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Off Piste Navigation

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi What navigation devises are you using off piste

Paper map and compass
Garmin handheld
Phone apps eg Fatmaps look real good any other to recommend
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Paper map and compass with gps for occasional use as sanity check / emergency.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
A certified Guide.
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Glen Charman wrote:
Hi What navigation devises are you using off piste


Eyes
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
PowderAdict wrote:
A certified Guide.


+1 Laughing
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@Haggis_Trap, have to say that's Bollox!

Are you honestly saying with a paper map you can read the likes of La Grave routes and identify where various rappel points are!

I often look at maps of where I've been and there's no way cliff bands of 3 or 4 ms are that visible let alone sussing out the trees!

I spend a fair amount of time in the summer hiking routes.

For ski touring I use Memory-Map IGN French maps that have ski tour routes on them on my android phone.

When climbing the ski tour routes are alarmingly accurate in terms of ascent and avoiding terrain traps.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
I use ign on my iPhone. I will usually have a map and compass as backup.

I've bought the Fatmap app and will be trying it next week. If you buy one with the link below I get a go in a raffle, for a free one Very Happy It's for following Freeride lines.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@Weathercam, and yet people managed just fine with simple paper map & compass for decades...

The dangers of relying on any map/app etc is that you stop using your eyes and your brain. A classic round here is the regular route on the Grande Casse which is shown on pretty much every map as going up looker's left on the first steep slope, whereas for the last 12/13 years 99% of tourers have gone looker's right as over time it has become much more amenable than the left...

In reply to the OP I use paper map/compass, GPS back-up if I know the weather is likely to cr@p out, and, increasingly apps such as iphigenie/swissmap etc.
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PS down side of the app relative to paper is it is harder to see the bigger picture of what is around due to limited screen size.
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Paper map, altimeter and compass as the basics. Increasingly using maps on the phone/Google earth to look at things in advance.

I would not attempt something like la Voute going solely on the 1:25 map or the guidebook. The routefinding is too complex.
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Weathercam wrote:
@Haggis_Trap, have to say that's Bollox!

Are you honestly saying with a paper map you can read the likes of La Grave routes and identify where various rappel points are!



Please dont put words in my mouth.
In the specific case of those routes then local knowledge is obviously key.

As a new ski tourer to the area I would look at the paper map and liklely assume they were unskiable ?
Therefore sensible people would likely stay away and use their map for more obvious terrain in vallons or chancel.

Even with detailed guide book description I wouldn't recommnd people skiing such routes on sight for first time ?
However we are now into domain of fairly extreme so skiing, rather than normal off piste navigation.
I garuntee the local guides on those routes will be carrying paper map, compass and gps for navigation. (Even if they know the route very well a gps location is essential in event of accident).


Last edited by snowHeads are a friendly bunch. on Sat 2-01-16 7:25; edited 1 time in total
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@offpisteskiing, like poster originally says for Off Piste skiing not touring - like @gorilla, says you can't use a map when it's that complex!
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
@Haggis_Trap, sorry was DICOAKB*


*drunk in charge of a keyboard


ITS SNOWING SEE LINK BELOW!!
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Very Happy

Let it snow....
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@Weathercam, @gorilla is a gaper and others might nav better than him.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I'd put down as essential a paper map, a compass and the skills to use them. Closely followed by that sixth sense that comes from spending time in the mountains - more anon. But bear in mind that maps can sometimes lie - particularly if they're not from the Ordnance Survey!

If you want to keep going in bad weather then a GPS can be essential too. These can also speed things up in normal conditions but mind that you don't rely on them too often and lose your mapping skills. A few years ago I ran the Yorkshire Three Peaks in heavy winter conditions. To save time, I had pre-programmed the route into my GPS but ¾ of the way round it decided we'd reached our destination. I had to revert to my map but because I was cold and tired it took a while for me to get back in the swing. By the time I'd reached the flat top of Ingleborough at around sunset in a complete white-out with horizontal snow that stung like ice my sixth sense had kicked in and I managed to find the summit cairn unaided.

A GPS can also lead you astray when the map is wrong. Here we are trying to find the Col de Névache near Mont Thabor in poor viz:



The blue (ski touring) line is marked on the map about 100m west of where it should be. I was navigating by GPS and, despite mutterings from some of the others that their sixth sense said keep right, I led our party up an awkwardly steep couloir to the ridge - where they skipped along and found an enormous great col next to us!

The moral I take from this, and similar stories: if it feels wrong then it probably is and don't rely on what you think your navigation aids are telling you.

I know a GPS or phone with built in maps can be quick and easy but I persist in using a simple GPS that just gives coordinates (and altitude). This keeps up my mapping skills and, because it doesn't need to drive a colour display with a strong backlight, my GPS is readable in bright sunlight and will last for days on a set of batteries - a critical feature when touring. If I'm following a pre-programmed route then, before I go, I'll print out the map with the waypoints marked on. The GPS will tell me how far away and in what direction each waypoint is so I can quickly estimate where I am on the map.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@altis, suppose it's the luxury of living out in the mountain and being able to pick and choose when to go out, but I simply do not tour in conditions like that!

