Skills for the Hills 2019: Backcountry Navigation with Map and Compass

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Alpine Rescue Team

28802 Rainbow Hill Road

Evergreen, CO 80439

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Event description


Basic to Intermediate Map and Compass Navigation

  • Topographical maps: What do all those marks mean?

  • How to read map contour lines, general markings, map colors, etc.

  • Understanding and using Universal Transverse Mercators (UTMs).

  • The compass and its parts.

  • Understanding "magnetic declination," and how to adjust for it with your compass.

  • Route navigation: plotting a point and course on a map.

  • Overcoming obstacles on your route.

  • Determine your unknown position via resection (sometimes called "triangulation").
  • GPS overview.

  • Translating UTM’s to a map and vice versa, and using with GPS units.

This is an intensive class and is limited to 25 students. We will begin promptly at 8:00 AM.

If you have a GPS unit, feel free to bring it. We will discuss its use.

Please bring pencil, paper and a straight edge.

This course concentartes on using a compass with adjustable declination and a clear base plate – orienting/meridian lines are necessary.

We have a number of compasses for use. However, if you want to bring your own compass, it needs to have an "adjustable declination” setting capability. Also, it needs to be a base plate compass (one that you can see the map through the capsule). Compasses such as the military Lensatic are not suitable for this course.

If you have questions regarding the compass you have, or want to buy one with adjustable declination, please feel free to contact us, we will help guide you. I have had good luck with Suunto (such as the M-3DL, M-2, and the MC-2G) and Brunton (TruArc-20).

Skills for the Hills is Alpine Rescue Team's public wilderness and backcountry education program. Our classes are free, however we appreicate donations at the door. We never charge you, your family or the local authorities for search and rescue.

Support Alpine Rescue Team and all Colorado SAR teams by purchasing a Colorado Outdoor Recreation Search and Rescue (CORSAR) Card. Buy a five-year ($12) or one-year ($3) card online .

"Skills for the Hills" is used with permission of Mountain Aid, Scotland.


Are there ID or minimum age requirements to enter the event?

Teenager and above.

What are my transportation/parking options for getting to and from the event?

Parking is available in the RTD Parkn'Ride lot across the road, and in the dirt lot below our building. Do not park on the apon in front of Alpine Rescue Team HQ or on the fire department apron to the north.

How can I contact the organizer with any questions?

Email your message to

Do I have to bring my printed ticket to the event?


Can I update my registration information?


Date and Time


Alpine Rescue Team

28802 Rainbow Hill Road

Evergreen, CO 80439

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