I wrote a backcountry mapping site


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Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Original Post - May 23, 2011 - 01:33pm PT
I've been laid up with a sit start related sprained ankle and finally finished a project I started last winter to write a google maps based site that didn't suck for planing backcountry/off road/off trail use. Check it out: http://www.hillmap.com/. It has a bunch of features:

* Topo maps from a number of different open webservices covering the US and Canada in detail and the rest of the world somewhat.
* Satellite imagery and split screen display for planing a rout that minimizes bushwhacking.
* Slope angle estimation at a point and along a line (this is mostly a skiing feature but you can use it on cliffs though it may underestimate them).
* Easy path construction, add pins to create a path then drag them around or click on the lines to add more to refine the path.
* Measure the distance and elevation change along the path, plot the elevation and slope.
* Make notes (the show up as white pins).
* Share/save the results by generating a link like this one:
(Hit profile path on that link and check out the slope angle along the Nose)
* Print a high resolution topo of an area using USGS tiles.

I have a lot of time to work on improving and refining it as my ankle keeps me off the rocks and I'd love to hear any suggestions, requests or criticisms you guys have. I apologize if this is spamy, at least it is on topic.


Sport climber
San Luis Obispo, CA
May 23, 2011 - 01:39pm PT
More than anything, I'm digging the ability to see a topo and satellite view side by side updating simultaneously. Thanks for the work!

May 23, 2011 - 01:44pm PT
Dude seriously good work!

Trad climber
May 23, 2011 - 02:35pm PT
just did a quick hit--

looks really nice. i'll try it out in the next few weeks.

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
May 23, 2011 - 02:35pm PT
pretty cool!
Mike Bolte

Trad climber
Planet Earth
May 23, 2011 - 02:47pm PT
wow - this is really nice.

A long way from where I started
May 23, 2011 - 02:49pm PT
Pretty good, with one big problem: you appear to be showing that there might just be cliffs to be discovered in NW Washington.

Everybody knows there is nothing worth climbing there except the few cliffs that have already been discovered. So I think you should just blank out that part of the map. Maybe leave Index, the Exits, and Leavenworth on, but show everything else as impenetrable flat jungle.

Nate D

San Francisco
May 23, 2011 - 05:35pm PT
Very very cool, thank you!

I'm map obsessed. The print feature is awesome.

Wondering if the profile feature can be more intuitive. I'm having a hard time making sense of the pink profile, but I'm also not versed in other topo profile software. I realize that each point is at zero, but don't understand why.

I'm also wondering if there's any way to adjust the length of the profile (created by a path) to map to distance being relative to height.
Right now the distance on the profile constrains to the width of the window, if that makes sense. Whether it's 500 ft. or 5 miles, the profile shows the same length for the distance. In a nutshell, can there be a way to essentially draw a line from one point to another, and get a "cross section" of that bit of land, with an accurate visual representation of the steepness/flatness of the terrain.

Hoping that is possible.

Mountain climber
May 23, 2011 - 06:52pm PT
first: this site you made, is wicked. what i like is that it makes quick work of getting a better understanding of traverses. most of the features i wanted were already there once i figured things out. (saving, mouseover elevations and distances on the profile path output window, etc.) so thanks, alot!

second: there were a couple of things i looked for, but didn't find. i'd like to be able to delete pins and i'd like to be able to correspond between pin locations on the map and points on the profile path graphs. ex. if i'm doing a long traverse i'd like to be able to know where pin no. 7 is on the profile graphs.

that said, these are pretty minor points, so mostly just wanted to say thanks!

bay area
May 23, 2011 - 07:15pm PT

whoa, this is really cool - thanks a ton for putting it together!
Timid TopRope

Social climber
Paradise, CA
May 23, 2011 - 07:39pm PT
I really like the side by side images as well. Google Earth greatly lacks in watershed names for creeks and many rivers so this can also be a great aid for some off-the-beaten-track fishing beta as well.

Thanks for putting this together and sharing it here. I saved it to my Favorites. Great work!

May 23, 2011 - 08:00pm PT
Hey, this is really nice. The side by side display already solves many of the issues that drive me a little bananas about trying to use the Google terrain view. Thank you very much for writing this and putting it out there in public.

May 23, 2011 - 08:36pm PT
Very cool, I love maps, nice work. Sorry about your ankle. I hope you continue to develop this after it heals up.

I'm also having a little trouble defining a starting point and drawing paths. Might be user-error on my part, but a little more finesse with that facet might help.

Mountain climber
Oakland -> SLT
May 23, 2011 - 09:30pm PT
This is REALLY great!
I've been waiting for something that will allow you to plot routes and get mileage/profile, EASILY and FREE.
Well done!

btw... I'm a GIS guy, way to take advantage of that free data.

Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - May 23, 2011 - 09:34pm PT
Thanks for the feedback everyone!

I'll keep keep working on the site after I heal but down time was instrumental in knocking out the key features and putting it up somewhere public...any features that don't get in before I fully recover might have to wait for rainy days...but i do live in Seattle.

QITNL, the ui definitely needs a lot of refinement but you should be able to start a path by switching the tool drop down to path mode and then just clicking on the map a few times...if it isn't working let me know what browser and os you are using as I haven't tested all of them.

I think the path suggestions nah000 makes should be doable. It will be easy enough to link up the mouse-overs on the graph and path or something so you can see what parts correspond to what. I haven't added delete mostly because I feel like I need to do undo if I let people delete things. What do you guys think? I have also thought I should let you combine a pin with its neighbor on a path by dragging one onto the other.

I've also been looking into adding geological maps which, incidentally, show that all of NW washington is chossy basalt ... besides the glacial erratics at Index, Darrington and Leavenworth of course.


May 23, 2011 - 09:41pm PT
This is great! Thanks.


Social climber
Oxnard, CA
May 23, 2011 - 09:58pm PT
Yeah, that's great. Nice work. I was interpreting an area on the satellite map completely wrong. Thanks

May 23, 2011 - 11:40pm PT
Hey Ryan - Thanks for the reply. Maybe I'm a dummy, but it seems to be working better for me now. The problem had to do with the starting point generated by the "Search" box. Your instructions helped.

If this program is a work-in-progress, a changelog would be nice.

I'm on MacOS - Camino, Safari, Firefox - some of which needs to be updated - but I'm happy to give you beta from that platform, if it helps. Some sites don't always work, I view that as my problem, don't worry about it.

Undo and delete would add another level of complexity but certainly would be nice. Thanks for your effort with this!

Trad climber
Humboldt, CA
May 24, 2011 - 11:48am PT
wow, great job. It IS a great trip planning tool. I spent a couple of hours looking at trip options for this weekend. the various map options are really helpful.

Thanks for sharing.
The Wedge

Boulder climber
Santa Rosa & Bishop, CA
May 24, 2011 - 12:39pm PT
Way cool. I see lat and long. Can you switch over to UTM???
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