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Steep Groomers and GPS...

post #1 of 55
Thread Starter 
Hi,

I'm new to the site, but would like advice/suggestions for the following:

1. Best mountain (globally) for steep groomed runs. I am headed for Deer Valley this winter, but am always looking for mountains that have fast runs that I can tear up.

2. GPS suggestion. What GPS is best for tracking vertical feet, speed, etc.

Thanks in advance. Looking forward to seeing you on the slopes!

-Kirk
post #2 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by ksv666
Hi,

I'm new to the site, but would like advice/suggestions for the following:

1. Best mountain (globally) for steep groomed runs. I am headed for Deer Valley this winter, but am always looking for mountains that have fast runs that I can tear up.

2. GPS suggestion. What GPS is best for tracking vertical feet, speed, etc.

Thanks in advance. Looking forward to seeing you on the slopes!

-Kirk
I know Peak 9 at Breck has some really good steep blacks that they groom almost every day.

As for the GPS. I have a Garmin 60CS. I love it; color screen, USGS topo maps, tracks your route, shows elevation, vertical feet, distance, speed, barometric pressure. Mainly use it for backpakcing in the summer, but also works great when you are in the backcountry.
post #3 of 55
Thread Starter 
Thanks man! I was at Breck last year and had a blast. I actually 'took' an instructor for the day and we did all nine peaks, including the t-bar. It was a beautiful day and was just awesome.


I'll look at the GPS you mentioned. Any idea what a reasonable price for that one is?

Cheers!
post #4 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by ksv666
Thanks man! I was at Breck last year and had a blast. I actually 'took' an instructor for the day and we did all nine peaks, including the t-bar. It was a beautiful day and was just awesome.


I'll look at the GPS you mentioned. Any idea what a reasonable price for that one is?

Cheers!
Well, if you have tried Breck, maybe you should go somewhere different. Try Beaver Creek. They have an awesome vertical for a CO resort. Try the Birds of Prey run. Good stuff.

As for the GPS. Money was not an issue for me since it was a necessity and this was about the only one that head everything I wanted. I think the 60CS is gonna run you at $300 on eBay. I would definately reccomend getting a Garmin though. You could get one for probably $100-150 that has the basic functions you want, but no mapping.
post #5 of 55
Thread Starter 
I am looking at the 60CS and the 76CS (pretty much the same price). The form factor is very different. Can you tell what you like about yours vs. what the other one looks like or might improve one (beside the core memory)?

http://www.garmin.com/products/gpsmap60cs/
http://www.garmin.com/products/gpsmap76cs/

Thanks,

-Kirk
post #6 of 55
Well, I do know that the 76CS wasn't out when i got my 60cs. I ordered my 60cs a week after they hit the market. The dimensions of the two are close, but the 60cs looks to be a tad smaller. Not very much weight either, but I think the 76cs might have it beat in that category. The 76cs has more memory, but with mine, I have all the maps that cover Summit county, CO, Jackson, WY, and my hometown area. More than enough memory for what I use. You can always take off or add other maps as you choose and save the maps you have used on your computer. Looks like Garmin markets the 76CS for marine use, but it will obviously work for what you want. Mine is not water resistant, but I have never had any problems with it when it gets sprinkled on or something, but the 76CS can actually be submerged in water and still work. those prices listed are wrong just so you know.

Do you want mapping and a color screen?
post #7 of 55
Since your going to be in Utah and you like steep groomed vert try the Mens Downhill at Snowbasin. The run is called Grizzly. Do it with out stopping By the time you reach the bottom your thighs are going to be quivering. Be sure to hit Steins Way at Deer Valley. If you should go to snowbird for a day try racing the tram back down from the top. That will log you about 3200 foot of vert in one run.
post #8 of 55
Thread Starter 
I definately want mapping and a color screen. I think I need to find a place that actually has them on display and "touch" them. The both appear to be water proof (maybe that's new for the 60CS).

I'll definately check out the run you mentioned at Deer Valley. Don't know the ropes of the area, but can the lift ticket be used for all the local mountains?

