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What do you look for in a Trail Map?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

I have always enjoyed studying trail maps and have even found myself making conclusions about ski areas I've never even been to based upon the area's trail map.  What areas/resorts do you feel have the best trail maps?  What specific information do you want conveyed to you through the trail map?

 

Generally, the more information contained on a map, the better.  There are a couple of items which I find I really like:

 

• markings which identify traverses/flat ridges/runouts such as what you will find on the Aspen maps, Grand Targhee;

• advanced intermediate (blue-black or double blue) designation - Jackson Hole, Telluride, Canyons, Steamboat, Winter Park;

• elevation of top and bottom of lifts (Snowbird, Zermatt).

 

A lot of trail maps now include a helpful section which lists all of the lifts, the vertical rise of each lift and running time.  For those who are looking to load up on vert, this information is great to have on a map.

 

I love it when a mountain's unique characteristics/personality are also captured in the trail map art.  Alta is what comes to mind here as the map is fairly simple, no frills, not even showing the names of the individual runs (good thing since it seems that many of the named runs have alternative nicknames which are more familiar than the official names anyway).

 

For those of you who use trail maps, what are the things that you are looking for and what maps do you find do an especially good job of depicting the ski resort?

post #2 of 15

I'm a trail map geek, and I agree with your take on the Alta map. Not only is it a great piece of art, but Niehues did a really nice job of bending the terrain enough to give the reader a reliable representation of the mountain while not requiring an inset.

 

Quote:
"The most difficult areas are like Alta, Blackcomb/Whistler, Killington, areas that have multiple faces, some face directly away from view and ways have to created to view them all in one view. Because of the distortions, trails will run horizontally on the page and if they are difficult trails the area will generally elect to have two views painted or have an inset done."

 

- James Niehues this interview.

 

In addition to being accurate guides, here are some other things I like to see--most of these being purely aesthetic:

 

  • Most of the information not laid over the map itself but rather off to the side in it's own section
  • Plenty of elevation tags on the map, for the top and bottom of each lift if possible (once again, Alta does this really well, by including this info off to the left.)
  • A real painting rather than a computer-generated graphic
  • A lower angle of view than what we usually see--and foreground trees only add to the beauty (these Brighton and Solitude maps are good examples.) 
post #3 of 15
I like anything by James Niehues. And I like the lift vert and run times. Some places seem to have too many inserts and page flips required. But I realize that the layout of the resort can impact how easy it is to create a successful map.
post #4 of 15

Trails

post #5 of 15
Quote:
A lot of trail maps now include a helpful section which lists all of the lifts, the vertical rise of each lift and running time.  For those who are looking to load up on vert, this information is great to have on a map.

+1 This was essential for me for 17 years of skiing before the altimeter watches were first sold in the mid-1990's.  This info is less often included now that 20 years ago, so presumably ski areas think anyone who cares has a watch or some other device to measure it. 

 

However, vertical and length of all lifts need to be on trial maps to give an objective measure of steepness.  As we all know trail difficulties shown on trial maps are relative within that ski area and thus of questionable utility (Big Emma, anyone?) for a first time visitor to compare to somewhere he/she has skied before.  

 

Having 5 difficulty gradations like Jackson helps some.  I've modeled my independent trail difficulty ratings upon those on Jackson's maps (yellow, black, red, blue, green) from the 1980's. 

 

Areas with a lot of high alpine are hard to portray by map, especially if they have wraparound exposures that must necessarily be flattened on a map.

 

With much cloudy and stormy weather I didn't know which direction some of Zermatt's terrain faced after I had spent a week there, so had to look it up on Google Earth.  With the vast scale, mostly alpine terrain and varied exposures it's very hard to get a good idea about the big ski complexes in the Alps with just a map.  Google Earth is a very helpful tool for advance scouting, helps some with steepness too.


Edited by Tony Crocker - 10/7/14 at 1:18pm
post #6 of 15

I almost never look at trail maps other than a quick glance at a new mountain and then go ski it and end up where you end up.  

post #7 of 15
I collect them for the ski room wall.
post #8 of 15

I collect them too, but these days it's easier to find them online than rummage through a regional envelope of 20+ maps.

post #9 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lofcaudio View Post
 

I have always enjoyed studying trail maps and have even found myself making conclusions about ski areas I've never even been to based upon the area's trail map.

 

I am guilty of doing this.

 

A lot.

post #10 of 15

Ah wait till you get old and creaky. Then it is where are the restrooms, is this a sit down restaurant and how do I get back to base.

post #11 of 15

There's a few programs that stitch together google streetview images into a movie, I'll bet with a little perseverance you could get a decent top to bottom look at some of the bigger resorts, at least the blue trails that have been imaged.

 

I'm lacking in perseverance today ....

post #12 of 15
I'm excited to realize the USGS National Elevation Dataset (NED) has enough resolution to be useful.

I finally understand Snowbird's layout, which I never do when I am there. Here's a false color altitude, contour, and steepness map:







The thin blue lines among the steeper colors are the Ridgetop traverses (road to provo, etc)
Edited by mdf - 10/7/14 at 7:12pm
post #13 of 15

And here is Jackson:

 

 

post #14 of 15

Refoldability.

post #15 of 15

Nice maps posted by mdf above.  Anyone want to argue about Jackson's north(?) facing fall lines on those maps?  It's close to a mirror image vs. Snowbird.

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