Wilderness Navigation Elearning Pilot Course - 2016

Navigation Course

Wilderness Navigation Elearning Pilot Course

In 2016, we're launching our first-ever online learning workshop. Sign up to participate in the new Wilderness Navigation Course online.

Would you like to learn how to avoid getting lost? Are you planning to go off trail where good navigation skills are needed? If so then this in-depth navigation course is for you. This posting is for the online workshop, which includes the one-day in-person field trip - near Stevens Pass - taken by all Wilderness Navigation students whether they take the workshop online or in-person. The online course is available to both Mountaineers members and non-members. 

The online workshop is provided for those who do not live nearby an in-person workshop location or who prefer to take the course online. The online workshop covers the same material as the in-person class, and students must finish the online workshop before they can attend a field trip. Online learners will have the opportunity to post questions to a forum. Instructors will answer questions posted, and if students are interested, instructors will host a real-time online discussion.

This course is a graduation requirement for other Mountaineers courses including Basic Alpine Climbing, Alpine Scrambling, Backcountry Snowshoeing, and others. People who complete this course will receive a Navigation badge valid for 3 years. 

Sign Up Procedure: 

Since this is a pilot course, we have NOT YET  linked the Mountaineers system with the eLearning system. Therefore, please follow these steps to get into A) The eLearning System, and B) An in-person Field Trip.

  1. Register for this online Wilderness Navigation Course and pay the course fee (registration link located in green box at right). 
  2. Purchase the required book and two maps (listed below).
  4. You will receive an email within 24 hours providing you access to the online workshop. You will be able to access the workshop until April 30, 2016. The online workshop is expected to take 2.5 hours to complete, not including the reading. You will use your compass and maps to solve a complex series of navigation story problems. 
  5. REQUEST A SLOT IN A FIELD TRIP by emailing . (The field trip must be done after completing the online workshop). For this Pilot Course, we are sharing field trips with the regular Wilderness Navigation Course (you can see status of the field trips on the Wilderness Navigation course page). If a trip is full, do ask to be put on the wait list and then provide a second date that also works for you. Slots are reserved specifically for online students in the April 23 Field Trip, even if that field trip shows no availability. The field trip dates are these.
  • Saturday, March 12
  • Saturday, March 13
  • Saturday, April 2
  • Saturday, April 23
  • Saturday, November 5

Field Trip:

The Field Trip is a full day (7 miles round trip; ~1,800 ft. elevation gain) on a Saturday or Sunday in the mountains near Index, WA.  You'll spend part of the day off trail in the woods using your compass to take bearings and to follow bearings. Carpooling is strongly encouraged because we'll be parking on private land with very limited space, so please specify your carpool preferences in your personal profile. You can view other students' carpool preferences by viewing the roster on the field trip activity page. (The activity page can be found after sign-up under "My Activities" when you click your name on the Mountaineers website). 

See the November Field Trip Page for more information about a typical field trip. Each field trip has the same meeting time and location. VERY IMPORTANT - See the Course Materials below to download the Field Trip Student Packet and pay particular attention to the driving directions. We recommend printing that packet to bring along, but we'll also have extra copies at the field trip.

Reading Assignment (before attending the Workshop): 

Prior to attending the Workshop you need to read chapters 1-5 of the Burns & Burns book Wilderness Navigation, 3rd Ed. Mountaineers members get an additional 20% discount when ordering it online from Mountaineers Books as well as purchasing it in person at the Mountaineers Bookstore located in the Seattle Mountaineers Program Center. Please support the Mountaineers by purchasing it directly from the Mountaineers. (The eBook version can only be purchased directly from mountaineersbooks.org)

Required Equipment: See the Required Equipment tab below for more information on the Compass Features and Maps. 

Minimum Tech Specs for online workshop:

  • Flash (for PC/Mac laptop and desktop computers) - Adobe Flash Player 10.3 or later
  • Desktop Browsers - Windows: Internet Explorer 8 and later, Microsoft Edge (latest version), Google Chrome (latest version), Firefox (latest version); Mac: Safari 7 and later, Google Chrome (latest version)
  • Mobile Browsers - Safari in Apple iOS 7 and later, Google Chrome (latest version) in Android OS 4.1 and later
  • Screen Resolution -  While not a requirement, Litmos, the Learning Management System (LMS), is best viewed using a minimum screen resolution of 1024×768.
  • Special Notes - User tests have shown that sporadic audio issues may occur when running the course on iPad devices. All of the lectures/presentations in the course include audio. Should you not hear audio when viewing a lecture/presentation, please verify the error on a laptop or desktop computer and then notify the Mountaineers. Please provide the specification details about your iPad device when reporting the issue, as this will help the Mountaineers technical team troubleshoot the problem. Submit errors by email to dougc@mountaineersbooks.org.


For more info about this course and the type of compass you need to purchase, please visit the Seattle Navigation Committee home page.

Badges you will earn:

Course Requirements

This course has no scheduled activities.

Required Equipment

10 essentials and rain gear for the field trip.

Maps and compass for the workshop and field trip:

You'll need to purchase two USGS maps before attending the workshop. You can do this online when you register for the course, or buy them at the Mountaineers Bookstore. Members receive a 20% discount on the textbook and maps. The required maps are also online at USGS.GOV with the product numbers shown:

USGS Index, 1:24,000, Version 1989. Product Number 106874

USGS Baring, 1:24,000, Version 1982 (1982 Revision of a 1965 map), Product Number 105315

If you download and print a USGS Map on your own plotter, be sure to select the older Index 1982 and Baring 1965 maps, not the new "2014 US Topo". 

You'll need a "Mountaineers approved" compass which you need to purchase before attending the Workshop. Unfortunately you can't share a map or compass with a friend of family member during the course. Some local stores might run out of the model you want so it's recommended you buy a compass well in advance. Only specific compasses will be accepted, so before purchasing a compass make sure to read our compass requirements. Please note that the blue "Brunton O.S.S." compasses are not acceptable.

Course Materials

You must register for this course to see course materials.