Slope Angel was developed after news reports and discussions that followed the tragic avalanches that occurred in the 2016/17-winter season in the French Alps.
Awareness of the basic equipment required and how to use it when skiing off piste is generally well known and it is standard to carry or wear the following:
- Avalanche back pack
- First aid kit
- Navigation aids
- Insurance documents
And additionally, in more extreme skiing locations:
- Touring harness
- Ice axe
- Ice screws
- Group shelter
It is wise to undertake a crevasse rescue and avalanche awareness course and to venture into the mountains with an accredited guide if you are inexperienced. Keep up to date with local weather reports and seek local knowledge regarding the terrain and specific mountain conditions.
A critical piece of information that seemed to be missing from peoples’ mountain skills was calculating the terrains slope gradient – an essential factor in judging avalanche risk.
Research has shown that 70% of most avalanches, often with fatalities, occur on slopes greater than 30 and up to 50 degrees. Slopes less than 30 degrees are less likely to avalanche. Other elements like snow conditions and temperature also have a major effect.
Having talked extensively with guides, instructors and rescue teams it became clear that the majority of skiers and mountaineers found it hard to estimate slope gradients.
After detailed research, we critically analysed different ways of measuring slope gradients – from the very basic technique of using ski poles to an expensive digital inclinometer. A digital inclinometer proved to be the most reliable and accurate way to measure slope angle. There are phone apps available that will also do this, but placing your smart phone on the snow for an accurate reading is not practical as it can slip from your hand and a smart phone’s short battery life also becomes an issue.
Having agreed the need for a digital inclinometer with the added benefit of measuring air temperature we started developing Slope Angel V1 – a small, lightweight, battery operated digital inclinometer and temperature gauge housed in a strong thermo-plastic case with a battery life of 1 to 2 years before it needs to be replaced.
We also wanted an appropriate name for our device and wanted the name to be descriptive i.e. that it measures the slope angle! We played with a few ideas and changed angle to angel – and this is how Slope Angel the brand was born.
We wanted Slope Angel to be affordable for all and although it has been quite a challenge, we are launching Slope Angel V1 for £19 and have included laminated avalanche awareness cue cards that act as an aid memoire.
Slope Angel has been designed by us to help you make informed decisions and therefore keep you safer in the mountains. It measures slope angle and air temperature in a matter of seconds, weighs virtually nothing and easily fits in a pocket or to your wrist with a lanyard.
Everyone that enjoys time in the mountains should have their Slope Angel with them.
Stay safe and have fun!