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winter backcountry ski resources?

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winter backcountry ski resources?

Postby realhillboarding » Wed Jan 05, 2011 2:14 pm

What resources do people use to find good backcountry ski routes in the winter? Are there any that include discussions about max slope angle and typical snow coverage on routes? I've taken avy1 and have been out a handful of times in the winter, but I'm having a hard time finding information about good non-14er backcountry routes for winter (spring is easy).

thanks,
adam

(sorry if this is a repeat post, "resources, backcountry, ski, routes, conditions, etc" aren't very helpful search terms on a site like this)

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Re: winter backcountry ski resources?

Postby Oman » Wed Jan 05, 2011 2:32 pm

Not sure how you define "backcountry," but a map of Berthoud Pass skin-and-ski runs is here:
http://berthoudpass.com/index.cfm/index.cfm

There's also a book called Backcountry Skiing Berthoud Pass by Jordan Lipp. It may be out of print now, but you can check out a copy at the library or sometimes find one to buy at a local mountain shop.

For a fun and relatively safe run pretty close to metro Denver, there's Butler Gulch by the Henderson Mill off the first switchback on the east side of Berthoud Pass.

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Re: winter backcountry ski resources?

Postby ajkagy » Wed Jan 05, 2011 6:06 pm

1. find a place with good road access (unless you have a sled or don't mind skinning that far).
2. topo map to find best uphill/downhill routes of travel

with a L1 you've got a decent foundation to just get out there and get more experience traveling in the winter

As far as slope angles, most of the time i can just eye a topo to get a general feel of how steep something will be. Also I use a GIS mapping tool and elevation data from the USGS seamless server to create color coded slope angle overlays for google earth which is helpful in getting a feel for an area you've never been. The best way by far is just to get out there and survey the area yourself.
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Re: winter backcountry ski resources?

Postby realhillboarding » Wed Jan 05, 2011 6:54 pm

Thanks Oman, that map is really helpful!

ajkagy wrote:As far as slope angles, most of the time i can just eye a topo to get a general feel of how steep something will be. Also I use a GIS mapping tool and elevation data from the USGS seamless server to create color coded slope angle overlays for google earth which is helpful in getting a feel for an area you've never been. The best way by far is just to get out there and survey the area yourself.



Is this a free tool, or would I need to buy it? I figured a map and some calculations was my best option, but was hoping there was a lazy way out. Back when I lived up in the mountains I usually did just go check out the area a day or two before riding it, but now that I'm down in denver and only get at most 1 day a week to play, most of my planning has to happen at a desk, so this mapping tool sounds like a good option. Thanks!

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Re: winter backcountry ski resources?

Postby ajkagy » Wed Jan 05, 2011 7:40 pm

realhillboarding wrote:Thanks Oman, that map is really helpful!

ajkagy wrote:As far as slope angles, most of the time i can just eye a topo to get a general feel of how steep something will be. Also I use a GIS mapping tool and elevation data from the USGS seamless server to create color coded slope angle overlays for google earth which is helpful in getting a feel for an area you've never been. The best way by far is just to get out there and survey the area yourself.



Is this a free tool, or would I need to buy it? I figured a map and some calculations was my best option, but was hoping there was a lazy way out. Back when I lived up in the mountains I usually did just go check out the area a day or two before riding it, but now that I'm down in denver and only get at most 1 day a week to play, most of my planning has to happen at a desk, so this mapping tool sounds like a good option. Thanks!


I use Microdem - Free download
http://www.usna.edu/Users/oceano/pguth/website/microdem/microdem.htm

Seamless server data is free
http://seamless.usgs.gov/website/seamless/viewer.htm

1. Load the Seamless server link. Zoom into an area you want to download data for
2. Select the rectangular download (you should get a popup now)
3. select modify data request
4. scroll down to the "Elevation" section and select the checkbox for the 1/3 Arc data (1 Arc is not detailed enough and 1/9 Arc data will not be mapped for most areas). Select the drop down for GeoTiff format in zip file format.
5. Unzip the file somewhere and open up Microdem and select "File", "Open DEM" and select the file with the "TIF" file extension.
6. Right click on the image and go to "Display Parameter" and then "Slope". From here you can define the color coding and degree of the slope angles you want to map.
7. Once you press Ok, you can then right click again on the image and go to Export, Map to Google Earth.

Wallah you got yourself a slope angle overlay of the area you'd like to check out.

Just keep in mind its a rough outline of an areas slope angle and definitely not a guide to avoid avalanche terrain.

Stay safe
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Re: winter backcountry ski resources?

Postby weissea » Wed Jan 05, 2011 8:35 pm

any recommends on a similar software for Mac OS X?
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Re: winter backcountry ski resources?

Postby outsidemike » Thu Jan 06, 2011 12:40 pm

Oman wrote:Not sure how you define "backcountry," but a map of Berthoud Pass skin-and-ski runs is here:
http://berthoudpass.com/index.cfm/index.cfm

There's also a book called Backcountry Skiing Berthoud Pass by Jordan Lipp. It may be out of print now, but you can check out a copy at the library or sometimes find one to buy at a local mountain shop.

