Keep track of gorgeous days like this. All skiing images thanks to Mike Crane.
Guest Author: Brian Hockenstein
Using technology on the mountains such as smartphones can be a pretty controversial topic. Being constantly connected can result in a loss of solitude that is the hallmark of true escape, while others argue that the benefits of constant connectivity are far greater than the opposite. Like most things in life, moderation is key and with a bit of thought we can all take advantage of this wonderful technologically advanced world we live in while maintaining the sense of freedom we so much desire and seek while we’re out in nature.
There’s a time and a place for everything, and of course this is going to vary greatly depending on many personal factors, but discounting the “checking instagram and snapchat feed every chairlift ride” which I think we can all agree takes away from the freedom experience, it’s just foolish to completely discount the use of smartphones. Staying in touch with friends on the mountain and keeping on top of weather forecasts in our wonderfully unpredictable Coast Mountain climate are two of the most popular ways to use that smartphone, and of course there’s no shortage of apps to further enhance your on-mountain experience.
Today we’re looking specifically at tracking apps – the ones made to record your day using the bevy of insanely sophisticated sensors built into those pocket computers we call phones. Below you’ll find a quick look at several of the most popular tracking apps out there today and how they can be used to make that day on the slopes that much more efficient, fun and social.
Desktop, iPhone & Android through the Whistler Blackcomb Live App
For those of us lucky to be able to ski or ride at Whistler Blackcomb this is an amazing option which is brand new this season and tailored specifically for our local slopes. The WB+ system works differently than the rest of the apps listed as rather than using your phone to track your stats, it utilizes the RFID-chipped day and season passes we carry in our pockets.
With 200 runs and 8,171 acres of skiable terrain on offer it can obviously be difficult to get a proper sense of what you’ve accomplished on any given day or season but with the help of the RFID scanners installed at every lift you can harness the power of Big Data and get those stats working for you. View your number of runs, total vertical, days skied and custom goals as well as work towards unlocking over 40 badges. This is a really awesome system that you basically have to do nothing to use. Just set up your profile and then let the technology do its thing while you log in at home or by mobile to see how you’re stacking up against yourself, your friends or the locals and visitors who call this amazing resort home for the day, season or life!
iPhone & Android
Ski Tracks is the most downloaded ski tracking app in the world and for good reason. A no-nonsense interface paired with the most requested features makes for a simple but fully-featured ski tracking app. While lacking some of the more advanced social features other apps offer, the team behind this app has focused on what they have deemed to be the “most requested” features and made sure they work very well.
Track your vertical drop, distance travelled, top speed and altitude and then have all that data overlaid on a Google Earth style map for you to check out and analyse. You can even export the data as a .kmz file that you can then open in Google Earth to check out your runs in 3D. What I like most about this app is its simplicity as well as its integration with your smartwatch, be it the Apple Watch, Pebble or Magellan Echo – no need to fish that phone out of your pocket to see how fast you got going anymore!
iPhone & Android
SNOCRU has all of the features expected but where this free app really focuses its attention is the social aspect – using tracking data to compete against strangers and friends alike for the bragging rights that come along with, say, logging the most vert in a day. You can compare your stats against the global community on the SNOCRU website’s leaderboard, or you can create a DAYCRU with whoever you are riding to make the day much more interesting – and once you do that it’s also easy to use the app to find out where on the hill the other members of your crew are. If only it could track who got the most faceshots! There’s badges to be earned and you can even set up custom challenges for your DAYCRU as well as smart-watch integration.
iPhone & Android
Cost: Free and paid versions available
FATMAP is a really cool app. Sure, it tracks your day and all the associated stats but where these guys have focused their energy is in creating super high-quality 3D maps of your favourite ski resort and helping you use that to plan and execute the perfect day on the slopes. High-quality imagery allows you to virtually fly around the resort, or even down a specific run. See how steep the terrain you’re getting into really is or – and this is a pretty nifty trick – use the app to make sure you’re always skiing in the sun.
Created for use both on the ski hill as well as the backcountry, all your favourite runs both in- and out-of-bounds are marked out. Advanced features available for purchase either in two-week or one-year segments such as gradient heat mapping, crevasse and avalanche zone identification as well as altitude segmentation come together to create one of the most advanced and useful apps out there. (Editor’s Note: Remember if you are going out-of-bounds it’s your responsibility to make sure you are equipped for backcountry travel with shovel, probe, transceiver set to transmit and the training and crew to deal with the conditions. More backcountry resources here)
This free, no-nonsense app does the basics and does them well. Track all your stats for the day and then check them out in a really well designed dashboard. Share them with your friends and see how you stack up or share online to your favourite social media network. There’s built-in challenges that you can use to compete with your friends as well as challenges for you to complete from brands. If you’re looking for simple tracking and love great design you’re sure to love Edge Ski.
iPhone & Android
Trace is a really well designed app that tracks your stats – including air time! – and wraps it all up in a beautifully designed interface. There’s a very large online community for this app and you can see how you stack up against everyone, or just your friends. You can sync photos and video with your stats which are impressively deep; Speed, Vertical, Distance, Calories, Airtime, Jumps and Time. Clean and simple, just the way we like it!
So there you have it. There are even more apps that you can use to track your day and your stats but these are our faves – give ’em a try and see what you think. That said there are a few important things to remember when using on-mountain technology which we need to mention. Number one and most important – never, ever let technology dictate or drive your experience on the hill – don’t forget to stop and smell the roses, or in this case the fresh pine trees! Number two – use the technology responsibly. Don’t ski or ride dangerously or beyond your ability in the pursuit of a digital goal – keep the competition in perspective and always play safe so you can make it to après and compare those stats with your buddies.