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Do you carry a PLB ( Locator Beacon) ?

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Re: Do you carry a PLB ( Locator Beacon) ?

Postby Buz Groshong » Wed Nov 06, 2013 3:02 pm

Those that I've met who carried a PLB did so primarily to keep family members informed. We don't get many helicopter rescues here, since you can't land a helicopter in the woods - if you get too tired, you've still got to drag your ass out.
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Re: Do you carry a PLB ( Locator Beacon) ?

Postby TimB » Wed Nov 06, 2013 3:15 pm

asmrz wrote:
Unfortunately, I live in Idyllwild with full view of Tahquitz Rock, San Jacinto Peak and the heli pad. One of the things that colors my opinion is the amount of rescues and the reasons for them. Every week during the spring and summer, people get tired while hiking local trails, run out of water, or miss the trail and, you guessed it, press the locator or make the call. When we first moved here 15 years ago, it was amusing. It is less so now. Basic skills of backcountry travel are not followed, people have not a clue about outdoors, responsibility for one's safety is given to that button and the experts, who will pull my ass out of danger so I can do it again next weekend. This is not complicated, it happens every week here, and I'm sure in lot of other places.



I think I understand your opinion of PLB's better, asmrz.
Where I live and 'recreate' I may not see anyone else on the trail/mountain for a day or maybe longer, so I am glad I have a PLB. However, if I was in your area and saw the same sort of 'abuse' of the SAR system as you mention in your post; I would have a different opinion, I think.
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Re: Do you carry a PLB ( Locator Beacon) ?

Postby asmrz » Wed Nov 06, 2013 4:37 pm

TimB

I use the Idyllwild experience as an example.

My bias is based on my conviction, that only through knowledge, experience, fitness and expertise, can we safely play in the outdoors. Most people would know what I mean. For too many here on SP and out there in the real world, these devices provide very easy substitute for any knowledge or personal responsibility. My message is for them, not for those who use these devices responsibly. Competency while in the backcountry is the issue here and SP can play a role. In fact it probably plays very important one already when we collectively talk about this.
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Re: Do you carry a PLB ( Locator Beacon) ?

Postby MoapaPk » Wed Nov 06, 2013 6:33 pm

I've often thought how other things I carry may influence my outdoor decisions on "hikes." Some thoughts

1) I often carry a Blizzard Survival bag, about the equivalent of a 2-lb down bag but waterproof, when I see even remote possibility of emergency bivvy in a cold area. When I carry it, I tend to carry fewer emergency clothes items. But I really, really, do not want to bivvy the night on snow. I've sacrificed one just to convince myself I could open it in bad conditions (e.g. after falling into a stream).

2) I carry enough tape to make a good ankle brace. I've always done that, but in the one time I fractured an ankle, I decided to walk out quickly, rather than risk swelling out of my shoe.

3) I carry codeine. I get kidney stones, and believe me, they don't feel that great. Yet I am very hesitant to use the codeine, because it clouds judgement, especially on terrain tougher than class 2. The one time I had to use it -- 18 years ago -- was when my feet were very badly torn up, and I used it only when I returned to a trail. At this writing, I am taking codeine for a kidney operation. It can be nasty stuff; like any medicine, there are bad consequences. (THAT'S why I'm on SP!)

4) I often carry enough 15mm webbing, and locking carabiner, for an emergency 50-75' rap with a Swiss seat. Perhaps this is the chanciest set of items; and I am very hesitant to tell other people I have that stuff along, since it can give them a false sense of security about taking riskier routes.

5) I often take trekking poles when I am solo. I don't like taking them, but limping for a mile of so will quickly convince you of their utility.

I don't think any of these items has convinced me to be riskier; I don't jump down thinking, "If I break my ankle, I'll just tape it, take some codeine, and hobble out with my trekking poles." People who go on true high altitude trips make take emergency gear like Gamow bags, but I seriously doubt that makes them think, "great, now I can risk near-fatal medical crises."

