Chopping the Life-Link Slope Meter

Post by blogger | March 8, 2007      

An inclinometer is a useful tool for backcountry skiing. We like ours for everything from measuring how steep we ski (in this case known as a macho-meter), to determining the “alpha angle” of an avy slope so we know if we’re far enough away to avoid certain death from a full path mega event. Life-Link’s model is lightweight and the price is right, but it’s a bit bulky. No problem, get out a pair of sharp scissors and snip it down to size.

Inclinometer for backcountry skiing.
This is our more conservative cut. We also chopped one down quite a bit more, leaving only enough plastic to show the degree rays without the numbers, since the readings are also shown within the dial (if a bit small).

Inclinometer for backcountry skiing.
Slopemeter without mods, our cut takes a chunk off the left and right sides, as well as angling the top corners. Use sandpaper to smooth sharp edges after you cut.


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16 Responses to “Chopping the Life-Link Slope Meter”

  1. Matus March 8th, 2007 11:03 am

    Estimating the angle without macho-meter allows more possibilities for the imagination and creativity. However, it surely looks more professional and scientific when you measure the angle of the slope and subsequently come up with extremely accurate evaluation of the avy danger 🙂 An Ortovox table with the snowflake shapes is of the same avy-macho kind of tools.

  2. Greydon Clark March 8th, 2007 11:06 am

    I chopped my Macho-meter too. Unfortunately, it was falling with it in my pants-cargo pocket.

  3. Lou March 8th, 2007 11:11 am

    Greydon, note the crack in the cover…

  4. mark donohoe March 8th, 2007 11:49 am

    I should have done that before mine broke in two. I’m now using a
    different model I picked up in Tahoe. It’s thicker plastic, but also has a small magnifier for looking at cristals, one side also serves as a wax scraper. Not bad, when I can actually find it! 🙂

  5. Shane March 8th, 2007 12:11 pm

    I noticed the chopped meter that Loui was using in a blog picture a while ago and thought it was a great idea. Especially since mine, and apparently everyone else’s, is in the process of chopping itself.

  6. Matt Lipscomb March 8th, 2007 1:15 pm

    FYI – If you chop it down, you lose the topographic slope meters on the back (one for 40 and one for 80 ft. contours). No problem if you have another one at home for trip planning (i.e. figuring out what terrain to avoid before you leave the house). But, in terms of avy awareness/avoidance, better to know what you’re getting into before being overcome by the lure of powder and beautiful lines!

  7. brian harder March 8th, 2007 2:27 pm

    Laminating it to a scaper adds some weight but makes it way more robust. As a bonus, use a metal scraper and it doubles as ninja throwing star useful when encountering pesky, rude boarders (uh, sorry dude!) in bounds.

  8. Pierce March 8th, 2007 2:59 pm

    Does your orange arrow move freely in the housing or does it stick a little? I always have to tap mine a little to make sure the arrow is not sticking to the wrong angle. Just wondering if it was designed like that.

  9. sbunch March 8th, 2007 3:16 pm

    I actually prefer my Ranger 15 compass with built in slope meter which is also useful for calculating run out angles. No, it doesn’t work too good as a scraper but we should all have a good compass anyway with declination adjustment. And I can use the mirror to signal if I get in trouble (knock on wood) and check my nose for crusties after skinning up! It folds in 1/2 and is quite small enough to fit in almost any pocket.

  10. Ryan March 8th, 2007 4:33 pm

    i have one of those cards and mines sticks as well but i thought that was due to the fact that it is quite cracked i like the product but i belive there is room for improvement even if it add another dollar to the cost

  11. mark March 8th, 2007 11:13 pm

    Lou, I’m not a professional on such matters but chopping the slopemeter, pulling apart ballpoint pens, trimming toothbrush handles, There might be some medications that could be helpful. By the way any luck finding titanium dynafit screws?

  12. Matt Kinney March 8th, 2007 11:28 pm

    Excellent lou…I ordered a new one today and will cut with much sharper scissors! They break easy as I have been through 3 or 4 of these over the years. Thing I will wrap the cut edges with tape to prevent cracking. If the orange thingy gets stuck, just tap it a few times. I typically take two measurments anyway.

  13. Lou March 9th, 2007 7:10 am

    Matt, indeed they do break too easily. The plastic over the dial is some kind of cheapo stuff that probably gets weak when it gets cold. I’m wondering if there is something we could cover the dial with that would protect it?

    Mark, in truth we cut it so it fits better in our pants pocket, but anything that weighs less instead of more is welcome (grin).

  14. The Snaz March 9th, 2007 10:38 am

    Lou, feel free to delete this comment, since it’s not really appropriate to the post, other than the fact that I write to you from the land of Life-Link.

    Thought you’d be interested in this:

    I think it’s a pretty significant first — an onsight climb and ski of the Grand by two women, unaccompanied by men.

    Hope you occasionally check out the snaz. You are one of my inspirations!

    Maybe see you up here for the Rando Rally?


  15. Halsted March 9th, 2007 12:05 pm

    Its interesting that my old LIFE-LINK slope meter has the same crack in the indicator cover as the one you show. Long ago I given up on the LIFE-LINK slope meters.

    Actually, through my company Hacksaw Publishing, I sell the Backcountry Field Card.

    Its a plastic field card (the plastic has been freezer tested at -6f for 36 hours, and the plastic didn’t crack deform or break, when repeatly bent back and forth) that has plum-bob inclinometer (i.e., a slope meter), several 2 X 2 mm crystal grids, 6 inch and 10 cm rulers and on the reverse side it has the small group avalanche rescue flowchart.

    I’ll send you a couple.

  16. Altis March 9th, 2007 12:06 pm

    I’m with sbunch – simplest to use a compass with a built in inclinometer such as one of these:

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