Overdue Hiker


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mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Nov 4, 2012 - 03:10pm PT


Just two of the many reports. I found these by going Google Images shopping.
Not all missing hikers are lost. Just unfortunate. Whatever the reason, the people out there looking are the real deal and deserve everyone's thanks and prayers.

It's not the most fun thing to get to find "the surpise" and not everyone's able to stomach the job of dealing with the find. I've talked to Merry Braun. She's not cold-blooded, certainly, but she is sometimes able to deal with thigs Werner and the others cannot. She's able to turn it off, not that she's immune to empathy, herself. She does whats necessary. More or less her own words, no sh#t.

And it's so newsworthy, this rescue business. People slam the media for overdoing things. Fair enough. But where would we be without their missing persons notifications, their amber alerts, and their internet postings? (Or might I better ask where would some formerly missing persons be?)

On point, does anyone have info on the results of either or both of the searches in the links above?
Don Paul

Big Wall climber
Colombia, South America
Nov 4, 2012 - 03:24pm PT
Seems to me all you would need would be a device that tracks you all the time, and let other people decide if you need a rescue. I think these things exist already, used by private security companies in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. It contains a gps so knows where it is, but I'm not sure how it communicates.

Nov 4, 2012 - 03:36pm PT
They are available for cars. Need internet access. And a 12 volt battery.


Mighty Hiker

Vancouver, B.C.
Nov 4, 2012 - 04:19pm PT
There are several variants possible on a dead man's switch type transmitter. All subject to physical and human limitations, but some worth considering. They seem to range from:

1. Gadget that automatically broadcasts a message to say that you're OK, but not where you are, once a day - unless you intervene to tell it not to, or it isn't working.

2. #1, with the addition that it also broadcasts your location.

3. Gadget that automatically broadcasts a message to say that you're NOT OK, and where you are - unless you tell it otherwise.

4. Gadget (i.e. SPOT) that broadcasts a message with sub-texts, but only when you tell it to. Message ranging from "I'm OK" to "I'm OK, here's where I am" to "Here's where I am" to "I'm not OK, here's where I am" to "I'm not OK, here's where I am, I need help asap".

All dependent on human, mechanical and electronic failings, and also somewhat dependent on education of those who receive the messages. And there'll always be a significant number of false positives and false negatives. As observed upthread, it may overall still save rescuer time and resources.

Of course, a modern telephone, if in range and turned on, may continually tell observers where you are...

Trad climber
Fumbling towards stone
Nov 4, 2012 - 06:39pm PT
If you are using the "check-in" button daily, then this is typically going to narrow down your general vicinity. There's only so far one can go in one day.

Of course, if you become delirious for some reason and continue to wander without checking in, then that makes it harder.

Ain't no guarantees in this business!
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
USA Moundhouse Nev. and land o da SLEDS!
Nov 4, 2012 - 06:44pm PT
Every year two of my climbing buddies go on an extended back country trip- normally OFF most any major trail. They map out ahead of time a proposed route. Yet when they check in with spot often times in reality they go different ways. I enjoy being kept up to date especially during stormy periods etc, and know by the camp locations how they are doing and where they will likely head the next day. Weve not had issue one with the Spot locator, as far as mis-messaging or any of the like. Its good for folks like PARENTS that we climbers have put through or are putting through hell worrying over our selfish exploits!
Jon Beck

Trad climber
Nov 4, 2012 - 08:43pm PT
JMuir would be shocked at the gear any of us feel compelled to carry, and I am not referring to Spot. Five hundred dollar boots, Gortex gear, high tech tents, titanium sporks, it is all stuff to make life better and/or safer. A personal locator is just another "improvement".

When I was younger I would deliberately not tell people where I was going. now that I am a single dad of a nine year old I have to hedge my bets. I travel and climb in a much different style. The thought of me dying and leaving my son alone is sheer torture.

More people are taking bigger risks. Beacons make life safer for both the party carrying it, as well as everyone else who might be in the back country. I completely understand the view that such a device diminishes the challenge. It is a valid point that one goes into the back country to get away, be self sufficient and totally responsible for their well being. Will Spot become a crutch, much like cams have?
The user formerly known as stzzo

Sneaking up behind you
Nov 4, 2012 - 09:32pm PT
I completely understand the view that such a device diminishes the challenge. It is a valid point that one goes into the back country to get away, be self sufficient and totally responsible for their well being. Will Spot become a crutch, much like cams have?

Any tool can be viewed as a crutch. The automobile that transports tired, hungry, and cold "self-sufficient" hikers back to warmth and food is included.

Ask the one-legged (wo)man whether (s)he gives a damn about style points lost by the crutch.

Paso Robles, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 7, 2012 - 09:07pm PT
Thanks to the dedicated men and woman of the SAR teams and others for making the serious effort to find Larry Conn.

Perhaps one day we may know of his fate......

Rest In Peace Larry, rest in peace.

Trad climber
Ridgway, CO
Nov 7, 2012 - 09:13pm PT
If you are really worried about being "located" when you are injured, lost or deceased, just get micro-chipped and all your problems are solved!

Trad climber
San Diego, CA
Nov 7, 2012 - 11:04pm PT
It is called Wilderness for a good reason. Accept it.
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Feb 9, 2013 - 02:02pm PT
We just posted a review at OutdoorGearLab.com on Personal Locator Beacons and Satellite Messengers. More important to this discussion is our article that explains how the different satellite networks work and how the devices communicate with them that you can see here http://www.outdoorgearlab.com/Emergency-Electronics-Reviews/Buying-Advice

A big issue we found in the review is that many devices, because they work inconsistently, can actually raise the stress level of family members, friends who are tracking them.

From the review:

A popular anecdote illustrating a drawback of any satellite messenger device which performs with less than 100 percent consistency is that if your contacts are expecting to receive “okay” messages from you, then not receiving them is almost a guaranteed source of stress. If your family or significant other is expecting to receive “okay” messages at a certain frequency, and then they do not, it could cause them to raise the alarm unnecessarily. Indeed, there are many reported cases of this documented by rescue services, and many stories of a messaging device causing, instead of alleviating, stress for people who are tracking the progress of the user.

There are pros and cons to the SEND devices vs. PLB's. And of course there is always the argument (stated earlier) that these devices encourage taking unnecessary risks.... but that argument, while maybe true in a minority of cases, doesn't seem to hold up for the majority. Would you tell someone to not take a avalanche beacon when skiing in the back country because it is going to increase their risk-taking? Or tell someone to not wear a seat belt when driving?
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