-Kirk
post #9 of 55
it isn't a GPS,
but the ciclosport HAC4+ acts as a heart rate monitor and cycling computer AND a ski computer...tracks steepness, speed (i think) and vertical feet decended and what not...you might want to look into it...and it's smaller and easier to carry than a gps...

melloboy
post #10 of 55
Thread Starter 
: I just looked at the CicloSport Alpin 5. It looks pretty cool. I think that is more of what I am looking for as it is pressure sensitive. Does it need to be calibrated or will it automactially use relative information to give readings? I like the fact that there are preset ski settings. It is German based, so talking to tech support sound a bit difficult. WHere can you look at them?

Again, I'm thinking the CicloSport product over the Garmin product for that reason. the Garmin product is more versitile, so that is also a factor.

Oh, the 60CS is really meant for hand held applications and the 76CS is really based for fix/mounted applications, esp. in a boat. I spoke to tech support and both are water proof (the 76 CS floats). I'm kinda torn. I don;t know how "good" the pressure sensor in the 60CS is vs the one in the CicloSport.

Anyone else have experience with these products?

-Kirk: :
post #11 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by ksv666
: I just looked at the CicloSport Alpin 5. It looks pretty cool. I think that is more of what I am looking for as it is pressure sensitive. Does it need to be calibrated or will it automactially use relative information to give readings? I like the fact that there are preset ski settings. It is German based, so talking to tech support sound a bit difficult. WHere can you look at them?

Again, I'm thinking the CicloSport product over the Garmin product for that reason. the Garmin product is more versitile, so that is also a factor.

Oh, the 60CS is really meant for hand held applications and the 76CS is really based for fix/mounted applications, esp. in a boat. I spoke to tech support and both are water proof (the 76 CS floats). I'm kinda torn. I don;t know how "good" the pressure sensor in the 60CS is vs the one in the CicloSport.

Anyone else have experience with these products?

-Kirk: :
I've compared the pressure reading of the 60cs to that of the weather channel and it is always really really close.
post #12 of 55
Thread Starter 
jtq,

- Does that mean it will calculate the speeds and vertical decent accurately?
- How do you "wear" your unit? Do you clip it on? Is it in a pocket? Are there other interference factors?
- Do you have to calibrate it manually at the peak and the base? The tech support guy made it seem a bit complicated.

I want to get the GPS unit, but I also want to make sure it will measure speed well. If it can do speed via pressure and vertical feet via GPS, great. Can it do both via pressure?

Thanks for the help.

-Kirk
post #13 of 55
i'm not sure the Alpin 5 is available in the US
if you do want to take a look at the Ciclosport HAC4+ which is virtually an Alpin 5 made for cyclists (additional functions), try calling Trail Head Cyclery in San Jose @ (408) 369-9666 and see if they have one in stock so you can mess around with it.

good luck

melloboy
post #14 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by ksv666
... If it can do speed via pressure and vertical feet via GPS, great. Can it do both via pressure?
Other way around, I think. It does speed via GPS and vertical feet via pressure. I don't know how you could really do speed via pressure (except with a pitot tube, which may not be all that practical, and would give you airspeed, uncorrected for wind, in any event).
post #15 of 55

Alpin 5 sucks

I had two of them, and they looked cool, but I could never get the things to work (bad battery, buttons woldn't work, poor controls/menus, etc.). In addition, the ski speed calculator appeared to be a guesstimate, at best. Too bad, because I was getting a great price on closeout.

If you want to know about HAC4s, check out the reviews and boards on www.roadbikereview.com. It has convenient search features. However, I think you'll find the HAC4 ski speed calculator is the same guesstimate.
post #16 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by ksv666
jtq,

- Does that mean it will calculate the speeds and vertical decent accurately?
- How do you "wear" your unit? Do you clip it on? Is it in a pocket? Are there other interference factors?
- Do you have to calibrate it manually at the peak and the base? The tech support guy made it seem a bit complicated.

I want to get the GPS unit, but I also want to make sure it will measure speed well. If it can do speed via pressure and vertical feet via GPS, great. Can it do both via pressure?

Thanks for the help.

-Kirk
Kirk, it calculates speed by tracking your movement over time throughout the day. I've been in my car and turned it on and it actually read "72" mile s an hour; My car spedometer read "74." It runs on a continuous update with the satellites. Calibration is easy. For the barometer just get on the weather channel for where you are at, check the pressure, then take your GPS outside and tell it what the current pressure is, and it will adjust itself accordingly. Same this altitude. For example, I know Copper Mtn's base is at 9700 ft. So, at the bottom of the mountain before I go up I just calibrate it so it says that I am currently at 9700. You could do the same at the top if you wanted(most trail maps will have elevation of the surrounding peaks). It's very accurate.


