Guest blog by Louie Dawson
An altimeter is an indispensable tool for wilderness travel — especially backcountry skiing. It helps you navigate, forecast the weather, brag to your friends, and lots of other stuff. Altimeter watches are cool, but they feel like a bowling ball on my wrist, and they’re a hassle to get at when I have multiple layers on. Some people put them on their pack straps, but then you run the risk of smashing it when you heave your pack in a truck bed during the hitchhike ride back to the top of the pass.
Enter the Brunton ADC Pro (Atmospheric Data Center). I have seen other people with these funny weather station things before, but it always seemed superfluous to be able to say Oooo look! There’s a 47.55°F 2.689 mph wind blowing SW right now. Isn’t that great?? But this little thing is great.
Granted, the ADC is larger than an altimeter watch, but it doesn’t have a wrist strap like they do, so it easily slips in your pocket or you can hang it around your neck if you want. It does a huge amount of things (over thirty functions according to Brunton’s website), more than any altimeter watch I’ve seen. Now that I have one, it is kind of nice to have something to support me when I say,Yeah, it was insane! There were 120 mph winds and the temperature was minus 50.7°F without wind-chill!? (Ok, so maybe it wouldn’t support me on that, but you get the picture).
The ADC altimeter is quite accurate, and has a function to log ascended and descended vertical, as well as a ski run log (just in case you forget about that epic 3rd run). It measures wind speed, and also is completely truly waterproof, so you can measure water speed too! Our kitchen faucet runs at 3.9 mph, in case you were wondering. Time keeping functions are complete as well: stopwatch, daily alarm (only seven days of school left and then I won’t need it every morning), and the usual 24/12 hour clock.
Drawbacks to the ADC are that it doesn’t exaggerate for me and that it takes a moment to get an accurate wind speed measurement. More importantly, it doesn’t have a control lock — that’s something missing from most altimeter watches and should always be a feature. Oh, and it’s also not cheap. But this is the last word in non-gps mountaineering instrumentation. Worth a look.
Weight with neck strap: 2.3 oz, 72 gr.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.