SUBSCRIBE | NEWSLETTERS | MAPS | VIDEOS | BLOGS | MARKETPLACE | CONTESTS
TRY BACKPACKER FREE!
SUBSCRIBE NOW and get
2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Also on Backpacker.com


Enter Zip Code

Backpacker Magazine – May 2010

Navigate: Whiteout, Darkness, and Fog

Just because you can't see in front of you doesn't mean you can't navigate.

by: Kristin Bjornsen, Dougald Macdonald, & Kristin Hostetter



clutch skill
Take Waypoints From a Map
After summiting Canada’s remote Twins Tower, gear trouble forced alpinist Steve House and his partner to tackle an unplanned route to the highway: 17 miles across the Columbia Icefield—in a whiteout. House pulled new coordinates from his map, entered them into his GPS, and safely navigated the nine-hour journey to the road. Although it’s easier and more accurate to plot waypoints at home using software, you may need to do it in the field if your course changes due to weather, an accident, or altered objectives. Here’s how:

1. Some maps have a UTM overlay grid, usually with each square representing one-square kilometer. Find the grid lines just to the west and south of each waypoint you plan to mark. If there’s no grid, find the blue tick marks next to the UTM easting and northing coordinates along the map’s edges, and use them to draw grid lines. Note the lines’ coordinates (e.g., 0363000E and 4029000N (A)).

2. Measure the distance east and north of these lines to the waypoint. Use a UTM grid reader or compass baseplate ruler appropriate for your map scale. Or, trace your map’s one-kilometer bar scale on scrap paper, and divide it into 10 increments of 100 meters each (B). Replace the final three numbers in the coordinates with the distances east and north to the waypoint in meters (e.g. 0363274E and 4029262N (C)).

3. Find the map’s zone number (usually in the lower-left corner), and add it to the easting (e.g. 12S 0363274E).

4. Enter the coordinates for each waypoint into your GPS. (House plotted eight.) Be sure to match the GPS datum with the map datum. On the GPS, select the first waypoint, press GoTo, and follow the displayed direction. To save power, note the bearing and navigate by compass, checking the GPS periodically. No GPS? Double the number of waypoints (since following a compass raises the likelihood for error), take the bearing for each leg from the map, and follow the compass bearings in turn.



Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip:
Email (req):
Reader Rating: -

READERS COMMENTS

Star
Seriously
Nov 23, 2013

I opened this article because I thought it would be interesting, but the sum of it was: use the GPS.
I call that cheating. Do it WITHOUT THE GPS!!

jesubmar
May 13, 2011

My two cents worth.
I appreciate Backpacker's effort to educate people on the use of new(GPS) tools in way finding. The title implies that anyone can do this; with repeated practice, maybe. But who is the reader really? Probably not arctic explorers but most likely everyday hikers and outdoor enthusiasts who under stressful conditions may end up walking in circles. I wish that Backpacker would emphasize in the article that reliance on high tech navigational tools is not a replacement for knowledge and practice of basic navigation skills. I do appreciate the article making reference to the use of the compass (basic navigational tool).
Cultures across time have learned to navigate the landscapes by the simplest of methods: "reading" the land (or sea or snow surface) and weather from repeated experience. I think it is important to know and practice basic navigational skills before one starts to use high tech tools(GPS). "You" may be out there in the middle of wilderness with a GPS when that solar storm hits earth or the batteries go dead or your GPS falls hard on rock/ice. Reliance on GPS is not a replacement for the repeated practice of basic navigational skills.

ADD A COMMENT

Your rating:
Your Name:

Comment:

My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

Trailhead Register
Your favorite backpacking photo
Posted On: Aug 22, 2014
Submitted By: Echo
Trailhead Register
Stick is fine
Posted On: Aug 22, 2014
Submitted By: JasonG75

Go
View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site MyRockyMountainPark.com.

>
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
City:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
State:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions