Any advise please
Matts' solution works with out a rope too.
Person goes to limit of visibilty, being directed by person behind checking stays on compass bearing. Walk up to that spot and do the same again.
Keep doing until your down, or find a path you know you can follow to where you need to go.
If not, what then?
If you only know your position to an accuracy of "very coarse blob on map" then, whiteout or not, the usual trick is to aim at something you'll hit in a given direction irrespective of where you are in that blob. Linear features running across direction of travel are good, so hitting a river that runs east-west if you're moving north-south is pretty easy.
And once you've got your feature then pinning down exactly where you are is relatively easy. You may have to traverse a linear feature ("handrailing") for a bit before getting an unambiguous point along it.
If that's not possible then it's a bit harder but not impossible to have multiple "hit" possibilities. "I'm somewhere between here and here, if I go in this direction I might hit a clump of trees, or a fence, or a river, or the ground will slope off to my left instead of the right. Once I hit one of those I'll have a better idea".
But one nice thing about GPS is it gets you out of having to bother about that.
Only if you have a working GPS with you.
Other things can help, like altimeters, (possibly built into your watch), but only if they are 'set up' properly and constantly.
One other point, if your not very confident in your navagation skills, should you really be going in the first place?
Interesting point Parky. I'd say no but a tough one to justify. I've had a map enabled GPS for about 6 months & take that with me now. I had a simple GPS for about 10 years before that which only went on Norwegian winter trips as winter white-outs on ski's with big packs in high winds is no fun - nor is trying to find your way back to a snowhole or buried tent. I still struggle to remember to take a phone & probably forget 50% of the time.
For someone who's been brought up with these gadgets I'd guess they might say venturing out without them is being ill-equipped. As the majority of my hill time predates mobile phones & gps they don't automatically register as must-have's on my kit list.
The main reason I carry the map enabled GPS is because I now need reading glasses to navigate with the map so the GPS is sometimes a easier option if it's a bit wild.
Not everyone has, can afford a GPS. Even basic ones like a Geko may be more than some can afford.
Battries for GPS can go dead and not have replacements, could even go 'off map' if you've only bought "tiles".
One other thing I do, every couple of hundred meters, less if trail is difficult or nonexistant, is turn round and look back at where I've came from, looking for points I could recconise, nav. too, if I don't know area and poo hits the fan.
"Perhaps someone could comment on procedure when a GPS has it's problem and you have'nt been paying too much attention to the map, because it's in the sack somewhere as backup"
Well, imo, use of a gps doesn't (certainly shouldn't) make that situation any more likely than it would be if navigating without one.
With 'traditional' methods I'd say (without wishing to quible about exact percentages) that 90% of navigation requires the map, 8% adds a basic use of the compass, and the final 2% (including whiteouts) requires further techniques.
I've been using a gps as part of my navigation in certain circumstances for about 15 years and I don't think that ratio changes much. The gps gives you alternative ways of following a route (and storing it's details), confirming a position, checking a direction, etc. but it doesn't negate the requirement to remain aware of your surroundings and of the lie of the land that a map provides.
If you use a mapping gps then you're likely to be paying at least as much attention to the map as you would if it was on paper (possibly less accessibly in a jacket or pack pocket). If you're using a non-mapping gps and not keeping a map close to hand, and eye, then you're being a bit daft. Personally I don't know anyone who relies on a gps that way.
That said, people have got into navigational difficulties by not consulting the map often enough since long before gps appeared - the relocation techniques available are exactly the same in the event of gps failure.
Perhaps someone could comment on procedure when a GPS has it's problem and you have'nt been paying too much attention to the map, because it's in the sack somewhere as backup.
How about my pals who's navigation equipment problem was having their map snathched away by a sudden gust of wind? And I've seen more than one map turned to porridge on really unpleasant days in the past.
Pretending that maps can't suffer misfortune while GPS can in't much to do with reality.
Matt C wrote (see)
If you're using a non-mapping gps and not keeping a map close to hand, and eye, then you're being a bit daft. Personally I don't know anyone who relies on a gps that way.
Map close to hand, yes. Close to eye, not much. I use my eyes and a (relatively) powerful processor for my navigation....with the nice little arrow on my non-mapping GPS for quick checks.
I am a bit daft.
This is not in the context of whiteouts though - little experience of those, but enough to think 'eeek'....
Useful too for navigation techniques for beginners
If you want to get better at navigating ( this includes non-beginners too), go Orienteering. Lots of practice on courses designed to challenge but not overwhelm at a variety of levels. And since a lot of it is being able to extract useful route planning & selection info from a map it's a lot of help to a GPS user too.
Clicky to start looking for local events. And don't worry about it being a sport, you don't have to race anyone if you don't want to, and in local clubs you'll find folk very willing to help you. IMHO better value and more effective than most courses, because you get a lot more actual practice.
other than your gps suddenly being spiteful at a critical time and not wanting to work or you contriving to break it at such a point there is nothing to go wrong. anything else is user error.
earlier i suggested that to be without a gps could be considered ill-equipped (going out in conditions which could precursor a whiteout). a little further thought suggests that as you shoul dcarry a backup map using a gps then the gps user is actually going better equipped than a map user - how many map users carry a spare map as backup?
(saying "i'm better equipped than you" and saying you're "you're ill equipped" tends to ellicit different responses)
if visibility looks like it might or starts to deteriorate your first concern should always be establishing where you are which will be on your map and continue to pay attention to the map.
just something supplementary.
two types of gps. without mapping and with mapping.
you can navigate using a non mapping gps which would usually involve following a route you've entered into it. you know where you are "on the map" because you know the route and you have annotated/added extra bits to give that information. you should be able to go from the no-map unit to a map and find where you are.
with a mapping gps you are a dot on the screen on the map.
as has been said earlier, you'll be paying as much attention (possibly/probably even more) to your gps as you would your map.
Having been using my mapping GPS a bit recently, whilst helping DofE groups, I find that I use it no differently to a map; I still look at the features on the map that I expect to see, and I still check that I see them. The fact that my position is plotted in the centre of the moving map makes little difference to my mode of navigation, and I generally do little other than marvel* at how accurately the GPS mapping plots where I am, and when the mapping is wrong (yes, I've checked the OS mapping against the Definitive Mapping, and the OS maps are out-of-date, and the GPS is right...)
In fact, since I can turn the GPS receiver on and off at any time, and still use the mapping, I often do this to save battery. This mode is also required to allow me to scroll around the map to get a wider picture (the mapping is locked to GPS fix when the GPS is on).
* having worked in satellite navigation, and thus know exactly what it's capable of, I suppose I shouldn't marvel at it, but I still do...
As I said before not everyone has/can afford a GPS, even a non mapping one.
A lot of people with non mapping ones, would have no idea how to enter a 'route' anyway.
A lot of people are not as skilled at using GPS as you are. So can't use it's full capabilities as much as you can.
Parky wrote: "earlier i suggested that to be without a gps could be considered ill-equipped (going out in conditions which could precursor a whiteout). a little further thought suggests that as you shoul dcarry a backup map using a gps then the gps user is actually going better equipped than a map user - how many map users carry a spare map as backup?". I do. If alone, I'd always have a spare. Sometimes I use a copy of the original as my working map, keeping the original as the spare. Keeps it more pristine, too.
If with a mate, we'd make sure we had two maps, at least.
But wouldn't most people carry spares? I use Ortlieb map cases, so pretty secure against being blown away, but I find the little hooks they use are not good so prefer to tie the cord on. Having a spare tucked away is essential, IMO. Especially if using a map not in a case - easy to have ripped out of your hands.
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