F.A.Q.
Navigating the mountains can often be challenging. Here are a few tricks, tips and answers.
GETTING STARTED
What is FATMAP?

FATMAP is an app for iOS and Android that allows you to download 3D outdoor maps to your mobile phone. We use high-quality satellite imagery to build 2M digital elevation models (DEMs) of mountainous areas and layer that with terrain, sport and resort information. Our maps are filled with expert content, are easy to use and can function offline. 

Where can I get it?

For Apple users, you can download it here: Get FATMAP on iOS.
For Android users, you can download it here: Get FATMAP on Android.

Will I need data to access FATMAP on the mountain?

 

Once you have downloaded the app and an area on to your mobile device (we recommend WiFi) you will not need mobile/cellular data in order to use FATMAP.  GPS functionality does not use data. 

The only function which does need data is the real-time location sharing and external links such as the weather and avalanche forecast.

To update the app with the latest user comments and conditions you will need data, but this can be done over WiFi if you do not have data enabled.

Streaming maps requires an internet connection, you will need to upgrade to premium to download maps to your device.

What devices will FATMAP work on?

 

FATMAP is available on iOS and Android through the Apple app store and Google Play.

Apple

iPhone 5s and above
iPad 4 and above
iPad Mini retina 2 and above

Android

Devices running Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean) and above
Phones: HTC One, Galaxy Note II, Galaxy S3, Sony Xperia Z and better
Tablets: Nexus 7, Galaxy Tab (2012) and better

It says I don't have enough storage? How much do I need?

You get the benefits of offline use as you download FATMAP maps straight to your device.  At the moment, the maps can be up to a GB in size and some devices might be near capacity when the download starts.

Luckily there are many ways of clearing out space whilst preserving your photos, podcasts and other media.

Here are a few articles that will help you free up space:

iPhone Users

Android Users

How long will my battery last and what if my battery runs out?

Battery life will vary greatly depending on how often you use the application. The main functions which will drain the battery are screen utilisation and GPS. The performance should be similar to that which you can expect using any other tracking app.

In terms of safety, when venturing outside of marked runs or adventurous terrain, you should always carry a paper map and compass.

How do I view a map offline?

To view a map offline you will need to upgrade to premium and download the map to your device using wifi or data. Once the map is on your device you can view it offline.

I have downloaded maps, will they remain on my device when it switches to 1.6?

All downloaded maps will remain on your device. If there are critical updates on map data, you will be asked to update the map before use.

What areas will be available?

FATMAP will cover over 80 ski areas across North America and Europe for the 2016/17 season, with more areas released across the winter.

You can find our coverage on our areas page and vote for your favourite resort if we haven’t covered it yet.

If my premium subscription expires do I lose my saved maps?

 

When your subscription is nearing expiry we will send you a message. If you chose not to continue with your premium subscription all maps will remain on your device, however you will be unable to use them. If you decide to stream the map you will be asked to confirm whether you would like to delete the map data and stream instead. To use your saved maps offline you will need to upgrade to premium. 

What do I need to create an account?

Just your email address and a password (which you create). You will use these to sign into the app.

Are all maps available to stream and download?

Yes, all maps, winter and summer are available to stream. If you want to go off the grid, you can upgrade for offline map access for a month or a year.

How long will it take to prepare the data to stream a map?

 

Around 5-15 seconds, depending on your wifi/ data connection.

How long will it take to download a map to my device?

 

Around 1 – 8 minutes, depending on your wifi/ data connection.

Are there summer maps as well as winter maps?

 

Yes, within the app there are two map list options; blue for our winter maps and green for our summer maps.

We originally built FATMAP for free skiing, and over the coming year we will be working to create a world-class app for hiking and mountain biking, but in the meantime, we wanted to share our beautiful ultra high-resolution summer maps. We hope they will inspire you to explore and enjoy the outdoors.

Our initial batch of maps is focused on mountainous areas within the United Kingdom along with a few select resorts from Europe and North America. More will be added for summer 2017.

Find out which resorts we cover here

How to use FATMAP
How can FATMAP help me understand snow conditions?

