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Steep Groomers and GPS... - Page 2

post #31 of 55
Thread Starter 
OK, so it sounds like people like using GPS units for this purpose, but can anyone make recomendations on maps I need to get? Do they sell them by mountain (haven't seen that yet) or do I simply pick a region? I pretty much ski out west. Also, I see that there is a Parks Topo at 24K, but I do not see any skiing. Thanks in advance.
post #32 of 55
Thread Starter 
OK...I got the 60CS with the NiMH rechargable batteries, the Autonav kit (which comes with CitySelect), US Topo, the magnetic external antenna, a neoprene case to protect it, and the combo PC interface/cigarette lighter cable (needed for an RS-232 connection for tasks other than updating maps, like WiFi hunting). I'm still struggling with how to operate everything, but I will try it out this weekend at Hevenly where there is like 16ft of snow!

I went to http://www.gpsdiscount.com as they seem to have the best prices, are Garmin certified, and had everything I needed.

Thanks all!

post #33 of 55
Originally Posted by ksv666
Always looking for the best long, steep groomers...please let me know your opinions
They've all been mentioned here, but the best sustained fall line skiing that I've been lucky enough to experience has been at Sun Valley, Deer Valley, and Beaver Creek. Try Warm Springs, Graduate, and Flying Squirrel at Sun Valley; Latigo, Larkspur Bowl, and the Birds of Prey downhill course (if it's groomed) at Beaver Creek; and Wizard and Tycoon at Deer Valley. Parachute at Santa Fe Ski Basin is another good steep cruiser, and some of the groomed runs off of the Apres Vous chair at Jackson are also sweet.

I've been trying to visualize some nice cruisers at Vail, buy my memories are dominated by crowds, short bursts of promising terrain that are interrupted by cat tracks, and intermittently icy conditions. Still, if you ever get to ski there when the groomers are soft, squeaky, and buffed out from top to bottom and the crowds have somehow dissipated, I think you could probably link some nice turns in the Lions Head area.
post #34 of 55
Late entry: Sun Valley, Snowbasin, Snowmass.

Any steep groomers in the RIGHT Coast "comparable" to all those mentioned?
post #35 of 55
Originally Posted by Gpaul

Roger that.

I don't know how often (or even if) they groom it from top to bottom any more, but the Grizzly course for the Men's Downhill from the 2002 Olympics just has to be among the longest steepest groomed runs in America.

IIRC, there are at least five sections on that run that can only be groomed with winch cats.

What a rush.

post #36 of 55
Thread Starter 

GPS - Garmin 60CS

This may not be the right place, but since I started talking about it on this thread, I wanted to ask a couple of GPS questions (other suggestions for posting are welcome):

So I got to really use the GPS for the first time this weekend. I went to Heavenly and had a blast. I captured a lot of data, but I am pretty disappointed in the MapSource software. I wanted to do the following, but I guess it can't be done very easily:

1. I wanted to "see" the data, including the elevation plot. The device shows a nice plot of elevation vs. time, but the software on the PC cannot show it. :

2. There is no easy way to export the data so I can manipulate it

3a. I would like to get a 3-D view of my data. Since I have all of the GPS coordinates and elevations, I should be able to get a nice wire frame of the trails I went down.

3b. As a follow-up to that, since I have the Topo discs, it would be really nice to overlay that wire frame on the mountain terrain.

4. I'd like to be able to cut up the data into segments (e.g., see how long a lift ride/run combo is). Sure, I can do the math, but on Sunday, I plotted over 7,500 track points! It would be nice to manage the data.

So much information is captured, but so little can be done with it once it is on the computer. It makes no sense to me. I don't expect the unit to have tons of features for manipulating data, but I *DO* expect my laptop to be able to make the data shine. In this case, I can't even reproduce some of the images I have on my unit! I'd also like to have the ability to see every screen on my computer (like the Trip Computer and summary page). It just seems crazy.

Does anyone have any suggestions? Is there any third party software that takes Garmin data files? Would anyone here that can write code be interested in a side project?

