A GPS is a useful tool if the user knows how to use and read them correctly. The problem that we have heard from some people is they bought these $300 (more or less) devices thinking that it would help them in a jam but before heading up, they didn't even bother looking at them until on the trail. We had a person do this last summer; got lost then tried calling 911 with false GPS readings. This slowed the rescue down more than speeding it up. But the same can be said about using a compass and map. If the hiker has no clue which way is north or how to align with north or where they are on a map, then they are just as lost. And, it should be noted, as of now, the summit does not have GPS technology so if you are relying purely on GPS coordinates for help, you will have to wait for rescue from below and not above.
Originally Posted by smithtim
Yes and no. A lot of newer phones are building in GPS technology but in a SAR class I took, they say this is a false safety net most hikers have in mind. One, a lot of phones need you to activate this feature for an extra monthly charge. If you don't have it activated, it won't work. Two, you usually have to leave your phone on. This can be difficult because in the cold, it drains your batteries and a dead phone is bad because then there is no way of calling in or out. Three, while newer phones may have this technology, Americans are on a three to four year lag on cycling up to newer technology. This has to do with cellular contracts that have you keep phones for two years before upgrading and when most upgrade, they choose the cheaper models which don't have all the bells and whistles. And while I have heard that cell phones have been used to triangulate out west, none of the cases of rescues in the Whites involved triangulation that I know of. Not sure why.
Originally Posted by b1029384756
Last edited by Knapper; 03-05-2009 at 07:25 AM.
Staff Meteorologist/Night Observer, KMWN (Mt Washington Obs., NH)