Monday, 19 November 2012

Teaching navigation.

Today I was working on the first day of the 'winter module' at UHI on the Outdoor Adventure Leadership Course based at West Highland College in Fort William. I am working on the whole course this year which is exciting and the students seem really keen, up for learning and big challenges. Being woken at 3 am by a blast of wind and rain that sounded like it had been released from fire hose didn't fill me with confidence about the day ahead as working around the Fort William area is sometimes a lottery with the weather at the best of times. We struck lucky as by 11 am the rain had ceased and the sun struggled from behind the heavy clouds for a few hours. We headed out to the heady heights of 250 m above sea level to keep below the forecast 85 mph gusts, this proved sensible as the clouds rattling over Ben Nevis seemed to be hitting it with some force. The snow patches we could see were visibly retreating through the day. Nothing new for this time of the year, we await real winter to start soon.  A day of micro navigation followed, setting compasses  pacing, timing and finding ridiculous little features kept the students busy and intrigued, whilst I battered home the need for attention to detail and precision in the hills, especially when the navigation and conditions get tricky. Navigation is often over looked on courses and the unsexy relation to other more 'exciting' aspects of hill going. But it is the essential skill.