Using Intermediate Objectives

A handy technique is available for those frustrating times you try to stay exactly on a compass bearing, but keep getting diverted by obstructions such as cliffs, dense brush, or crevasses. Try the technique of intermediate objectives. Sight past the obstruction to a tree or rock or other object that is exactly on the bearing line to the principal objective (fig. 4-16a). Then you're free to scramble over to the tree or rock by whatever route is easiest. When you get there, you can be confident that you

Take bearing on your objective while you can see it

Fig. 4-15. Following a compass bearing when the view of the objective is obscured by forest or fog
Following Bearing
Fig. 4-14. Navigation using the map and compass: a, measuring the bearing from point A to point B on the map; b, bearing at index line; c, following the bearing.

ORIGIN

PLANNED ROUTE

ACTUAL ROUTE

Big rock with split top

Funny-looking tree ^Ovwith right side missing * ^ near ground

B/ush 'o Dead silver snag Fallen tree

ACTUAL ROUTE

Big rock with split top

DESIRED DIRECTION OF

TRAVEL

i \ XCrevasse

ACTUAL PATH <"

OF TRAVEL -o

DESTINATION

DESTINATION

Fig. 4-16. Use of intermediate objectives: a, in a forest; b, on a glacier.

are still on the correct route. The technique is useful even when there is no obstruction. Moving from intermediate objective to intermediate objective means you can put the compass away for those short stretches rather having to check it every few steps.

Sometimes on snow or in fog, there are no natural intermediate objectives, just a white, undifferentiated landscape. Then another member of the party can serve as the target (fig. 4-16b). Send that person out to near the limit of visibility. Wave this new intermediate objective left or right, directly onto the bearing line. That person can then improve the accuracy of the route by taking a "back bearing" to you. (For a back bearing, keep the same bearing set at the index line, but for this purpose, align the south-seeking end of the magnetic needle with the pointed end of the declination arrow.) The combination of a bearing and a back bearing tends to counteract any compass error.

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