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#1414 - 12/23/09 09:25 PM Oregon may require locator beacons for Mt. Hood
Bee Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1261
Loc: Northern California
Oregon may require locator beacons for Mt. Hood expeditions

The recent death and disappearance of three climbers on Oregon's 11,249-foot Mt. Hood has revived debate about requiring mountaineers to carry personal locator beacons on the mountain.


http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/outposts/2009/12/mt-hood-locator-beacons.html
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The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.

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#1416 - 12/23/09 10:17 PM Re: Oregon may require locator beacons for Mt. Hood [Re: Bee]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7584
Loc: Fresno, CA
That sure makes sense to me.

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#1427 - 12/24/09 07:16 AM Re: Oregon may require locator beacons for Mt. Hoo [Re: Steve C]
KevinR Offline


Registered: 11/03/09
Posts: 592
Loc: Manchester, NH
Anyone know exactly what devices would be considered an acceptable locater beacon? Do the lower cost devices, like the Spot or Spot 2, qualify?

Based upon news accounts I've read, the devices are rented for as little as $5, so my hunch is that is for either a Spot ($100 MSRP) or the Spot 2($150 MSRP).

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#1428 - 12/24/09 08:15 AM Re: Oregon may require locator beacons for Mt. Hood [Re: Steve C]
Bob R Offline


Registered: 10/27/09
Posts: 129
Loc: Ridgecrest, California
Originally Posted By: Steve C
That sure makes sense to me.


Please tell us you're kidding.

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#1429 - 12/24/09 08:46 AM Re: Oregon may require locator beacons for Mt. Hood [Re: Bob R]
Rod Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 660
Loc: Santa Clarita, Ca. USA
Bob R wouldn't that be a help to SAR. Curious on your perspective. Is that too much governmental intervention into an adventurers freedom? I can see both sides. Especially when Mt. Hood has been such a death trap for those heading into well forecasted storms.

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#1430 - 12/24/09 10:31 AM Re: Oregon may require locator beacons for Mt. Hood [Re: Bee]
+ @ti2d Offline


Registered: 10/22/09
Posts: 830
Loc: Oh Cursed, USA
Okay, read the blog...

1. PLBs: Good idea? Electronic things do fail, then what?

2. I suggest electrodes to the brain. When brain detects imminent danger, signal transmitted to basecamp of some loved ones. "Danger, Danger, Danger! Proceed?" "Hell no! get your butt off the mountain. Climb later when weather is more nicer." "No way. Type T behavior wanting more. Hitting override button. Gotta summit the Hood!" "Life insurance cover mountaineering accidents?" "Affirmative." "You are on your own, pal. Hope you brought along extra batteries."

Just my opinion.

Happy Holidays!
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Have fun and enjoy the Gr8 Yd Opn.

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#1431 - 12/24/09 01:03 PM Re: Oregon may require locator beacons for Mt. Hood [Re: Bee]
RoguePhotonic Offline


Registered: 12/08/09
Posts: 558
Loc: Bakersfield CA
I think it's a horrible idea, I value personal liberty to the point I wont even own a cell phone because it can be used as a locator, if things like that became mandatory, it's one psychological step away from accepting mandatory Verichips for every person.

Now I wouldn't mind if the ranger stations offered either for rent or for free locator beacons that are voluntary, people have the right to choose and I think people have the right to put their own lives in any level of danger because well it's our lives right? I guess people argue that if I die some where that someone has to pay to remove my body, can't I just sign a form saying no one has to? if I died on a mountain especially one as beautiful as Hood I would want my body to be left up there.
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#1432 - 12/24/09 02:04 PM Re: Oregon may require locator beacons for Mt. Hood [Re: RoguePhotonic]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7584
Loc: Fresno, CA
I suppose from the libertarian view point, we shouldn't require those things. Of course, I feel the same way about motorcycle helmets and seat belts; even helmets for kids on bicycles. Heck, I'd even vote to drop the fines for speeding tickets to something like $25 so the two-wheeled tax collectors could find better work.

But for the missing climbers families, they may be wishing their lost loved ones had been carrying SOMETHING that could have helped to find them.

Bob, I'd like to hear a little more than those few words why you feel that way.

