New Wasatch Back map to help back country travelers and rescuers
A new map of the central Wasatch range containing over 1,100 common backcountry ski run and geographic feature names has just been released. The map and associated Google Earth®-based online map is the result of a year-long effort to identify local names given by skiers and snowboarders to the different skiable slopes and terrain features in the local Salt Lake City-area mountains. The map and searchable database with GPS coordinates provide a powerful tool for public safety agencies such as the Utah Avalanche Center and Salt Lake County Search and Rescue for pinpointing the location of avalanches and backcountry users in need of rescue. Past rescues have frequently been complicated because skiers refer to locations by run names that have developed informally over years, names that before now have not appeared on maps. Many of the side drainages in the Cottonwood Canyons have a dozen or more named ski runs, far enough apart to make a search with just the official drainage name difficult and dangerous. The new map will allow backcountry users and rescue personnel to share location names with GPS coordinates. In addition, backcountry users will be able to use the map to locate new runs to explore.
This map is the product of a unique philanthropic effort by local software entrepreneur and ski patroller Steve Achelis. Creation of the map took Steve more than 1000 hours and countless interviews with long-time locals. According to Achelis, "All profits from map sales will go to local non-profit groups dedicated to avalanche safety and preservation of the Wasatch. I wanted to give back to the community and my personal "profit" is the satisfaction of supporting local causes that are important to me." According to Paul Diegel, Executive Director of the Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center, the need for this tool has been recognized for years. "In the past, if you called 911 to report that your partner has a broken leg and needs help in Bonkers, the dispatcher had a hard time figuring out just where you were. Now, rescuers know they are needed at 40.604 N, 111.725 W and can use the topographic map to help locate your partner."
The waterproof map sells for $12.95 and is available online at http://utahavalanchecenter.org/wasatch-backcountry-skiing-map and at many backcountry shops in Salt Lake City and Park City. The online map can be viewed for free at http://WasatchBackcountrySkiing.com/.
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