When I was in Scotland last week, we met a man approaching the top of Ben Macdui in a whiteout, carrying a bottle of evian in one hand and his phone in the other for navigation. He told us his phone was already on less than 50% battery. We were relying on constant bearings and were still really having to think. Half our footsteps were gone by the time we had turned round and the snow was blowing in our face. Cold, icy snow that hurt! The return was 10km. We gave him a heads up about his current situation and left him to it as he wanted to push on. It's not my place to make anyone turn round, though I was a bit worried he was going to get into trouble, which in that environment, could easily mean death. That's not me being dramatic or intended to invite insults to him (I'll block you) but shows how dangerous walking round with your phone can be, especially in winter. During the talk yesterday, one of the instructors described a similar experience recently in Snowdonia. If people tell you it's ok to navigate the mountains with a only phone, just politely smile and disregard any further advice from them regarding outdoor activities!
You might 'get away with it' as might the people who tell you it's ok to do, but you'll only ever be getting away with it. That's different to being competent.
Proper navigation skills are core building blocks for a successful, safe and efficient lifestyle in the mountains.
GPS units/phones are great for a quick back up to confirm a location. Even a proper GPS unit, when following someone else's route choice, is a poor substitute for understanding of terrain and the judgement of what is safe or not and the ability to be flexible with plans. A map & spare, can be printed off for a quid. Two compasses = £40-50. One GPS unit = £2-300? Can you afford two? I can't afford one! What do you do if it fails?
It's not a slagging match, or a put down of people who choose to navigate that way, but a highlight of some flaws. Also I'm running out of space and it's a cheeky excuse to promote the next nav course on Sunday 1st December. £40. Message for details 😝