Frenchman Doubleheader – Part 1

   Event #3/8 in the Ultimate Orienteer Series!

Come on out for our second doubleheader weekend in the 2021 Ultimate Orienteer Series in the legendary Frenchman Coulee/Spring area. It might seem far but we go where the terrain is fabulous! We’re mixing it up this time:

COVID Operating Protocols

If you sign up for this event, you will be asked to read and agree to follow our COVID Operating Protocols. Our use permits are contingent on our ability to demonstrate that we can hold safe events, so we thank you in advance for helping us make this happen.

Fill out the COVID Assessment Form.

Download a PDF of control descriptions.


Temperatures are expected to be above freezing during the day and below freezing at night, with little to no snow. There’s a WSDOT traffic camera near Vantage that you can check for snow cover.


See Visit Vantage for information about camping and lodging near Vantage (approximately 11 miles southwest). Vantage is very small and has few facilities.

Many people stay in Quincy (approximately 19 miles north), which is farther away but has more services, including several motels, gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants. Visit Tour Grant County (scroll down to Quincy) for details.

Other Things to Do

The map terrain and surrounding areas are unique and beautiful. Below are some other things to explore nearby.

  1. Wanapum Dam
  2. Crab Creek map area (25 miles south)
  3. Gingko Petrified Forest (interpretive center open by appointment only through March)
  4. Quincy Ancient Lakes – this area north of Frenchman Coulee has primitive camping areas and hiking with great views, as well as 2 orienteering maps
  5. Wineries – while there are several in the area, most are closed at this time of year; an exception is Cave B Winery and Resort
  6. The Gorge Amphitheatre
  7. Wild Horse Monument (a quick stop from eastbound I-90)


Course Controls Length Climb
Beginner 13 2.3 km 50 m
Intermediate 13 2.5 km 75 m
Short Advanced 14 3.7 km 135 m
Medium Advanced 17 4.4 km 145 m
Long Advanced 20 5.8 km 165 m

What is my age class?

Middle Distance Course/Class Assignments for Ultimate points

If you want to earn Ultimate points, check the table below to see which category you should sign up for. Find your age class in the left column, then follow the row across to the right until you find the dark orange cell. That is your “assigned” category.

For example, if you’re a female 16 or under, your Ultimate age class is F-16 and, for this event, is assigned to the Intermediate course. If you are up for a more challenging course, you can also earn points in F-18 on the Short Advanced course, or F-21+ on the Long Advanced course. Just keep in mind that other courses are more difficult, both navigationally and physically.  Also keep in mind that you’ll be earning points only in the class you sign up for.


How are courses measured?

Courses are measured as the crow flies, in a direct line from control to control. Unless you have wings, you will travel farther than this distance! Courses are measured in kilometers, so a good rule of thumb is to simply round up to miles to estimate how far you will go. So in a 5 kilometer race, you’ll likely travel up to 5 miles.


The Frenchman Coulee area is an open semi-desert landscape comprised of variable rock features.  In line with the coulee definition, cliffs are prevalent and should be approached with caution.  The vegetation is variable from non-existent to thick sage brush.  The terrain is runnable, however lots of critter holes/tunnels exist increasing odds of ankle injuries.  Where there are critter holes, there are snakes.  Gaiters are HIGHLY recommended.  There are known rattlesnake nests in surrounding areas and controls were not placed in these locations.  With that in mind, snakes migrate small distances through the season, so be aware where you step.  While scouting the area, we encountered a snake at close proximity, so we know they are active.

In general, only distinct objects are mapped.  There are multiple animal paths that are not included on the map. You will also find that some mapped trails have experienced vegetation growth and are no longer as distinct as they use to be, while there are others extend further than previously mapped.  Mapped cliff faces may not be a smooth cliff face, but rather a pile of rocks or boulder cluster.  Piles of small rocks may be mapped as a knoll.

The start will be a walk-in of approximately 0.5 km.  Please follow flagging directly to the start from the bathroom area near the Vantage Camping Site just past The Feathers.  As a popular climbing area, the parking area was extremely busy and full at our last visit.  Make accommodation for this when planning arrival time.  Map to start is included in the course notes here.

Tread lightly

Tread lightly on the land: if the ground is wet, avoid leaving footprints by staying on rocks where possible, not disturbing any rock features such as piles, stacks or cairns, avoiding cactus, and brushing off pants to remove plant seeds before leaving the course.

