Alpine Adventures - Mountain Adventures In The Adirondacks Since 1985 - Instruction & Guiding For Rock Climbing, Ice Climbing, Mountaineering And Backcountry Skiing
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Basic NavigationSM

Standard navigation tools

Students Per Instructor: 1, 2 or 3
Course Length: 1 Day (approx. 8 hours per day)
Seasons Offered: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Alpine Mastery Method: Mountaineering Mastery Method
Prerequisites: None

Course Cost:
Booked through
Private Instruction
One student per instructor: $400
Two students per instructor: $250/person
Three students per instructor: $200/person

Course Summary: This course will teach you how to use traditional navigation tools and techniques to plan outdoor adventures, keep track of your whereabouts, and facilitate accurate routefinding. Straightforward methods for using map, compass and altimeter in the real world are taught. Every outdoor enthusiast should have the skills we present in this course, especially people who venture off marked trails.


Course Description:
Most outdoor enthusiasts have a pretty good idea of how to get where they are going on trails, or when following obvious terrain features, under good conditions. Knowing just the basics of reading a map and that a compass points north, may be enough under these conditions but, without specific skills beyond these obvious basics, there is little margin for error if you wander into more complex environments or weather conditions. Without visual clues, reliable navigation requires tools and a knowledge of how to use them. This course teaches the basics that every outdoor enthusiast needs.

We begin instruction by introducing the concepts of area, line and point position, and how they clarify navigational requirements in different situations. Next, we’ll introduce topographic map usage including coordinate systems, scale, the various symbols commonly used, and how to determine elevation using contour lines. We explain the practical differences between true north, magnetic north and grid north and how to account for them as you navigate with different tools and methods.

Once you clearly understand this “big picture” we introduce the one tool you should always carry; the compass. We teach practical techniques for using this essential tool, which does much more than just point north. You will learn to take and plot bearings in the field, and on a map; and how to account for magnetic declination. We teach you how to travel in a straight line and how to estimate distance by pacing. We will also help you determine when precision compass navigation is essential and when it amounts to overkill.

After your compass skills come together we introduce the altimeter, a tool that is often more useful in mountain terrain. We explain to how to calibrate and use this tool, and how to work within its limitations. Finally, we will pull out a GPS unit and show you how navigating with absolute position makes traditional methods seem almost arcane. We will also remind you that a GPS unit that can’t lock onto a satellite, due to foliage or other interference (or dead batteries), is useless. We cover the basics of using GPS in the field in this course. Our Advanced Navigation course will teach you how to integrate GPS with other technologies to take trip planning and routefinding into another realm.

This is not an orienteering course. Skills taught are intended for practical application on outdoor adventures, where navigation is a means, not an end. Most of the skills we teach are introduced in our classroom; all are practiced and refined on terrain without trails.

If your outdoor adventures take you to wild places, away from marked trails, you need basic navigation skills. The first time you find yourself on featureless terrain, in bad visibility, you will realize just how critical these skills can be. Learning these skills before this happens might just save your hide.

Map and GPS basics

When it really gets thick...

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~ Mountain Adventures In the Adirondacks Since 1985 ~

Alpine Adventures, Inc.
10873 NYS Route 9N, P.O. Box 179
Keene, New York 12942 USA

(518) 576-9881

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