Is it stil worth carrying a compass?

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Tiley

Full Member
Oct 19, 2006
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It was a case of luck they survived. Judgement wasn't lacking with those two because the wind, winter conditions and terrain caused the potentially fatal accident.

Could a GPS have saved them?

Learning how to use a compass well along with a map is something your are likely taking a lifetime to get right. I know I am. Do you not think that could be the same for a GPS unit?

... there are strengths and weaknesses to traditional and modern. You simply have to learn how to use either system and both systems preferably. Not many do that.
I, too, am sorry to have cut-and-pasted your full response but it does afford me a chance to discuss your observations.

I remember when I did both my ML and Winter ML courses and assessments, the navigation instructors at The Lodge were very careful to point out the hazards of a cross-wind and the effect that it can have on your walking and navigation, particularly when on rough terrain. When visibility is compromised, as it obviously was in the case of the two about which you speak, it is even more important to pay very close attention, particularly if you know that there are drops nearby.

I'm not sure that a GPS could have saved them. Although my experience of the GPS technology is very limited, I am aware that, in poor weather, the devices struggle to latch on to satellite signals, thus compromising the accuracy of their locating abilities. Would such a device steered them away from the cornice? Possibly...

Like any skill that we use in the outdoors, time spent honing it and perfecting it is an integral part of the pleasure these activities afford us. We will probably never be 'perfect' but the joy of improving is most definitely worthwhile. I would love to get hold of a good GPS and learn how to use it properly and effectively; as you say, learning about both the trad. and modern systems gives us many more options in the outdoors and narrows the chances of our making mistakes. When time and cash permit...

Yes, there are also occasions when 'luck' has been a lifesaver but I would hate to rely on it. For all the shortcomings of any navigational system - think, here, about a compass's weird behaviour when on gabbro on Skye... - they do have the effect of rationalising your thinking at a time when conditions and stress may blur your judgement.
 

Paul_B

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jul 14, 2008
4,823
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Lancashire
In their case they were aware of cross winds but it's effects were a lot greater than predicted. IIRC it was a sloping plateau and the high point was the cornice with a significant distance to the cornice when they started the bearing. No idea why they didn't make adequate correction for wind but I guess tiredness plays a part in a lot of errors.

GPS in its basic user gives a grid reference to 8 or even 10 units however they're not that accurate. IME bad weather hasn't had much effect on my ancient gps60 Garmin GPS. I've been at the top of summits I know well and the gr given by my GPS has been pretty spot on in really atrocious weather. Even at trig points. That's an ancient GPS but has the better quad helix antenna. Now the sirf ones are even better. They do more too.

IMHO those two with a GPS checked against the map is likely to indicate their 50m+ drift on the bearing. I've followed a bearing and spotted I was going off bearing using my GPS a few times before. You just need it to hand.

IMHO this debate over what is best is pretty pointless because they're different kit and not really comparable. They all have their uses which TBH compliment each other. Why would you not have and use both of they're available? Do you leave your woollie hat behind because you have a hood on your fleece or hard shell? What about liner gloves because you've got shell gloves?
 

Tiley

Full Member
Oct 19, 2006
2,087
179
56
Gloucestershire
The debate was originally over whether we carry a compass all the time and whether it was worth it. Personally, I do and I do.

But I am beginning to see the use of a GPS as an additional help and I like the layering analogy for navigational tools. It makes perfect sense. If it doesn't weigh you down unduly and you know how to use it, it's definitely worth taking, like the woolly hat. It's a bit like the 'two heads are better than one' scenario and gives you another option for when you 'lose track of where you are'. I could even get to know how to use it and what it can do during lock-down!

Hmmm. I have a birthday creeping up on me; I wonder if her ladyship would stretch to getting me a GPS?
 
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@forrstdweller Yes they still use that method to smuggle contraband but the x-rays should defeat it. Now they also often have an outside accomplice use a drone after dark to drop it in the rec yard or some similar tactic.
drones have gotten somewhat smaller since "papillon's" days... :p :p and more difficult to detect and stop

edit: a friend's drone got recently attacked by a hawk -- maybe that would work... :p
 
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Paul_B

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jul 14, 2008
4,823
774
Lancashire
I got my old GPS out during lockdown to locate local geocache that's on the route of our lockdown daily exercise last year? Apparently there was a geocacheb function on it but you needed a special connection cable with a very weird plug. Never got it and probably couldn't now? So I made a manual waypoint and still b couldn't n find it b despite it being a very easy one to find?

We nearly got a new one for for geocaching and also for attaching to our bike for touring holidays. Decided to save our money. I think you need to spend a lot for a good one to truly gain the benefits. If I do I'll probably buy from that company that also does training courses in navigation so I can access their training notes. Apparently they're really good for really learning what your model of GPS can achieve.
 

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