Safe Scrambling and Building Off-Trail Confidence?

Share your tips for safe hiking, surviving in the wild and managing hiking injuries!
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Koda
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Re: Safe Scrambling and Building Off-Trail Confidence?

Post by Koda » December 18th, 2015, 3:57 pm

AAdamsPDX wrote:This is a case when the internet has almost too much information, though! So many choices with varying levels of tech involved. Which altimeter makes it into your pack? And why?
I use a Suunto ABC watch because it also has a compass as a backup (which I actually had to use once).
lightweight, cheap, strong... pick 2

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retired jerry
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Re: Safe Scrambling and Building Off-Trail Confidence?

Post by retired jerry » December 19th, 2015, 7:25 am

some GPSes have built in barometric altimeters, like Garmin 60CSx, but they don't sell that one anymore.

I wonder if any smart phones have built-in barometric altimeters

viking
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Re: Safe Scrambling and Building Off-Trail Confidence?

Post by viking » December 19th, 2015, 6:06 pm

Altimeters rule! (just my opinion)
I've been X-country traveling for a few years now and I have come up with a couple opinions on the subject.
Practice, start out on some easier terrain that you are familiar with. Understand the use of catch lines, find a place where you have a trail below you that crosses a creek in front of you (your catch lines) x-country trying the find the trail at the creek crossing. Missed it? Go back and try again. Understand the differences in terrain, close to the creek, steep, closed in, a ridge, maybe open but large step possible, talus fields, unstable, small trees, thick underbrush, big trees, open glades (happiness).
Maps, your most important navigation tool. USGS 7.5, 1:24,000 scale, gold standard, also Geo Graphics 1:24,000. Green trail, 1:69,500 scale, USGS 15 min, 1:62,500, GG 1:100,000, forest service, highway all junk. Learn everything that the map is telling you.
Compass, orienteering with flat rectangular base plate, moveable bezel, adjustable declination, mirror and sights. All else junk. W/batteries supper junk.
Altimeter, barometric pressure no batteries. All else junk.
GPS, nice toy, good for mapping where you have been. Can be useful out of the canyons and deep timber and before the batteries die.
Education. Get some. Get lots. Then get more. Anyone who tells you they know everything is dangerous. REI and other places have navigation and other classes. Climbing gyms, if you can gym climb 5.6, off trail bouldering will be easy. Mazama Basic and Intermediate climbing schools, fantastic, very comprehensive, inexpensive compared to anything else.
Mentor, probably not a bad idea.
First aid, kits and bandages great, but it is training of what to do that is of importance. Red Cross courses (call 911) not of much use. Mazamas has a mountaineering (backcountry) course, similar available elsewhere. WFR, gold standard.
Common sense, have it and know how to use it. Keeping your brain correctly adjusted and properly working is probably the most important thing to help you get out of anywhere you get into.
The main trick is to know your tools and how to use them at all and mainly the worst of times. My thinking is what I call the 19th hour problem. Weather horrible, injured companion, no reception, getting darkish, calvary showing up doubtful, you've been on the move 19 hours, everyone exhausted, long ways to go. When you can prove to your self the solution (clicking heals together not allowed) to this problem with what you have in hand plus the judicious use of gallows humor you have arrived.
---Note before the name calling starts and threats to burn heretics at the stake--- these are my OPINIONS---

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texasbb
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Re: Safe Scrambling and Building Off-Trail Confidence?

Post by texasbb » December 19th, 2015, 8:00 pm

Most of my map/compass navigation doesn't involve the altimeter, but it's still the gear I became addicted to the quickest when I finally got one. There are times when knowing the elevation is helpful in in knowing when to turn or whatever, but I think the most use I get from the altimeter is figuring out where I am on a *trail*. I tend to shut down my brain on a well-marked trail and don't keep up with where I am. A quick comparison of the map and altimeter can often pinpoint my location. It's an easy way to answer the how-much-farther questions.

raven
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Re: Safe Scrambling and Building Off-Trail Confidence?

Post by raven » December 20th, 2015, 2:12 pm

On the choice of altimeters:
viewtopic.php?f=15&t=6983

Whatever learning process followed, one has to build knowledge by using the skills yourself, rather than as part of a team.
(1) I suggest you select an off-trail feature to locate in the woods and navigate to it. If you can see where you are going, the map/altimeter/compass skills needed are limited, so later in the trees you may find skills learned in the open do not translate well. For example, on this map of part of Larch Mountain you might navigate directly to the lake at the center of this map, then follow the creek with the line of lakes, followed by finding the small pond to the west.

