Hittin' the Trails
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: lethbridge, alberta, Canada.
I must be old school... I figure route finding skills are probably more important than technical skills. It is a developed skills whose learning curve, like technical proficiency, seems to vary between people.
Trailheads, junctions, etc. are nice to know, but missing them is usually just a matter of convenience and comfort (a cold hungry night out or missed objective at worst). GPS help here seems fine (however a good spider-sense always seems appreciated within groups).
As people suggest, route finding on semi-technical scrambling terrain is a different matter. Technical GPS help here is, at least to me, a dangerous trap to fall into. Certainly some peaks may just have a single band to thread through. In these situations you'll often be fine relying on a GPS to find the right spot. But what happens when something goes wrong? How many days till the next party? Are you patient enough to wait it out, or will impatience and discomfort lead you to risky gamble?
As mentioned, thinking of route finding as a fun technical problem has become very much under-appreciated. Comfortable new routing on unknown peaks is at least as much fun as hard, aesthetic route repeats.