Routefinding begins at home. Before heading out the door, you need to know not only the name of your wilderness destination, but a great deal about how to get there. The information is acces sible to anyone who takes the trouble to seek it out, from guidebooks and maps and from people who have already been there.
Prepare for each trip as if you were going to lead it, even if you aren't. Each person in a climbing group needs to know wilderness navigation and must keep track of where the party has been, where it is, and where it's going. In case of emergency, each climber must be able to get back alone.
Guidebooks provide critical information such as a description of the route, the estimated time necessary to complete it, elevation gain, mileage, and so forth. Climbers who have made the trip will tell you about landmarks, hazards, and routefinding hassles. Useful details are packed into maps of all sorts: Forest Service maps, road maps, aerial maps, sketch maps, and topographic maps. For a trip into an area that's especially unfamiliar, more preparation is needed. This might include scouting into the area, observations from vantage points, or study of aerial photos.
If the route comes from a guidebook or from a description provided by another climber, plot it out on the topographic map you'll be carrying along, noting junctions and other important points. It can help to highlight the route with a yellow felt-tip marking pen, which doesn't obliterate map features. Other maps or route descriptions should be taken along, marked with notes on any more up-to-date information. In selecting the route, consider a
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