Yesterday I was out in the windy dark peak with Zoe and Chris. Both are keen fell runners who were wanting to spend a day focusing on navigation in mountain terrain.
After an initial chat about their previous experience of navigation it was apparent that although they both had some knowledge of map reading they were in need of a refresh of those skills.
After speaking to a broad range of clients I find it quite common for people who venture out into the hills to let there map reading skills get neglected. People do a lot of pre-planning of their adventures at home, looking at maps, taking advice from forums and looking at Google earth to get an idea of what to expect before they go. Some use GPS devices and some even use apps on their mobile phones to help them navigate. What catches some folk out is the unpredictability of the weather especially in the mountains. You can go from a clear blue sky with a slight breeze to being caught in a storm with strong wind with minimal to zero visibility. This will take some folk by surprise and the lack of visibility especially could make navigation extremely difficult and lead to stress and poor decision-making.
In recent years there has been an alarming volume of mountain rescue callouts that have occurred from people using mobile phone apps to navigate. What happens if you lose you phone or the battery dies? What is your back up plan to keep you and your party safe?
With Zoe and Chris I focused on methods of getting from point “A” to point “B” by painting a mental picture of the journey from just looking at the map alone. If you have a basic knowledge of the key symbols on Ordnance Survey or Harvey maps then you can imagine the journey stage by stage before you have even taken a step. This takes practice but can prove very useful if you are caught in stressful situations such as a sudden change of weather or an injury to a group member. Developing your map reading knowledge and honing your compass skills will increase your confidence to navigate. This is not rocket science. It just takes a small amount of time and a willingness to learn. By dusting off the old skills learnt a long time ago it will boost your confidence in your decision making on the hill and may be vital to ensuring a happy and safe day out in the mountains.
Are you looking to refresh your navigation skills? Are you a complete beginner in navigation but are wanting to learn?
I can tailor a navigation course specifically to your requirements and previous experience. To find out more please go to http://trekkingskills.co.uk/navigation-training/