A rock climbing article on the Guardian’s website today about indoor bouldering-only climbing walls where you climb above a crash mat without the use of ropes and a harness has highlighted it as one of the fastest growing sports in the county.
If you have got into the sport of rock climbing through one of these centres and want to try outdoor climbing for the first time our ‘beginner’ and ‘introduction to rock climbing’ courses based in the Lake District are an excellent taster to many more adventures that lie ahead.
The British Mountaineering Council (BMC) has just published a video to promote their current helmet campaign. You can watch it here. With modern helmets weighing as little as 250 grams we strongly recommend you consider wearing one for all rock climbing and mountaineering activities.
We run a lot of navigation courses here at More than Mountains and our customers bring along a wide variety of compasses. I have never seen one that is more suited to purpose than my favourite; it is the one piece of kit I am happy to recommend outright, whoever you are. Whether you are just about to come on your first ever course or are hoping to do your Mountain Leader assessment this year we would strongly recommend you get a Silva Expedition 4 compass. They cost around £25 and, you never know, one day it could save your life.
The only compass you will ever need.
Silva compasses are very good quality and it is possible to get cheaper Silva compasses than the Expedition 4 but I would not recommend it. For your extra money you get a larger baseplate which makes measuring distances on your map a lot easier. There are scales on the base plate for measuring on both 1:50,000 maps and 1:25,000 maps. The fact that the scales go down two sides of the compass makes taking a grid reference much easier too.
Cheaper compasses often start the scale at the very edge of the compass – this means that if even the tiniest part of your compass is chipped off your measurements will no longer be accurate. I even saw a compass the other day that started the scale from the edge of the compass but had rounded the corner of the compass so that the scale started somewhere in mid air.
Another common problem with poorer quality compasses is that they must be held perfectly level when being used to follow a bearing or the needle will get stuck and point in the wrong direction. It is good practice to hold a compass level anyway but the Silva will give accurate readings even if it is tipped slightly.
The Silva Expedition 4 also has a magnifying glass which is useful for looking at the really fine detail on the map. The version in the photograph also has glow-in-the-dark markings supposedly to help with navigation in the dark. Personally if I am navigating in the dark I will have my head torch on in order to be able to read the map so I do not find the glow-in-the-dark markings useful but they do not cause any problems so there is no harm in having them just in case.
We do not have any affliation with Silva: we have just spent years using their compasses and watching others make their lives more difficult with cheaper compasses.
If you are not sure how to use a compass then come on one of our navigation courses – we also have compasses for you to try – Silva Expedition 4s of course!