SkiTracks Looks to Understand Travel Behavior in Avalanche Terrain

Ski Tracks App

The University of Montana is in its first year of teaming up with the SkiTracks™ app.  SkiTracks™ is an app that uses GPS tracking software to literally trace your tracks on the mountain.  What began as a friendly GPS service aiming to break your day down into stats and numbers, has morphed into an avalanche awareness tool that aims to collect GPS location information and survey responses from backcountry skiers and riders to better understand what types of terrain decision we make.

SkiTracks App Review

Now, if you’ve got a secret powder stash or undiscovered pillow line, don’t worry, your secrets are safe with the analytics professionals. The focus is to monitor terrain decisions and human triggered avalanches and the goal is to build up data using statistics that help avalanche professionals better understand how skiers and riders choose what to ski based on observational knowledge of avalanche conditions.

The project calls for as many helpers as possible because more data means more accurate computation. You do not have to be an expert to take part in the project. Whether you’re a skier, snowmobiler, rider, alpine climber, or recreational winter hiker, it is encouraged that you share your GPS information with the Tracks™ project so that the most accurate information can be compiled and shared for our safety in the upcoming winters.

While you are out, take photos of any key decision points—did you see an avalanche and then decide to ski elsewhere (take a photo of the avalanche). Did you dig a snowpit and find out more information about the nature of the instability (take a photo of the snowpit). Or did you stop and discuss the route ahead (take a photo of the route ahead). Each photo is geo-referenced, so it can see where you were when you made this decision or discovered new information. You can do this for both the up and down tracks.

Once you have finished your trip, end by saving it. When you are back in cell phone or internet coverage, please send in your track and any photos (go into “History”, click on your track and share via email). You can set this as the default destination.


Unlike many other tracking applications, Ski Tracks is designed to use less power and will last all day. Ski Tracks also includes a battery monitor – stopping tracking and audio if your battery level gets too low – this reduces the possibility of that end of the day dead phone. 

Switch into airplane mode to preserve battery life

Unlike many other ski applications, Ski Tracks does not require any data or phone signal for Tracking. So enjoy your skiing or riding without worrying about data costs.

iPhone users can run Ski Tracks in the background and while the phone is locked. Continue to take and receive calls/text or run other applications while tracking.

Ski Tracks uses special algorithms designed for mountain users to accurately calculate your speed, slope angle and ski vertical.

Want to check your last run maximum speed or duration or even your last ascent then use the Run-by-Run analysis tool and Ski Tracks will break up your day into runs and lifts.

Why not share your Ski day in Facebook or how about emailing a file that will preview your entire day in 3D on Google Earth™.

Standard and Satellite maps are available for displaying your track, track runs, start, finish and photographs. Use the preview mode to playback your entire day.

Take photographs and they are automatically geo-tagged to your Track.

Looking for more ways to stay connected in the backcountry.  Why not try out a 2-way messenger for your next ski touring adventure.

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About the Author

Nicholas Sirianno
Nick studied English Literature at St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY. There he spent more time on the river than on campus.

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