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cartman
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cartman
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PostMon Nov 13, 2017 11:24 am 
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This post is in partial response to another post regarding posting redline routes on maps, and by inference too much information about a particular route.  But I wish to diverge a bit toward another aspect of planning for a trip:

The fear of failure.


I think an aspect of mountaineering that can be inferred by reliance on GPS/redline maps is not just the reduced sense of adventure, but being afraid to fail.  I've seen what I might consider an over reliance on GPS and/or redline maps in partners of mine.

EDIT TO ADD: And in myself as well at times.

Researching a route is usually important to successfully completing it, and can also be key to doing it safely.  However, over-researching it removes much of the mystery and adventure, often to the point of just "ticking off" another summit or two.  After a while this becomes rote, even uninteresting.  Same old, same old.

Why not reduce the reliance on redlines, GPS, and/or descriptions?  Make the endeavor more worthwhile by decreasing the information you have and increasing the challenge.  Rely more on your experience, your eyes, and your judgment.  Don't be afraid to fail.  You will be a better routefinder, a better backcountry traveler, and will get a far greater sense of satisfaction from the experience.  And you will learn much more than if you researched it to death.  I know from past experience that if I over-research a trip I get tired of thinking about it before I've even left home.

I don't like to fail, to not reach the summit.  I want to put together a trip and reach my goals.  But just ticking off another over-researched summit almost feels like failure.  Like running to the store or something else that is boring, something that is guaranteed.  Mountaineering shouldn't be a guarantee.  There should be mystery, adventure and a risk of not succeeding, otherwise what's the point?

Perhaps even redefine what "to fail" means.  Is it a failure if you don't reach the summit but made the best decisions with the information you had?  Or was it a fun and interesting learning experience?  Would that not still have been a very worthwhile endeavor?  Would you have a greater sense of satisfaction knowing that you're now a better climber/backcountry traveler than if you just did a route by redline?  For me, the answer is a resounding yes.
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cartman
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PostMon Nov 13, 2017 11:35 am 
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BTW, this post does not mean I've changed my mind that it's OK to post a redline map route or a GPS track, or to use those if one chooses to.  Post whatever you like.

This thread is more my personal belief that less is often more when traveling in the backcountry.  More rewarding, leading to a better experience.  It's an evolving feeling I have, one I will need to see where it goes in my future travels.
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wolffie
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PostMon Nov 13, 2017 1:20 pm 
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Nowadays, we even know what the weather is going to do.  It's almost unsporting.
Before the computers and coast radar, when Men were Men, the forecasts were just a rough guide.
We always made 3 plans:
Plan A.  Good weather.  Something ambitious on the West Side.
Plan B.  Iffy weather.  Something on the Dry Side.
Plan C.  Normal weather.  Stay home and clean the basement.
And the 3-Pitch Rule:  Go up 3 pitches, then wait to see if the weather improves.
I thought it affected my whole personality;  I got so used to getting screwed by the weather, I didn't know if I was becoming Stoic or Defeatist.  Certainly Opportunist:  you had to be ready to go every time Opportunity presented its fickle self. mm Or maybe a Gambler.
Sometimes, the only way to find out if a road or trail was even open was to go find out.
The kids these days.  Spoiled.  Too easy.
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Schenk
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Schenk
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PostMon Nov 13, 2017 1:34 pm 
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Many folks these days are spoiled and won't go out unless everything is going to be perfect. They have too many other options apparently.
I have too many friends these days who will cancel plans if there is even a "chance of showers"
They frequently miss out; I have been rewarded many times by heading out anyway, and sticking to a plan.

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Nature exists with a stark indifference to human's situation.
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zephyr
aka friendly hiker



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zephyr
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PostMon Nov 13, 2017 5:44 pm 
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cartman wrote:
Make the endeavor more worthwhile by decreasing the information you have and increasing the challenge.  Rely more on your experience, your eyes, and your judgment.  Don't be afraid to fail.  You will be a better routefinder, a better backcountry traveler, and will get a far greater sense of satisfaction from the experience.  And you will learn much more than if you researched it to death.

Very interesting post.     Disclaimer: I don't have a GPS, but I approve of this message.  wink.gif 
Well-said.  (I will admit there have been times I wished I had one along.  haha  At some point I would like to have an altimeter.) 
                             Man, it's windy over here tonight!  ~z
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Malachai Constant
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PostMon Nov 13, 2017 5:55 pm 
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To experienced Northwest Hikers there is no such thing as fear of failure, what others call failure is only a learning experience.

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"You do not laugh when you look at the mountains, or when you look at the sea." Lafcadio Hearn
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RandyHiker
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PostMon Nov 13, 2017 5:56 pm 
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The thing I like most about a GPS is on group trips with more than one large ego it largely eliminates time wasted in arguments over "where we are" while traveling in thick forest or fog.
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Jeff
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PostMon Nov 13, 2017 6:09 pm 
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If I am doing something goal oriented, I tend to stack the odds in my favor with as much info as I can gather. Except a GPS data file, since I do not own a GPS. I guess I can head off into the brush with no map or compass and have a grand adventure, but I'm not that sporting.

