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Four personal responsibilities of each backcountry traveler
Hikers, backpackers, peak baggers, alpine climbers, backcountry skiers,
snowshoers, snowmobilers, horsemen, hunters and other "outdoors persons"
Tell a Reliable Person where you are going, what you
are going to do and when you planned to return. Search and Rescue personnel
will want to know where you planned to park your vehicle, its description and
license number, what gear you have, the names, cell phone numbers and provider information and
experience level of your companions.
Of course, you must agree that you will
call the Reliable Person when you return to the trail head. Also, this encourages your
thoughtful setting of a "turn-around" time for your adventure.
The Reliable Person must accept the responsibility for calling the local County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue through 911 with the above information if you do not check in by an agreed-upon time. Your life may depend on a timely call to 911. Oregon Statutes require that you have left this information or you could be charged up to $500 per person reimbursement in Oregon for Sheriff’s Search and Rescue services.
Experience tells us that the Reliable Person may not understand the importance of this responsibility.
The Second Responsibility of each individual backcountry traveler or climber
is to be prepared with a light weight daypack and enough extra clothing, water,
food and selected gear to survive an emergency stop of several hours or
These Essentials are seasonal and specific trip
related and should focus on keeping you warm
and dry, hydrated, eating simple carbohydrates, and able to stay in one place.
If you become lost, signal your location, perhaps with colored tape or an
ordinary bike flasher and/or with a reflective, water and wind proof plastic 9 ounce "SOL
Emergency Bivy" sac, and exercise your large muscles at your marked position to generate warmth. Do not try to find your way -becoming
exhausted, cold or dangerously wet. Wait at your marked location for rescuers. If you are not “prepared”, you could be charged up to $500
per person reimbursement in Oregon for Sheriff’s Search
and Rescue services.
Experienced mountaineers each carry selected seasonal Essentials from the traditional personal and trip related "Ten Essential Systems".,
The Third Responsibility is to have a detailed topo
map of the area, a declination-corrected base-plate compass (a sixteen-degree
error -1,472 feet in every mile- currently in Central Oregon) and
an inexpensive GPS that provides your geographic coordinates.
A small simple accurate Garmin eTrex Venture HC GPS receiver costs only about $100
new now on eBay. A simple
Suunto M3 base-plate declination-adjusted magnetic compass, $25, and a 1:24,000 USGS Quad topo map,
$7, total $132. If you do not have a “topo map and compass”, you could be
charged up to $500 per person reimbursement in Oregon for Sheriff’s rescue services .
Experience tells us that you cannot get by with a cell phone "GPS" (no matter how smart) or a hand held GPS radio receiver alone – you need a paper topo map and a declination-adjusted base- plate compass, and the simple skills to use them together!
The Fourth Responsibility is: Carry your common
digital cell phone and periodically turn it on to learn where you can contact
nearby cell towers.
Insure that you have the personal option to call for medical or rescue services. I would prefer to call for help on a Friday evening at the time my leg was broken and not have to wait until Sunday at 6 pm when I will be reported missing by my Responsible Person. In our experience, there are very few areas in our Oregon Cascades where a cell phone "Provided" by Verizon (CDMA technology) is out of contact with at least one cell tower. Several cell phones carried in a group are far better than one: more battery reserve and perhaps the ability to see towers operated by different Providers. Call rescuers with your ordinary cell phone and give them your exact UTM (NAD 27) coordinates from your topo map and/or your GPS, taking the "Search" out of "Search and Rescue". Discuss your current condition and your plans with the SAR Mission Coordinator. He will get periodic feed back from you and keep you advised as your Rescue progresses. The SAR Coordinator may be able to simply direct you to the nearest road! If you are not “prepared” to call for assistance, you could be charged up to $500 reimbursement in Oregon for Sheriff’s rescue services.
An important FCC E911 Statute requires the ability of 911/Rescuers to request
from your personal mobile phone Provider, your geographic location, accurate to
300 feet maximum, triangulated from ordinary cell phone "ping" records, when
your cell phone may have been turned "on" and periodically checking connection
status. It is not necessary to have a GPS chip in your phone. SAR will
re-confirm the UTM Geographic Coordinants that you reported from your personal
GPS when you spoke to 911 for consultation and or assistance/rescue.