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#1434 - 12/24/09 03:38 PM Re: Oregon may require locator beacons for Mt. Hood [Re: Bob R]
hikehigh Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 28
Loc: 20.12345 -101.12345
Originally Posted By: Bob R
Please tell us you're kidding.


I agree with Bob. I don't want the Forest service or anyone else tracking my every move in the wilderness.

If they require you to carry a beacon, next they will fine you if your beacon shows you left the trail, cut a switchback or entered the wilderness 2 hours before your permit allowed. Who knows, maybe they will make you swallow a transmitter so they can find out if you actually used your wagbag or not...... smile

More importantly, it gives people a false sense of security and may lead people to make choices they would not if they didn't have the beacon.
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#1437 - 12/24/09 10:26 PM Re: Oregon may require locator beacons for Mt. Hood [Re: Bee]
RoguePhotonic Offline


Registered: 12/08/09
Posts: 558
Loc: Bakersfield CA
Quote:
But for the missing climbers families, they may be wishing their lost loved ones had been carrying SOMETHING that could have helped to find them.


It still falls down to personal choice, it's a bit much to say our families should have more control of our lives then we have, when it comes to family the debate is better left there.

Hikehigh is also correct in saying it opens the door for other actions, your beacon will undoubtedly be connected to your permit which could create all sorts of problems, an example is a hike I was on last summer, I was heading for the Whitney zone to resupply and double back but was forced to turn around and make a new route out off the mountains, the permit laws allow you to leave the wilderness for no more then 24 hours before you re-enter or you have to get a new permit, although I was on schedule on my permit by the time I was able to get to the Whitney zone I had been officially out of the wilderness for almost 48 hours, and what are the odds of me actually being able to get a permit to enter the Whitney Zone?



Edited by RoguePhotonic (12/24/09 10:27 PM)
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#1438 - 12/24/09 10:52 PM Re: Oregon may require locator beacons for Mt. Hood [Re: RoguePhotonic]
Bee Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1261
Loc: Northern California
Most of the people I know who carry a SPOT device do so at the insistance of their family (mine was a birthday gift)But, you want to know the REAL deterrent that guards me from making conscious foolish mistakes on the mountain? It's the tabloid nature of these message boards -- I can hardly stand my picture to be taken, much less, the thought of having the gory details of some stupid mishap that I may experience posted over and over and OVER again blush
_________________________
The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.

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#1439 - 12/25/09 06:44 AM Re: Oregon may require locator beacons for Mt. Hoo [Re: Bee]
KevinR Offline


Registered: 11/03/09
Posts: 592
Loc: Manchester, NH
I did a quick Google search on locator beacons, and read this at http://www.sarsat.noaa.gov/emerbcns.html.

Wouldn't much of the same logic apply to climbers on some of the more dangerous mountains, especially the impact on SAR personnel? Haven't there been several SAR serious injury/deaths on Hood in recent years?

"Presently, most aircraft operators are mandated to carry an ELT and have the option to choose between either a 121.5 MHz ELT or a 406 MHz ELT. The Federal Aviation Administration has studied the issue of mandating carriage of 406 MHz ELTs. The study indicates that 134 extra lives and millions of dollars in SAR resources could be saved per year. The only problem is that 406 MHz ELTs currently cost about $1,500 and 121.5 MHz ELTs cost around $500. It's easy to see one reason for the cost differential when you look at the numbers.However, no one can argue the importance of 406 MHz ELTs and the significant advantages they hold."

As for PLB's encouraging people to hike and climb beyond their limits - I'm not particularly persuaded by that point of view. Every advance in clothing and gear is met with some resistance, often citing this very reason, but ... the evidence seems to indicate that injuries/deaths decrease overall, anecdotal stories notwithstanding.

There are personal freedom issues, however, as Steve C. points out. Weighing the benefits to society (i.e., family, SAR, etc) vs. personal liberties is a thorny one.

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#1441 - 12/25/09 09:29 AM Re: Oregon may require locator beacons for Mt. Hoo [Re: KevinR]
Rod Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 660
Loc: Santa Clarita, Ca. USA
Great information Kevin. I agree it is a slippery slope and the issues of personal freedom weighs heavily in the discusion. So does personal responsibilty.With that said accidents happen.SARs do have to be performed at great expense.Some SARs are not successful in either getting to a person that is alive in time or even locating the body for the family.

