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RE: [pct-l] Snow in the Cascades / Radios


Their are several technical options but you need to ask your self what =
your real needs are.  Does your mom need to know that you are safe, does =
she need to hear your voice or does she need to feel that she can do =
something to help.  The way to solve all of these problems is with =
experience, education and her participations.  Is she used to you going =
out on week long backpacks?  If not you need to start right now so that =
you are prepared for the trail.  Show her that the PCT is just a series =
of week long backpacks.  You are able, and should, call out about every =
week when you get your food.  You must leave a detailed schedule and =
include the numbers of the national forests and county sheriffs along =
the way.  Giver her a very specific plan as when to panic and what to do =
in an emergency.  Make up a packet of 2 - 4 pages (one side of a page =
only) that includes you schedule, route, gear caries, color of tent, =
radio frequency, miles per day, and dates (i.e. days from last food =
stop) that you are to be considered over due.  Tell her to fax it to the =
county sheriff if you are over due.  The fax sheets are so that the =
sheriff has all the information that you want them to have so that they =
can find you quickly.  On you schedule, be sure to include enough time =
so that you take an extra day such as hiking up-stream of a washed-out =
bridge or make other changes that are the most safe choice.  If you are =
tied too closely to meeting a dead line you might make poor choices just =
to make a phone call.  The most important thing is education.  She needs =
to understand as much as possible of what you are doing.  Also, tell her =
that even while you are hiking you are going to need her support.  Ask =
her to write you often.  You mom will also be as busy back in town =
supporting you as you are on the trail.  She needs to know that even =
with all your planning she is going to be very busy running around =
replacing broken gear, buying different food, mailing packages, etc.  In =
short, let her know that is also a very important part of the trip.

With all my solo hiking I never felt out of reach of help on the PCT.  =
As a fact of life you can expect to meet some one at least every day and =
most likely several times a day.  The most sparsely populated region of =
the PCT is SoCal and there you should be able to get help more help that =
you ever wanted in very short order by starting a very smoky fire.  =
Another grim fact of life is that if you are hurt in such a critical =
manner that you need an ambulance ASAP you won't make it anyway as =
mountain rescue will take a day to reach you.  Your fist line of defence =
is you experience and common sense technology *may* help in a pinch, but =
it may fail in a pinch also.  The other thing to keep in mind is that =
extra weight in general will fatigue you quicker and make you more =
likely to make mistakes and get into trouble

One option is a HAM (amateur) radio.  They are now made as small as a =
cell phone.  Ham radio clubs have put up a number of repeaters (relay) =
station that you should be able to reach from with in a miles walk of =
just about anyplace on the trail.  Any radio system need to have "line =
of sight" to communicate.  If you have a ridge between you and what you =
are trying to talk to you will have to climb up to that ridge.  Most =
places on the PCT have foot hills between you and the city that block =
line of sight.  With most of the repeaters a club member should be able =
to help dial out on a phone line or call for help for you.  In the US =
you can get a licence now by just memorizing a few questions for a =
simple multiple choice test.  A Canadian licence works just fine in the =
US.  If you only plan to use a ham radio for an emergency call for help =
the FCC will not give you any grief.  Expect to spend $200 to $300 for =
one of the new light weight models.  You will not have to pay anything =
to use it nor to pay any monthly fee.  The main band radio you need is 2 =
meters (144 MHz).  Some micro dual band radios support 144 MHz and 440 =
MHZ but cost more.  An example radio is the Yaesu 11R.  It weighs 9.5 =
oz. with low power battery or 13.9 oz. with the high power battery.  For =
a dealer see http://www.hamradio.com.  Most of these radios also receive =
police bands and can be modified (illegally)  to transmit on their =
frequency.  I carry a Yaesu 11R solo climbing, but I'm not sure I will =
carry one on the PCT. =20
Their are several other non-ham bands that you could use including =
several commercial bands.  To use a commercial band you would buy or =
lease a radio (typically a Motorola) from a service provider much like a =
plumber would.  Some of these commercial service providers have base =
stations that you could call for help from. =20
All of the radio options I've described above are for calling for help, =
alteratively, you could carry just about anything that broadcast a radio =
signal if you just want to be found when searchers are looking for you.  =
Won't help calling for help, but just make you easier to find.   An =
avalanche beacon or a $20 49 MHz kiddie walkie-talkie from radio shack =
would do the job if the searchers know what frequency you are on.  Just =
sit tight with your broken leg until you are over due then wait till you =
see the helicopter and turn on you avalanche beacon or walkie-talkie, =
provided you included the frequency in your fax sheet.  As a practical =
matter, searchers know pretty closely where you are and will likely find =
you with-in 48 hours of your being reported over due.  Never expect help =
sooner than 24 hours after a call for help has gone out.  It takes time =
to organize the volunteer rescue team, drive (never count on helicopters =
being able to fly in all weather) there and to walk in.

The second option is a cell phone.  In some parts of the PCT you should =
be able to walk to a point where you can, "get out."  To conserve =
batteries do not expect to be able to leave your phone on for receive =
calls.  As a practical matter, cell phones will have the most spotty =
coverage.  I know many climbers carry them on climbs in the Cascades, =
but I don't know how successful they are at getting out.  Cell phones =
are designed for short range and even with the line of sight from the =
summit of Mt. Hood their power levels are rather low for reaching =

A third option is two-way paging such as sky-tel.  They are lighter and =
more robust than a cell phone or ham radio.  They are also smart enough =
to know when they are able to communicate with a base station and send a =
message.  In an emergency all you would have to do is select your =
message and then climb up until you can reach a base station.

A fourth option is the most guarantied to work.  Mariners have placed a =
number of search and rescue satellites up to relay rescue calls any =
place on earth.  People on land can use these by using a special =
transmitter.  I know that they make hand-held transmitters for personal =
use.  Go to a marine supply store to find one.  I think they are just on =
or off so you can't call mom and tell her you'll be a day late.  You =
press the button and expect the local sheriff to get a call that carolyn =
is in distress.  The only place where this may be a real problem getting =
out is a deep canyon like Eagle Creek (N. Oregon).


Scott Elliott

From: 	Adam Young
Sent: 	Wednesday, March 26, 1997 6:07 PM