During the descent

The descent is a time for extra caution as you fight to keep fatigue and inattention at bay. As on the ascent, everyone needs to maintain a good sense of the route and how it relates to the map. Stay together, don't rush, and be even more careful if you're taking a different descent route.

Now imagine your team is almost back to the car after a tough 12-hour climb. You follow a compass bearing right back to the logging road—but is the car to the left or the right? It's a bad ending to a good day if the car is a half-mile to the right and the climbers go left. It will be even worse if the car is parked at the end of the road and a routefinding error takes the party beyond that point and on and on through the woods (fig. 4-4a). The intentional offset (also called "aiming off") was invented for this situation (fig. 4-4b). Just travel in a direction that is intentionally offset some amount to the right or the left of where you really want to be. When you hit the road (or the river or the ridge), there will be no doubt about which way to turn.

Continue reading here: After the climb

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