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My feature rich backcountry mapping site.
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Ryan Bressler
(ryanbressler) - F
My feature rich backcountry mapping site. on 05/20/2011 14:18:29 MDT Print View

Over the winter I got frustrated with the lack of a way to estimate slope angles (for analyzing avalanche terrain) off maps online when planing winter backcountry trips and started to write my own google maps based tool. At the moment I'm laid up with a sprained ankle so I've been working on improving it a ton and posted it online:

Curent features:
* Maps from google, usgs, and NRCan, Imagery from google and usgs
* Split screen display for comparing satellite and map data to finding the route with the least bushwhacking.
* Estimate slope, elevation and lat and long at a point.
* Estimate distance, elevation change and slope along a line or path.
* Build routes dynamically (ie you can add a few points to get a rough route and then click on the lines to add more points and refine it)
* Make notes (they show up as white pins)
* Generate a link to share or save the results like:
(this is great for collaboratively planing trips).
* Chart elevation change and slope over the path and have the charts dynamically update as you refine the path (hit profile path in the lower left of the above link to try it).
* Generate a different resolution printable page of the current field of view using usgs or NRCan map tiles.

Things I'm working on:
*Overlays showing avi prone slope angles.
*As many more map and types as I can find.

I apologize if this is too spamy for my first post here but I've long read the gear reviews and gear threads and admire the obsessively technical approach...I'd love some critical feedback on the site and what you all think it needs.



Edited by ryanbressler on 05/20/2011 14:24:59 MDT.

Marc Shea
(FlytePacker) - F

Locale: Cascades
That's pretty cool on 05/20/2011 15:12:35 MDT Print View

Ryan, I really like the side by side functionality. You should check out Acme Mapper. If you can incorporate their cleaner looking topos into your site, I would use your site all the time.

Good work!

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
My feature rich backcountry mapping site on 05/20/2011 15:37:56 MDT Print View

Feature rich is right. Great looking site!

David Drake
(DavidDrake) - F

Locale: North Idaho
Re: My feature rich backcountry mapping site. on 05/20/2011 15:47:32 MDT Print View

Bookmarked. Thanks!

Bryce F.
(bster13) - MLife

Locale: Norwalk, CT
Looking for a Job? on 05/20/2011 15:59:37 MDT Print View

Very nice Ryan.

If you happen to be open to the possibility of a new Software Engineering job, let me know. Good luck with the ankle and future developments on the website. :)

Ryan Bressler
(ryanbressler) - F
Thanks or the comments on on 05/21/2011 13:53:46 MDT Print View

Thanks for the compliments and job offer. I've applied to use the smoother mytopo topo maps and am waiting for approval. I am also looking at doing some opencyclemap like maps tweaked for backcountry use though that will take more time and might get expensive to run...I'm hopping the ads on the site will generate enough revenue to let me do things like that and other custom maps/data layers but we will see.

I'm also happy with my current job (I write software for cancer researchers ... I'm doing this on the side mostly for my own use)... though I would be tempted by a python programing job in a small mountain town in the rockies or north cascades.

seth t
(diggity) - F
oo on 05/21/2011 14:26:51 MDT Print View


Edited by diggity on 04/06/2012 20:51:38 MDT.

Bryce F.
(bster13) - MLife

Locale: Norwalk, CT
Google on 05/21/2011 15:10:58 MDT Print View

Google is in Boulder, my company is not. :p

Tyler H
(ctwnwood) - F

Locale: The Palouse
Thank you on 05/21/2011 16:34:22 MDT Print View

Wow! This is what I've been looking for!

Maybe I've been missing something, but I have yet to find such a seamless and complete set of topos/sat. images, for free!

Thanks for your work

Gary Allman

Locale: Ozarks
Follow up... on 05/21/2011 19:56:34 MDT Print View

Now if you could get together with the guy producing between you, you would have a killer site.

