6th April 2018

Mountain Leader Navigation: Tactics

mountain leader skills

ML is more than a navigation award, but it is a big part of the scheme. Solid tactics are the key to successful navigation, putting together the building blocks made up of your various navigation skills.

When assessing Mountain Leader candidates we sometimes see people who have good skills but aren’t able to successfully put together a plan to hit the target feature.

mountain leader navigationWe teach the 4D’s:
Direction – no point going any further if you don’t get this right
Distance – measure it, ACCURATELY
Duration – using the distance work out the timing, and include pacing in this too
Description – the one people forget, but which is absolutely vital, describe the leg and the target

Do you have another system? Great, use it, as long as you’ve got a good system you’re golden.

Some of my favourite navigational methods to achieve a target:
Hand railing – if there’s something to handrail, use it
Attack points – if the feature you’re going to is small, pick something better close by
Catching features – we all switch off on occasion, pick something to wake you up if you’ve overshot

In poor vis, it will make your life harder if you use “woolly” nav. That is not having decent, solid tactics and wandering along hoping you’ll recognise something when you get there. Use bearings, use pacing.

mountain leader skillsWhen you get to your feature, relax. Ignore the map. Look around and milk all the info from the ground that you can see remembering to use everything, but contours are the king. Once you’ve gleaned everything you can, then look at the map. If you do it the other way around it’s too easy to try and make the feature fit the map.

Keep using these tactics, and keep them simple, especially when you’re tired, it’s all too common to see candidates’ performances deteriorating as the tiredness kicks in over the course of the expedition. Look after yourself, eat well, stay hydrated – you will perform better.

There’s a lot more to passing your ML, group management, steep ground skills and camp craft to name a few, but if you’ve already got your building blocks dialled improving your tactics will give you more chance of hitting each and everyone of those features.

Tactics, tactics, tactics!

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Comments

  1. Leave a Reply

    Steve
    6th April 2018

    Clear, sound and practical advice.
    It works! Thanks.

  2. Leave a Reply

    Ian Fogg
    7th April 2018

    On assessment …
    When you point to the description, do you recommend saying it out loud?
    Is it advisable to involve other candidates in the nav exercise or is it naff?

    • Leave a Reply

      Jez Brown
      7th April 2018

      Your assessor will make it clear what they want.
      For the majority of legs I want you to keep the target and tactics to yourself but every now and then might ask you to brief the group on what’s going on. Hope that helps!

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