(2) When learning, if traveling with a companion, I suggest one traveler does the navigating while the other follows along without providing corrections or feedback. If the navigator gives up befuddled, the companion may be able to help, but if the training navigation site chosen is at all reasonable, you should be able to find a way back to a trail safely. A better learning experience results from befuddlement than from success. Its my experience that to gain the confidence needed to trust yourself under stress, you must as a student be responsible for all the navigating between waypoints.
(3) I suggest that all such learning trip be done on relatively easy terrain, so that cliffs are not a major risk or major inconvenience while you are least experienced. Save the serious navigation and climbing for later.

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Markh752
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Re: Safe Scrambling and Building Off-Trail Confidence?

Post by Markh752 » December 21st, 2015, 7:47 pm

I did a google search and found a decent pdf file regarding altimeters and how they work. http://www.hikingdenver.net/wp-content/ ... imetry.pdf

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Don Nelsen
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Re: Safe Scrambling and Building Off-Trail Confidence?

Post by Don Nelsen » December 21st, 2015, 9:09 pm

viking wrote:Altimeters rule! (just my opinion)
I've been X-country traveling for a few years now and I have come up with a couple opinions on the subject.
Practice, start out on some easier terrain that you are familiar with. Understand the use of catch lines, find a place where you have a trail below you that crosses a creek in front of you (your catch lines) x-country trying the find the trail at the creek crossing. Missed it? Go back and try again. Understand the differences in terrain, close to the creek, steep, closed in, a ridge, maybe open but large step possible, talus fields, unstable, small trees, thick underbrush, big trees, open glades (happiness).
Maps, your most important navigation tool. USGS 7.5, 1:24,000 scale, gold standard, also Geo Graphics 1:24,000. Green trail, 1:69,500 scale, USGS 15 min, 1:62,500, GG 1:100,000, forest service, highway all junk. Learn everything that the map is telling you.
Compass, orienteering with flat rectangular base plate, moveable bezel, adjustable declination, mirror and sights. All else junk. W/batteries supper junk.
Altimeter, barometric pressure no batteries. All else junk.
GPS, nice toy, good for mapping where you have been. Can be useful out of the canyons and deep timber and before the batteries die.
Education. Get some. Get lots. Then get more. Anyone who tells you they know everything is dangerous. REI and other places have navigation and other classes. Climbing gyms, if you can gym climb 5.6, off trail bouldering will be easy. Mazama Basic and Intermediate climbing schools, fantastic, very comprehensive, inexpensive compared to anything else.
Mentor, probably not a bad idea.
First aid, kits and bandages great, but it is training of what to do that is of importance. Red Cross courses (call 911) not of much use. Mazamas has a mountaineering (backcountry) course, similar available elsewhere. WFR, gold standard.
Common sense, have it and know how to use it. Keeping your brain correctly adjusted and properly working is probably the most important thing to help you get out of anywhere you get into.
The main trick is to know your tools and how to use them at all and mainly the worst of times. My thinking is what I call the 19th hour problem. Weather horrible, injured companion, no reception, getting darkish, calvary showing up doubtful, you've been on the move 19 hours, everyone exhausted, long ways to go. When you can prove to your self the solution (clicking heals together not allowed) to this problem with what you have in hand plus the judicious use of gallows humor you have arrived.
---Note before the name calling starts and threats to burn heretics at the stake--- these are my OPINIONS---

Very well said. I have nothing substantially more to add. Thank you.

dn
"Everything works in the planning stage".

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BurnsideBob
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Re: Safe Scrambling and Building Off-Trail Confidence?

Post by BurnsideBob » December 22nd, 2015, 6:45 am

AAdamsPDX wrote:After our adventures on and around the JMT this summer, I've been reading Steve Roper's book Sierra High Route: Traversing Timberline Country.


A most excellent adventure I would like to do myself. I avidly study anything about Roper's high route--vicarious living mode. While not having done Roper's route, I have backpacked in the Sierra a modest amount, (including a JMT thru hike), and I like hikes with some cross country--antisocial curmudgeon mode.
AAdamsPDX wrote:What tips would you have for someone wanting to build their skills with class 2 and 3 scrambling? Do you have some favorite local routes that are both off trail and that entail some scrambling, and that would present a fairly benign intro to someone with long-term hiking experience but not a lot of experience off-trail?


