Oregon to require electronic location devices of climbers

1:57 p.m. on February 16, 2007 (EST)
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This is is related to the "would you wear...?" thread and the lost climbers. You may not have a choice. Added cost for the backcountry. You can't be responsible for yourself anymore.

From the Access Fund e-News -

Legislators Propose Electronic Signaling Devices for Mountaineers, OR (02/14/2007)

Following hi-drama rescue efforts this winter on Oregon’s Mt. Hood, electronic signaling devices (ESDs) have been touted by the media as key to saving lives.

Responding to these recent events, the Oregon governor recently issued an executive order (http://www.governor.oregon.gov/Gov/docs/executive_orders/eo0701.pdf) establishing a Search and Rescue Task Force to review Oregon laws, rules and policies pertaining to search and rescue operations and to recommend contemporary best practices for search and rescue operations. Now, a new bill in the Oregon state legislature (HB 2509) would require the use of ESDs by any individual or group engaging in mountain climbing above timberline during a five-month period in the winter. The proposed law would also require commercial guides, under certain conditions, to carry an altimeter, contour map and a compass. For more details see http://www.leg.state.or.us/07reg/measures/hb2500.dir/hb2509.intro.html.

Public criticism of HB 2509 was swift. Many point out that most ESDs will not serve as effective rescue tools and could cause the inexperienced to rely on them inappropriately (for example, use these one-way devices as avalanche beacons). Moreover, people carrying cell phones and ESDs may take more risk than normal, thinking that they can easily summon help. Alternatively, mountaineers who do not carry an ESD, yet know of the new legal requirement, may hesitate to ask for help for fear of penalty, thus further endangering themselves and rescuers. In short, the unintended but very real consequence of this proposed law will be more risks by mountaineers and lost time by rescuers.

Opponents of this bill also complain that the requirements to carry additional equipment are applied in a discriminatory fashion to mountaineers only (it doesn’t apply to hikers, skiers, or, snowmobilers) despite surveys of rescue efforts that show that these other recreational user groups generate more search and rescue hours. Moreover, it is generally easier to locate people above tree line and much more difficult to locate people in the forest where ESDs devices would not be required under the proposed law.

8:04 a.m. on February 19, 2007 (EST)
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I found the following to be, well, interesting:

"The proposed law would also require commercial guides, under certain conditions, to carry an altimeter, contour map and a compass."

Do you mean to tell me that there are people who head into the backcountry without a map and compass? The altimeter I can see doing without (after all, if you've got your topo maps and know what you're doing you can establish your altitude based on contour lines) - to my jaded eyes going without a map and compass (and the knowledge of just how to USE them) is the height of foolishness.

I have to say that I agree with those who say having the beacon will embolden those who may not have the skills to operate in the backcountry to attempt to do so, knowing that they can be saved. I suppose the "trick" will be to lash some stubby skis on your pack when you go climbing - if asked why you don't have the beacon just say "I'm skiing and it's not required for me to have one"!

Peace

Steve

1:13 p.m. on February 19, 2007 (EST)
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747 forum posts

Those things don't even work on Mt Hood where they have a network, how would one help say on the South Sister? And what does tree line have to do with it? If I climb on my skis I guess I'm not legally liable since skiers are exempted. It won't pass - we're too reasonable here in Orygun...
Jim

August 27, 2014
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