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The importance of navigation skills

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The importance of navigation skills.

The recent event with the Boy Scouts on Mount Baker (June of 2018 is the third time in a very short time that I have been very close to a mountain incident that was caused by navigation challenges. Relatively benign glaciated peaks can become very challenging in whiteout conditions just because they often lack the more aggressive, but distinguishing topographic features. Our volcanoes are prime examples of that. In other words, what makes them easy climbs is what creates navigation challenges in whiteout conditions.It is amazing how casually we cruise past gaping and sneaky crevasses in good visibility, which in turn seem quite stressful in poor visibility. The route can seem so painfully obvious in good weather that we barely pay attention to where we are going.The attached photos show the rapid weather change that occured near the Coleman-Deming Col on that particular climb. The photo was taken at 5:40am and the video at 6:30am. The first scout group can be seen in the photo. 

I am not passing judgment here. I am just pointing out that basic and more sophisticated navigation tools have their limitations and most of all demand training to be effective.

Still decent weather at 5:30am, but the forecast was clear

30 minutes later



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