Mountain Navigation

Mountain Navigation

I want to share with you the approach I adopt when teaching mountain navigation during a Mountain Leader training course.

Firstly it’s important to understand that CONTOURS are KING… ‘It is a common mistake for those beginning their map reading journey to focus on other elements such as paths, streams and boundary lines to identify their location. However, this isn’t foolproof as these elements of a map can easily and often change in appearance and location or simply not be there at all. On the other hand, contours are super reliable… if you can navigate to contours then you can navigate.

I only use one acronym….VAST

V…  Visualise the contour shape of the feature you are trying to find. Visualise the shape of the ground around the feature.

e.g. are you looking for a knoll or small high round lump (ring contour)

A… Always visualise first and then come up with a…

S… Strategy. choose a strategy, a plan of how you are going to get from A to B.  This Strategy needs to take into account the group, terrain, weather and visibility. This will help you come up with a strategy. This is the planning stage, try and think of two different ways to get to your feature.

e.g. will you use an attack feature, will you go on a bearing in a straight line. Will you hand rail a feature like a stream?

T… Tools, to follow the strategy above, do I need to use a bearing? pacing? timing? aiming off?

e.g. usually the worse the visibility the more tools you’ll need.

I hope this gives you something to think about when you’re next out navigation training.

Thanks Stu