high mountain cartography with high-resolution Pléiades satellite data


  The major goal of this project is to create a topographic map of the Mt. Kenya area. Through high-resolution Pléiades satellite data the project seeks to derivate a detailed map from both non-alpine areas (Mt.Kenya) and alpine (Franz-Senn-Hütte).
go to the  interactive map interactive map

  Non-derivable map information will be investigated through field studies.

  Subsequently, the ÖAV will print and distribute the maps.

  The project supports endogenous development in the area of Mt. Kenya.


The major objective of this project is to create a detailed topographic map of the Mt. Kenya area. The application of the specific method will be validated in the Alps. Within the project AV.MAP, one non-alpine and one alpine hiking map are obtained from high-resolution Pléiades satellite data.

illustration map design AV.MAP, Ladner 2015

It will be investigated how this method can be integrated into the cartography of the Alpenverein framework, especially in regards to the continuation of existing high-mountain maps. A comparison of the data in the Alps should show to what extent high-resolution remote-sensing data can replace basic data (orthophotographs, laser scanning data) currently common in high mountain cartography.

Despite the increasing availability of digital media, topographical maps have hardly lost in importance. Compared to digital media, in terms of orientation in the field and also scientific mapping, the full view, fracture safety and handling of conventional maps are preferable in situations without electricity or batteries. Traditional methods of mapping for the production of topographic maps have been replaced entirely by computer-assisted methods. Non-derivable information must, however, still be collected in the field.

The project promotes explicitly local mountaineering tourism on Mt. Kenya organized by the community-based organizations, in which these not only participate in the planning and execution, but will also benefit from the product. This will be investigated and validated in the context of the project. Moreover, one significant focus refers to the dimension of endogenous development, i.e. generating monetary income for the local peasants – represented through the case study of Mt. Kenya. From the project, in addition to numerous methodological insights, two topographic maps will emerge. These will be printed and distributed by the ÖAV. The results of this project, based on high resolution remote sensing date, can be the beginning of a completely new period at the Austrian Alpine Club cartography - especially for high mountain cartography all over the world - not only in creating new maps also for updating existing maps.

The data generated from the project will also support the National Park Service (KWS) in the management of the protected area.

Pléiades Images

Tri-Stereo Images (Foreward, Nadir, Backward) consist of a pancromatic and a multispectral band.

Pleiades channels and bands

Pleiades channels and bands, Ladner 2015

To combine the high spectral resolution of the multispectral Image with the high geometric resolution of the panchromatic Image the pansharp-method of ArcGIS is used. These Images are used for digitalising and classification.


Pléiades Images Pansharpening, Ladner 2015

Based on the Tri-Stereo Pléiades Images burdensome procedures are used to compute terrain models for hillshades and contours. Tri-Stereo Images

Illustration Tri-Stereo-Pléiades Images, Ladner 2015

The result of these methods can be presented as a 3D terrain model with the pansharpend image

Tri-Stereo Images

3D-terrain model of the FSH (Pléiades), visualization with ArcScene, Ladner 2016

3D Image

representation of the 3D terrain model of Mt. Kenya visualized with ArcGIS Pro, Heller & Ladner 2018


There are differential GNSS measurements with different purposes:

  Ground Control Points (GCP): lower decimeter range for georeferencing of the Pléiades Tri-Stereo Images whith Trimble CenterPoint RTX
  infrastructure: lower meter range with Trimble RangePoint RTX

In order to achieve the desired accuracies, the GPS devices and measuring methods were extensively tested and analyzed.

Trimble R1 mit RTX

Accuracy analysis Trimble R1 (RTX), Ladner 2017

Trimble R1 mit RTX

Accuracy analysis Trimble R1 (RTX) over time, Ladner 2017


Photos are taken while our Kenya trips.



Universität Innsbruck (2019): new high resolution map of Mt. Kenya University Innsbruck, Innsbruck.


Ladner M., Beer, W., Heller, A. (2018): 0/16 Mount Kenia Nationalpark. Österreichischer Alpenverein, Innsbruck.

Ladner, M., Beer, W., Heller, A. (2018): Kartographische Grundlagendaten aus Pléiades Aufnahmen mit ArcGIS Pro. In: Agit – Journal für Angewandte Geoinformatik, 4 – 2018, Salzburg 2018.

Prinz, R., Heller, A., Ladner, M., Nicholson, L., Kaser, G. (2018): Mapping the Loss of Mt. Kenya’s Glaciers: An Example of the Challenges of Satellite Monitoring of Very Small Glaciers. Geosciences 2018, 8, 174.


