Hi! As someone whose background is in geomatics I confirm what John says.
The "accumulated climb / descent" figures that we use are a useful fiction that can only serve as an approximation. Technically, we are faced with the problem of trying to measure non-rectifiable paths (i.e., curves not having a finite length). The problem was fascinatingly well explained in a fairly accessible manner by Benoît Mandelbrot in his 1967 paper "How Long Is The Coast of Britain?".
I'm afraid we don't plan to make any further changes to our elevation stats. Every system calculates these differently and there really is no definitive "correct" figure, so we'll be constantly chasing our tail if we try to match calculations from other sources. The best advice we can give is to only compare ascent calculations from plotaroute.com with those of other routes mapped on plotaroute.com, rather than with figures obtained elsewhere.
Any update on this ? I ride a lot in the Alps, always using plota route as it is really a great tool.
My impression is that the difference between what plotaroute indicates and reality (measured on a map, or with several GPS or altimeters) has decreased, but remains at least 30% too high.
I know using a GPS to compare is not very accurate (a GPS can also be wrong), but I did comparisons with "famous" climbs (for example some Tour de France stages which are well documented) which are 100% climbs (no up and downs), with known altitudes (where several web sites or maps agree on the altitude) and every time plot a route overestimates.
But still a great tool despite this!
Thanks for sharing this feedback Dave and for putting your faith in plotaroute. It’s hard for any one application to claim they have the most accurate ascent figures, as it really depends on your definition of ascent, but I think the most useful thing you can do is to always use the same system when comparing ascent figures for different routes and I'm very pleased you've chosen plotaroute for this.
I have been experimenting with various Garmin and Satmap GPS units and .GPX files with my two Ramblers groups, many members of which have and use these. These units have always recorded very different results in their Trip Computers by the end of a walk.
Personally I have an old and trusted Garmin Etrex 10, which records distance but ascent can only be interrogated via the .GPX file. I use Plotaroute to plan my routes for both A parties. I'd welcome advice from anyone who reckons that I'd get superior accuracy from buying a newer GPS, and which one to buy!
If I download my plots to various mapping apps they all read remarkably similarly for distance, usually within 3%. Ascents vary widely. If I save my Etrex 10 trip computer distance it always reduces when the .GPX file is saved and smoothed. I guess smoothing has a similar effect on ascents.
Here's an example:
From my personal experience of a short trial OS Maps ascents recorded on my Etrex record are far higher than even Garmin Basecamp! So ..........
I've decided after all my research to use Plotaroute for my route plots, distances, timings and ascents and find it as accurate as any other app, easier and quicker to use and more accurate than most, it shows routes on the ground that don't often exist on OS maps, and is reliably within a safe margin of error especially where I need to plot a route within a limited time window, for example when my group has a coach ramble and we need to get back to the coach by a certain time as demanded by the driver's working hours.
Thanks, John, for pointing to that option. Sorry for not looking into all of the features in the first place.
Hi Eric - Thanks for your kind feedback about the site.
Hopefully we can make some changes to the ascent calculations soon - I notice it is moving up the Feature Request list! And also, there is a request to add a Total Descent calculation, which is something that could be done at the same time. There is already an option for users to choose different elevation intervals though in the Route Profile tool. There would need to be a standard interval by defaut to make the figures comparable between different routes on the site.
First, I am really blown away by the fast, easy and intuitive way to create a route! Really great tool!
But also I voted for adding the more realistic ascent calculating approach. Maybe let the user choose the interval as an advanced option?
Thanks. I voted or it.
There is just near my place an ascent which is pure uphill on 18km. It's about 1400m ascent. Next time I climb it I will see what plot a route gives and compare it both with a map and with what my GPS gives.
I will let you know.
Thanks Pierre for your feedback - glad you're enjoying using the site. Adding some smoothing to our elevation data is on the Feature Requests list but please vote for it to move it up the list (number 52). Please be aware though that GPS devices are not a reliable bechmark for ascent calculations - we've looked at numerous examples of raw GPS recordings and usually find big gaps in the data (probably due to poor signal reception) that result in ascent figures being understated.