Which Way Wednesday - Topo reading, Saddles, knolls, summits


“Which Way Wednesday” features a navigation or trip planning related post every Wednesday.

This week, see some questions from the Wilderness Navigation Challenge - a series of about 80 questions and answers/explanations that cover beginner to intermediate wilderness navigation skills.

It's designed as a teaching tool and for self-evaluation. Every question is followed with an answer and explanation, so you can learn as you go along.

Below are a few sample questions and answers from the challenge. If testing your knowledge and learning more about navigation flips your switch, you can check out the entire navigation challenge here.

Note - at the bottom of the answer slides, you may see a reference for a “Lesson number”. That refers to a youtube video series that covers that topic in detail if you’d like to learn more.

Here’s the video that covers today’s topic.

This week - contours and terrain. Understanding these lets you “read” a topo map.

  • What’s a saddle look like on a topo map, and why are they useful for climbers?

  • The contour lines are bending. Does that show a ridgeline or a gully?

  • I see a closed circle on a topo map. Is that a mountain top, or just a small knoll?

  • How is the summit of a major mountain indicated on a topo map?

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