Safe winter travel in avalanche terrain requires understanding of slope angles and their significance for avalanche risk. Slope angle estimation develops with experience, but mastering the skill takes time with limited immediate feedback. Inclinometers are simple and reliable instruments, but often underutilised in terrain, as the process may feel too cumbersome or time-consuming.

Clinopoles, introduced in ISSW 2018 (Verkasalo, 2018), enable efficient inclinometry and slope angle-associated avalanche risk assessment in a few seconds even wearing gloves. Clinopoles allow both line-of-sight and contact inclinometry, permitting slope measurements regardless of your position on, or adjacent to the slope.

Ski poles are upgraded to Clinopoles by attaching a spirit level vial on one (horizontal) pole and geometric tables-derived degree scale on the other (vertical) pole, for contact inclinometry.

We had planned to study the Clinopoles effect on the development of visual slope angle estimations, terrain awareness, and have so far completed a pilot study with 9 participants using the poles.

Conducting a similar study with a larger group would be feasible, with only minor adjustment to the study outline. There must be two comparable groups, one with and the other without Clinopoles.

It would be desirable to start a longitudinal study on the utility of Clinopole usage to the development and tenacity of frequent and sound terrain evaluation, route selection and risk management.

With promising results of this pilot study, we would like to expand the research into Nordic countries as well.

For that aim, we have set up a poster site with a Clinopole testing stand on the floor.

Om foredragsholdere / opphavsfolk

Matti Verkasalo: M.D., Ph.D., retired. Co-author of the first Finnish freeriding/-skiing and snow safety book, backcountry snowboarder, Helsinki, Finland

Karen Ekman: M.Sc. in Human Movement Science, backcountry snowboarder, Mustio, Finland

Jordy Hendrikx: Associate professor, director of Snow and Avalanche Lab, Department of Earth Sciences, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT. USA