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Discussion: Help troubleshooting two controls on quirky topo map

in: Orienteering; Training & Technique

Jul 15, 2021 3:47 PM # 
reentrant:
Howdy all,
Hope your week is going great.
I've been training for an orienteering-endurance exam. During a mock exam last week, I made poor itinerary choices on two controls and lost lots of time, contributing to my finishing the course outside of the allotted time.

On these particular controls (8 and 9) I'm having a hard time understanding what would have been good choices. I got to the controls without difficulty, but it was too slow. There's no one I can ask as the only other person who completed the course (in time, in his case) had slightly different controls.

Would some of you be willing to contribute some insight?

Quirks:
The course is not drawn on an IOF map but on a French IGN topo map (1/25k scale). That's because the exam is used to pre-select students for the State diploma for hiking guides.
- White is open land (fields, prairie…)
- Curves are 10 meters apart
- Green is slow forest
- Purple is for tracks
- The shaded white on the steep part below 8 is interspersed with rocks

Assumptions:
- you have 17 controls total with about five hours ahead of you on this course, so you can't burn yourself just yet
- it's been raining, rocky terrain is slippery
- you're carrying a 12kg pack (mandated for the exam)
- your feet are already wet from walking in a stream so you're not worried about dew

Big thanks in advance for any insights. :-)

The Map
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Jul 15, 2021 3:52 PM # 
jjcote:
First, ride up on the ski lift... :-)
Jul 15, 2021 4:03 PM # 
reentrant:
Haha, yes, excellent. :-)
Sadly, it wasn't operating.
Jul 15, 2021 4:22 PM # 
Cristina:
What routes did you take to them?
Jul 15, 2021 4:52 PM # 
gordhun:
What did you propose doing? Going from 8 to 9 or 9 to 8? In either case a straight line route is just plain suicidal. Going from 8 to 9 take the trail along the ridge to the top of the ski lift, then go down the ski run beside the lift a measured distance before turning and heading over to the re-entrant. Reverse the process going in the other direction.
But surely you are asking more than that?
Jul 15, 2021 4:57 PM # 
jjcote:
#8 is hard to know without seeing the terrain. There are a few options, but which is best I can't say from here on the other side of the ocean.

For #9, on the other hand, I'd definitely go SW on the trail to the top of the ski lift, then down the ski trail that passes to the north of the control. Then it's a matter of using an appropriate technique (pace counting, reading contours, whatever) to decide when to head into the woods. Pace counting is difficult on a steep downhill. Better to go in a little too soon than to have to climb back up.
Jul 15, 2021 5:01 PM # 
BorisGr:
The terrain is basically WOC 2011 terrain... Something like this: https://doma.ortarzo.it/show_map.php?user=admin&am...
Jul 15, 2021 5:41 PM # 
Sandy:
Assuming you must go 7 - 8 - 9 I would take the small trail to the NE out of 7 until it meets the purple trail and then the purple trail around to 8. It avoids climbing straight up the treacherous hillside, stays on trails so should be fast and has much less climb then heading up the ski slope and going around from the SW.
Jul 15, 2021 6:07 PM # 
feet:
The forest doesn't look too bad on Google Maps satellite view. I don't think you need to go that far around. Cutting up through here to the purple trail seems ok.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/45%C2%B041'44.2%...
Jul 15, 2021 6:34 PM # 
reentrant:
Huge thanks for your thoughts, you all!
:-)

That was extremely helpful. I learned heaps. The solutions that are obvious to you experienced orienteers were not intuitive to me at all.

Yes, the direction is 7-8-9.
On 7-8, I think I lost a lot of energy trying to cut through the rocky slope.
On 8-9, I made the huge mistake of giving up too much altitude that I had to reclimb, but besides that, the slope was extremely slow due to weather.

Here's what I did.


@gordhun:
> In either case a straight line route is just plain suicidal. Going from 8 to 9 take the trail along the ridge to the top of the ski lift, then go down the ski run beside the lift a measured distance before turning and heading over to the re-entrant.

Fantastic. That had not occurred to me. I guess you're saying that climbing the ~120 meters from 8 to the 1563 summit is worth it because I'll be a lot faster staying on a trail than cutting across in a straight line? You're obviously right, but I didn't see that at all.

@jjcote:
> For #9, on the other hand, I'd definitely go SW on the trail to the top of the ski lift

Regarding the itinerary, same comments as for gordhun, I'm both surprised and enlightened by this idea.
Regarding the attack point, following your route, I probably would have done okay without pace counting, the basic Suunto core barometric altmeter seems to be pretty good and I'd have recalibrated at 1563. That's what I used to select the attack point coming from the other (wrong) side. But I do need to practice pace counting in general.