"FCC-E911 Phase 2: 95% of a network operator's in-service phones must be E911 compliant ("location capable") by December 31, 2005. (Several carriers missed this deadline, and were fined by the FCC.) Wireless network operators must provide the latitude and longitude of callers within 300 meters, within six minutes of a request by a PSAP. Accuracy rates must meet FCC standards on average within any given participating PSAP service area by September 11, 2012 (deferred from September 11, 2008). From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Another option for some is to carry a $100.00 SPOT-2 GPS Satellite Messenger which can give your family, friends and/or 911 your condition and exact GPS geographic coordinates by satellite radio signals. You can send pre-written messages 1. "Honey, I am OK and having fun exactly here on the attached map", or 2. "Friends, I need a little help right here on this map" or 3. "SAR, I need Rescue, exactly here". Your email message is accompanied by an attached Google aerial photo/topo/map showing your exact geographic location!
Oregon State SAR Statutes require
that you carry a means of communication such as a cell phone or other
communication device (such as the SPOT-2 Satellite Communicator.)
Carry a personal cell phone in a pants pocket where it can best stay warm; turn it on and check it's connection to your Provider's cell phone towers from time to time so you have a sense for your provider's scope of service in your current backcountry. 911 Call Centers, upon request from SAR, must report your location to 300 meters or better, whether or not you actually talk to Rescuers.
Copyright© 1995-2013 by Robert Speik. All Rights Reserved.
The rest of the story
Deschutes County Sheriffs Search and Rescue Volunteer
Coordinator Al Hornish, a 12 year veteran of DCSAR,
stated the following in an interview published on January 26, 2012 in the Bend Oregon Source Weekly:
"We have grown a lot over the past decade." "The nature of missions has changed
as well. There are more Rescues and less Searches, mostly because of the better technology available."
Read More. --Robert Speik, January 26, 2012
Wednesday, July 7, 2010, or nearly four months since my fall off Mount Temple. After so much time, there is much to dwell on. The negatives: the pain of so many fractures, the sleeplessness, the drugs and the messed up things they do to you. It’s easy to get stuck in the negative; yet some part of me is drawn there by some morbid fascination. How big am I then? Not very. I made a mistake, a pretty small mistake. Or more honestly, I made a series of pretty small mistakes. I almost died for these transgressions. I would have died if it had not been for a cell phone and the chain of events it was able to put into motion. (I’ve owned a cell phone for barely six years.) I might not have died that very day, March 25, 2010, but from where we were, we were a long, long way from the medical care my injuries demanded: a trained trauma surgeon in an Emergency Room. Perhaps I would have lasted one night. Maybe not. It changes my perspective about what a day means. Carpe diem no longer seems some frat-boy cry to party. Today, it means everything.
The Steve House Training Blog
Deschutes County Sheriff's Search and Rescue
Deputy Jim Whitcomb, assistant SAR coordinator reports on a recent 911 "false
alarm". He notes that the inadvertent activation happened in a pack with an
older SPOT-1 device. Whitcomb said it was a first-generation version
that’s easier to accidentally set off while in a pack. “It is important to
remember that technology can be a great asset, but can just as easily be a
liability,” the deputy said in a news release, urging users of such devices to
regularly monitor such gear. SAR will respond to all SPOT activations, treating
them as an emergency, unless contact can be made with whoever is carrying the
device, to confirm otherwise, Whitcomb said.
