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What do you want to know of a backcountry slope?

  - Whether it could  avalanche today

What will your inclinometer tell you?

  - A number indicating the the slope angle

AVA-GARD pole inclinometer will tell you in three seconds, 

the risk of triggering an avalanche on this slope and today's avy danger conditions. Plus the slope angle.



           Age-old ski-pole tricks were updated by adding


                  -A precision spirit level indicator vial on the horizontal pole,                

                 ....and slope angle grades on the vertical pole, 

                     using basic trigonometric tangent tables.

            The result:  accurate and quick contact inclinometry instrument,

            for measuring the slope right where you are.






           Two established avalanche decision frameworks utilize

           only the slope angle and current avalanche danger grade to

           determine the avalanche risk of the slope.

           This info was painted on the pole as color symbols right  over

           the degree markings, for immediate risk check. 






            Commercially available and patented PoleClinometer®

            sticker  for line-of-sight inclinometry of an adjacent slope

            (sideways, up- or downhill) was added.



            the fastest, and most reliable slope meter and avalanche 

            avoidance tool in the world.

            In your hands all the way.


            -Extremely lightweight (30 grams = 1,04 oz).

            -Low-tech powered only by gravity; no worries of battery life or cellphone connection.

            -Avy avoidance knowledge is built in the pole, you need not memorize lists,

             calculations, algorithms etc. Only check the avalanche bulletin before heading out.

            -Super easy to use, suitable for DIY and cheap.

News 1


Avalanche avoidance is the most important subject in avalanche education. It covers masses of information on mountains, snowpack, weather, equipment,travel tactics, human behavior etc. Many students feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of facts taught in  avy courses. It really takes years to master the avalanche avoidance science. The beginner needs clear and simple means to avoid fatal danger.


The most constant and unequivocal determinant of avalanche triggering is the slope angle.

The simplest avalanche avoidance frameworks utilize only information of  the slope angle and the day's avalanche danger grade from the avalanche bulletin. They have been shown to be 80 to 100% effective in fatal avalanche accident prevention. 

Ava-gard clinopoles combine inclinometry and immediate visual risk check, making avalanche avoidance quick and simple even for the less experienced.

what's in it for me?

Hiking up the slope is great. But you want to keep up steady pace; lengthy stops for inclinometry disrupt your stride. 


Ability to do slope safety evaluation in a couple of seconds results in frequent measurements.

Develops your slope angle estimation skills


Being able to do reliable risk assessment creates confidence and a mindset change from a passive follower of guide or buddies to an alert observer aware of the conditions.

Informs you about entering a slope where you may  trigger an avalanche, how close to or how far into risk zone you have come: gives time to plan alternative route.


Backs up even the unpleasant decision to turn around.

Gives incentive to learn more of avalanche avoidance - to be able to tackle more challenging terrain.


Allows you to relax and enjoy the slopes you have determined safe, giving freedom to concentrate on other challenges of the sport.

sounds perfect?

...but is not:

AVA-GARD CLINOPOLE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR FORMAL AVALANCHE TRAINING. Rather, it should be regarded as an invaluable companion after your first avalanche course.


The frameworks utilized do NOT protect you from avalanches triggered above you; spontaneously, by someone else, or through remote triggering by yourself.

No avalanche decision framework can give you a 100% guarantee of avoiding self-triggered avalanches.


Inherent problems:

The freely hanging vertical pole is sensitive to hard wind. 

If inclinometry is not done often enough, you may unknowingly wander onto a dangerously steep slope.

DIY technical suggestions, instructions, scales and symbol layouts are still developing. Feel free to design your own :-). I try to keep these pages updated.


Matti Verkasalo:


Instant inclinometry and immediate visual risk check




Backcountry novices, young sidecountry riders and those without snow safety education are over-represented in avalanche mortality statistics. An emerging group in these statistics are adventurous snowshoers.

Taking a course does not make one an expert; the information on avalanche avoidance matures into relevant field behaviour only over some years of active practice.


The novice needs simple means to survive the first years in backcountry.

Those without avalanche education need an easy risk sensor.




The easiest avalanche avoidance frameworks: the Elementary Reduction Method (ERM) and the Afterski method  require only that the user knows the danger grade given in avalanche bulletin, and does inclinometry. ERM recommends staying on slopes <40 degrees for moderate, <35 degrees for considerable, and <30 degrees for high avalanche danger. Afterski recommendations are 5 degrees lower. The methods have shown 80-100% preventive efficiency in various types of snowpack.


Inclinometry is easy but in real life often overlooked: Too cumbersome, too slow, no instrument carried along. Or maybe the meaning of the reading is obscure.

Instant inclinometry


Age-old ski pole inclinometry was improved with bubble level vial and geometric tables to give a highly accurate slope angle in a couple of seconds, even with gloves on.


For line-of-sight inclinometry of an adjacent slope, there exists an equally fast tool: PoleClinometer® which can easily be applied on the same pair of poles, to make a ”universal clinopole” tool.

Immediate risk check


For the novice, the slope angle needs interpretation. This is achieved by painting three risk indicator columns, yellow, orange and red, representing moderate, considerable and high avalanche risks, next to the slope angle grades, to mark the highest recommended slope angles of ERM and Afterski.



With this tool even the total novice can estimate if the slope is reasonably safe to travel, and find an alternative route if necessary.



Cheap, low-tech, lightweight, durable, ready for use anytime, suitable for do-it-yourself (DIY) production. Bubble vial clinometer is an ”open source concept”: anybody may make, develop and even market it!


Easy and quick, so it is used often.

Alerts when approaching risk limits, visualizes how far into the risk area one has come, allows time for hazard mitigation tactics, helps in alternative route planning, supports difficult ”turn around, go home” -decisions.

Encourages to take responsibility of own safety and a mindset change: passive follower may grow into a responsible and alert traveler.

Will limit the user’s mobility – to keep one reasonably safe until more experience and skills are assimilated; thus highlights the benefits of further avalanche education.


Allows to relax and enjoy the safe slopes.



At The Nordic Skredkonferansen in Voss, Norway Oct 31-Nov 3, 2019


   ( You can download the Clinopole presentation slides: Presentation on Sunday Nov. 3 at 11.40.)

Text for a poster presentation at International Snow Science Workshop In Innsbruck, Austria Oct 7-13, 2018

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