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Mountain Adventure – Compasses, Maps and Orienteering

Mountain Adventure – Compasses, Maps and Orienteering

Altitude Team leader: Tess Lawson

Age Group: 12 – 14yr olds

Activity: Learning about maps, compasses, and orienteering

Location: Croix de Coeur, Verbier

Goal of the session: To create a map themselves

Starting at 9am, a drive up to Croix de Coeur gave us the height we needed to get a stunning view over Verbier. The team could look across to the Grand and Petit Combin as well as in the other direction, to the valley floor between Martigny and Sion. It was another beautiful day with clear views and a peaceful atmosphere.

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The team’s first activity was to use the Table d’Orientation to identify some of the more prominent features of the view: naming mountains and peaks using the information provided.

A small stroll along the ridge took us even higher, where we found a spot to put our kit down and for Tess to get her maps out.

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Tayan kindly spent a few minutes blowing up an inflatable globe, whilst the rest of the group were encouraged to look at the maps. Tess explained logically and progressively the features on maps that help people use this invaluable tool to locate one’s whereabouts. The team talked about contour lines and how they can ‘build-up’ a map and create the undulating landscape; the formation of ridges, mountains, valleys and cols.

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The group discussed other features on the maps such as the glaciers and how these are formed, and the fact they are constantly moving, changing and melting.  As Verbier is covered in snow for half the year, they also considered the differences they would see between the map and real life.

Tess then got out the compass. The team talked about the direction they were facing and how they could set a map and orientate themselves using the compass. Each team member had the chance to use the compass and follow the needle in the direction they wanted to go using North, North East, East and so on.

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The class navigated their way back down the ridge and they settled on the bench. Using the globe, they identified where they came from across the world, some also spotted where they’d been and where they wanted to go. Tess and the group discussed the scale of maps and how it’s important to consider when choosing a map for what you want it to show you, for example navigating through the mountains a large scaled map would be ideal with a lot of information.

Their final challenge was to draw a map themselves to get a better understanding of their surroundings. The prize for the best map was a small bag of Haribo, naturally! It was a tough decision, as most of them put in a great effort.

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It was a fantastic morning with impressive levels of focus and interest – great work team!

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