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32 » Backcountry

Test Your Altimeter

Altimeters must be calibrated in order to be accurate. The more often you calibrate the more accurate your altimeter will be. Often you will see signs on hiking trails, or on mountain roads that indicate the elevation and those are be good spots to calibrate.

Here are 22 more spots to calibrate. (All numbers below are in feet of ele- veation). Have fun!

Mount Spokane,



Mount Walker


Deception Pass Bridge 192’

Potholes Reservoir 1,047’

“Stonehenge” at Mary-



Mount Constitution, look-

WTA Office

out 2,368’ 139’

Upper Lena Lake 4,551’ Columbia Crest 14,410’

Grand Coulee Dam, top 1,310’

Winthrop, main street 1,768’

Pike Place Market Pig 117’

Rainy Lake 4,790’

Sunrise Ranger Station 6,409’

Johnston Ridge parking lot, Mount St. Helens 4,314’

Rainbow Falls State Park 272’

Lake Sammamish State

Park boat ramp


Space Needle Observation Deck 520’

January + February 2010 » Washington Trails

Silva Tech40 Trailleader One

Timex Expedition WS4

Kestrel 2500


Timex Expedition WS4 Watch, $199

“Hey, can you talk to Mars with that thing?” That’s the kind of helpful comment you could get while sporting the Timex Expedition WS4, at least if you’ve got the bright orange version. It also comes in white, black and yellow. It’s ruggedly handsome, kind of like Conrad Anker, the climbing legend who helped to design it.

This is one useful watch. The display window makes good use of the piece’s wide face, allow- ing you to see many readings at a glance. Tem- perature, weather, time (in two formats) and barometric pressure all appear on the default display. The target altitude alarm was easy to set and went off the moment I stepped over my predetermined elevation. As it is used here, the Indiglo illuminates all the numbers, in addition to the display’s background, making it quite easy to read in the dark. Bells and whistles include a graphic barometer that gives you a look at pressure trends, water resistance up to 50 meters, and an activity review mode show- ing lows, highs and averages. One complaint: when you shuffle through to altitude, you get your peak altitude reached and accumulated elevation gain before you get to your current elevation; I would have preferred to see my cur- rent elevation first and to wait for the other two numbers as needed.

The easy-to-follow user manual is compact enough to carry until you know the watch in- side and out. The manual also includes a list of the declination for major cities across the world, so you can easily recalibrate your compass while traveling. It’s also peppered with helpful advice from Mr. Anker. Lace Thornberg

Kestrel 2500, $199

The Kestrel is so much more than an altim- eter. It’s a weather station. With features like wind speed, wind chill, barometric pressure and maximum wind gust, you’ll be transformed into an on-trail Cliff Mass in nothing flat. The Kestrel also tells time and elevation. I had trouble with the calibration function; it works by having you recalibrate the barometric pres- sure. This seems counterintuitive. This model lacks the alarm and chronograph functions of altimeter watches, and the Kestrel line doesn’t include those features, so this is a tool that I’d use in tandem with a watch of some type, rath- er than all by itself. Viewed as a pure weather station, I think this is a must-have item for people who consider mountain weather one of the more interesting reasons to get out. There’s an optional tripod available for positioning the device into the wind, and the Kestrel floats! How cool is that? The high-visibility orange color’s going to assure you don’t leave it behind in camp. Allison Woods

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