149 votes
Accepted

Why would one aim off when navigating with a map and compass?

The reason is that you could miss your destination and hit a trail and know that you are almost there, but not know which way to turn. So if you were to go straight for the destination, and because ...
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133 votes

Why would one aim off when navigating with a map and compass?

In addition to the case described by Charlie (and to show that I also can make drawings in Paint), there is the case where you want a stopping line to know when you are going too far. This is mainly ...
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101 votes
Accepted

As of 2019, why do mountaineering courses still teach how to use a paper map?

The Map is not the Terrain Doubtless you've heard this aphorism, and perhaps it seems out of place for your question but I think it's actually the key point. The aim of the navigation course is to ...
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97 votes

As of 2019, why do mountaineering courses still teach how to use a paper map?

The reason is that it is irrelevant if the map is on an electronic device or on paper - if you misinterpret the information, it won't help you in any way, you will only be lost/stuck more accurately. ...
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  • 911
61 votes
Accepted

I never adjust for true north. Is this bad practice?

This map (and the Wikipedia article) will explain why you don't have a problem (in the UK, I'm guessing), but others do, elsewhere. In the UK, you can ignore it at the moment, but you need to ...
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  • 3,906
53 votes

How do you know you have reached North or South Pole without GPS?

Amundsen's team used a meter on their sledges to get close (dead reckoning) and then sextants to confirm the position. Using Amundsen's diary, Roland Huntford (in The Amundsen Photographs) ...
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52 votes
Accepted

How do you know you have reached North or South Pole without GPS?

I'll expand a bit on how one would use a sextant to locate the north or south pole. The basic arrangement needs a horizontal reflective plane, for which Amundsen used a pool of mercury. A precisely ...
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  • 716
52 votes

As of 2019, why do mountaineering courses still teach how to use a paper map?

Maps and compasses are independent of any power source, so it is usually recommended to take them with you. GPS devices can fail, also because the GPS signal can be switched off or blocked. ...
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  • 1,542
46 votes

As of 2019, why do mountaineering courses still teach how to use a paper map?

A massive advantage of paper maps over electronic is the combination of area and resolution. You can take a bearing to a mast on top of a hill several km away, when zooming out that far on a GPS ...
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  • 23.3k
41 votes
Accepted

Compass compatibility: Can I use my US compass in Australia?

I double checked a couple of websites (thanks a lot for the comments to the question) and I'm sure that my compass is not compatible with Australia. As a result of these magnetic variances, the ...
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41 votes
Accepted

What advantage does the what3words coordinate system have over other, traditional systems?

They don't really pitch it as a replacement for lat/long, but more postcodes and street addresses. A building number and postcode can (and has, IME) have an entrance on a different street, under a ...
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  • 2,192
37 votes

Will a compass work underground or underwater?

Compasses are good equipment both spelunking and diving. Even the deepest cave you could go to is still near the earth's surface, geologically speaking. The earth's magnetic field is also essentially ...
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  • 4,199
34 votes

How to temporarily mark a trail?

Today GPS systems are relatively cheap and widely available. You don't even need a dedicated GPS receiver. For example, I often use a Android tablet with a built-in GPS, and software that can record ...
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  • 21.3k
30 votes

What format should I use to report my location to emergency responders?

I'd give them whatever my device or map provided me, and let them convert to whatever their devices or maps use. Anyone used to receiving lat/lon coordinates regularly should be able to convert from ...
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  • 21.3k
30 votes

I never adjust for true north. Is this bad practice?

This depends highly on your location. Contrary to popular belief, the difference between the magnetic pole and the geographic pole is not the only reason for declination. As a matter of fact, the ...
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  • 21.5k
30 votes

I never adjust for true north. Is this bad practice?

Where your magnetic compass points can be quite far away from the north shown on your map ) For example, on the line marked 30, your compass would point 30 degrees away from true north.
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29 votes
Accepted

What is "Isolation" and "Prominence" in mountain terms?

Isolation and prominence are the two key criteria to classify a peak as an independent mountain. To understand the meaning I like the visualization from the German Wiki where "Dominanz" means ...
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  • 12.1k
26 votes
Accepted

How do you locate the "North Star"?

You need to know if you are in Northern Hemisphere or in Southern Hemisphere or nearby the Equator. If you are in Northern Hemisphere: First locate the Polaris. Its the last star in The Ursa Minor. ...
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  • 31.5k
23 votes
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How can I find north from the stars without recognizable constellations?

What you will want to do is to find which way a star is moving. The way to do this, is to line up two objects pointing towards where the star is currently at, like so. Then wait 15-20 minutes for the ...
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23 votes

As of 2019, why do mountaineering courses still teach how to use a paper map?

I'll answer both as a geomatician who makes maps (both paper and digital) and deals with GIS data for a living. I'm also a mountaineer, trail runner, backcountry skier, and outdoorsman with extensive ...
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  • 4,976
21 votes
Accepted

How much distance is there between True North and Magnetic North Poles?

Magnetic pole The distance from the rotational north pole varies over time -source By the time you read this, the north magnetic pole could be half the circumference of the planet away from the ...
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21 votes
Accepted

Can I record my route electronically when underground?

How would GPS trackers work when underground? Poorly I have no personal experience with Alltrails, but the GPS apps which I have used in the past mostly did not cope well with GPS reception being ...
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  • 12.2k
20 votes
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Are there any general rules of thumb for route finding up a mountain without any trails?

I'll try to give a fairly generic answer to this broad question... Avoid Dangers This is obvious really, but first and foremost you'll want to avoid any kind of routes which lead you close to ...
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  • 12.2k
20 votes

Should I buy a GPS to calculate elevation gain/loss?

Vertical difference to summit: If you are just interested in reaching a minimum, it is often sufficient to compute the difference between the start and the summit, e.g. start at 1000m summit at 1800m ...
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  • 6,335
19 votes

How much distance is there between True North and Magnetic North Poles?

The distance between the magnetic north and geographic north poles is not important for navigation purposes. What matters is the angle between them, which is called the magnetic variation or magnetic ...
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19 votes

Compass compatibility: Can I use my US compass in Australia?

Having used my Europe compass in America as well as in Australia, I would say you do not need a new one. It will still point one end of the needle to the north and the other to the south, only the ...
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  • 2,557
19 votes

How to temporarily mark a trail?

In the wooded forests near me a practice I've seen is to lean a small stick (maybe 1 or 2 feet long) against a live or standing tree. The stick is natural to the area so it blends in. It will ...
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  • 559
18 votes
Accepted

Can a compass needle become de-magnetized over time?

Yep! If you store your compass near objects that have strong magnets in them (such as your car speakers) it can demagnetize over extended periods of time. There are a few other issues your compass ...
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  • 1,524

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