I took this little portion of info from Kevins articles.

Prior to July 1st, 2003 only residents of Alaska had been able to use PLBs. The Alaska PLB Program was set up to test the capabilities of PLBs and their potential impact on SAR resources. Since March of 1995, the experiment proved very successful and helped save nearly 400 lives while generating only a few false alerts. The success of the Alaska PLB program undoubtedly paved the way for nationwide usage of these devices.



Edited by Rod (12/25/09 09:30 AM)

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#1443 - 12/25/09 11:12 AM Re: Oregon may require locator beacons for Mt. Hoo [Re: Rod]
Ken Offline


Registered: 10/29/09
Posts: 742
Loc: Los Angeles
I'm not sure I understand the opposition. The argument that we like to preserve the right to make stupid decisions?

I don't like stop signs, but after a bunch of fatal accidents at a particular intersection, I say, put in a stop sign. Does that mean I favor stop signs at ALL intersections? No.

We have a hell of a lot of mountains in America. I don't see happening, what I see happen repeatedly on Mt Hood, year after year. They appear to have a problem. They are trying to find solutions to the problem, that we do NOT have on Whitney.

I suppose it comes down to whether one prefers to PREVENT heart attacks, or TREAT heart attacks.

The PLB's currently on the market do NOT track one's movement (unless one sets up the SPOT to do that.) You cannot track someone with a cell phone (unless you make the decision to turn it on). You have to activate the PLB's for them to do ANYTHING.

"Take the SEARCH, out of Search And Rescue".

However, the legitimate issue for me, is would the use of PLB's save lives? If it did, it seems straightforward. If it was only useful for recoveries, I'd say no. I've got to look at the Alaska experience and see what that says.

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#1444 - 12/25/09 11:25 AM Re: Oregon may require locator beacons for Mt. Hoo [Re: Ken]
Ken Offline


Registered: 10/29/09
Posts: 742
Loc: Los Angeles
http://www.sarsat.noaa.gov/akplb.html
http://www.sarsat.noaa.gov/emerbcns.html

Hmm, the Alaska experience is interesting. When you think about it, they are primarily interested in people who live and work in the harshest environment. When we recreate in such areas, we are the briefest of visitors, who have only minor knowledge, compared to residents.

Norman Clyde might have been one who crossed that boundary in our Sierra. George Durkee would be a modern equivalent. It seems that such people are constantly disappointed in what us visitors do and think about the places in which we are brief visitors.

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#1445 - 12/25/09 12:53 PM Re: Oregon may require locator beacons for Mt. Hood [Re: Steve C]
Bob R Offline


Registered: 10/27/09
Posts: 129
Loc: Ridgecrest, California
Originally Posted By: Steve C
Bob, I'd like to hear a little more than those few words why you feel that way.

There are two parts to my answer.

First, it's the idea of a broad-brush reaction to a problem that barely exists. Every year, about 10,000 people climb Mt. Hood, with an average of 1.3 dying from all causes. Comparing the deaths from falling and avalanches to those who go astray, what small fraction of that 0.00013 would have been saved with PLBs?

Regarding SAR fatalities on Mt. Hood: Apparently one, in the early '90s, an avalanche victim.

Other technology such as transceivers and helmets can ameliorate risk, too, and behavior can as well; but again the fractions are miniscule. Common sense can go a long way to keeping it that way. Don't mandate them.

We all assess risks, and act accordingly. I eschew some technology and conventional wisdom that would arguably make me safer, because it gives me the freedom I so enjoy. My decision. By the way, my wife accepted long ago that I will probably die up there. But she knows what I get out of mountaineering, supports it one hundred percent, and our family is stronger because of my passion and immersion in it. She sleeps well at night.

So the second part is about what Helen Keller said:

"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature,
nor do the children of men as a whole experience it.
Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure.
Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing."


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#1446 - 12/25/09 01:27 PM Re: Oregon may require locator beacons for Mt. Hood [Re: Bee]
RoguePhotonic Offline


Registered: 12/08/09
Posts: 558
Loc: Bakersfield CA
Quote:
I'm not sure I understand the opposition. The argument that we like to preserve the right to make stupid decisions?


