This is a quick way to create a ground profile without using 3D software, provided the contours have elevations assigned to them.
First, create a new layer or make an appropriate one current, and draw a line where you want to cut the profile. Next, use the Undo command and enter M to set a marker. Freeze or turn off all layers except the current one and the contours. If the line is not horizontal or vertical, create a UCS using the Object option, then typing Plan. Using the Extrim command, select the profile line and pick either side to trim the contours along it. Explode the contours if necessary to turn them into individual entities.
Next, turn on osnap (F3), and with only Endpoint active, draw a 3D polyline (type 3P at the Command line) by snapping to each contour endpoint along the profile line. Now set the 3D view to Front (set it to Right if the profile line is vertical) and you should see the 3D pline you just drew as the ground profile and the first line you draw will be at zero elevation. This line can be used as a reference point to draw a grid.
Next, using Copy with Basepoint, select the line and pline, using the left endpoint of the line when prompted for a base point. Enter Undo, then B (for Back) to return to the state before the contours were trimmed. Now paste the profile to a convenient location in the drawing (The information will still be on the clipboard even though an Undo was performed). For vertical exaggeration, paste as a block and change the Y scale through the Properties Manager.
Notes from Cadalyst Tip Patrol: This tip might seem a bit complicated, but it is a great (and logical) way to create a profile or contour view. It only works if the contour lines provided have a Z dimension. If they don’t, but you know what they are, edit the properties of each line and change the Z value to the known value. This will move the lines up (or down) to the proper elevation, giving them three dimensional data. Then you can proceed with the tip.