Snow Mappy app aims to help skiers navigate Deer Valley

App also helps keep track of friends, family

The Snow Mappy app, pictured here with a map of Deer Valley Resort, allows users to keep track of each other and helps them quickly navigate the mountain.
Graphic courtesy of Mappy

Skiers at Deer Valley Resort and several other mountains around the country now have access to an app called Snow Mappy, which helps solve a couple of issues for many skiers: knowing where your friends and family are on the mountain, and finding an easy route to get there.

That’s how the idea for the app was born, according to Karyn Nolan, CEO and co-founder of Mappy, LLC.

“Survival,” she said. “My husband, Drew, is from Utah and I grew up in California. He is an expert skier and snowboarder and I am at an intermediate level at best. All of a sudden I found myself at the top of mountains in Utah and Drew would disappear down a run. I would become confused when there was a fork in the path and I knew if I took the wrong turn I could inadvertently end up on a double black diamond or go to the wrong part of the mountain.”

As a longtime professional working in geospatial awareness, Nolan said she saw an opportunity.

“I was pulling out large, unwieldy paper maps (and) I thought there has got to be a better way,” she said. “We can modernize and improve the user experience to find family and friends on interactive 2D/3D maps.”

Snow Mappy is available free on iOS for use this winter at Deer Valley and Sundance Mountain Resort locally, as well as Vail Mountain, Mount Bachelor and Mammoth Mountain Ski Area in other mountain towns, with plans to expand to other ski areas next season and to include support for Android phones.

“I am really proud of our team that we have launched at five beta sites this season so we can refine the technology (aka fix bugs), improve user experience and see how it is used by skiers, snowboarders, ski patrol, etc.,” Nolan said.

The function of the app is simple, Nolan said, and can be broken down into three things: Find, navigate and interact. The app allows users to add people to their friends list so they can find each other on the mountain and communicate with each other, and perhaps most importantly, will help plot a course based on the user’s skill level.

“We built our app on a terrain model so we have very detailed slope analysis,” she said. “Our goal is to have multiple options of routes planned by various filters including level of skier or time restraints.”

Nolan said she and her team have been surprised at how the app’s early adopters are using Snow Mappy.

“I am such a map geek, I thought that the maps would be the most important but we are finding that most people are excited to see where their family and friends are on the slopes,” she said. “Even when they aren’t at the mountain (themselves).”

Nolan said the early response from users has been very positive. Some frequent comments she’s heard are from parents who want to let their younger children explore but didn’t feel comfortable doing so before. With Snow Mappy, though, they can keep track of where they are even when they’re out of sight.

And it’s not just tourists unfamiliar with these mountains who are using the app, either.

“The app is being utilized by locals in ways we didn’t expect,” Nolan said. “For example, parents of teens or ski team kids now can be at home or in the parking lot and see where their kids are on the slopes. Or if there is a group of friends that ski together every weekend, now they know when people show up and where they are.

“Our priority is to provide an awesome user experience and we are excited to incorporate lessons learned and added functionality next season.”

As for the name Snow Mappy, Nolan said she wanted something whimsical to reflect the fun the app is meant to facilitate.

“It always came back to our core purpose of maps that make you happy so: Mappy,” she said. “We plan to expand to other seasons, like ‘Mountain Mappy’ for mountain biking/hiking and ultimately, additional markets beyond mountain resorts e.g. ‘Mall Mappy.'”


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