Powder Project Logo

Slope angles are wrong, Avalanche conditions are wrong

Original Post
Spencer Parkin · · Bountiful · Joined Oct 2017 · Points: 510

The average and max slope angles being reported by PowderProject are wrong.  See for example...

https://www.powderproject.com/trail/7001392/rectangle-run

The max slope angle is reported as 24 degrees.  This is dead wrong.  The end of this run rolls over to almost 38 degrees--prime for slide.

Also, the avalanche risk report on this page is completely wrong.  It says "low," and has always said that the entire season, despite the danger rating going up as high as "high" according to the UAC website.  PowderProject may want to check their usage of the UAC website's web API.  Here's a link...

https://utahavalanchecenter.org/docs/api/forecast

If these bugs aren't fixed, people will be less likely to take PowderProject seriously.

Jacob Winey · · Boulder, CO · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 1,061

I think that online mapping data isn't complete enough to give very accurate estimates of slope angle. Really, it's always going to be up to the person on the slope to judge it and make decisions based on what they observe, not what they read online.

Spencer Parkin · · Bountiful · Joined Oct 2017 · Points: 510
Jacob Winey wrote: I think that online mapping data isn't complete enough to give very accurate estimates of slope angle. Really, it's always going to be up to the person on the slope to judge it and make decisions based on what they observe, not what they read online.

Well, of course.  No one would argue with that.  You must make your own field observations.  But as a planning tool, PowderProject is not helping by providing faulty slope-angle data.  Either provide accurate data, or don't provide it at all.  This is especially true of the avalanche forecast info.

And by the way, there is mapping software for the web that does give fairly accurate slope-angle data (e.g., Cesium.)
Patrick Hardy · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 0

Hey Spencer,

Thanks for bringing this up.

As far as the slope is concerned for Rectangle Run, it looks like the angle we calculated accurately reflects the line drawn on our topo (532ft descent in about 1/4mile should be about 40%). Sounds like the topo may not reflect a steep section on the line that you have seen. We are using the industry leading mapping services (mapbox + cesium) so, unfortunately, there may be little we can do about this.

It does look like we may have an issue with our avalanche forecasts for Utah, as I'm seeing that many are out of date. We will look into this ASAP and try to get the issue resolved.

Thanks again!
Patrick

Brandon.Phillips · · Portola, CA · Joined May 2011 · Points: 0
Patrick Hardy wrote: Hey Spencer,

Thanks for bringing this up.

As far as the slope is concerned for Rectangle Run, it looks like the angle we calculated accurately reflects the line drawn on our topo (532ft descent in about 1/4mile should be about 40%). Sounds like the topo may not reflect a steep section on the line that you have seen. We are using the industry leading mapping services (mapbox + cesium) so, unfortunately, there may be little we can do about this.

It does look like we may have an issue with our avalanche forecasts for Utah, as I'm seeing that many are out of date. We will look into this ASAP and try to get the issue resolved.

Thanks again!
Patrick

I've been on mountain project for a long time and didn't realize that this website existed until looking up info for a tour in the Tahoe area.  Powder project doesn't look like it has really taken off since the floodgate of mountain project spin-offs post-REI buyout. This issue is certainly one of the reasons for that!

Incorrect slope angles are dangerous and irresponsible for a website that exists to provide info for backcountry skiing and split-boarding. It also looks like there has been no movement on this since last April. Patrick, your answer is dismissive and a cop-out. Your angle isn't accurate. Powder Project is just using the same mapping software as MTB project. Let's take a look at Hourglass on Tamarack Peak as an example: https://www.powderproject.com/trail/7001506/hourglass . In my opinion, the slope angle should be presented in degrees as is standard for backcountry skiing. Presenting a percentage and a degree is confusing (maybe it would be less so if they were accurate) and unhelpful. But regardless the slope angles are wrong. Hourglass bowl's steepest aspect according to powder project is 22 degrees. This presents a number of problems: 1). Hourglass is avalanche terrain and 22 degrees isn't avalanche terrain, 2). 22 degrees is the bunny slope, not a difficult backcountry run.  

Maybe this is the wrong application for these "industry leading mapping services". Caltopo doesn't seem to have a problem providing an accurate depiction of the slope angles on their topos.

There are enough people already accessing the backcountry without the right skills, tools, or education. Misrepresenting backcountry terrain is only going to add to that problem. If Powder Project is ever going to take off or be taken seriously this should be corrected. In its current state, it is just an accident waiting to happen. 
Justin Randolph · · Unknown Hometown · Joined 15 days ago · Points: 0

well said Brandon. Thanks for sparking the conversation. 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Powder Project Feedback & Suggestions
Post a Reply to "Slope angles are wrong, Avalanche conditions ar…"

Log In to Reply