Sanna's Bag

“I never seem to have what I need when I need it. I’m going to make a belt-bag that’s bigger on the inside than on the outside, and just carry everything with me.”

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

What do you think?

There are two climbers lost on Mt. Hood. They have been lost for four bitter nights and search and rescue has been held back because of severe avalanche danger. The third member of their party was found, dead of hypothermia.

If they had rented a radio locator, they would have been found, and been home three days ago. Some people are saying that it should be mandatory for climbers and hikers to carry radio locator beacons. I don't know how you would police that but the proposal has certainly spiked debate. You can rent one for $25. You can buy one for $200 or so.

The opposing camp says, "Why should people pay to enjoy themselves in the outdoors? And if inexperienced folks have one of these locators, it will give them a false sense of security, promoting more injuries and deaths. Also, if someone has a locator, triggers it correctly, and still dies before help can arrive, well you know someone in the family will sue anyone they can blame. Who's legally responsible?

It seems like common sense to me - like carrying water, a whistle, and a thermal blanket any time you wander more than a mile in the woods. But common sense is freaking uncommon and people go for a walk on the mountain in sandals and shorts, step off the path to whizz, break an ankle and die of hypothermia just out of sight of the parking lot. Every summer! Swear ta dog! It happens every freaking year!

I'm for the mandatory beacons, but then, I'm not a climber. I can't agree that it interferes with your "authentic" experience of nature unless you intend to face nature by climbing naked and barefoot as well. And if you do, then you're dumb enough to die and good luck to you.

So what do you think? Mandatory radio beacons for mountain climbers? Or is this the first step toward universal micro-chipping to locate and identify everyone? Big Brother CAN track your every movement if you let Him.


  • At 8:54 AM , Anonymous Benita said...

    I agree that it should be mandatory. Think how much time and effort are lost trying to find someone who is usually dead by the time rescurers get there when a button can be pushed and it is known where to look. Heck, that's why I carry a cell phone in my car - to call for help if necessary.

  • At 9:15 AM , Anonymous Dave Daniels said...

    Personally, I'd consider it personal assurance to have the beacon. Heading into that kind of territory is full of risks. What's having one small piece of equipment that could save your life? (Much like a cellphone!)
    Perhaps if the federal park system made it conditional: carry the beacon and we'll come save your life. If not, you're on your own. Sorry, pal, thems the rules.
    It's amazing how uncommon common sense is at times.

  • At 12:46 PM , Anonymous Lisa Nowak said...

    I think they should be mandatory, too, and every year this debate rages when someone gets stuck on the mountain. In this case the reason the party didn't take one was because it was a short, fast climb and the weight of the gear was an issue.

    I don't think the potential of lawsuits should ever be a determining factor when ruling out common sense. Everything's a potential lawsuit. That doesn't mean avoiding one is worth the money an incident like this costs the state, or the heartache it costs the families of climbers.

    Honestly, I thought they'd made it a law the last time this happened. Guess I was wrong.

  • At 2:17 PM , Blogger Rose Lefebvre said...

    As a mother, I say a resounding YES!!!!! Some young folks (I cannot believe I said that! I am getting old!!) have such a false sense of immortality--it won't happen to me--and then they get in trouble. They like ot crry cell phones so how is this any different?? It is just a safety measure for the "just in case" incidents that can and do happen.
    I always say better safe than sorry!!!!! And boys scouts say BE PREPARED, to which I add FOR ANY UNFORESEEN CIRCUMSTANCES!!

  • At 4:06 PM , Blogger KnitTech said...

    I'm all for safety. Even the most experienced people can get lost. (Look at knitters who as for help prefacing with, I'm pretty clever but...)

  • At 4:46 PM , Blogger Donna Lee said...

    I guess it's kinda like wearing helmets on motorcycles. Of course if you want to ride "free" you have the right. But then the public should have the right to refuse to support you on life prolonging equipment when you have an accident and are brain dead.

    I'm all for requiring the beacons. If you don't take one, we don't have to come and look for you if you get lost. It sounds fair to me.

  • At 5:33 PM , Blogger Heide said...

    I think that these devices should be mandatory whenever hikers need a permit to climb a mountain, use a trail, etc. It costs a lot of money to search for these lost people and the rescuers often have to risk their own lives in the process. This is a recreational activity that these people choose to do. With the priviledge to partake in hikes and climbs there should also be responsibility on their parts. At least with the beacons the rescuers can concentrate their efforts and not waste them.

  • At 7:58 PM , Blogger Galad said...

    Seems like a practical safety measure to me.

  • At 12:55 PM , Blogger Willow said...

    While I am so very sad for the families of the lost climbers, I agree with you (and Dave). Contact saves lives. And if you want to be crass, it also saves money.

    I have a very good friend who climbs and teaches climbing. I'm going to run the question by her.

  • At 2:38 PM , Blogger Alwen said...

    I don't know one way or the other.

    I don't live by mountains, just a big lake that every year people swim out and drown in. How would you legislate to protect against that? Mandatory water wings?

    Life is unsafe. Which doesn't mean I'm ready to give it up!


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