7 August 2019

What To Do If You Get Lost

One of the elements we cover on Mountain Skills 1 is what to do if you get lost in the mountains. Here are five options:

1. If you have been navigating in approx 500 meter legs, then you should only be lost by approx 500 meters. Retrace steps to your last known/definite position, for example by handrailing the wall/stream/forest/spur you are beside.

2. If you have mist/darkness, find shelter, sit and wait for visibility/daylight to reappear. This is where your survival bag, hot drink, spare food, spare clothing and storm shelter are vital.

3. If you have visibility open out your map and use distant feature recognition to identify obvious far off features; such as a bay/forest/major peak; then slowly focus closer, still identifying features, until you have figured where you are.

4. Switch on your gps or smart phone and get your grid reference. With a grid reference, for example V 619 802, you can locate your position on map and begin navigating again. A basic gps will do this for you, or several free smart phone apps, including Viewranger.

5. Use Collection Point technique. If you are lost somewhere on a huge plateau, and from your map you see a large lake to the west, set your compass to west and head west. Eventually you should hit the lake somewhere, no matter where you were lost on the plateau (within reason). Once you hit the lake you have a good idea where you are. Then handrail the lake to a specific point on it, such as a corner or a stream. At that point you have a definite location fix. Any big obvious feature can be used as a collection point, such as a forest or cliff.

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