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#215631 - 01/24/11 10:07 PM Re: Rescued hiker recounts ordeal on Mt. Ripinsky [Re: Hikin_Jim]
Glock-A-Roo Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 04/16/03
Posts: 1076
Originally Posted By: Hikin_Jim
I've never needed a GPS and have eschewed them thus far (expensive, one more freakin' thing to carry, have to learn how to use them), but someday in some situation I'm sure I'll wish that I had one.


$85 shipped from Amazon. IMO it's all that's needed. The mapping and color screen on higher models are superfluous for someone like you who understands landnav. The etrex H gives you the high sensitivity receiver for fast, accurate coordinates and the ability to follow tracks, routes and waypoints. Simple and effective. Use lithium cells.

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#215637 - 01/25/11 12:25 AM Re: Rescued hiker recounts ordeal on Mt. Ripinsky [Re: Teslinhiker]
Hikin_Jim Offline
Sheriff
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 10/12/07
Posts: 1804
Loc: Southern California
"Hmmm," said Jim.

HJ
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#215639 - 01/25/11 01:04 AM Re: Rescued hiker recounts ordeal on Mt. Ripinsky [Re: Hikin_Jim]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6941
Loc: southern Cal
Or consider one of the "Foretrex" models from Garmin. Gives your location, and with your map that is all you need. I have used one for years..
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#215648 - 01/25/11 03:41 AM Re: Rescued hiker recounts ordeal on Mt. Ripinsky [Re: hikermor]
Glock-A-Roo Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 04/16/03
Posts: 1076
Originally Posted By: hikermor
Or consider one of the "Foretrex" models from Garmin. Gives your location, and with your map that is all you need. I have used one for years..


Good point, I had forgotten that the Foretrex models now have the high sensitivity receiver too. Very, very light and compact. If I didn't already have an etrex I would probably go with the Foretrex.

I hope Hikin' Jim appreciates our efforts to get him to spend his money... cool

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#215651 - 01/25/11 05:53 AM Re: Rescued hiker recounts ordeal on Mt. Ripinsky [Re: Teslinhiker]
Hikin_Jim Offline
Sheriff
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 10/12/07
Posts: 1804
Loc: Southern California
lol
Well, of course I do but not nearly as much as my wife.

HJ
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#215653 - 01/25/11 07:13 AM Re: Rescued hiker recounts ordeal on Mt. Ripinsky [Re: Glock-A-Roo]
MostlyHarmless Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 06/03/09
Posts: 982
Loc: Norway
Originally Posted By: Glock-A-Roo

The low visibility situation like this one is where the GPS really shines. Taking key waypoints along the route allows you to navigate back down in zero visibility. There's no need to run the unit continuously to record a track or follow it back. If you are proficient at plotting UTM coordinates on your map then targeting those spots in the GPS allows you to navigate efficiently on new terrain, again in zero visibility. In this way you could safely take a different route down.


Well - yes and no, but in steep terrain it isn't exactly a walk in the park. Sometimes, one might choose to take calculated risks to get home, including applying your best navigation skills to find your way down in less than optimum conditions. Staying put on the mountain is risky, too. My rant below is to give a more realistic assessment of the risks and limitations involved.


This technique (which is EXACTLY how I use my GPS together with topo maps) has three limitations that needs to be taken seriously:

1: The accuracy of you reading the UTM grid off the map. At the best of circumstances, using a ruler and a flat table, warm and snug indoors you can perhaps do with an accuracy of +- 0.5 mm if you are really careful. Out in the field, being stressed and slightly freaked out, I would say an accuracy of +- 2mm is probably realistic - that is IF YOU ARE USING A RULER. Most base plate compasses has a ruler. For the maps I use most, being 2 mm off equates to being 100 meter (300 feet) away from where you think you are.

If you're not using a ruler, I would say an accuracy of somewhere +- around a quarter of an inch.


2: The accuracy of the map and how detailed it is. Can you really trust your map to have included all 30-feet vertical / not-really-true-vertical-but-the-fall-will-still-kill-ya drops? No, you can't - and absolutely not in steep (close-to-vertical) terrain.


3: The accuracy of the GPS. Being 3 meters (10 foot) away from your tracks going can and will kill ya on certain places.

Of course, if you're using the GPS tracks to guide you back then you're within the accuracy of 3).


The last limitation of the GPS is that for most models you have to move a certain distance (at least 10 meters / 30 feet) to have a reliable direction indicator. Also, the direction indicator can be a bit confusing when you start wandering back and forth, trying to find the exactly right direction. A compass is the right tool if you want to start moving in the right direction at your FIRST try.


