Thursday, April 26, 2007

New Trick from Google Earth

In procrastinating today, I decided to see if I could find good topo maps on the internet. This isn't completely a wild goose chase - if I'm serious about walking up 1900 vertical feet over the course of half a day in order to descend them in a matter of minutes I need good maps. And the government has to be good for something.

Anyway, check out usgsquads.com. One of the products available for download, free, is a plugin for Google Earth that allows you to overlay USGS topo maps on top of it and download tiff files of the appropriate ones. At least, I think it allows you to download them - my download's still running, and I haven't seen scan one. These maps show trails, so by using the map and a trail guide together, you can figure out where the trails are in relation to easily findable land marks, like mountains, and (in theory, of course) plan an approach route to bag some descents. Unfortunately most of what I found on the internet was oriented toward ski touring, snowshoeing, hiking, and other sports that don't involve descending steep faces of things that it might be beneficial to scope out in advance.

Now I need to do an avalanche class.

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