So I guess it comes down to hoping people will be responsible. Yes, it is all-too easy to push a button if you are uncomfortable, so the analogy with PLBs and SPOTs is imperfect. But we have a society that tacitly accepts talking on cell phones at very inappropriate times; and the assumptions that engender that behavior, will make those people likely to do stupid things and call 911 at inappropriate times.

Remember, I'm on drugs, that's my excuse.
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Re: Do you carry a PLB ( Locator Beacon) ?

Postby Catamount » Wed Nov 06, 2013 7:55 pm

In the Northeast, one of the more, um, interesting recent uses of PLBs is folks using them so the internet world can track various speed record attempts.

It's great sport, really, and you get to read 30-page threads with comments such as:

"OMG, he's on Madison! He's gonna make it!"

"You're an inspiration to us all! Keep digging hard!"

"At the trailhead with a full tank of gas ready for transportation to the next trailhead. Have a warm meal and a container of baby powder."

(Not actual quotes, but you get the idea ...)
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Re: Do you carry a PLB ( Locator Beacon) ?

Postby jesu, joy of man's desiring » Wed Nov 06, 2013 8:12 pm

LOL, catamount!

...confirms the fact that 87 percent of folks on the Net are fuking morons!!




....baby powder!!!!


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Re: Do you carry a PLB ( Locator Beacon) ?

Postby MoapaPk » Wed Nov 06, 2013 8:41 pm

Catamount wrote:In the Northeast, one of the more, um, interesting recent uses of PLBs is folks using them so the internet world can track various speed record attempts.


I could rationalize that behavior with a SPOT, but NOT a true PLB (Cospas-Sarsat) device... though it might be fun to home a cruise missile on the sender, if the authorities found out a PLB was used for such frivolous purposes.

With a SPOT, you mainly send check signals, which are monitored by a few people you specify (or who have the address of your SPOT webpage). Only when you hit the "911" button on a SPOT, do you get serious response. BUT a true PLB ALWAYS sends out an alert when activated-- you don't use them unless the sh*t has really hit the fan.

With the simple SPOT2, you can program what each of 3 non-911 buttons means. Really, the unit just sends the unit number (ID of the owner), number of the button pushed, when and where the message was sent, and the sequence number of the signal (so it knows when it has been restarted to send a unique signal, vs sending redundant signals). The satellite receives the signal, sends it to a ground station, and the ground station looks up the owner and associates a pre-programmed text message/e-mail with the button number. I reprogram the button message through a web interface; usually the 3 buttons mean 1) I'm on track; 2) I'm delayed for non-emergency reasons; and 3) I have car troubles.

I've seen more and more people refer to SPOTs as PLBs, and that may be why there is so much fear and loathing.

I recently re-supplied some folks on the JMT. They used a SPOT to send "private" check messages just so we could gauge their progress, and make sure we got to the rendezvous before they arrived. We planned on a few days on each end, but thought we might bring extra food if it looked like they were lagging. Not necessary, but it was an extra comfort, and we could judge how much extra crap (and the size of bear barrels) we had to pack to the meeting place. The whole world of through-hiking has been turned upside-down by technology; it used to be that you would just disappear for a while, maybe pick up a food drop that you had mailed to a postmaster in some hick town.
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Re: Do you carry a PLB ( Locator Beacon) ?

Postby Catamount » Wed Nov 06, 2013 8:54 pm

^^^^

OK, my bad. Must be SPOT devices ... they link a webpage and the fun begins.

Like I said earlier, I'm low tech.
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Re: Do you carry a PLB ( Locator Beacon) ?

Postby jesu, joy of man's desiring » Thu Nov 07, 2013 5:00 am

-

rest assured this dude never carried no spot/blt device

vvv

Image



,
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Re: Do you carry a PLB ( Locator Beacon) ?

Postby Buz Groshong » Thu Nov 07, 2013 4:58 pm

Catamount wrote:^^^^

OK, my bad. Must be SPOT devices ... they link a webpage and the fun begins.

Like I said earlier, I'm low tech.


