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Thursday, October 28,2010

Winter Scene 2010: iPhone snow applications

Have the slopes at your fingertips

By Heather May Koski


Amid dozens of debatably useless applications, iPhones offer numerous apps of particular interest for Colorado snow-sport enthusiasts. Such applications provide useful information about current slope and weather conditions, ski runs, avalanche risk, snow reports and many other topics. iPhone users hitting the slopes this season may find many of the snowsport applications helpful and free.


Skiing & Snow Reports provides reports on snow conditions, including base snow depth and new snowfall within the past 48 hours at ski resorts not only in Colorado, but worldwide.

Mammut, a mountain sports company, launched its Mammut Safety App for iPhone to help mountaineers, skiers and snowboarders assess local avalanche risk. It features an inclinometer to estimate the slope angle, a compass to determine the slope exposition and an altimeter to measure the current altitude. It also includes links to avalanche information worldwide and personal safety equipment requirements for those heading out to the mountains.

Another application, called RealSki, allows snow-sport enthusiasts to use a new technology called augmented reality to navigate trails and ski runs at select North American ski resorts. The application uses the phone’s camera, a compass, GPS and other features to overlay computer-generated info — like ski runs and key points of interest — onto real-time images of the user’s surroundings. Similar to a video game, users can move their iPhones up, down and around to scope out their surroundings. Using digital overlay to match what the phone’s camera sees, users can locate chair lifts, key runs, restrooms, restaurants and terrain parks.

The SkiMaps application uses a built-in GPS system to help skiers and snowboarders find their way around the slopes and download trail maps to their iPhones. If users download their maps before they hit the slopes, they don’t need an active Internet connection on the slopes, which is not always available.

A fun variation on iPhone ski applications is Phresheez, which tracks your ski and snowboard runs and creates animated clips of your day on the slope. It then produces charts and pie graphs to map your progress. You can find friends on the mountain and compare runs, as the application tells you how fast you went and how steep the slope was. This application can also be used for hiking, biking, road trips and running during those long summer months before the snow arrives.

Most apps are either affordable or free and can help immensely, whether it’s your first time on the slopes or you’re a seasoned veteran.

Respond: letters@boulderweekly.com

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