Cartography of avalanches in 3d of the Pyrenees:
ATES, avalanche mapping and terrain analysis. Load a track and plan the activity optimally.
What is Atesmaps?
Atesmaps.org is an online tool for planning winter tours in the Pyrenees. It concentrates all the ATES classified areas so far and the complementary layers of orientation-altitudes and slopes. Using the Avaluator, the ATES terrain classification is related to the Avalanche Danger Bulletin in the area. Along with track loading and 3d viewing, the tool allows you to plan your activity in the best way possible.
How to plan your trip
- 1. Select an area
- 2. Consult the BPA, read it carefully (Avalanche danger bulletin)
- 3. Evaluate the terrain using ATES or complementary analysis tools.(ATES, Extra tools)
- 4. Choose your route, either through the search engine or by loading your own track. Don't forget to have alternative routes ready.
- 5. Read the recommendations of the Trip Planner Evaluator (for ATES areas) (Avaluator-Trip Planner)
- 6. Assess the route together with the group, review all the information again and make sure you have the safety equipment ready.
- 7. ONCE ON THE GROUND REPEAT THE TERRAIN-CONDITIONS-GROUP EVALUATION CONTINUOUSLY
Avalanche danger bulletin
The avalanche danger bulletin is a regional 24-hour forecast issued by different official organizations according to snow and climate regions and countries. In the bulletins we will find the degree of danger and its distribution, the typical problems of avalanches of the day and other complementary information such as snow conditions, forecast weather, etc.
The European Avalanche Danger Scale has 5 levels.
- 1. Low
- 2. Moderate
- 3. Considerable
- 4. High
- 5. Very high
The following images show the distribution of potentially dangerous areas in each of these 5 situations on the same portion of land. In general, the higher the risk of avalanches, the more likely it is that avalanches will occur and the greater their size.
Avalanche Terrain Exposure Scale (ATES)
What is it?
ATES (Avalanche Terrain Exposure Scale) is a terrain classification according to its exposure to avalanches. It was created in Canada in 2003 and more and more mountainous areas are mapped according to this methodology. The Pyrenees are a good example!
Analyzing variables such as slope, forest density, frequency and size of avalanches, the presence of terrain traps, among others, the terrain is classified into:
Exposure to low angle or primarily forested terrain. Some forest openings may involve the runout zones of infrequent avalanches. Many options to reduce or eliminate exposure.
Exposure to well defined avalanche paths, starting zones or terrain traps; options exist to reduce or eliminate exposure with careful routefinding.
Exposure to multiple overlapping avalanche paths or large expanses of steep, open terrain; multiple avalanche starting zones and terrain traps below; minimal options to reduce exposure.
What is it for? And what it is not?
It is a type of cartography created especially for the planning of mountain activities. It is not a navigation tool as it may fail to detail certain terrain features at a slope scale. Therefore, a live interpretation of the snow and terrain is still needed during the whole activity.
The viewfinder can also activate the trajectory layer of the most common avalanches, available in most mapped areas. These correspond to recurrent natural avalanches of considerable size or with a longer return period but which can enter simple terrain.
Complementary terrainanalysis tools
Normally, the probability of triggering an avalanche and its size is not the same everywhere but varies over time and depending on the altitude and orientation of the slopes. The distribution of the danger and the problems of avalanches can be consulted in the BPA of the day. To make a good selection of the terrain according to these conditions, Atesmaps.org also offers the possibility of quickly selecting certain orientations and altitudinal strips in its viewfinder, at the same time as it allows to consult the slope by 5º strips.
Remember that most avalanches take place between 30 and 45º, with a slope of 38º being the most favorable. Good planning is the first step to avoiding accidents!
The Avaluator-Trip Planner is a complementary planning tool to the Avalanche Terrain Classification that allows users to cross the avalanche danger scale of the day with the terrain classification ATES of an itinerary or area, and obtain some safety recommendations. In this process, the user’s experience and capabilities of snow and avalanche is also valued. The three recommendations offered by the Avaluator are the following:
You must know how to recognize the danger and have the basic skills of safe driving and rescue. Conditions are good for avalanches and avalanches, and accidents are generally uncommon.
Avalanches are possible from human or natural causes, and accidents are common. An advanced level of understanding of the existing avalanche danger is required.
It is not recommended to ride in the mountains without professional or expert knowledge of snow and avalanches. Prone conditions for avalanche accidents.
In the Atesmaps.org viewer only by clicking on a point on the map, this selection is automatically displayed in the Avaluator figure. This automatic process takes into account the highest degree of BPA hazard of the day in the selected area and the terrain class (only if ATES mapping is available). It is up to the users to assess their knowledge in snow and avalanches and to accept the recommendations to end up choosing their route.
One of the limitations of this procedure is that the conditions of the mantle are not taken into account depending on altitudes and orientations. Complementary terrain analysis tools along with a detailed reading of the BPA allow for more accurate planning of the activity.
About ATESMAPS association
We are a non-profit organization founded on May 15, 2020 in Barcelona. Our goals are:
- Encourage the planning of sports activities in the winter mountains and highlight them its importance.
- Promote avalanche safety training.
- Concentrate all information regarding the danger of avalanches, creating a database that allow you to delve deeper into the study of avalanches.
- Disseminate data and / or studies relevant to the knowledge of avalanches.
- Promote the expansion of ATES cartography throughout the Pyrenees.
To achieve these goals, we perform the following activities:
- Works to offer a technological tool (web, mobile, ...), among others, a web viewer, which allows you to exploit all the points mentioned above.
- Informative talks in hiking centers or interested groups.
- It carries users to avalanche safety training courses.
Atesmaps.org is currently supported by the contributions of the founding partners, and is constantly looking for collaborations that will help make the project viable as well as finance improvements to the viewer and enable new projects.
If you use the tool regularly and appreciate the services it offers, we encourage you to make a donation to help us keep it running and to continue implementing improvements.