I really like the unit's size and form factor (the rocker button is not that great)...and others like it a lot too. It was nice to see some general stats from Sunday at Heavenly:

Total vertical decent feet: 44,225 feet
Trip Odom: 70.88 miles
Max speed: 79.8m/h (ok...no that is a bit of a stretch). I looked at the logs, and 33-36m/h seems to be the max.
Moving time: 5h47m
Stopped time: 2h00m
post #37 of 55
Good questions KSV. You can view a downloaded track log in Delorme 3D TopoQuads. This projects any log, route or track on a 7.5 minute USGS Map. The map can be rendered in 2D or 3D, and track logs can be played back in real time or accellerated. The images below were taken from my track log last week at Sierra at Tahoe. I just took it out for the afternoon, so its not a complete day, but you get the idea of how this data can be projected. You can see where I walked in from the parking lot on the left, and did most skiing on Grandview lift. Mainly skied the diamonds north of the lift and under the lift, but also did a couple runs on the backside. My max speed with good signal was 49.8 MPH. Note that if you lose GPS signal, the speed will be much greater than actual as you position rapidly updates from the last recorded position to where you reaquire the signal. You can see some points that are not well aligned on the north of the map. These are signal losses resulting in position drift.

BTW, 3D TopoQuads will set you back $99 for each state (California is 2 sets). The newer XData versions are quite powerful in importing GPS data and allowing you to manipulate it.

post #38 of 55
Thread Starter 
Hi Cirquerider,

Thanks for the info. Does that mean I bought the Garmin Topo maps for nothing? What are they good for? Does the product you mention just grab the data from the downloaded file on my computer? Is there a product that maps time with altitude?


post #39 of 55
MapSource Topos are the only product you can load into your GPS to add detail to the base map. These maps are useful for display in the field, but truely lack graphic detail and processing capability. Unfortunately, Garmin and Magellen each sell software that is specific to their product. So you have a captive market, kind of like printer cartridges or ski bindings! Mapsource maps are relatively inaccurate and dated, but is generally adequate to establish your location relative to major landmarks and to track your way back to where you started. If going backcountry be sure to take a real USGS map and compass to backup the GPS.

The data on your GPS is usable by other programs including high end GIS and detailed map software sold by companies like DeLorme. If you want to post-process GPS data, you need something much more powerful than MapSource; but truth is, you need both. 3D TopoQuads works just like MapSource in that it can download data directly from your GPS, but it displays it on a very detailed map base. Heck, they even sell high resolution satellite photo map bases you can use. Once you display it on the maps, you can playback logs, change waypoints and routes and display in 3D, even turning the aspect, vertical pitch (looking down or across), and changing the topographic relief. I use these products for professional reasons to plot locations, find coordinates and to outline property boundaries and features. But, as you can see, it also works for skiing.

Tried Geocaching yet? Its a great sport and can take you places you ordinarily would not go.
post #40 of 55
Thread Starter 

Went to Utah and Breckenridge for 4 days each!

I got to try my new Volkl 5 Star - 182cm. I am cross referencing a recent board I got slurped into.

Net-net: Love the skis, have the Garmin 60CS, skied all 8 days. A couple of Garmin pics and some ski shots.

The Garmin is awesome...best thing I've bought recently.

Here ya go for a look...



Tahoe just got two feet of snow March 19th!!! But I just can't take the time to go now. We'll see in a month or so how things look :
post #41 of 55
Thanks for sharing. It seems reasonable to me that you could reach that speed on a long steep run, but I don't know the mountain. I take it your max speed wasn't the one with the snapshots.
post #42 of 55
Thread Starter 
That is correct...multi-frame shot pics was not the fast one....but it was still fast
post #43 of 55
I remember in the fall getting flack about "GPS and topspeed", I had a GPS with me at Breck last year and hit some high speed cruisers at 60+ and people were saying that was not possible w/o a speed suite.
post #44 of 55
Thread Starter 
I think it is pretty accurate. I'm not saying it is 100% accurate, but I recalibrated it often, and reset the max speed numerous times to check max speed. I felt I ran consistently and the speed showed a consistent 58-62mph. Sure, it is possible that it is consistently off the exact same amount every time, but most of the flack I hear about them is one-off bits of data that skew things. This type of anomaly is greatly reduced after every re-calibration and reset of that max speed. So I am pretty sure I had consistent 60-65mph runs. I was just wondering about the 78mph run. I remember that run very well....very few turn, tight tuck, not much air, and I was hauling a$$.