@Sandy:
> I would take the small trail to the NE out of 7 until it meets the purple trail and then the purple trail around to 8. It avoids climbing straight up the treacherous hillside, stays on trails so should be fast

Okay, that's the solution then. :-) I have a hard time estimating when it's worth cutting vs. staying on trails. I think I'll go out on a course this week-end and time myself to compare options.

Again, huge thanks.
Wishing you all a fun weekend.
Jul 15, 2021 7:09 PM # 
Cristina:
It would be interesting to see how much time cutting to the first switchback from the small trail junction (ish - see feet's post, too) would save rather than going all the way up the trail to the purple track.
Jul 15, 2021 7:32 PM # 
reentrant:
@feet @Cristina you're right, that looks like a perfect place to cut.
Love it! Dang, totally missed that. :-)
Jul 15, 2021 8:23 PM # 
jjcote:
Even if you went the way that you did, there was no point in going NE all the way to the trail junction, you could have just turned left and followed the edge of the forest to the upper trail. (Unless the grass was a lot taller than it looks.) But straight north from that forest corner across the open area to feet's pin and through a little bit of woods to the purple track looks pretty good.
Jul 15, 2021 8:53 PM # 
Terje Mathisen:
I agree, the route you took from 7 to 8 was OK to start with, to the first junction and then back left. However, as soon as the second path flattened/turned a bit more left, you could have contoured back right to the purple trail switchback (or maybe up a bit to hit the second), that would have saved a lot of energy.
Jul 15, 2021 9:38 PM # 
reentrant:
@Terje
>that would have saved a lot of energy.

Hear hear… Yep, energy, minutes, and strength and motivation for the rest of the course.

@jjcote
> there was no point in going NE all the way to the trail junction, you could have just turned left and followed the edge of the forest

You're right. Mmm, trying to understand the mental bug that prevented me from doing that…
I think the heavy fog and poorly marked trails (as in, "is this the trail?") made me both conservative and edgy, meaning prone to changing my plan… a contradiction. In retrospect, that caution made no sense given that I had the handrail of the forest edge that you mentioned and could easily have shot for the vegetation corner all the same.

Amazing how much there is for me to learn from these two controls.
Truly grateful for the advice and constructive criticism all around. :-)
Hope I can absorb and reinforce through practice.
Jul 15, 2021 11:44 PM # 
tRicky:
Hope your week is going great.

Nope.
Jul 16, 2021 2:24 AM # 
Becks:
I think you’re going to figure this out just fine! That conservative but edgy feeling is a trademark feeling when you know you’ve fudged a route choice decision and you try to make the best of a clearly terrible ‘somewhere down the middle’ option. One of the key things with route choice is building the confidence to look far out and assess those long ‘easy’ options versus your personal fitness and strengths.

It’s one of the things that keeps us all coming back year after year.

Thanks for this thread. You may also want to look at some of the routes the pros took in the WOC long last week to show you just how far out an optimal route can go sometimes, if it means rapid trails and easy running on the way.
Jul 16, 2021 2:33 AM # 
ken:
The suggestions so far seem good.

I think a lot of this is about having a sense of how fast you will be able to move in different types of terrain vs trails. Sometimes in new terrain you have to learn this as you go. For example, is it worth 2-3x the distance to stay on a trail? Maybe if the terrain is really slow. Uphill in particular can be much faster on a trail if the terrain is at all loose or rough.

With 12kg, it sounds like maybe you are walking. Depending on your fitness that might mean that you can't go as far "around" without losing time. For example, a runner might have to walk through some rough/steep stuff. But if you are walking anyway, you might not gain as much time by avoiding it. Though you mention saving energy, which is also valid depending on whether you run out of time or energy first.
Jul 16, 2021 7:43 AM # 
GuyO:
...go down the ski run beside the lift a measured distance before turning and heading over to the re-entrant.

...using an appropriate technique (pace counting, reading contours, whatever) to decide when to head into the woods.


Perhaps the circles on the ski-lift line represent pylons, which you could use to determine more precisely where to go into the woods.
Jul 16, 2021 8:53 AM # 
jjcote:
They don't. 8 circles, 12 irregularly-spaced pylons (plus the top and bottom). That trick only works on real orienteering maps.
Jul 16, 2021 8:58 AM # 
tRicky:
Sounds about as useful as a bush event I ran in earlier this year in which the bars on the powerline symbol (510) were not used to accurately depict the location of the pylons.
Jul 16, 2021 10:39 AM # 
gruver:
Yes I had trouble with a barbed wire fence recently, tried counting off the things and they didnt match the ticks on the map.

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