 

Aerial imagery, whether live or not is only ever going to give you a very limited amount of information about snow conditions. A static image of snow will tell you very little about the type of snow. How many times have you looked at what looks to be fresh powder twinkling in the morning sun only to find it is breakable crust when you put your skis in it? To understand the snow conditions fully, you need to put your skis/board in it and get your own understanding of the local snow conditions on different aspects.

It is true that live snow cover could be useful in ski areas that have a large difference in altitude where snow coverage could be important to actually complete a line. But even then satellite imagery isn’t going to be able to tell you if the snow cover is poor and there are hidden rocks just beneath the surface. Even a close up photo won’t tell you if it’s a fresh dump on a solid base or if grass and rocks lie beneath. Knowing conditions is about more than just an image.

In the same way that you will need to make your own assessment of avalanche risk, you will need to develop your own understanding of the snow coverage in the area you are skiing. In France and Switzerland, the avalanche bulletin (accessible from FATMAP) will tell you at what altitude the snow cover starts on North and South facing slopes and it will often tell you a lot about the quality of the snow cover too.

To give information about conditions on specific routes we encourage users to enter comments about conditions within FATMAP. Here you will be able to see when a line was last skied, what people have said about it, including information about the snow cover. Snow conditions can change substantially within a day or even hours, so a visual inspection of the line you are planning before you set off down it is a good idea. For routes where this is not possible and you are unable to get any information from FATMAP or other condition sites, we recommend asking the local ski patrol who should be able to give you up to date information.

How accurate is FATMAP?

Our models are built by photogrammetry using the best available aerial or satellite imagery. We build an elevation grid with a resolution of between 1 and 10m, with the vast majority at 5m or better. This means that we map the height of the ground surface every 5 metres. The result is an extremely high resolution model – between 10x and 30x the resolution of most mainstream 3D maps available today – which shows the true shape of the terrain far more realistically than ever before. 

Our imagery varies between 25cm and 1m imagery (meaning that a single pixel covers 25cm – 1m on the ground). While most maps use colour imagery, we use monochrome imagery in some of our winter maps – this often provides better clarity and detail in the snow texture.

How accurate is the real-time GPS location?

Your current location will be as accurate as the GPS location provided by your device. The latest phones have excellent GPS chipsets and in tests earlier this year we were able to reliably achieve an accuracy of within 5m in Chamonix at Grands Montets – but often even better. We used iPhone 5, 5s, Samsung Galaxy S4 and Sony Xperia Z2 for testing. Older devices such as an iPhone 4S will still work but have less advanced GPS chipsets and accuracy may be lower or take longer to provide a location fix.

How up-to-date is the imagery? Where is it from and is it live?

 

The imagery we use is high-resolution satellite imagery, typically taken within the last 1 to 2 years, sometimes a little more to achieve the full coverage of an area. The imagery is not live and will not show you the snow coverage at the time you are viewing it. This is impractical for a number of reasons:

  1. Real-time satellite imagery is either very expensive or not available everywhere
  2. You would need a data connection to receive the data – this would be impractical today
  3. Clouds prevent satellites from seeing the ground and not every day has a clear sky

Our imagery typically represents the snow cover you would find in a resort during the middle of a normal season. We are not ruling out real-time feeds in the future. Satellite imagery and data connections are improving all the time whilst also reducing in cost. We are currently working on projects that will allow us to increase the resolution to 25cm imagery or even further using aerial photography.

My favourite route is missing - how do I add it?

 

FATMAP has details of over 8,000 ski routes provided by 200+ local experts from 80 ski areas, and we are releasing more maps every week across the winter.

If there are any routes or mountain areas we are missing that you know like the back of your hand, please contact us to join our team of expert content contributors. 

Should I carry an extra map in addition to FATMAP?

We would recommend always having a paper map with you when going into the backcountry

Will FATMAP record my tracks?

 

A number of users reported having issues with the reliability of track recording on FATMAP.
We have been investigating and the good news is we’ve found the problem. The bad news is we can’t fix it quickly.
We’ll spare you all the technical details but due to the memory requirements of the high resolution 3D map data and the way iOS and Android manage their memory usage when apps are in the background, we can’t reliably record tracks until we completely re-write the recording engine or the map engine – and that won’t be possible in the next few months. We’re very sorry.