For a fun and relatively safe run pretty close to metro Denver, there's Butler Gulch by the Henderson Mill off the first switchback on the east side of Berthoud Pass.


The book is out of print, but a few shops still have copies (REI for sure had 6)
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Re: winter backcountry ski resources?

Postby dlcrow » Thu Jan 06, 2011 5:18 pm

outsidemike wrote:
Oman wrote:Not sure how you define "backcountry," but a map of Berthoud Pass skin-and-ski runs is here:
http://berthoudpass.com/index.cfm/index.cfm

There's also a book called Backcountry Skiing Berthoud Pass by Jordan Lipp. It may be out of print now, but you can check out a copy at the library or sometimes find one to buy at a local mountain shop.

For a fun and relatively safe run pretty close to metro Denver, there's Butler Gulch by the Henderson Mill off the first switchback on the east side of Berthoud Pass.


The book is out of print, but a few shops still have copies (REI for sure had 6)


Neptune in Boulder has some copies available.

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Re: winter backcountry ski resources?

Postby George James » Thu Jan 06, 2011 5:40 pm

outsidemike wrote:The book is out of print, but a few shops still have copies

You might find one in the seat pocket of a Southwest jet if you're lucky...last time I ever put something there. #-o

Pretty sure this information is harder to find because good backcountry skiing is kinda like The One Ring in the minds of men.

Flyin around on Google Earth is a pretty good way to get ideas. Once you've got a slope in mind you could scour the interwebs for trip reports from that mountain or area. Pictures from summer reports can sometimes offer some decent insight on the terrain.
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Re: winter backcountry ski resources?

Postby Jim Davies » Thu Jan 06, 2011 6:30 pm

Check out Lou Dawson's website wildsnow.com. He has a page discussing backcountry skiing books:
http://www.wildsnow.com/backcountry-skiing-books/backcountry-skiing-books/
The "Powder Ghost Towns" book might be a good start for finding less-wild spots (closed resorts).
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Re: winter backcountry ski resources?

Postby robco » Thu Jan 06, 2011 6:46 pm

ajkagy wrote:Seamless server data is free
http://seamless.usgs.gov/website/seamless/viewer.htm

1. Load the Seamless server link. Zoom into an area you want to download data for
2. Select the rectangular download (you should get a popup now)
3. select modify data request
4. scroll down to the "Elevation" section and select the checkbox for the 1/3 Arc data (1 Arc is not detailed enough and 1/9 Arc data will not be mapped for most areas). Select the drop down for GeoTiff format in zip file format.
5. Unzip the file somewhere and open up Microdem and select "File", "Open DEM" and select the file with the "TIF" file extension.
6. Right click on the image and go to "Display Parameter" and then "Slope". From here you can define the color coding and degree of the slope angles you want to map.
7. Once you press Ok, you can then right click again on the image and go to Export, Map to Google Earth.


Hmm, that's pretty cool! Although the steps required are pretty convoluted and the USGS's Seamless interface sort of sucks :-k

Somebody should really create a google map overlay which shows slope angles in various colors (e.g., putting 30-45 degrees in an ominous red), which you could use to scout various routes during winter.

I wonder if there's a good database that has slope angles by latitude/longitude? You should be able to pre-generate some slope-angle overlays for google maps from that.

If not, it looks like there's a few online services that let you obtain the altitude of a given latitude/longitude point, and you should be able to derive approximate slope angle from these altitude points. My thinking:
* Define 3D points as (latitude, longitude, altitude), using common units of distance (lat/long should probably be adjusted to be relative from a nearby reference point)
* Take a few adjacent 3D points, and use a least-square fit to map them onto the best-fit plane. In small enough chunks, any piece of land should approximate a plane.
* Take the normal vector of the best-fit plane of the slope, and compare it to the normal vector of flat ground (0,0,1)
* Compute the angle between the vectors using the standard dot product / cross product method. Voila, that should be the approximate angle of the slope.
* Rinse, repeat, generate slope angle for the various latitude/longitude points within say a ~1 mile radius of each 14er/13er, convert angles into color coding, and use Google Maps API to overlay it onto the map with partial opacity.

If my thinking above is correct, it shouldn't be too hard, but would probably have to be pre-computed for each mountain. (Or maybe there's an easier way or more exact way that I'm not thinking of...I thought about trying to use a fourier transform to try to find slope angles.) Hmm...maybe I'll do this if I get some spare time.


Would a slope angle overlay in google maps for 14ers/13ers be something that people would find useful, if I did it? (Or would it be potentially dangerous, since a mistake in the algorithm could cause people to have a false sense of security while climbing a route?)

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Re: winter backcountry ski resources?

Postby robco » Thu Jan 06, 2011 7:03 pm

robco wrote:Would a slope angle overlay in google maps for 14ers/13ers be something that people would find useful, if I did it? (Or would it be potentially dangerous, since a mistake in the algorithm could cause people to have a false sense of security while climbing a route?)


Hmm, I suppose learning to read a topo map more reliably might be an alternative solution. I'm probably just lazy :P. Sigh

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