Many places, the accuracy really isn't that critical - you might very well be several hundred meters away from where yo think you are - as long as you follow the GPS guidance or at least wander somewhere not-too-far away from the correct direction you will be OK. Steep mountains aren't one of those places.


In total white-out conditions and with fresh, powdery snow covering everything, you will NEVER see a vertical drop before tumbling down. Everything around you is slightly greyish white. No features. No shadows. No landmarks or boundaries. It doesn't matter if visibility is 500 feet or 5 feet - anything covered with fresh snow will blend in with the other powdery snow, and that includes the lip of snow that overhangs the cliff. What stands out is those things not totally covered with snow, such as rocks or bushes. The only exception is if it is blowing, then the older, harder snow MIGHT stand out in those places exposed to the wind.


Edited by MostlyHarmless (01/25/11 07:19 AM)

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#215655 - 01/25/11 10:41 AM Re: Rescued hiker recounts ordeal on Mt. Ripinsky [Re: MostlyHarmless]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6941
Loc: southern Cal
Originally Posted By: MostlyHarmless

In total white-out conditions and with fresh, powdery snow covering everything, you will NEVER see a vertical drop before tumbling down. Everything around you is slightly greyish white. No features. No shadows. No landmarks or boundaries. It doesn't matter if visibility is 500 feet or 5 feet - anything covered with fresh snow will blend in with the other powdery snow, and that includes the lip of snow that overhangs the cliff. What stands out is those things not totally covered with snow, such as rocks or bushes. The only exception is if it is blowing, then the older, harder snow MIGHT stand out in those places exposed to the wind.


If you and I are traveling together in these cheery conditions, it is high time that we rope up and move very cautiously.

I have often speculated as to how useful a GPS would be in backtracking across a crevassed glacier, even with wands (markers) in place. This is a situation where even a three foot deviation can be lethal. We would need good equipment and all our skills to get down in good order, and we would need to employ them while we were still oriented. Realistically, that doesn't always happen..
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#215673 - 01/25/11 09:27 PM Re: Rescued hiker recounts ordeal on Mt. Ripinsky [Re: MostlyHarmless]
Hikin_Jim Offline
Sheriff
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 10/12/07
Posts: 1804
Loc: Southern California
Originally Posted By: MostlyHarmless
In total white-out conditions and with fresh, powdery snow covering everything, you will NEVER see a vertical drop before tumbling down. Everything around you is slightly greyish white. No features. No shadows. No landmarks or boundaries. It doesn't matter if visibility is 500 feet or 5 feet - anything covered with fresh snow will blend in with the other powdery snow, and that includes the lip of snow that overhangs the cliff. What stands out is those things not totally covered with snow, such as rocks or bushes. The only exception is if it is blowing, then the older, harder snow MIGHT stand out in those places exposed to the wind.
An old trick is an empty Nalgene on a length of cord. Toss it ahead of you and watch where it goes. Another trick is to throw snow balls ahead of oneself although something brightly colored is going to work a lot better.

HJ
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#215700 - 01/26/11 07:27 AM Re: Rescued hiker recounts ordeal on Mt. Ripinsky [Re: Hikin_Jim]
MostlyHarmless Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 06/03/09
Posts: 982
Loc: Norway
Originally Posted By: Hikin_Jim

Originally Posted By: MostlyHarmless
In total white-out conditions ...


An old trick is an empty Nalgene on a length of cord. Toss it ahead of you and watch where it goes. Another trick is to throw snow balls ahead of oneself although something brightly colored is going to work a lot better


Thanks a lot, that is a trick I will remember.


Not that I am in the habbit of charging into steep terrain in zero visibility conditions... but whiteout is very common in snow covered, three-less mountains. All it takes is low lying clouds and the light will be dispersed so evenly between the snow and the clouds that everything snow covered will be obscured and there is no shadow, no 3D information. Spooky.


Luckily, the very tiny bit of whiteout / close-to-zero visibility navigation I've tried have been along routes I've known like the back of my hand AND where I have confidence there are no lethal terrain surprises .... Still spooky.


Edited by MostlyHarmless (01/26/11 07:28 AM)

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#215711 - 01/26/11 02:57 PM Re: Rescued hiker recounts ordeal on Mt. Ripinsky [Re: Teslinhiker]
JerryFountain Offline
Addict

Registered: 12/06/07
Posts: 418
Loc: St. Petersburg, Florida
I have never used a Nalgene, but my avalanche cords are all in small (brightly colored) bags -- one to find them in my pack and two so that I can put something in the bag, tie the cord to it and use it as described. Unfortunately I have had to do it too many times. A few (very few) in steep terrain. Spooky is the best word I can think of (thanks MostlyHarmless). Of course, you don't have to worry about immediate hypothermia - the sweat is comming fast. :0

Respectfully,

Jerry

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