Quality is very important to us so we moved the feature back in to beta and took the button off the main screen.
We know many of you were enjoying track recording without problems so there is a way to get the feature back. Just go in to the settings menu and you’ll see an option to bring back track recording. Just be aware, it might not work as well as it should.
Thanks for your understanding.

What does the eye symbol mean?

 

Click the eye symbol to select or de elect an option e.g. If the eye for pistes is filled in you will be able to view all pistes, if you can see the icon outline you have deselected the option and will not be able to view pistes.

Location sharing isn't working

 

Check you are currently located within a map boundary and your location settings in the settings on your device are switched on. Click the location sharing button in the main menu, turn location receiving and broadcasting on. Search for a friend using their username,

FATMAP will automatically save any friends you have added in the past. To delete these click the trash can icon next to their name. Ensure the eye icon is filled in to locate your friend.

I don't know what a symbol means

 

Click on the symbols button in the main menu to view a breakdown of symbols. You can then select or deselect each symbol using the eye icon, this changes whether each icon will appear on your maps or not.

Do I need to be online to view the avalanche bulletin?

 

Yes, the avalanche bulletin takes you to an external website which you will need wifi/ data to access. We suggest viewing the avalanche bulletin when planning your adventure

What does the emergency button do?

 

The emergency page shows telephone numbers for your local ski patrol and enables you to call these directly from the app. You will need a phone signal to make emergency phone calls. The page also gives you your GPS co ordinates and a list of questions to have answers ready for.

We encourage you to also save these numbers on your device. In emergency your local emergency phone number also works e.g. 112, 911

In pistes/ freeride what does the mountain button mean?

 

This button acts as a tick list, i.e. routes you have completed. If you have completed a certain route, click the mountain when viewing it and FATMAP will automatically save this route in your completed list. 

In pistes/ freeride what does the heart button mean?

The heart button stores your favourite routes, if you like a certain route, click the heart when viewing it and FATMAP will automatically save this route in your favourites.

How do we determine ski seriousness?

 

Each freeride line has an indication of seriousness. This should not be confused with the indication of difficulty. The seriousness provides an indication of the proximity to the resort. We have used the same grading scale used in the well-known VAMOS guides for familiarity.

NOT SERIOUS (close to the pistes/ trails).

QUITE SERIOUS (away from the pistes but visible from them and finishing on the piste).

SERIOUS (little chance of being seen in case of accident).

VERY SERIOUS (isolated in the high mountains, skiers must be completely autonomous in every situation).

How do we determine grade or difficulty?

 

The difficulty provides an indication of the technical difficulty of the skiing. It does not indicate the skill level of any approach. We provide a general indication of the difficulty in good conditions but you should appreciate that event a moderate route can become quite serious in bad conditions. We have used the same grading scale used in the well-known VAMOS guides for familiarity.

EASY (wide gentle slopes).

MODERATE (slopes a little steeper of up to 25 degrees).

DIFFICULT (serious gradient of 30/35 degrees where a real risk of slipping exists).

V. DIFFICULT (steep skiing – 40/45 degrees requiring extremely good technique – the risk of falling has serious consequence).

EXTREME (extreme skiing terrain above 45 degrees – reserved for experts and professionals).

How are the pistes/ trails categorised?

Pistes/ trails are categorised according to their difficulty by colour. In Europe the colours go from green to black. In North America the colours go from green to double black diamond.

How do I change the language?

We now have FATMAP available in english and french. Hit the settings button to change the language in your app.

When does my premium subscription expire?

Head into settings in your app, at the top you will see the type of subscription you have, the date it expires and your log in email address.

You can also see what version of the app you are using at the bottom of the settings page.

Do I need to be online to view local weather conditions?

Yes, the weather conditions button takes you to an external website which you will need wifi/ data to access. We suggest viewing the weather conditions when planning your adventure

SAFETY FEATURES
How do I use the gradient tool?