--Robert Speik, July 22, 2012
Here are some Basic suggestions for all backcountry travelers
1. Practice the Four Basic Personal Responsibilities of the Backcountry Traveler. They work! Basic Responsibilities
2. Carry the new Ten Essential Systems, sized for the forecast weather and the adventure in a light day pack. This includes a map, compass and GPS and the skills to use them. In the winter, this includes enough extra insulation and waterproof clothing to keep you dry and warm if you become stranded. In snow, you must have a shovel and insulating pad and the skills to make a shelter in the snow to avoid hypothermia and frost bite damage. It works! Ten Essential Systems
3. Carry your fully charged digital cell phone and periodically turn it on to check where it can communicate with any cell towers, to assist authorities to triangulate your position from cell tower pings. (Most cell providers do not use internal cell phone GPS radio signals to locate customers under FCC E911 regulations - they use triangulation). Cold disables batteries. If the weather is cold, carry the cell phone in a pants pocket near the femoral artery. Report your UTM NAD27 coordinates, your condition, the conditions where you are and discuss your plans with SAR. Ordinary Cell Phones If you are adventurous and often may be out of cell tower range, carry a $100.00 SPOT-2. SPOT-2 Satellite Messenger
4. Always stay found on your topo map and be aware of major land features. If visibility starts to wane, reconfirm your bearings with your map, compass and GPS and quickly return to a known location. A GPS is the only practical way for a trained individual to navigate in a surprise whiteout or blowing snow. Lost Mt Hood Climbers
A suggested minimum standard news advisory for all backcountry travelers!
"We would like to take this opportunity to ask our visitors to the backcountry
of Oregon to Plan for the unexpected. Each person should dress for the forecast
weather and take minimum extra clothing to provide protection from a drop in
temperature and possible rain or snow storm or an unexpected cold wet night out.
Each person should carry high carbohydrate snacks, two quarts of water or
Gatorade, a topo map and declination adjusted base plate compass and an optional
inexpensive GPS (and the skills to use them together). Each person who has a
cell phone should carry their ordinary charged cell phone (from a service
provider that has the best local backcountry coverage). An inexpensive SPOT-2
GPS Satellite Messenger is a good additional option for some. Each person
should carry their selected items from the new 'Ten
Essentials Systems' in a day pack sized for the individual, the trip, the season and the forecast weather."
"Visitors are reminded to tell a Responsible Person where they are going, where they plan to park, when they will be back and to make sure that person understands that they are relied upon to call 911 at a certain time if the backcountry traveler has not returned. Call 911 as soon as you become lost or stranded. You will not be charged. Do not try to find your way until you become benighted, exhausted, or worse yet - wet. Your ordinary cell phone call to 911 can take the 'Search' out of Search and Rescue."
THE MISSION of TraditionalMountaineering.org
"To provide information and instruction about world-wide basic to advanced alpine mountain climbing safety skills and gear, on and off trail hiking, scrambling and light and fast Leave No Trace backpacking techniques based on the foundation of an appreciation for the Stewardship of the Land, all illustrated through photographs and accounts of actual shared mountaineering adventures."
TraditionalMountaineering is founded on the premise that "He who knows naught, knows not that he knows naught", that exploring the hills and summitting peaks have dangers that are hidden to the un-informed and that these inherent risks can be in part, identified and mitigated by mentoring: information, training, wonderful gear, and knowledge gained through the experiences of others.
The value of TraditionalMountaineering to our Friends is the selectivity of the information we provide, and its relevance to introducing folks to informed hiking on the trail, exploring off the trail, mountain travel and Leave-no-Trace light-weight bivy and backpacking, technical travel over steep snow, rock and ice, technical glacier travel and a little technical rock climbing on the way to the summit. Whatever your capabilities and interests, there is a place for everyone in traditional alpine mountaineering.
Read more . . .
About Alpine Mountaineering:
The Sport of Alpine Mountaineering
Following the Leader
The Mountaineers' Rope
Basic Responsibilities Cuatro Responsabiliades Basicas de Quienes Salen al Campo
The Ten Essential Systems Los Diez Sistemas Esenciales
Our Leader's Guidelines:
Our Volunteer Leader Guidelines
Sign-in Agreements, Waivers and Prospectus This pdf form will need to be signed by you at the trail head
Sample Prospectus Make sure every leader tells you what the group is going to do; print a copy for your "responsible person"
Participant Information Form This pdf form can be printed and mailed or handed to the Leader if requested or required
Emergency and Incident Report Form Copy and print this form. Carry two copies with your Essentials
Participant and Group First Aid Kit Print this form. Make up your own first aid essentials (kits)
WARNING - *DISCLAIMER!*
Mountain climbing has inherent dangers that can in part, be mitigated
South, Middle, the sinister North Sister and Broken Top in the Three Sisters Wilderness, very near Bend Oregon