Exactly, to argue that point you could argue banning the right to make any stupid decision such as eating food that is bad for you.

I do know that PLBs do not track you, they are quite different then an RFID system but I still am against mandatory use, I live by the old standard of never give an inch because tomorrow they will want the rest.
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#1448 - 12/25/09 05:22 PM Re: Oregon may require locator beacons for Mt. Hoo [Re: RoguePhotonic]
KevinR Offline


Registered: 11/03/09
Posts: 592
Loc: Manchester, NH
I'm not vested in the outcome at to whether locator beacons will be required since I figure that if they do become a requirement and I develop a strong opinion against using them, it would be a simple matter to make them inoperable by inserting the batteries incorrectly.

While I don't have a strong opinion on locator beacons, I do regarding the ferocity of weather systems in the northern Cascades due to their latitude, proximity to the ocean, and weather patterns. I've been in some weather on Hood where I've wondered about the wisdom of walking from the parking lot up to Timberline Lodge, and can only speculate what it might be like 3K' higher.

I'm no expert on cell phone technology and their "tracking" capability, particularly since that technology evolves rapidly. However, at a bare minimum, your carrier "knows" where your cell phone is, at least to the nearest tower, as that's the way calls to your cell phone are resolved. And, my hunch is Admiral Poindexter has access to it as well if he so chooses. Who else does I can only speculate.

Finally - the quote from Helen Keller is one to ponder, at least briefly, for me. Where I begin to trip is her use of "danger", almost as an absolute, when in practice danger is relative. Without a detailed explanation as to how she uses the word I'm left rather frustrated by her actual meaning. Obviously, YMMV.

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#1449 - 12/25/09 10:37 PM Re: Oregon may require locator beacons for Mt. Hoo [Re: KevinR]
dbd Offline


Registered: 11/09/09
Posts: 210
Loc: San Diego
Originally Posted By: KevinR
I'm not vested in the outcome at to whether locator beacons will be required since I figure that if they do become a requirement and I develop a strong opinion against using them, it would be a simple matter to make them inoperable by inserting the batteries incorrectly.


None of the current locator beacons transmit while being carried in the backcountry until you decide there is an emergency and turn it on. For PLBs the turn on is interpreted as the request for rescue. Higher priced PLBs can send out your GPS location when they are turned on. Once started, PLBs emit a locator signal for 24 hours. The Mt Hood MLBs are also carried inactivated. Activating the beacon does not start a search. A call of some kind is required to start a search. The start of a search does not turn on the beacon, the person carrying it must do that.

The SPOT unit is not a locator beacon. It is a signaling device. It operates in the mode set by the user (including OFF). It can send out your GPS location if you choose. It also has message types to signal request for different levels of assistance.

Quote:
...
I'm no expert on cell phone technology and their "tracking" capability, particularly since that technology evolves rapidly. However, at a bare minimum, your carrier "knows" where your cell phone is, at least to the nearest tower, as that's the way calls to your cell phone are resolved. And, my hunch is Admiral Poindexter has access to it as well if he so chooses. Who else does I can only speculate.
...


Cell phones only transmit and become locatable when you tern them on. In backcountry areas without reception, many people choose to carry the phones turned off to preserve battery life. With some systems you can expect shorter battery life in areas at the edge of coverage than you achieve in cities. Where there is no coverage there is no tracking even if the cell phone is on.

Whatever device you might carry or why you might carry it, there is not transmission until you choose to activate it. The only candidate for required carry is carried unpowered until you want someone to be able to find you and even then the activation does not trigger a search.

The Alaska experience with PLBs is an interesting case. Devices have been used on all means of transportation including airplanes, boats and snowmobiles and by hunters, fishermen and anyone traveling in remote areas, not just mountaineers. It's a lot like the auto club except for the paid service providers.

Dale B. Dalrymple
http://dbdimages.com

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#1453 - 12/26/09 10:45 AM Re: Oregon may require locator beacons for Mt. Hood [Re: Bee]
Bob West Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 828
Loc: Bishop, CA, USA
Are we going the way of the former Soviet Union, which had government mandated mountaineering courses to qualify students as "Master of Sport" before to allowing them to climb the hard stuff?

The idea of a Nanny government doesn't sit well with me. Unfortunately...

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