 

The gradient tool gives information about how steep a slope is to your assessment of a given slope or area. We highlight areas of terrain in three different bands: 30° to 35° 35° to 40° Over 40° These zones do not provide any indication about whether a given area is dangerous or safe. The zones can be useful in making an assessment of terrain where avalanches typically start. This should not be confused with where they can be triggered or where they can reach. It is possible to remote trigger avalanches and often reach terrain that is less steep than 30 degrees – always be aware of terrain above you and terrain traps such as gullies and depressions.

We chose to segment information into these bands because they correlate with the Elementary Reduction Method developed by Werner Munter from avalanche statistics in Switzerland. It is an easy way for a skier or boarder to make decisions about travel in the backcountry without having to be an expert. You can read more about the reduction method here

In the Elementary Reduction Method a skier or boarder simply avoids travelling on certain slopes depending on the avalanche forecast:

moderate danger level (2): avoid slopes steeper than 40°

considerable danger level (3): avoid slopes steeper than 35°

high danger level (4): avoid slopes steeper than 30°

extreme danger level (5): avoid all off-piste.

Avalanche Decision Safety Grid Using this method does NOT eliminate risk but the large majority of historical avalanche fatalities would have been avoided using this method. The principal avalanche problem this method addresses is slab avalanches which is the main problem that off-piste skiers and snowboarders have to deal with in the Alps. It is possible for wet snow avalanches to occur on gradients lower than this but these are principally a problem in late winter and spring only, often easier to predict and typically play a smaller role in skier/boarder avalanche fatalities.

FATMAP is designed to help the informed skier or boarder to make decisions by providing detailed information about the terrain. It does not provide all the information you need to decide whether a slope is safe or not – indeed you can never know with absolute certainty. Any ‘processed’ information which attempts to provide a go/no-go or safe/not-safe judgement on a slope is hugely prone to error and removes the ability to make your own decisions. We believe only you should make these critical judgements. Avalanche education is outside the scope of this post but we strongly advise taking an avalanche awareness course and informing yourself about avalanche risk. After extensive discussion with mountain guides and mountain rescue associations, we chose to design this feature to provide raw information about the terrain.

The avalanche bulletin for each area provides the most detailed up to date information for a given area and you should have read and be familiar with this before heading out. Even the bulletin is not 100% accurate all of the time and conditions can vary greatly within a small area so it is important to be able to make your own assessment. Other key factors (not an exhaustive list) that can be important to consider in your assessment of a slope are snow pack, time of day, travel techniques, weather and human factors. FATMAP does not help you with these.

It may also be worth noting that we enjoy a relatively straight forward snowpack in the Western Alps compared with some other areas in the world. We do not currently cover areas such as the US and Canada where the snow pack can be considerably different and some people argue necessitates a different approach.

When skiing off-piste, EVERYONE in your group should have basic safety equipment such as an avalanche transceiver, shovel and probe – and know how to use them!

How do I use the aspect tool?

The aspect of a given slope can be identified using the aspect tool. Click this button to view the terrain with different colours depending on which direction the slope is facing. The compass in the top right of the screen shows you which colours correspond to which aspect.

How do I use the crevasse zone tool?

Glaciated terrain can be identified using the crevasse zone feature. Skiing on glaciers carries additional risk and demands a high level of experience and skill. Crevasses are the principal danger when skiing on a glacier. In the winter, glaciers are often covered by snow bridges that can give way under the weight of a single skier.

Glaciers are moving all the time and it is not possible to ‘map’ crevasses accurately on a map. Whilst different ‘risk zones’ are defined in FATMAP, you ski at your own risk and with the understanding that crevasses may form anywhere on a glacier. Crevasses are a serious danger that carry the risk of death.

How do I use the avalanche zone tool?

Our avalanche risk tool provides information about gradient to contribute to your assessment of a given slope.

We highlight areas of terrain in three different bands:
30° to 35°
35° to 40°
Over 40°

These zones do not provide any indication about whether a given area is dangerous or safe. The zones can be useful in making an assessment of terrain where avalanches typically start. This should not be confused with where they can be triggered or where they can reach. It is possible to remote trigger avalanches and often reach terrain that is less steep than 30 degrees – always be aware of terrain above you and terrain traps such as gullies and depressions.