For sure have done that with a guide when I've been committed to my "week", but more often than not, when it's like that I'm skiing the trees.

Majority of my touring is in areas I know or I'm with the local CAF or like I say I've hiked it in the summer etc

Last year up in Gressony we had to turn back at 3,400 because the guide could not find the route, he was cursing like mad rolling eyes

Oh and essential piece of kit are my bi focal cycling sun glasses, with a 2.5 reading lens at the bottom.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Does anyone ever count steps when touring ? I remember many years ago (well before GPS) walking up Ben Alder in atrocious white-out conditions from the Corrour bothy and we navigated by direction of the man in front and counting steps. We managed to get to within 50m of the trig point (which given our planned route of descent was important to locate).
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gorilla wrote:
I would not attempt something like la Voute going solely on the 1:25 map or the guidebook. The routefinding is too complex.


but then where is the spirit of adventure?

The downside I see of apps like Fatmap and others is you already know exactly what it looks like before you go down which detracts from the experience of 'discovering' a descent. If I am working then I will do lots of research when heading to new areas, if I am playing I will do my homework but much less so. It is so easy on the internet now to see pictures from every 20m down a couloir, and find out exactly where the rap points are etc, which to me detracts (if I am playing) from the experience - I want to use my 'mountain skills' to figure that stuff out and 'find' the logical line etc.
One of my favourite steep descents involved a new variant which looked like it should go but there was a bit of uncertainty until the key passage opened up.

As somebody far 'deeper' than me once said: "without uncertainty there is no adventure"

(* caveat, as long as you have the skills and kit to cope with the 'uncertainties'...!)
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
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dsoutar wrote:
Does anyone ever count steps when touring ?


It is a technique that is taught in navigation classes for guides and others. As is boxing to avoid obstacles. Basically anything you might have learned on a mountain leader's course is useful.

However navigating some of the big alpine valleys, with all the hazards, in poor weather, is not something to be done lightly or at all if it can be avoided for a whole host of reasons. To name a few: small cliffs are not shown on topo maps. It is easy to get onto steeper ground than you intend with all the inherent avalanche risk - both under your feet and remote triggering and it is easy for even the best navigators to get lost. If anyone thinks otherwise I suggest reading up on the avalanche du Nivolet on the 30 avril 2008 as an example of all the things going wrong (guide Olivier Etienne, survived, his 5 clients died - M. Etienne was tried for manslaughter this autumn)

As for off piste skiing rather than touring. I wouldn't do it in poor weather above the tree line. It is no fun. In good weather we are talking about anything that can be reached by gravity from resort lifts, so you should be able to scope out most routes from the resort and with a bit of imagination navigate your way around. Always worth having a guide book too (or even a guide or ski instructor: http://www.offpisteskiing.com ).
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offpisteskiing wrote:
gorilla wrote:
I would not attempt something like la Voute going solely on the 1:25 map or the guidebook. The routefinding is too complex.


but then where is the spirit of adventure?

The downside I see of apps like Fatmap and others is you already know exactly what it looks like before you go down which detracts from the experience of 'discovering' a descent. If I am working then I will do lots of research when heading to new areas, if I am playing I will do my homework but much less so. It is so easy on the internet now to see pictures from every 20m down a couloir, and find out exactly where the rap points are etc, which to me detracts (if I am playing) from the experience - I want to use my 'mountain skills' to figure that stuff out and 'find' the logical line etc.
One of my favourite steep descents involved a new variant which looked like it should go but there was a bit of uncertainty until the key passage opened up.

As somebody far 'deeper' than me once said: "without uncertainty there is no adventure"

(* caveat, as long as you have the skills and kit to cope with the 'uncertainties'...!)


As an side.... One of my scottish friends had to help rescue 3 skiers from la voute. They missed the rappel, and got cliffed out in l'ociere before spending night on the mountain. As you might imagine those stranded were very pleased, and cold, to find another party the next morning. Almost certainly saved their life... (and rescuing party almost took another route, which could have been different outcome).

I agree 100% with your sentiment about sense of adventure and finding things for yourself. I love going new places on ski, bike or foot.
However when exploring there is a limit to what can be sensibly explored without local knowledge of some sort. So gorilla makes valid point.

As the saying goes : experience is the sum total of your previous mistakes wink
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Haggis_Trap wrote:
As the saying goes : experience is the sum total of your previous mistakes wink

The version I know of that is slightly more uncouth! Happy
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
On a slightly different question, does anyone have a link for a slope angle calculator ? The one I've used before (and lost) allows you to enter the number of contours and the distance to give a result in degrees.
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You can do it yourself with a calculator you just want the inverse tangent of height gain divided by distance over ground.
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On a personal level if I'm going somewhere which may require a rappel I/we will take all the kit necessary for a rappel.
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@meh, Time to get the calculator out...
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