In the next of our stories focusing on how ViewRanger is used in many different areas and professions, we speak with Paul Platt, mountaineering instructor, and ViewRanger fan.
Hello, who are you?
My name is Paul Platt, I live in the Lake District with my family and manage two outdoor companies and Chair the Association of Mountaineering Instructors (AMI).
I was fortunate enough to go to a school in London that valued outdoor education. It was compulsory for 2nd year students (year 8 for those not as old as me) to visit Hillingdon Venture base; trips to that centre during my school life changed everything for me: I needed to be in the mountains!
After 10 years living in North Wales where I worked primarily at Kent Mountain Centre and Plas y Brenin I moved to the Lakes in 1999.
I have been a holder of the Mountaineering Instructors Certificate (MIC) since 2000 and I am an active climber and mountaineer.
I have travelled extensively since the late 80’s to climb mountains and rock. I’m sure life would be far simpler without the desire to climb but it has taken me to some fantastic places, I’ve met some great people (my wife included) and I’m happy.
Please tell us about your company, Apex Training (where are you based, what do you do, who are your clients)
Apex Training (www.mountainleadercourses.co.uk) delivers some of the Mountain Training walking and climbing awards. These include the Mountain Leader (ML), Single Pitch Award (SPA), Hill and Moorland Leader (HML), Lowland leader and Hill and Mountain Skills.
The company is based in the Lake District and courses are delivered at Holly How YH and Coppermines YH, both of which are in Coniston. These are fantastic locations as we can walk straight into the mountains without the need for a bus daily.
Those wishing to undertake these awards come from all over the UK. With exception of the Hill and Mountain skills, clients are primarily interested because they wish to lead parties in the UK. However many also see the ML award as a great means of improving their own mountain skills. The HML and ML award are used by teachers involved in the DofE, Scouts and Girlguiding, outdoor centres, to name but a few.
Ascent Training (http://www.ascenttraining.co.uk/) is the other company I direct and this is very varied in what it delivers. We run a number of skills courses for individuals and groups, in the mountains (summer and winter), on the rock and underground. Private guiding days are also very popular. The company has an AALS license and we deliver many activity based residential courses for schools and youth groups.
How do you use ViewRanger in your work?
Viewranger is a fantastic teaching aid for navigation, whatever the standard of client. On our Mountain Leader courses we can track the day’s progress and use it as a means to debrief the day, showing where we have been and potentially showing how we could have improved any navigation legs. An example of how this is used on these courses is the teaching of compass skills. A client who is struggling to walk either a 100m box or even a straight line is given my phone and follows their bearing. Upon completion we are then able to immediately feedback on the leg using ViewRanger, either with a ‘very well done’ or ‘look this is the issue, you drift to the right’.
So primarily with Apex Training it is a teaching aid. ML candidates are encouraged to use it as it’s quite challenging to improve your navigation ability, especially if you walk alone, and having a means to confirm your exact location or get you out of trouble is very useful.
The same applies with my work with Ascent Training. I am bold enough to state here that there have been a couple of times, in dire weather conditions, when I would really like confirmation of where I am. Indeed I could spend time with skills such as aspect of slope to confirm but switching on my phone and showing my exact location is just fantastic. Fortunately I have been correct each time.
What are, in your opinion, the benefits of using ViewRanger?
The ability to use a very accurate, inexpensive and very convenient electronic navigation aid is great.
The use of ViewRanger should never overtake the need to be proficient with a map and compass but when used to develop your navigation skills its brilliant.
Most of us (indeed probably everyone reading this blog) will have a smartphone with location ability. You are therefore able to use the app and, very conveniently, purchase just the required area and map scale for where you are walking. It’s also handy that if you replace your phone it’s easy to download the maps you’ve previously purchased.
What is your favourite ViewRanger feature?
For my work, the ability to track a route and to show our exact location is very useful. I am happy that, with the latest update, the track doesn’t start recording automatically anymore because it used to be annoying!
Personally I also use it road biking, there are loads of little lanes in the South Lakes and having an offline map on a phone is very handy.
If you use ViewRanger for work and you'd like to share your story, please email firstname.lastname@example.org