Sunday, April 13, 2014

Ski trail maps

I like snowboarding, but I always get confused by trail maps. The difficulty is that mountains have ridges that complicate the geography more than a front-on view can show.

This is Mt. Hood Meadows' perfectly normal trail map, but Heather Canyon requires a special, additional section of map because it is behind a ridge. Here is something completely different:

I downloaded topographical map 45121C6 from Because it is a topographical map, there is no need to color-code runs by difficulty; the topo lines do that. For example, it is easy to see just how steep the Heather Canyon runs are (at the very top, up to the red-colored run). There are plenty of easy, rolling runs near the green, blue, and orange lifts (which are marked as up arrows, of course). And because the runs are not color-coded by difficulty, the runs can be color-coded to match runs and lifts. It is easy to see that once at the top of the yellow lift, the only way to another lift is to make an immediate right on the pink trail; every other run is yellow and ends back at the bottom of the yellow lift.

Now, this is not my ideal. First, I would remove everything except the topo lines; no green and white shading for below- and above-tree line areas. Instead, the whole catchment area of a lift would be very lightly shaded the appropriate color. (Thus ridge lines would usually be the boundaries, making the ridge lines pop out even more than in the version above.) Areas that could feed to two lifts would be shaded in striped colors. Specific trails would be marked with light-weight lines in the appropriate color, just enough to stand out, but not so much as to create visual clutter against the topo lines.

But even my rudimentary version above helps a skier or rider much more easily navigate and answer the question, "How do I get there?" than current trail maps. The few trails I did mark mostly show boundaries or unique connections. Furthermore, it is a quick step to turn this map into a network graph:

The lifts make the following connections:

Note: A to E and E to A are walkable, because they are opposite ends of the lodge. However, L to M and M to L are not walkable since they are on opposite sides of a big parking lot. And the runs:

Note carefully: There is no pathway from J to K; look carefully at the map. Also, only direct pathways are marked, e.g., H's pathways are only to B, C, and F directly, even though of course A, D, J, L, and M also possible locations a skier or rider can get to from H. (Oops, I just realized I missed H to K -- there is a run that does not go through C.) However, all these secondary pathways must go through B, C, or F first.

Here is another post on network graphs and maps.

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