As for "carrying" it. I sometimes keep it in my pack. It will sometimes have difficulties with satellite connection, but most of the time not. Or, I have a clip part on my jacket that is for a avy beacon, but I can attach my GPS to it if I want.
post #17 of 55
i have a garmin etrex vista and it is good. it takes altitude by sensing the preassure, and can plot it without haveing a satilite lock which is nice because then you can turn off the GPS sensor and get alot more battery life. i havent used it skiing yet but i will this season. it is similar to the Garmin 60CS but much less expensive.
post #18 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by jtq_99
I know Peak 9 at Breck has some really good steep blacks that they groom almost every day.

As for the GPS. I have a Garmin 60CS. I love it; color screen, USGS topo maps, tracks your route, shows elevation, vertical feet, distance, speed, barometric pressure. Mainly use it for backpakcing in the summer, but also works great when you are in the backcountry.
I've never bought into the accuracy of GPS for speed on skis. It's been discussed before but elevation and lack of adequate coverage in mountains were the wild cards. I hadn't heard of a unit with a separate altimeter built in. That would provide somewhat of a differential on altitude and might greatly improve speed accuracy. I assume the altimeter readings are connected in to the software and used to adjust readings on the GPS navigation. Is that the case? If so then that is a very cool unit.
post #19 of 55
The 76CS has a much better basemap than the 60CS..NO they are NOT the same, Ihave owned both , the 76 series actually has a sufficient basemap for traveling..basically the large atlas pages that sow states..it has everyr oads listed there..and then some more usually. With CDs both units will show even heavier detail overwriting the map detail. Both are superb units, the 76 is a little thinner for fitting ina ajcket pocket and such, both are very rugged. The ONLY reason to get the 60 over the 76 is because you like the shape better..the 76 is the same unit internally albeit with a better factory map of the USA
post #20 of 55
Many think Sun Valley is the best mtn in the US for racking up mileage on long, steep groomed runs.
post #21 of 55
I'll throw in a vote for the Garmin 76CS, and a few gotchas also.

I think it has all the technology you are looking asking for: a color screen, a full page screen that plots elevation profile vs. time, altimeter (the "S" in these Garmin units stands for sensor, as in barometric pressure sensor) that works when you lose GPS signal. It will calculate vertical and horizontal distance and speed (instantaneous and maximum), see gotcha, though.

Be aware that with both the Garmin 76CS and the 60CS you'll need to purchase additional maps on CD (Garmin's US Topo product, app. $100) to get the topographic details I suspect you want. The base maps included with each of these units are basically road maps. But the Garmin US Topo maps are US Geological Survey 1:100,000 topographic maps that have been around in paper form for a long time, (note, not the 1;24,000 quadrangle topo maps). Garmin's website has a nice MapSource Map viewer that allows you to see their maps in action before purchasing, you can for example zoom in on your favorite ski resort and see what the map looks like.

The gotcha, (a repeat of what others said), is that GPS is not perfect for skiing. The angle and orientation of your body, as you're going down the slopes, will interfere with the GPS signals, and combined with the mountain itself blocking out a good deal of the available horizon, you'll experience lost signals. Therefore, be suspicious of the speed calculations. I read somewhere to put the unit in a backpack, and at the top of the pack, for maximum skyware coverage, when skiing, and that sounds like good advice. Additional gotchas: these two units are not small, they will be bulky inside a jacket. If you do use the US Topo product, after you upload the 'breadcrumb' trails to a PC to view, there is no elevation profile plot available on the PC, that is only available on the GPS unit's screen.

Don't go by the list prices on Garmin's website, or Magellan, or others either. One good source is www.gpsnow.com, (very reputable, select the unit and add it to a shopping cart to see the actual price), or www.tvnav.com. Sometimes amazon.com has better prices on the map CDs that these GPS resellers.
post #22 of 55

