Today I was working on day 1 on a Mountain Skills 2 course. I had two students from the Outdoor Education course in Colaiste Dhulaigh and three private clients who have all completed the Mountain Skills 1 course and decided to progress onto the next stage. Also out with us was Ryan, a Mountain Leader trainee observing and gaining experience before his ML assessment.
We started our walk at the Shay Elliot Monument car park in Wicklow. The first thing we did was look at setting our maps by using obvious land features and then setting our maps using our compass.
Just to get started we looked at our timing and worked out a nice simple navigation leg exactly 1km from the car park. According to William Naismith, the average human walks on average 5km per hour. This means 1km should usually take us 12 minutes (not considering height gain). Our first leg was 1km in distance and took us exactly 12 minutes. From that point onwards we started to build on our navigation skills and as usual we focused on the five D's.
Direction - Compass bearing from A to B
Distance - How much ground between A and B
Duration - How long it should take walking from A to B
Description - What the land is doing between A and B
Destination - What the land should be doing when we arrive at B
By using the five D's you will always have back ups to establish exactly where you are at all times when navigating. As we approached the summit of Cullentragh the weather turned foul and I decided it was best not to continue onto higher ground as wind speeds were reaching 90km per hour! Not to worry as this area is full of clear obvious features ideal for navigating to.
We dropped down to the Derrybawn River to find some shelter and have a quick bite to eat and wait for proper darkness to set in. From here, each of the clients were given a leg to navigate to while the rest of the group were shown techniques used to self locate. We spent six hours in total on the hill and I think we were all relieved to get back to the cars as the weather was atrocious.