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Ski pole inclinometers

by Emilio Trampuz (Dec. 2013)

An inclinometer is a device that measures the angle of inclination – in this case the steepness of a slope.  There are lots of fancy and sophisticated inclinometers available, both analog and digital, but they are large and cumbersome.  Here is a very simple inclinometer, printed on a sticker and wrapped around a ski pole.

A measurement is taken by holding the ski pole loosely between two fingers, allowing the ski pole to swing freely like a pendulum and settle in a vertical position.   You then eyeball the side of the slope against the lines on the inclinometer.  See which line on the inclinometer most closely matches the angle of the slope.

The yellow highlighted area indicates the zone where most avalanches occur, on slopes between 30 - 45 degrees.  Consider that the danger zone.  Avoid skiing in such places, especially immediately after a snowstorm or after a sudden warming trend, which is when avalanches are most likely to happen.

I did not invent these gadgets, but once I heard about them, I drew my own design using Corel Draw. The picture that illustrates its use was taken at Mt. Hood Skibowl on a day we had a PACRAT race there.  That's Doug Pilcher in the photo, skiing on the Bob Strand's Downhill trail, above Dog Leg. The mountain in the background is Mt. Hood, Oregon.

We distributed these inclinometer stickers at the Ski Fair in Portland and at the Kickoff Party. We asked people to contribute 50 cents to cover the costs of printing.

We’ll also have them on hand on our ski trips. To order one by mail, please send 50 cents plus a self addressed stamped envelope to Emilio Trampuz, 4742 Liberty Rd. S., #296, Salem, OR 97302.

Alternatively, you can print your own.  Click on the inclinometer image to enlarge it.  Then right-click on the inclinometer image and select "Save Image as". Save it on your computer.  Then print it, preferably onto an Avery 5163 sticker, 2" x 4" in size.  Or, print it on any kind of paper, cut it out and glue it to you ski pole. For additional protection, it is recommended to cover it with clear (transparent) packing tape.

Here are some more useful files:

1. High resolution inclinometer JPG image www.mthigh.org/Articles/Inclinometer-high-res.jpg

2. Inclinometer image in a PDF file:                www.mthigh.org/Articles/Inclinometer.pdf

3. Instructions on using the inclinometer:  www.mthigh.org/Articles/Inclinometer-instructions.pdf


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