Heller, A., Ladner, M., Erhard, A., Steinicke, E. (2017): Das neue Bild des Mt. Kenya. Das Projekt 'AV.MAP' und seine Dimension in der Entwicklungszusammenarbeit. In: Innsbrucker Geographische Gesellschaft: Innsbrucker Jahresbericht 2016-2017. Innsbruck: Innsbrucker Geographische Gesellschaft, ISBN 978-3-901182-76-1, S. 63 - 80.

Ennemoser S. (2017): 31/4 Alpenvereinskarte Stubaier Alpen Mitte. Österreichischer Alpenverein, Innsbruck.

Beer, W., Heller, A., Ladner, M. (2017): 150 Jahre Kartografie … und kein bisschen müde. In: Bergauf – Das Magazin des Österreichischen Alpenvereins. Heft 01.2017 Innsbruck 2017, S. 32 – 35.

Ladner, M., Heller, A., Grillmayer, G. (2017): GNSS und Pléiades-Bilder in der Hochgebirgs­kartographie. In: Agit – Journal für Angewandte Geoinformatik, 3 – 2017, Salzburg 2017, S. 13 – 23.

Himmelreich, L. C., Ladner, M., Heller, A. (2017): Pléiades Tri-Stereo Bilder im Hochgebirge – eine Parameterstudie mit PCI Geomatics. In: Agit – Journal für Angewandte Geoinformatik, 3 – 2017, Salzburg 2017, S. 153 – 162.

Master theses

Schorer, M. (2017): Landbedeckung in der Alpenvereinskartographie. Möglichkeiten einer GIS-basierten Ableitung aus Sentinel-2 Daten.

Himmelreich, L. (2017): DHM Ableitungen aus Pléiades Tri-Stereo Satellitenbildern im Hochgebirge. Digitale Höhenmodelle verschiedener Softwareprodukte im Vergleich zu ALS Daten.

Ennemoser, S.(2016): GIS-Kartographie am Beispiel der Franz – Senn – Hüttenumgebungskarte.

Bachelor theses

Nödel J. (2017): Sichtbarkeitsanalysen zur Auswahl der geeigneten Satellitendaten für die moderne (Hochgebirgs-) Kartographie am Beispiel des Umgebungsbereichs der Franz-Senn-Hütte in den Stubaier Alpen.



23.6.2023     Österreichischer Alpenverein: Podcast #017 Feature: Expeditionskarte Mount Kenya


31.8.2020     NEWS: Österreichischer Alpenverein: Neue Methoden in der Kartographie (new methods in cartography)
    Special Achievement Award (SAG) Winner 2020 (ESRI)


11.1.     new high resolution map of Mt. Kenya


17.12.     On the occasion of the EU-Africa Forum, President Alexander Van der Bellen and the President of the Republic of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta met for a discussion on 'Taking cooperation to the digital age'. A copy of the Alpine Club Map Mount Kenya map was handed over.

8.11.     NEW MAP: Mount Kenya
Oktober     0/16 Alpenvereinskarte with accompanying Booklet Mount-Kenya-Nationalpark, Österreichischer Alpenverein
4.-6.7.     AGIT, University Salzburg
 AV-Map Team: Beer, Heller, Ladner
 lectures and papers

 Basic Cartographic Data from Pléiades Images with ArcGIS Pro (Martin Ladner, Werner Beer, Armin Heller)
26.6.     statements presentation AV.MAP, ÖAV Innsbruck
May rock and scree (scale 1:25.000) calculated
11.5.    AV.MAP in Geosciences:
Prinz, R., Heller, A., Ladner, M., Nicholson, L., Kaser, G.: Mapping the Loss of Mt. Kenya’s Glaciers: An Example of the Challenges of Satellite Monitoring of Very Small Glaciers.
In: Geosciences 2018, 8, 174.
April German text of the booklet completed
March Numbering system developed for routes
February Improvement of the terrain model in the summit area
January Decision to create the map with ESRI ArcGIS Pro
Research for the booklet completed


December Project extension until the end of June 2018
October orthorectification of the pansharpend Pléiades (Kenya) recordings completed
October    AV.MAP IGG annual report (German language):
Heller, A., Ladner, M., Erhard, A., Steinicke, E.: Das neue Bild des Mt. Kenya.
In: Innsbrucker Geographische Gesellschaft, Innsbrucker Jahresbericht 2016-2017, Innsbruck 2017, S. 63-80.
July    AV.MAP map FSH:
Ennemoser S.: 31/4 Alpenvereinskarte Stubaier Alpen Mitte.
Österreichischer Alpenverein, Innsbruck.
5.-7.7.     AGIT, University Salzburg
 AV-Map Team: Heller, Ladner
 lectures and papers