Anyway, the fact that it has the altimeter puts a lot of holes in people's complaints about the accuracy. No satellite is needed for this unit to measure speed and altitude. It still tracks runs topographically....looks pretty funny when you look at the map and see the runs you like.

post #45 of 55
OK. Cirquerider,
I take it from your post that if I go and get a GPS, say a Garmin 60CS or 76CS (seems to be the reccommended ones), then I will later be able to get software to make pretty pictures like the one you posted above.
Is that right?
Edit: I think it would be really cool to post some elevation profiles of different runs. Any reccomendations on what to get for that?
post #46 of 55
Ghost, I have been able to import tracks and waypoints into DeLorme software and see my position, elevation and even do elevation profiles. The 3D ToposQuads is best for seeing accurate basemaps on USGS 7.5 minute topographic relief maps. I have always found the maps to be much more accurate for elevation purposes than my GPS. For some reason, the GPS seems to do real well on X Y plot (horizontal positioning), but it really becomes a crapshoot on elevation. Last week I took the GPS to Death Valley, and never got below +13 feet, even though I know we were at minus 282 feet at Badwater and -190 at the visitor center. Similarly, elevation has been way off on air flights. GPS units with barometric correction are easily fooled by pressurized cabins. Generally accurate to within 200 to 700 feet vertical on mountains in the open. That said, I think the newer GPS models like the 60 and 70cs are more robust, and have more graphics capability. I am looking to replace my GPSMAP 76S before long.

Don't forget to check out www.geocaching.com if you are going to get a unit. Its a fun hobby that can take you places you wouldn't otherwise go.
post #47 of 55
I am confused. Is Delorme software something that you use on your PC to download GPS info that is stored on a GARMIN GPS handheld unit or do you have to buy some sort of Delorme Hardware unit?
post #48 of 55
Originally Posted by Cirquerider
...I have always found the maps to be much more accurate for elevation purposes than my GPS. For some reason, the GPS seems to do real well on X Y plot (horizontal positioning), but it really becomes a crapshoot on elevation. Last week I took the GPS to Death Valley, and never got below +13 feet, even though I know we were at minus 282 feet at Badwater and -190 at the visitor center. Similarly, elevation has been way off on air flights. GPS units with barometric correction are easily fooled by pressurized cabins. ...
GPS units can, and do, continuously calculate their 'error', (also called accuracy). It's measured in feet (or whatever units of measure you're using), and is often in the 7 to 18 foot range -- with reception from at least three satellites, and with 'differential' corrections applied. This error applies to the X, Y and Z axes equally. Say the error is 9 feet, ... the way to picture this is to imagine a sphere, with a radius of 9 feet. Your X, Y , and Z location is within that sphere, with X% certainity -- I believe X is 99.998 or close to that value.

It sounds like your unit is configured to use the pressure/barometric sensor to calculate elevation, rather than the satellite signals. The "S" in the model name, GPSMAP 76S, means it has a built in pressure sensor. In that particular model, (I have one myself), set the Barometer Mode to 'Variable', ... and made sure you have the latest firmware from the Garmin website.
post #49 of 55
Originally Posted by Ghost
I am confused. Is Delorme software something that you use on your PC to download GPS info that is stored on a GARMIN GPS handheld unit... ?
Yes, it can be.

Originally Posted by Ghost
...or do you have to buy some sort of Delorme Hardware unit?
You can buy DeLorme hardware, but you don't have to, and probably don't want to.

