Mountain Navigation – What course is right for me?

Learning mountain navigation can seem a daunting prospect, using a compass, understanding a map and having the confidence to stray off the beaten path. Often times YouTube videos and literature portray learning navigation as something complex and difficult.

The reality is that learning to become a confident and relaxed mountain navigator should be a fun and an enjoyable experience. Most queries I receive from those wishing to learn navigation come from hiking clubs, social meet up groups and individuals wishing to gain more confidence.

What type of course you choose depends on your goals.

The most popular navigation courses I run are the Mountaineering Ireland ‘Mountain Skills’ courses. Mountain Skills One is a beginner friendly course running over two days and you can be guaranteed lots of learning and laughs along the way.

Mountain Skills Two is a course that build upon the skills learned in part one, including night navigation and moving across steep ground (no ropes required – hiking terrain).

Those that wish to be assessed on their personal proficiency can attend a Mountain Skills Assessment running over two days. Candidates are assessed on the skills learned during part one/two.

Passing the Mountain Skills Assessment is a prerequisite for moving towards becoming a Mountain Leader.

Not everyone however wants to attend a two day navigation course. There is the option for clubs and individual to organise bespoke mountain navigational training.

There is also the option of learning via the HikeandClimb Mountain Navigation Online Courses. I have developed a professional and interactive series of online courses that will begin in November 2020.

Please check out the mountain navigation road map below as this may help you further to decide which course is best for you.

What equipment do I need?

The HikeandClimb mountain navigation courses all take place in a real mountain environment. This necessitates all participant to be appropriately kitted-out for days and nights on open mountain landscapes.

Good boots are essential as often times we will leave the tails and venture across open mountain landscape. This may include crossing bog, uneven broken ground, crossing small streams and onto steep ground (where appropriate).

The ideal hiking boot for Ireland are full grain/nubuck leather backed up with Gortex with a semi-ridged sole. A fabric boot with a quality membrane will work during various times of the year, but during the wetter seasons leather is the best option.

As someone that worked for years as a boot fitter and specialist, I advise taking all recommendations regarding brands with a pinch of salt. Everyone’s foot is unique therefore you need to take time and try on as many pairs as possible until you find one that suits you.

There is strictly no participation in any of the HikeandClimb mountain courses with trainers.

Rain jackets and trousers are also required. Ideally breathable and with a high quality water proof membrane.

Comfortable moisture wicking socks, baselayer and secondary layer (softshell/fleece) are desirable for comfort and warmth.

It is essential to bring a booster layer. This can be a extra jacket (synthetic/down) or top that you can throw on when we stop for food and chats.

A beanie hat, gloves and a buff are desirable (during the Winter months they are essential).

Food (high in calories), snacks and water is essential for a day/night on the hills.

A Silva Expedition Type 4 Compass is required (or if you have a compass already please bring it).

Depending what mountainous areas we are on, you will need a map/s. This info will be provided before the course starts.

Finally, you must have a sense of adventure and be ready for a few laughs along the way.

Weather and Conditions on the Mountain?

All participants on the HikeandClimb mountain navigation courses will be briefed on the weather expected during the course. This means we can prepare for all but the very worst of storm conditions.

It is rare that the mountain navigation courses have to be postponed due to bad weather as there is usually a sheltered mountainous area we can use for our needs.

The quality of good mountain clothing now means we can stay warm and dry in the most challenging weather conditions.

Ireland has a broad range of sublime mountainous landscapes that can change in beauty in a blink of an eye.

The HikeandClimb mountain navigation courses are all run in a real environment, where skills can be developed and used in real situations that you may encounter when you need to navigate independently.

Equally importantly to me, is that all participants enjoy their time in the mountains and come away having covered all the navigational skills they expected to learn, but also feel excited about their experience.

Please get in touch if you would like additional information or to arrange a course.