We chose to segment information into these bands because they correlate with the Elementary Reduction Method developed by Werner Munter from avalanche statistics in Switzerland. It is an easy way for a skier or boarder to make decisions about travel in the backcountry without having to be an expert. You can read more about the reduction method here

In the Elementary Reduction Method a skier or boarder simply avoids travelling on certain slopes depending on the avalanche forecast:

moderate danger level (2): avoid slopes steeper than 40°

considerable danger level (3): avoid slopes steeper than 35°

high danger level (4): avoid slopes steeper than 30°

extreme danger level (5): avoid all off-piste.

Avalanche Decision Safety Grid Using this method does NOT eliminate risk but the large majority of historical avalanche fatalities would have been avoided using this method. The principal avalanche problem this method addresses is slab avalanches which is the main problem that off-piste skiers and snowboarders have to deal with in the Alps. It is possible for wet snow avalanches to occur on gradients lower than this but these are principally a problem in late winter and spring only, often easier to predict and typically play a smaller role in skier/boarder avalanche fatalities.

FATMAP is designed to help the informed skier or boarder to make decisions by providing detailed information about the terrain. It does not provide all the information you need to decide whether a slope is safe or not – indeed you can never know with absolute certainty. Any ‘processed’ information which attempts to provide a go/no-go or safe/not-safe judgement on a slope is hugely prone to error and removes the ability to make your own decisions. We believe only you should make these critical judgements. Avalanche education is outside the scope of this post but we strongly advise taking an avalanche awareness course and informing yourself about avalanche risk. After extensive discussion with mountain guides and mountain rescue associations, we chose to design this feature to provide raw information about the terrain.

The avalanche bulletin for each area provides the most detailed up to date information for a given area and you should have read and be familiar with this before heading out. Even the bulletin is not 100% accurate all of the time and conditions can vary greatly within a small area so it is important to be able to make your own assessment. Other key factors (not an exhaustive list) that can be important to consider in your assessment of a slope are snow pack, time of day, travel techniques, weather and human factors. FATMAP does not help you with these.

It may also be worth noting that we enjoy a relatively straight forward snowpack in the Western Alps compared with some other areas in the world. We do not currently cover areas such as the US and Canada where the snow pack can be considerably different and some people argue necessitates a different approach.

When skiing off-piste, EVERYONE in your group should have basic safety equipment such as an avalanche transceiver, shovel and probe – and know how to use them!

How do I use the altitude tool?

 

The height of a given area can be identified using the altitude tool. The different colours refer to different altitude bands, please refer to the legend key in the app to determine what each colour refers to. This is particularly useful in determining avalanche risk above a given height or determining where the freezing level is on the mountain.

How do I use the zones tool?

Click to highlight zones such as flats, this will highlight all flat areas on the map a certain colour

Am I safe with FATMAP?

There is no such thing as zero risk. FATMAP is designed as a tool that provides you with information to make your own decisions. We are not suggesting or encouraging you to cross the safety barriers of the ski resort. Off-piste skiing is a dangerous sport which requires a great deal of expertise. FATMAP will never replace the knowledge and experience of a professional.

You always ski at your own risk. FATMAP is not something that will make decisions for you. It will not tell you when and where to go, where is safe and where isn’t, guarantee outcomes or your safety in any way. It is not the only tool you will need.

PAYMENT
How much will it cost?

You can access FATMAP for free. All the maps, content and features are included in your regular account and the maps are streamed to your device.

If you’d like offline access, then you can upgrade to premium for a month or a year. This means the maps are stored on your phone so there’s no need for a network connection.

Prices for offline use can be found at the base of our product page here.

If you have any questions about your current subscription, drop us an email at hello@fatmap.com

Can I purchase premium for less than a year?

Yes, there is the option to purchase premium for one month and one year at a time.

RETURNS
I no longer want premium, can I have a refund?

 

All purchases are final, however if there an issue with FATMAP and you feel you are entitled to a refund please contact us at hello@fatmap.com

Still need help? Send us a note!
For any other questions, please write us at hello@fatmap.com
022032051 041