You have gotten some fantastic advice here. That said, the advice is general, not specific to your objective, Roper's High Route. The difficult areas of Roper's route are above timberline, so visibility is good and macro navigation isn't the issue so long as you can relate what you can see to a large scale topo and vice versa. Micro route finding--how to read at a distance which talus and which fractured granite/bench system is the best route--is more the crux.
AAdamsPDX wrote:Clearly I understand there are risks to any adventure - by "fairly benign" I mean something that is on the lower-risk end of the spectrum, given some common sense and basic outdoor skills like reading topo maps and using a compass!
Roper set out to make his route "fairly benign", so my thought was that if I could arrive in good physical condition I'd be good.

My copy of Roper's book is marked up with route finding tips gleaned from trip reports and photos of the route. The High Sierra Topix board (http://www.highsierratopix.com/communit ... mode=login) has numerous trip reports for the Sierra High Route. The most recent Roper's High Route report is by Ed Hyatt and includes 100's of photos. Among the many older posts, I particularly liked Wandering Daisy's five part trail log, "Granny Does Roper's High Route", which in addition to many fine navigation tips is inspirational--if she could do it solo in her 60's maybe I've a chance, too.

High Sierra Topix also sponsors a map with links to highly detailed info on every cross country pass, usually with lots of photos complete with arrows and lines describing where to go and where not to go as you approach the pass from each side. Kinda like Secor's book, only with 100 times the level of detail. So you could put together your own unique adventure to best fit the time you have to explore.

Roper's High Route!!? Sounds glorious, have a great time!!!
I keep making protein shakes but they always turn out like margaritas.

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AAdamsPDX
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Re: Safe Scrambling and Building Off-Trail Confidence?

Post by AAdamsPDX » December 23rd, 2015, 11:02 am

BurnsideBob wrote:While not having done Roper's route, I have backpacked in the Sierra a modest amount, (including a JMT thru hike), and I like hikes with some cross country--antisocial curmudgeon mode.
Ditto! :lol: While I enjoyed socializing on the JMT last summer, I admit I long for a more solitary adventure.
BurnsideBob wrote:The difficult areas of Roper's route are above timberline, so visibility is good and macro navigation isn't the issue so long as you can relate what you can see to a large scale topo and vice versa. Micro route finding--how to read at a distance which talus and which fractured granite/bench system is the best route--is more the crux.
This has certainly been the sense I've gotten from all I've read so far. Nice to hear I'm on the right track, or at least that someone agrees with me! ;)
BurnsideBob wrote:The High Sierra Topix board (http://www.highsierratopix.com/communit ... mode=login) has numerous trip reports for the Sierra High Route. The most recent Roper's High Route report is by Ed Hyatt and includes 100's of photos. Among the many older posts, I particularly liked Wandering Daisy's five part trail log, "Granny Does Roper's High Route", which in addition to many fine navigation tips is inspirational--if she could do it solo in her 60's maybe I've a chance, too.
Thanks for the reminder of the High Sierra Topix forum! It was really helpful while preparing for the JMT yet somehow I forgot to return there while thinking about the High Route!

Also, I'm not yet 60 but I'm a soon-to-be granny, so I can't wait to read Wandering Daisy's trail log!
BurnsideBob wrote:Roper's High Route!!? Sounds glorious, have a great time!!!
Sounds glorious, indeed! Planning for a second attempt at the JMT this summer (long story from last summer about a curtailed adventure due to fire, plague, permits, and smoke)! But 2017 is sounding pretty good.

Here's a link to our trail journal from this last summer. (I was too lazy to do the separate trail journal PLUS a trip report here, sorry!) :D

https://hriggs.exposure.co/
"The world begins where the road ends." ~Eddie Vedder
http://www.hriggsphotography.com/

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AAdamsPDX
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Re: Safe Scrambling and Building Off-Trail Confidence?

Post by AAdamsPDX » December 23rd, 2015, 9:28 pm

PS: thanks to all of you on your specific altimeter suggestions! I'm looking at all options and having fun with the long-term planning!
"The world begins where the road ends." ~Eddie Vedder
http://www.hriggsphotography.com/

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