SKI

GOING PLACES

YOU’VE GOT YOUR BEACON, SHOVEL, PROBE, AVY 1 EDUCATION, AND PARTNER. NOW, WHERE DO YOU GO?

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Having a safe route planned is one of the most important parts of travel in the backcountr­y. While no one should ditch a printed topographi­cal map (ever had a phone die in the cold miles from the hut in a blizzard?), the supercompu­ter in your pocket is more helpful than ever when it comes to following preplanned routes and finding good snow.

Gaia GPS is an app that has gained a cult following over the years, and a recent round of upgrades makes it nearly essential for adventurou­s skiers. With a premium plan, users can create or download custom layered maps directly to their phones, allowing for elements like shaded slope angle, satellite images of the terrain, and recent snow coverage estimates to be overlapped or viewed individual­ly, no signal required. Routes and points of interest can be mapped out and downloaded as well, keeping users on-track when breaking trail in a new zone; weather forecast integratio­n can also be built in to accurately pinpoint when to make a push for the summit or when to turn back to the car.

The app is one of many new tech products that are helping to make backcountr­y travel more accessible and possibly safer. However, it’s worth noting that there is no replacemen­t for making solid, educated firsthand decisions in uncontroll­ed terrain. Keeping your head up and judging snowpack, location, and weather in real time is critical in the backcountr­y. But a little help from your phone can go a long way during a big day out.

Free and paid versions available at Gaiagps.com

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