men's downhill run at Snowbasin - groomed steeps

if you get out to snowbasin UT, take the tram to the top
of the mens downhill and let em rip...
post #23 of 55
One might also consider one of garmins wrist mounted units for speed estimations when skiing. If the GPS has a lock on 3 sats or more..the speed is fairly accurate, at least everytime I have checked it against my truck speedo.
post #24 of 55
Thread Starter 
OK...I know this is going to sound a bit silly, but what if an external antenna was connected to one of the GPS units and mounted on the back of a jacket or the top of a backpack? I have a CamelBak and it has a hole for MP3/CD player's headphones. Would that help?
post #25 of 55
Kirk, you can attach an external antenna to a Garmin GPS. I know there is a guy who works for Keystone and does a lot of GIS stuff for the mountain and that's how he works his. Puts his GPS in his pack and then has an external antenna attached on the outside of his pack. Mine has always worked fine when putting it in the outside pocket of my pack.
post #26 of 55
Thread Starter 
I am now narrowing in on the 60CS. Can anyone suggest maps that I should use or places to get discounted maps (e.g., people selling old ones, etc.).

Thanks, kirk
post #27 of 55
I have an Etrex Vista too, and it's pretty nice. Much smaller than either the 60CS or 76CS. Has the altimeter and electronic compass. Memory of 24MB is enough for about ten topo maps. I think it has all the features that the 60CS has except for a smaller memory and no autorouting directions. There is also a new color screen version out.
post #28 of 55
I have the garmin etrex vista color. A lot cheaper and more compact than the 60CS. I put it in my sleeve radio pocket where it gets great reception. The Vista C has altimeter, compass, mapping, autorouting, etc... in addition to the standard waypoint marking & route tracking/backtracking features.

I use it primarily for skiing & hiking, esp when going into the back country. The memory is enough to hold the metro road maps and topography maps for any area I am traveling to. I can log my total descent, max/average speeds, tracks, etc... Dump the whole day's data into the computer and see all your tracks, stats for the day. It's already saved my bacon when navigating out of the b/c under foggy conditions where you have no visual sitings for reference.

What was funny was on our last ski trip. A snowboarder cut me off when he cut across the trail to hit a kicker on the side w/o checking to see it was clear first. I could see my tracks later from the gps going from 55 kph to 0 kph on impact. I think he prolly felt effects of the impact pretty good. Maybe he'll learn to look next time before cutting across the flow of traffic.
post #29 of 55
A GPS will provide accurate 3 dimensional information for the rate of speed, rate of climb/decent and the amount of vertical skied WITHOUT a built in pressure sensor/altimeter PROVIDED the unit is receiving a sufficient number of satellites AND the satellites have good geometry. If you are considering using an external antenna, which I would recommend, make sure that the unit that you are buying has a provision for connecting an external antenna. Many units, such as most if not all of the Garmin eTrex series, do not have provision for connecting an external antenna. I doubt that you will obtain the readings you are seeking without using an external antenna. GPS signals are affected by many things even when the satellites are not blocked by terrain. Foliage, rain, snow and even your body (think big sack of salt water) can and will greatly affect GPS signals attempting to reach your receiver.

Another alternative that works very well is the Suunto X6HR wrist top computer. This watch has functions for time, compass, barometric pressure (altimeter), thermometer and a heart rate monitor. The altimeter is very accurate if set prior to your starting skiing. This is quite easy and most ski resort trail maps indicate base and top elevation. The Suunto X6HR can log information gleaned from it's sensors ,be connected to your computer, and with the provided software you can view your total ascent, total decent, maximum rate of climb, maximum rate of descent, your maximum average and minimum heart rates. Although it will not indicate your actual horizontal speed, it is an outstanding training tool. The Suunto X6HR would probably cost as much or maybe even more than the Garmin GPS units you are considering.
post #30 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by topgun260
A GPS will provide accurate 3 dimensional information for the rate of speed, rate of climb/decent and the amount of vertical skied WITHOUT a built in pressure sensor/altimeter PROVIDED the unit is receiving a sufficient number of satellites AND the satellites have good geometry. If you are considering using an external antenna, which I would recommend, make sure that the unit that you are buying has a provision for connecting an external antenna. Many units, such as most if not all of the Garmin eTrex series, do not have provision for connecting an external antenna. I doubt that you will obtain the readings you are seeking without using an external antenna. GPS signals are affected by many things even when the satellites are not blocked by terrain. Foliage, rain, snow and even your body (think big sack of salt water) can and will greatly affect GPS signals attempting to reach your receiver.
This has been my experience as well. I've achieved a stored "max speed" of 86 mph while walking in the woods! And in the deep woods with a heavy treetop canopy, I sometimes have to move quite a bit (50-60 feet sometimes) to register any change in position. Never tried an external antenna.
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