DeLorme is known for their maps, both hardcopy and electronic. They also sell Hardward/GPS Units (maybe only one or two different models).

You get more features and functions that are more integrated together when you use Brand X GPS with Brand X maps. Example: With Garmin's maps, you can do routing, and download those routes and map details (such as topographic contour lines) to a Garmin GPS. After making your trip, the GPS can upload the actual 'breadcrumb tracks' you've taken to your Garmin maps on your PC. With a brand X GPS and brand Y map software, typically all you can do is upload the tracks from the GPS to the maps.

But, since map makers are very good at making maps, their maps often have features the GPS manufacturer's maps do not. Some examples of this: DeLorme maps are the 1:24,000 variety, ('topo quads') whereas Garmin's topo maps on a PC are at a scale of 1:100,000, and so have less detail. DeLorme maps can do an elevation profile of an uploaded track, whereas Garmin maps on a PC cannot do that, (this can be viewed on some Garmin GPS units, but it's not the same as looking at a chart on your PC).

The best thing to do is get a GPS unit that is designed for your usage, outdoor and hiking, automobile travel, or aviation or marine. Skiing falls into the outdoor and hiking category. Then, got PC mapping software that meets your needs. This may or may not come from the GPS manufacturer. If you want to do elevation profiles, check that the map software for your GPS can do it, and has the details you want, etc.
post #50 of 55
Elk, I thought I was using the latest firmware, but found I could update from 3.6 to 3.7. Thanks. GPS is set to Variable, and the altimeter was "on". I sometimes turn it off to compensate for inaccurate barometric readings in enclosed cabins in flight. The error (PDOP) for most consumer GPS units is reasonable on a horizontal access, but vertical elevations are not always so good; however, the unit is calibrated to my home elevation (970 feet). It currently shows 939 to 966 feet (changes over time). I suspect that there are problems with below sea level elevations and of course the problems mentioned with pressurized cabins in flight. The unit is accurate in most cases, but it is worthwhile to compare to USGS datum.

I also use a Trimble unit with ESRI GIS software (ARCmap etc) for professional mapping applications, and there really is no comparison. I was relating consumer GPS experience in the posts above. I dont go hiking or skiing with a big GPS antenna projecting over my head; it would look silly and is not a good solution for everyday use.
post #51 of 55
You can easily reach 60mph on skis without a speed suit, no question about it.
post #52 of 55
So, since some of you have these speedometer-thingies - how fast do you go?

And is there a use for knowing, other than just saying "I went 67 mph - cool!" (Don't get me wrong - I think being able to measure speed just for fun is worth $500, easy.)

I'd worry about getting one - I think I'd constantly be looking to set a new speed record. Then a steepness record. Then a speed/steepness record, and so on and so on, until...
(cut to hospital room)
post #53 of 55
Thread Starter 
Hey OldSchool,

The beauty of the unit is that it keeps track of your high water marks. Make sure when you get it, you configure the "tracks" setup for 'most often' as there are five levels. This will gather the most data points. At the end of my longest vertical day (~55,000' vertical), I had ~7,000 data point to plot with. The unit can store a maximum of 10,000 data points. Make sure you *uncheck* the "Wrap When Full" box or you will lose your intial data if you fill up your buffer (I want to preserve all beginning data).

Additionally, make sure you dump all GPS data to your laptop every day and reset all logs so you can get fresh information and have no worries of running out of track data space.


post #54 of 55

post #55 of 55
Originally Posted by L7
I've never bought into the accuracy of GPS for speed on skis.
Before I bought my cyclecomputer, I used a GPS on my bike (Garmin Geko 201). AFTER, I bought my cycle computer, I left the GPS mount on my bike for elevation use while climbing. When comparing the speed features of the two pieces of electronics, they are always very close, within in a 0.1 mph or so. Now I don't think they'll ever time WC racers with them, but if you wanted to play around and have fun for a day, I think the numbers you got would be pretty close to reality.
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