Exploring the Course Map Symbols For Orienteering

international orienteering map symbols

Exploring the Course Map Symbols For Orienteering

Before jumping into the activity of orienteering, you should know how it’s done and what symbols are commonly used to denote the route. The Orienteering Association International (OAI) has been keeping its course map symbols for decades. The course map symbols have been a part of the Orienteering Association’s training for years. For instance, on course maps of mountain courses in Europe, OAI uses the blue or orange circles on the compass points to indicate climbs.

The most common symbol used by OAI is the four pointed star. The symbol is derived from the classic eight-point star that was first used by the British Mountaineering Club in 1922. According to the organization, the eight point star with its pointed points looks like an upside down pyramid, which is symbolic of the OAI motto “over-achieve, over-travel and over-eat.”

In fact, OAI also uses a series of symbols when referring to altitude, as well as routes and distances. The primary one is the brown circle, which is frequently used in Europe for representing altitude. The brown circle is said to represent the heaven above the earth and represents the sum total of all the achievements of the climber.

According to an example given by MBA’s Oli Rittger, these additional maps can be symbols of distances. The yellow circle (or pyramid) represents the local mountain, while the red circle is for the mountain range and the black circles represent distance in kilometers. With these extra maps, the climber can figure out the route without having to look at the course map.

However, not all countries use course map symbols, so it is up to the individual to determine if they want to use these or not. Some of the symbols can be considered by some as “cute” while others may be more familiar to the climber. For instance, the four pointed star symbol comes from the Alps and is mostly used in France.

One of the important groups that uses the four pointed star as the symbol for mountain ranges is the English Orienteering Club. The star symbol is not just for mountains, but for all kinds of mountains, such as peaks, walls, gorges, ranges, river systems, and streams. There are several other countries that use this particular symbol and so you may find it hard to recognize the ones that do.

After trying several different course maps, the climber may decide to take global orientation for their adventure. As for the OAI and their course map symbols, it’s easier to find them in some of the orienteering clubs around the world. In Europe, for instance, there are many clubs that use the OAI symbols, such as the Italian Orienteering Club and the French Climbing Club.

If you can’t find any of these clubs near you, then you may need to head to a national association. It’s best to check with your state or county chapter before signing up with any club, as these will be the better representatives of your country. It is recommended that you check with the national orientation map clubs first as the individual needs to be registered in order to join the club.

It’s often easy to spot the symbols when you have the right map for each of the countries that use the course map symbols. In the United States, the continental white triangle is usually drawn in addition to the blue and orange circles, while in Canada the symbol is used in addition to the more traditional yellow circle. The greatest number of course map symbols used in Europe is the grayish-blue circle, while the symbol of the European Orienteering club is the silver and gold cross.

All the course map symbols are identical and so it is important to be aware of them. It’s best that you are familiar with the symbols of the countries that you will be visiting as well as those that you’ll be trying to conquer in order to avoid any confusion. Of course, it’s best that you stay on the safe side and have some sort of idea about course map symbols so that you can keep track of which you’ve already gained, which you need to do in order to win the next race.

aeorienteering.com is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Dustin Johns

I love orienteering and hiking. The best part about it is that it's a sport for anyone, of any age or ability. I learned it when I was young, and I've been doing it often ever since.

I love how the Earth feels, and how free you feel when you're a part of nature. I love the way everything looks so different and so spectacular with your eyes wide open in an unfamiliar location under the bright sun. I love pushing myself to explore new places and discover my own limits as well as conquering new challenges. I love going on long walks and interacting with local people in small villages.