Earlier this year I started looking into the mapping options available for skiers. On previous ski trips, I hadn’t discovered a satisfactory way of even just viewing a simple map, and it seemed that an interactive map with the ability to route over lifts and pistes ought to be possible.
I ended up combining OSM piste data and NASA SRTM elevation data to create a 3D view of ski resorts from the same angled view as the official paper maps. Each resort has it’s own discrete map with a bounded view, which feels more appropriate than a typical map which can pan indefinitely. The result is the app Ski Nav.
The coverage of data for ski resorts (piste:type=downhill and aerialway=chair_lift etc) is generally very good. Nonetheless, for routing it is still essential that the app intelligently processes this data to create artificial connections and “fill in the gaps”. Maps typically do not have explicit connection at a “hub”, a small area where many lifts and pistes terminate.
The NASA SRTM elevation data is used to provide the intuitive “three-quarter” view of resorts. But it is also required for other parts of the data processing, eg to change the direction of one-way lifts and pistes if it knows the top is actually much lower than the bottom.
Otherwise place=town etc and natural=peak do a fairly good job of orientating the user to a new ski area. However, official piste maps typically have a set of smaller villages or even hamlets that are emphasized just as much as the large towns, so this data is overridden on some of the larger maps.
The best alternative I am aware of for viewing these maps currently is the ski plugin for OsmAnd. I’d love to know what else the community of ski mappers use. Collectively so much time has gone into recording data for these resorts well that I hope the app will be a useful viewing tool for many.
Ski Nav is free to download on iOS and Android and has a browser-based demo.