For those of you obsessed with looking at backcountry skiing options on Google Earth, your eye in the sky just got a whole lot better.
Created by self proclaimed ‘Mapping Geeks and Ski Freaks,’ founders Dave and Misha have created FATMAP. FATMAP looks to provides it’s users with a detailed look at your resort or backcountry destination. It comes in the form of an app for both Android and iOS. The app itself is free, and you may trial any mountain for 48 hours, then a subscription model kicks in.
For most of FATMAP’s mapped resorts, the company used tri-scopic satellite imagery to create 3D models of the mountains. This provides between 15x and 45x the resolution accuracy of most mainstream 3D maps. The accuracy levels of FATMAP is +/- 3m horizontal and +/- 5m vertical for any given area on the map. FATMAP is continuing to update their imagery with supplementary aerial photography, eventually looking to increase resolution to 25cm.
There are two flavors of FATMAP. A ‘Piste’ version, and a ‘Freeride’ version. Piste is ultimately for people people looking to stay on the front country, while Freeride gives you more information regarding the backcountry. Piste subscriptions will cost from £4.99 per year per resort area. Freeride subscriptions will cost from £15.99 per year per resort area. Once you have downloaded the app and resorts, you do not need your cellular data. For now, FATMAPS is available for resorts throughout the French and Swiss Alps. The current resort list (as of 2/25/15) is:
- LES ARCS & LA PLAGNE (coming soon)
- TIGNES & VAL D’ISERE (coming soon)
More than just an accurate map, FATMAP provides other extremely useful metrics such as a gradient heat map, avalanche zones, aspect, and altitude segmenting. This takes a lot of the guesswork from combining some of the more ambiguous metrics. For instance, the ability to view the aspect of a slope and flip to the gradient view, while viewing it all in 3D, could give you quick insight as to how the skiing may be.
A word to the wise and dumb: though FATMAP gives you an Avalanche Zone reading, this is only to supplement your judgement call. Their FAQ explains how their Avalanche Zone feature works.
Since Google rules the world, my first assumption was that FATMAP was putting a skin on top of existing Google map data. If this is the case, it is only using a minor portion of the data. Yesterday, FATMAP released a comparison on their Facebook page. That lifts the powder skirt to show how powerful their system is.
This is truly the next step in leveraging technology for safety, and bring mountain awareness into the 21st century.