Sensitive Plant

Snowball cactus (Pediocactus nigrispinus) grows in this area. It’s been designated a sensitive species, so if you see any, please avoid stepping on or near it.


Pre-registration only!

9:30am-12:30pm – Starts (start times are pre-assigned; sign up for a start time when you register; if you don’t, we’ll pick one for you)
2:30pm – Courses close*

*Wear a watch to ensure that you return to the finish by course closure time, even if you have to abandon your course to do soThose returning after course closure will be disqualified and will make the volunteer staff very grumpy.


If you didn’t sign up for a start time when you registered, here’s the signup sheet. The signup sheet will be locked at 9pm Thursday. If you have any changes after that, please send email to


Why is there a start window?

This event uses an interval start, which means that participants are started in waves instead of all at once. When you arrive at the start tent, find the chute for your course and follow the start volunteer’s instructions.


Note: To cover additional permitting costs associated with this event, fees are slightly higher than our Seattle-area events.

Pre-registration is required

$13 – Cascade OC members*
$18 – non-members*

*Add $5 to rent an epunch stick

Become a member for $5-20

Want to buy your own epunch stick?

While we do offer rentals, we encourage everyone to purchase their own epunch stick. If you’d like to take the plunge, the nearest supplier is in California. We recommend purchasing either SI-9 , SI-10, or Air+ sticks. Other vendors can be found here.

What’s an e-punch?

An e-punch records your race. At each control, you’ll dip the e-punch into an electronic box, which will beep and flash as confirmation. After you finish, you’ll download the e-punch at the download tent and get a receipt that show which controls you visited and how long you took between each; these are your “splits.”

Part of the fun of orienteering is comparing your splits with people who completed the same course, and discussing the routes you took!


Online pre-registration only! Closes Thursday before the event at 9pm.

Learn more about volunteering

Volunteers make these events happen! You can volunteer and participate on the same day, plus earn volunteer points to earn a free meet.



Discover Pass Required

You will need a Discover Pass to park at Frenchman Coulee. You can purchase a Discover Pass (annual or one-day) online or in person at many hunting/fishing license vendors or at several retail locations. Check the Discover Pass website for details.

The parking area at Frenchman Coulee is relatively small, with additional parking along the road. Plan to arrive in plenty of time to find a parking spot. Carpooling would also be a good choice.

Another option is to arrange to meet fellow orienteers at the boat launch at the end of Old Vantage Road and ride up to the Coulee in one vehicle. More details are available on Sunday’s event page.


Looking for a carpool? Join the COC email group and share your request to find a ride.



The terrain is open semi-desert with large coulee/rock/cliff features (lots of climbing activity near by). What little vegetation there is is dominated by sage brush.

The most prevalent symbol on the map – rough open land. Land cover is very rugged – small stones, cliffs, big stones, boulders. Very tiring for the feet and knees.


The footing is tricky, there are many high cliffs (the uncrossable cliff symbol is used for dangerous locations where you must not go).

Pits – in lower places which are a bit wetter throughout the year, but not enough to form a pond, meadows can be found. Some parts of the map have been used for livestock and people seem to have tried to get water in some organized shape. Several pits and rocky pits can be found there. Rocky pits can be fallen into. Please don’t do that.

Footing – cliffs with sand are slippery, stones roll, ankles too. Please be careful.

Snakes – there are rattlesnakes from May through about September, depending on weather. While it’s unlikely you’ll see any, be aware that they are out there.

Read more on the map page

Navigational Challenge: 7/10

Physical Challenge: 7/10


Return to the Finish
All participants MUST return to the finish and download their e-punch or turn in their punch card.

Even if you have not finished your course, you must still return to the the finish and confirm with event staff that you have returned safely.

Out of Bounds
Some areas may be marked out of bounds. It is imperative to respect these boundaries to maintain our relationships with land managers. Participants MUST NOT go out of bounds. Any participant caught going out of bounds will be disqualified.

Course Closure
All participants MUST return to the finish by course closure time. If a participant does not return by course closure, event volunteers will begin coordinating a search party.

If you need a long time on the course, start as early in the start window as possible, wear a watch, and be prepared to cut your course short to make it back by the course closure time.

All participants MUST carry a whistle on the course. Complimentary whistles are available at the start tent (please only take one).

If you are injured on the course and need assistance, blow three long blasts to call for help.

If you hear a call for help, abandon your course to find the person in distress.

Part of the fun and fairness of orienteering is navigating your own course, so please be polite when you find a checkpoint and don’t holler that you’ve found it.