Worth a Shot

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Bonus uses for your digital camera

Halfway up a new route, roofs and blankness loomed above. Where was the long hand crack that had lured us up here? I pulled out my camera and scrolled through photos of the face, taken earlier from camp. After identifying our position on my glowing camera screen, I saw that a short traverse rightward would bring us below the splitter, and from there the route-finding looked simple.

A digital camera can do more than capture memories of your climbs. Whether new routing in the mountains or redpointing at the crag, put your point-and-shoot to use with these tricks:

Route topos: Paper topos get torn or dropped. Take a few photos of your topo or guidebook pages for mid-route reference.

Redpoint beta video: After a section of climbing that you hope to try again another day, make a voice or video recording of what gear you needed (or wish you’d had) and any move-by-move details you might want to remember for round two.

Terrain overviews: Snap reference photos of a peak, cliff, or a convoluted approach before you begin—this is especially useful on complex or crevassed terrain. If fog or darkness is about to overtake you, take a few shots of the route ahead, and use these images to help identify your position.

Route-finding breadcrumbs: As you do a cross-country approach, take pictures of landmarks behind you for reference during the hike out.

Online beta at your fingertips: When you check online resources for route information, maps, or driving directions, bring it all along by snapping pictures of your computer screen.

Flashlight: The flash of a camera, or the flashlight app for iPhone and iPod Touch, can shed a bit of light when your headlamp goes dead.