I've definitely done a fair amount of trips where failure was guaranteed from the start (usually weather related), but it was still a good time. But I much prefer to get where I am going,  which is usually a route that someone else figured out a very long time ago. Fisher chimneys for example; I don't want to poke around all over mt shuksan looking for an adventure when someone else already found a good route up.
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Snuffy
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PostMon Nov 13, 2017 6:22 pm 
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I like this, Cartman.  Although I started using a GPS this year (GAIA), I still regard it as a toy and mostly helps with keeping track of my adventure for later storytelling.  Prefer my map/compass/altimeter.

I can say that I hate to fail but love learning experiences (of which there are plenty).

I agree that GPS can be a downside because there has been at least one time I used a track someone had posted and when it got to a hairy spot, my nature was to say (and still is), "Well, if they did it, so can I."  Within reason, of course.

Without the GPS track I might have said, "Well, hell NO!".  And rightly so.

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You don't find yourself standing at the top of a mountain without having started out in the valley.
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cartman
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PostMon Nov 13, 2017 8:34 pm 
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Snuffy, that's a good point.  A GPS track doesn't always mean that is the best way to go for the originating party, or even if it is, for any future party; no more than following a set of footprints is always the right way to go.  Skill levels and acceptable risk vary from person to person.

I do understand that there are other reasons to use a redline on a map.  For some it's personal preference for whatever reason.  Some may feel as they get older they wish to reduce risk, or even be more assured of reaching a goal--a summit, an area, or even a list--since who knows how long each of us can continue to do this?  Tomorrow is not guaranteed.  As Jeff mentioned with the Fisher Chimneys example, there are certainly some routes where more research makes sense for one or more reasons: complexity of the route, safety, etc.  Motivations differ.

I may have implied that it is not OK to use a redlined map or GPS; I do not believe that and did not intend to imply that.  That's up to the individual to decide.  My original post was meant more as a suggestion of an alternative, and the rationale for that.  And as a musing on my personal thoughts on how I may wish to do some trips in the future as I think on this more.
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Bernardo
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PostMon Nov 13, 2017 9:12 pm 
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The old ways are good for me.  I love the challenge.  The best part of hiking is navigating.  For me it's like using oxygen on Everest. Not wrong, but not the same either.  It really is the journey.
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Snuffy
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PostTue Nov 14, 2017 11:09 am 
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@Cartman
I didn't take it that way. I assumed it was part of the banter that happens here between old school and new. 🙂

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You don't find yourself standing at the top of a mountain without having started out in the valley.
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olderthanIusedtobe
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PostTue Nov 14, 2017 11:55 am 
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Interesting topic.  I unintentionally retired from serious climbing years ago.  Back in the day, if it was a technical climb and a feather in your cap type of peak, of course I wanted to have as much info as possible and good conditions so the chance of success was increased.

But in other instances I used to purposely just bumble about, making up my own route on minor peaks w/ absolutely no guarantee of success.  Which led to some crappy terrain and hairy situations occasionally, but was also kind of gratifying.  Del Campo in particular I really enjoyed exploring, I've probably ascended it by at least 4-5 different routes or variations.  Only one of which is the standard approach from Gothic Basin.  Another might be described by Beckey, but in true Beckey fashion it's vague enough that I'm not positive he's describing the same route as one of them that I took.

Not climbing, but sometimes on a hike I'll switch midstream from my intended destination because something looks intriguing so I just start meandering about to see what I can see.  Or in other instances I don't even have a clearly defined destination to start with.  I'm probably a cautionary tale, except I've somehow managed to never really get myself in trouble thus far.
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neek
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PostTue Nov 14, 2017 5:28 pm 
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Eric, this is such a great topic and I agree with you completely.  I started using a GPS this year and feel a little dirty.  To be sure, different scenarios call for different techniques.  In some cases getting lost is more of an annoyance than a learning opportunity, and everyone needs to decide what's best for themselves (and perhaps for their group) for a given goal or situation.

Don't take this the wrong way but there have been a few times when you started fretting over maps and descriptions and I thought to myself "dude let's just climb the thing, if we mess up we'll fix it".  And yes people have gotten themselves into trouble (or worse, endangered others) by not doing their homework.  Does the introduction of new knowledge or tools carry the moral obligation to use them?  This dilemma pops up in many places - whether to perform a genetic test during a pregnancy, as an example from a completely different area of life.

Anyway, now I'm inspired to be a bit more adventurous next summer, and to think of the journey rather than the destination as the goal.  Maybe not this winter though, as an unplanned winter bivy would really be a bummer.
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RumiDude
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RumiDude
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PostTue Nov 14, 2017 6:12 pm 
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cartman wrote:
A GPS track doesn't always mean that is the best way to go for the originating party, or even if it is, for any future party; no more than following a set of footprints is always the right way to go.

To me GPS tracks are like cairns, I am never sure the source actually knew what he/she was doing. That is why I don't try to follow one. Sometimes there are exceptions when a crucial point is marked which is otherwise very difficult to find. But those cases are rare.

I sometimes would compare my choice to another's as a way to check my route finding skills. I ask who made a better choice, why the different choices, and try to discern if I missed and obvious or subtle landmark.

I just don't trust other people with my life like that. I have to decide for myself.

Rumi

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