 GNSS and Pléiades Images in the High Mountain Cartography (Martin Ladner, Armin Heller, Ekkehart Grillmayer)
 Pléiades Tri-Stereo Imagery in High Altitude Alpine Regions - A Parameter Study with PCI Geomatics (Laura Christin Himmelreich, Martin Ladner, Armin Heller)
11.-24.2.     third field trip Mt. Kenya Nationalpark (update survey map content, GNSS-GCP)
 organisation: KWS (Naru Moru), GPSC (Naro Moru)
 team: Heller, Beer, Ladner
 field work (2.000hm - 5.000hm): 1 Team

  routes/gates: Naro Moru, Sirimon, Timau, Kihari
  POIs: Point Lenana, Aussichtspunkt Mackinders, etc.
  huts/camps: Austrian Hut, Mackinders Camp, Met Station, Old Moses Camp, etc.
  some Ground Control Points
6.-10.2.     workshop geoinformatics with KWS, Nyeri
 AV-Map Team: Heller, Beer, Ladner
 content: project, GNSS, terrain models with derivations, hydrology and cartograhy and cartography
January    AV.MAP - Members magazine of the Austrian Alpine Club No. 1/17 (German language):
150 Jahre Kartografie...

24./25.8.  Pléiades-data FSH: capturing and delivery
15.8.-30.9. capture window FSH re-opened
15.7.-14.8.     second field trip Mt. Kenya Nationalpark (survey map content)
 organisation: KWS (Nairobi), GPSC (Naro Moru)
 team: Heller, Beer, Ennemoser, Erhard, Ladner
  field work (2,000hm - 5,000hm): 2 teams - each 14 days on the mountains, more than 10.000hm, about 250km)

  routes/gates: Burguret, Chogoria, Irangi, Ithanguni, Kamweti, Naro Moru, Sirimon, Timau
  POIs: Point Lenana, Ithanguni, Rutundu, Mugi Hill, Picnic Rocks, Hausberg Col, Nithi Falls, The Gates, etc.
  huts/camps: Austrian Hut, American Camp, Meru Bandas, Shiptons Camp, Two Tarn Hut, Mackinders Camp, Met Station, Old Moses Camp, etc.
  lakes: Lake Michaelson, Lake Ellis, Lake Alice, Lake Hohnel, Hut Turn, Hausberg Tarn, Teleki Tarn, etc.
22.6. common final test for field work, Innsbruck
11.6. Outdoor First Aid Course, Innsbruck
26.-30.4. 10th Mountain Cartography Workshop, Berchtesgaden/Germany
4.3. ESRI Suisse, Zürich/Switzerland
3.3. Federal Office of Topography swisstopo swisstopo, Wabern/Switzerland
2.3.  Pléiades-data Kenya: final delivery
29.2. Pléiades-data Kenya: second part available
15.-26.2.     first field trip Kenya (organisation, GNSS-GCP)
 - Austrian Embassy, Nairobi
 - KWS, Nairobi
 - Karatina Universität, Karatina
 - Guides and Porters Safari Club, Naro Moru
 - Mt.Kenya Chogoria Guide & Porters (Tony), Chogoria
5.2. Pléiades-data Kenya: first part available


1.10. capture window Mt.Kenya opened
15.7.-30.9. capture window FSH opened
12./13.8.     common field trip FSH (test R1)
15.-17.9. Intergeo Stuttart
Sept  established platform (AGS with Postgres)
01.07.    Project start
11.05.    Kick-off Meeting, Innsbruck (Institute of Geography)

The fieldwork is supported by Trimble (correction services and receiver)!

AllTerra Österreich GmbH Also many thanks to AllTerra Österreich GmbH for the support with Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS)!

GSM profi
During our filed work at Mt. Kenya we use for communication satellite Phone from: GSM profi.

FFG ASAP Project (4948512)
Duration 07/2015-12/2017 (extended until 06/2018)

project Manager
ao. Univ.-Prof. Mag. Dr. Armin Heller
Homepage, eMail
Tel: +43 / 512 / 507-5411

project Manager
ao. Univ.-Prof. i. R. Mag. Dr. Ernst Steinicke
Homepage, eMail
Tel: +43 / 512 / 507-5408