Orienteering maps can be incredibly detailed. Depending on the terrain, this can cause the orienteer to get overfocused on reading minor details on the map and subsequently slow down as a result. This is where route options with less detailed orienteering and more use of larger features can help the orienteer keep up their speed. For example, this may include running to a large obvious feature such as a hill top or along a handrail on a longer route, instead of going across country in complex terrain.

Simplification is a technqiue, where the orienteer deliberately tries to focus on using big and/or obvious features to navigate by. This can permit the orienteer to choose routes that they can navigate more quickly. It also can reduce the potential risk of making an error.



To illustrate an example of simplification, have a look at the map on the right. You are trying to head from Control 5 to 6 in what looks like complex steep terrain. Optimally, you would like to avoid any unneccesary climb. Can you see a good route?

If you look closely you can see a potential route using the handrail heading almost directly north and skirting the east side of the prominent hill feature. The handrail will help get you on your way to the control and then you could use the open forest to connect to the next trail fork, which makes a good attack point. From the attack point it is easy to follow along the base of the hill to the control feature - a small cliff.




If you simplify the map detail to what you really need, the route becomes even more obvious.  Focus on the large features and the ones you really need to navigate. In this case, the first trail fork where you will turn right, the trail bend where you know you will need to start going cross-country, and the small trail at the north end of the big hill which can be used as a catching feature to lead you into your attack point, which is the other the trail junction. There is no need to keep track of the many cliffs, just use the main shape of the hill for reference. By keeping it on your left, you will ensure you don't accidentally overrun your attack point.

What once look complicated, now seems easy to visualize. Now go at full speed to head to the control!





Let's see simplification being used in an orienteering context. Here is another great video produced by the South London Orienteers (SLOW) to explain this technique.



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