I checked it on some hikes we've done and it's great for recording and assessing routes. I love how it just works with great ease. Fantastic.

Ryan Bressler
(ryanbressler) - F
More map Types on 05/21/2011 20:08:16 MDT Print View

Thanks again everybody!

I just added a few more map layers including the ArcGis topo layers seth mentioned and a layer of scanned topos for most of alaska and canada provided by the state of Alaska Digital Mapping Initiative.

I'd like to have better maps for the rest of the world (It would be awesome to be able to poke around the Alps or the Cordillera Huayhuash) so let me know if you know of any free map tile web services for other areas.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: My feature rich backcountry mapping site. on 05/21/2011 21:39:54 MDT Print View

for more ideas to add to your site.

Bill Markwood
Your site is unbelievable on 05/21/2011 22:22:12 MDT Print View

Ryan: I am going on a little fishing trip next weekend in the Sierra foothils. I have been trying to find information on one particlar creek for weeks with little success. Two minutes on your site has told me all I need to know. Thanks for the great work.


Kyle Meyer

Locale: Portland, OR
Re: Follow up... on 05/24/2011 16:21:44 MDT Print View

Hey Ryan,

I'm doing something similar at You can view topo maps (I've found ESRI's are the nicest), draw lines and have distance and elevation calculated, and right-click to view pinpoint NOAA forecasts. I've recently open-sourced my project on Github, which you may find useful as well.

Great job!

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Re: Follow up... on 05/24/2011 17:15:11 MDT Print View

The wenthiking map seems disabled unless you sign up? It only centers for me and will not zoom in on my new macbook pro with latest OS and firefox browser. If that is the case, I'll prefer hillmap.

The ideal site to me would also allow adding a UTM grid overlay, define map boundaries easily by UTM coordinates, allow text boxes with variable sized text, and saving/printing.

Edited by jshann on 05/24/2011 17:22:34 MDT.

Kyle Meyer

Locale: Portland, OR
Re: Re: Re: Follow up... on 05/24/2011 17:20:50 MDT Print View

The map doesn't care if you have an account, and works for me in Firefox on OSX. Not sure what's going on for you. Feel free to send me an email at if it persists or you want to help resolve whatever the problem is.

Anyway, back to discussion.

Ryan Bressler
(ryanbressler) - F
RE: WentHiking/Hillmap on 05/25/2011 11:17:06 MDT Print View

That is a cool site Kyle.

I "watched" your project on github...I have a few projects on there though they are cancer biology related. I'm debating open sourcing hillmap ... I need to clean up some of the code (it started out as a hack for personal use planing ski tours) but I probably will at some point.

I just added the mytopo layer...doing some side by side comparison of an out of the way spot I went last summer I notice that it shows a switchback that isn't in the ArcGis/ESRI or usgs layers which is interesting because I had assumed they were all based on USGS scans.

I also added a link to "Buy Map" link which sends you to to buy a map of the area you are looking at.

seth t
(diggity) - F
oo on 05/25/2011 14:08:30 MDT Print View

hood earth

Edited by diggity on 04/06/2012 20:23:07 MDT.

Ross P Hemphill
(rbimli) - F

Locale: PNW
maps maps maps! (vectors files?) on 05/27/2011 23:35:46 MDT Print View

Ryan and everyone else: THANKS!

Maybe somebody here can tell me: any idea where I can obtain the complete set of vector layers for USGS quads? (The resolution of the raster data I've found is not great, besides giving no option to turn layers off.) It was once upon a time available online. My understanding is that commercial maps are often based off of it, and that it's public domain and has been paid for by the citizenry. Seems to me we should still have ready access to it. (And please correct me if I misunderstand any of this.)

Thanks again, this is a great thread.

Edited by rbimli on 05/27/2011 23:40:14 MDT.

seth t
(diggity) - F
oo on 05/28/2011 18:00:02 MDT Print View


Edited by diggity on 04/06/2012 20:26:29 MDT.