Will Zittlau is an avid skier and spent the summer learning to code. (Submitted)

Will Zittlau is an avid skier and spent the summer learning to code. (Submitted)

Avid skier learns coding to create text messaging service for Rogers Pass backcountry users

Will Zittlau’s daily SMS service informs people what areas are open during winter in GNP

An Okanagan coder has recently created a text messaging service on what areas are open for backcountry enthusiasts heading for Rogers Pass.

In a usual winter, Will Zittlau said he might go skiing in Glacier National Park every weekend.

While he has yet to make the trek this winter due to COVID-19, Zittlau has created a simple SMS service for people to get updates on what areas are open in Rogers Pass.

What areas are open at Rogers Pass for Jan. 8 (Screenshot)

For Rogers Pass in Glacier National Park, explosive artillery fire is regularly used on mountain slopes to protect the highway and railway from natural avalanches.

As such, the Winter Permit System was created to separates skiers from artillery fire and the resulting avalanches and is separated into three categories: winter restricted areas (WRA), winter prohibited areas (WPA) and winter unrestricted areas (WUA).

WRA may close or open daily, WPA are closed all winter and WUA are always open.

Each morning at 7 a.m., Parks Canada provides updates on their website for which WRA are open.

READ MORE: Get an annual winter permit says Parks Canada to Rogers Pass users

Living in Kelowna, Zittlau said he usually has to leave at 5 a.m. to go skiing at Rogers Pass. Zittlau said he wanted to make it easier for people to go skiing, especially when driving from several hours away.

He also wanted a new challenge.

Zittlau graduated from engineering last spring, but due to COVID-19 could not find work. Interested in computers, he spent the summer teaching himself to code.

Zittlau spent weeks creating RogersPass-SMS which turns Park Canada’s Rogers Pass data into a text message.

If anyone wants to know what WRA are open or closed, they can text “update” to (347) 754-3962 to elicit a response.

While the service is free, each text message interaction costs roughly three cents. Depending on how popular the service becomes, Zittlau said he might eventually ask for donations.

“We’ll see how this month goes,” he said.

So far, more than 100 people have signed up.

READ MORE: Avalanche Canada to rely more heavily on recreational skiers for avalanche forecasting

Zittlau’s passion for coding, however, has turned into a career as he was recently hired as a software developer. His new employers found the RogersPass-SMS on his resume impressive.

“I’ve done a complete 180 for work,” he said with a laugh.

Due to COVID-19 and the rise of remote working, the tech industry is booming.

Zittlau also created an app this summer that combines weather and avalanche data into one location.

“All my stuff is ski-related,” he said.

Because this is a third-party app, Zittlau states on his website, there is no guarantee on the accuracy of the data.

“Always check the official Parks Canada resource before venturing into a Winter Restricted Area,” reads the website.

Parks Canada said while Zittlau’s service is convenient, it still urges people to ultimately check the agency’s website or phone 250-837-SKIS (7547) for a recorded and official update on what areas are open daily.


 

@pointypeak701
liam.harrap@revelstokereview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Skiing and Snowboarding

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

What areas are open at Rogers Pass for Jan. 8 (Screenshot)

What areas are open at Rogers Pass for Jan. 8 (Screenshot)

Just Posted

City of West Kelowna mowing services have been moved in house, saving the city from a potential quarter-million dollar increase in costs. (Pixabay)
West Kelowna cuts mowing contract, saves over $200k

Since forming in 2007, the City of West Kelowna has been contracting out their mowing services

The students were told to think about a problem in their lives and what the solution to that problem could be. (Ashly Griffin)
Kelowna teacher brings creative learning to school during difficult time

Teacher Ashly Griffin wanted to take students’ mind off the pandemic

This historic photo is of Kelowna’s dance band ‘The Pettman Imperials’. 

The photo was shared to the Old Kelowna Facebook page by Ali Richardson whose grandfather Charles Pettman played drums in the band. 

While it’s unclear who is playing the saxophone, from the back the members are; Chas Buckland , Harold Pettman, Tiny Walrod. In the front is Carl Buckland, Charles Pettman and Kay Buckland. 

Harold and his brother Charles started the band in the 1930s, and played weekly at the Aquatic Club in City Park.
A look back at Kelowna’s past

The Pettman Imperials: Kelowna’s dance band circa 1930s

Esa Carriere, 23, was the victim of a 2018 Canada Day homicide. (File)
Youth sentenced in Kelowna Canada Day killing

Young woman pleaded guilty to lesser assault charge, sentenced to 15-month intensive support and supervision program

The BC SPCA is adapting its fundraising after cancelling events due to COVID-19 restrictions. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
BC SPCA gets creative with fundraising as pandemic continues

The non-profit’s in-person fundraising events all had to be cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions

Black bear cubs Athena and Jordan look on from their enclosure at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Association in Errington, B.C., on July 8, 2015. Conservation Officer Bryce Casavant won the hearts of animal lovers when he opted not to shoot the baby bears in July after their mother was destroyed for repeatedly raiding homes near Port Hardy, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Supreme Court quashes review of B.C. conservation officer who refused to euthanize bears

Bryce Casavant was dismissed from his job for choosing not to shoot the cubs in 2015

(File Photo)
‘10 to 12 per cent’: Interior Health corrects COVID positivity rates in Fernie area

IH say the rates are not as high as previously claimed by the region’s top doctor

Francina Mettes and Thomas Schouten with the 200-page document they submitted in December of 2018. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
Dutch man, 94, facing unwanted trip home can stay in B.C. with wife of 45 years

Immigration offices cuts red tape so couple of 45 years can stay together in Victoria area

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Premier, health officials to discuss next steps in COVID immunization plan

Nearly 31,000 doses of vaccine the province expected by Jan. 29 could be curtailed due to production issues

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

Interior Health has declared the Cariboo Chilcotin a community cluster. (Angie Mindus photo)
Interior Health declares Cariboo Chilcotin region a COVID-19 cluster, 215 cases since Jan. 1

Most cases are related to transmission at social events and gatherings in Williams Lake

Most Read