ensure new content can be indexed and added on continual basis.
March 4th, 2023
  • Well it's been a busy week of development, but mostly behind the scenes on things you can't see
  • Firstly, I've had to start the image indexing from scratch and delete all already indexed images
  • Simply put: I did not have enough metadata stored on the images to make searching and displaying easy. The good news is the fix was simple and it should only take about 3 days to rebuild the entire index. I've been hard at work designing and developing the front end for images in the meantime. I'm getting very close to having something live.
  • I fixed a long standing bug with the mechanism that prevents overloading websites if they're experiencing issues.
  • I've improved PDF indexing. Previously I would index the entire document as one entity, however many pdfs can be 100+ pages and this is usually beyond the limits of my index. To fix that, I now partition the document every 10 pages into a separate entity and so it will appear as a separate page result. It was tricky finding the balance between too many search results and too large of a partition, but I feel 10 pages nicely finds the compromise.
  • On the more technical side, I did some memory usage tuning to fix issues with memory exhausting on my indexing workers. I still needed a more powerful and therefore expensive host type to handle image processing, but it's only a few extra dollars, per month, for an excellent feature addition to the site.
February 27th, 2023
  • Fuzzy searching is now available!! Previously, your searches would only match exact values to ensure relevant results. Often times however, you may not be sure of the exact spelling or you want a more expansive search. Fuzzy searches now solve this!
  • You now have the option to select Fuzzy Match from a convenient drop down during your searches. This type of search will be able to account for typos, but with the trade off of producing many potentially less relevant results. By default, "Exact Matching" will still be selected.
  • Improved the user experience when a search produces no results
  • Fixed a bug in the date guessing logic that was incorrectly marking pages as several thousand years in the future
February 26th, 2023
  • Sorting by date or relevance is now available! Click the handy drop down above your search results to change how the results are sorted
  • Please be aware that when sorting by date, the date takes priority over relevance and so less relevant results may appear first
  • I'm making good progress on image indexing. As we speaking over 60,000 images are stored in the system. The next steps are enabling search from the website, so stay tuned.
February 20th, 2023
  • Page date guessing is now live!
  • All existing pages are being re-indexed as we speak and the new date guesser is being applied. This will allow users to sort the search results by most recent if they so choose. Please note that the date is a best guess and that not all pages have enough information to make a guess
  • Once a sufficient number of pages are re-indexed I will enable/expose a dropdown to sort by date or relevance, so stay tuned!
  • I have also completed work on internal tooling to make it easier to sift through and organize new sites my crawler discovers.
  • Image searching is now in the works!
February 13th, 2023
  • Fixed bug where queries with a hyphen produced no results. E.g. "pan-dome"
February 10th, 2023
  • PDF Indexing is now Supported! Select sites such as now have their PDF documents indexed
  • This paves the way for indexing many other alpine journals. Most notably the Canadian Alpine Journal, once their service is back online
  • Try this query out to see an example PDF
  • We have now also reached over 197,000 pages indexed!
  • I have made some improvements on the backend to determine when a query returns no results. I will use this to find new sources to ensure parity with Google and other sites
  • Lastly, progress is slow on the sort by date feature. It's a tricky problem to solve when using heuristics to determine the date a page was created.
February 3rd, 2023
  • trip reports are now being indexed! Only trip reports with a minimum number of words will be indexed to avoid empty reports
  • Fixed a bug where a search term that only matched the page title resulted in an empty search result being displayed
  • Fixed a bug where thumbnails were deleted whenever a page was re-indexed
  • I'm going to focus on sorting by date/relevance next as that has been a big ask
January 26th, 2023
  • SearchTheSummits now supports thumbnails in search results! Try this search
  • In an effort to enrich the search experience, I've been busy working on image indexing logic
  • Pages which have an appropriate display image will now have a thumbnail displayed next to the corresponding search result. The web crawler must re-index all existing pages, in order for thumbnails to be created, so it will take some time. The most recently indexed pages will have thumnbails already.
  • This is a precursor to image searching, which I am evaluating and potentially implementing in the near future
  • My next step is to add support for's selected trip reports and fix some minor bugs
January 15th, 2023
  • Search the summits reached over 100,000 web pages indexed from a starting point of just 50,000 a week prior
  • Added support for forums. Their posts are now searchable!