Juneau Mountain Rescue

Remote Overland Travel: Route Planning and Navigation

Juneau Mountain Rescue

September, 2019
Contact: Luc Mehl
Shared Google Drive

These resources are described in some detail, including video tutorials, at thingstolucat.com.

This data-driven approach to remote overland travel allows you to identify best routes, bailouts, and best-guess at current conditions.

Remote Sensing

EO Browser is another option for Sentinel 2, but is not as user friendly. CalTopo has added some of these imagery sources, but with limited options (one image per week, etc.)

Other imagery

  • ESRI Worldview, via Bing Aerial or any ESRI portal (e.g., DNR). Much higher resolution near Juneau than Google Earth. Available with Gaia Pro, can be manually loaded with Gaia Standard.
  • Arctic DEM

Crowd-sourcing routes

When looking to collect information about a new region, these sources might be useful. For example, how is Mt. Stroller White typically accessed?


Route planning


CalTopo is functionally equivalent to SARTopo. SARTopo has more team and incident management features.

  1. $20 annual subscription to access the superoverlay.kml (Free upgrade for SAR)
  2. Download the superoverlay.kml to view topo map, etc.

Topo maps

  1. CalTopo offers a very mature printing interface. Unfortunately, I find that most of the maps in Alaska need some contrast adjustment to be workable.
  2. USGS quads can be downloaded and printed for free from topoView. No easy way to add routes.
  3. DNR offers topo maps for view and print, without having to select individual quads. No easy way to add routes.
  4. QGis is open source software that can be used to create maps (georeferenced or not) with various free basemaps. Routes can easily be added.

Google Earth



Gaia GPS app

All app features, YouTube tutorial

Manually import basemaps:

Google Earth: http://mt0.google.com/vt/lyrs=s&hl=en&x={x}&y={y}&z={z}&s=Ga

ESRI Satellite: https://server.arcgisonline.com/ArcGIS/rest/services/World_Imagery/MapServer/tile/{z}/{y}/{x} 

Manually import Strava heatmap:


Load Open Street Map Traces (GPS tracks). Gaiagps.com –> layers –> edit –> Feature/Weather Overlays

The OSM Tracks layer is color coded by direction. (ref)

Other features/exercises:

  • slope angle shading overlay
  • import route
  • hidden features: line of sight, distance and bearing
  • share/import/export/airdrop
  • manually enter point (choose 2 of these)
    • 63.065852°, -151.009386°
    • 67° 4’46.94″N, 158°56’32.86″W
    • 62° 6.858’N, 144° 39.006’W
    • 4 V, 551721.70 m E, 6305751.73 m N
  • import point/route from text or email
  • battery life

Managing phone batteries

  • best practices
  • solar panels
  • extra batteries

GPS accuracy

The GPS chip in phones is only accurate to 100 ft, and in practice, two side-by-side phones can record locations several hundred feet apart.

Bad Elf makes a plug-in accessory that boosts accuracy to 10 ft. This accessory is not field-tough.

Bad Elf makes a standalone GPS unit that gets 10 foot accuracy and plays well (bluetooth) with Gaia and other apps.