Not your bad at all. SPOT also serves the same purpose, it just also serve less critical purposes as well. Throwing SPOT out of the discussion is splitting hairs. As a "'ferinstance," how does asmrz know that what he is talking about is not a SPOT unless he has seen the actual device?
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Re: Do you carry a PLB ( Locator Beacon) ?

Postby asmrz » Thu Nov 07, 2013 5:20 pm

One day long ago, four of us lost in the fogged in backcountry (Evolution Basin) argued about directions. It was late, we were dead tired and in the middle of no where. Three of us pointed in three different directions and said the car is there. Penelope (my wife now) looked at the map, did a few moves with her compass and said, I don't care what you guys think, but I'm going that way...After some argument we followed and reached the car in couple of hours. I thought then, this woman is awesome.

So you guessed it, I don't need a phone, PLB or whatever other gadget, I have a personal guide! Everyone should get one of those!
Last edited by asmrz on Thu Nov 07, 2013 5:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Do you carry a PLB ( Locator Beacon) ?

Postby mrchad9 » Thu Nov 07, 2013 5:21 pm

To me that is indeed the primary value of one of these devices, though I guess it only applies to a SPOT and not a PLB. Allowing family, friends, or nobodies on the internet to following along when you are either on a weekend overnight or a wicked trip in Alaska, Peru, or wherever. Primarily something to play with.

Of course they are rescue devices too, and I don’t hold it against anyone at all who brings them for that ‘just in case’ purpose. It makes perfect sense for some folks. I just don’t happen to use them or even know anyone personally who uses them for that purpose. And I don't think I would ever take one for that purpose.

It also makes just as much sense not to use them. It is a personal preference. A couple of weeks ago I was out on a 4th class ridge in the Sierra. I had jumped on doing this route at effectively the very last minute when I saw what the weather might be like. As it happens as I was throwing all my crap together I forgot to bring any beta describing the route. I’d read it slightly but not a full description and nothing useful. Also, and I suppose more importantly, I had forgotten to leave my itinerary with anyone. Well sometimes this happens.

So there I am on this ridge, and it has a couple of real exposed moves but not too bad. And it did involve a lot of routefinding thanks to my not bringing any information along. It wasn’t quite as simple as ‘stick to the ridge’.

Anyway it ended up being a spectacular experience, far better than if I had done it any other way. Of course, I wouldn’t have been reckless or endangered myself if I had been there with a SPOT, or given someone my itinerary, or had a couple of competent partners along. But it was certainly a different experience up there in total silence. Late October, no one around for miles and only one other car at one of the busiest trailheads in the Sierra (in summer). I knew even the slightest mistake could likely be tragic, even if I triped on the talus (or is it scree?) on the approach, never mind on the ridge! Any slip and it would be days before I was located… or maybe even next spring. But to have my mind empty with no other thought than concentrating on what I was doing… it was the best! And I wouldn’t have traded it for anything. I was happy it worked out that way.

And still… sitting there by a stream running through a meadow, sending out that ‘OK’ signal and knowing someone is logging on to check it out online… well that’s the best too.
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Re: Do you carry a PLB ( Locator Beacon) ?

Postby MoapaPk » Thu Nov 07, 2013 5:35 pm

Buz Groshong wrote:
Catamount wrote:^^^^

OK, my bad. Must be SPOT devices ... they link a webpage and the fun begins.

Like I said earlier, I'm low tech.


Not your bad at all. SPOT also serves the same purpose, it just also serve less critical purposes as well. Throwing SPOT out of the discussion is splitting hairs. As a "'ferinstance," how does asmrz know that what he is talking about is not a SPOT unless he has seen the actual device?


To help clarify: The overwhelming use of a SPOT is just to send out private check messages to a few individuals or public website; 99.99... % of the time a SPOT is activated, there is no desire for response from S&R. On the other hand, a true PLB, when activated, will ALWAYS try to draw an S&R response if the message is received; there is no other use for a PLB. But you can also use a SPOT like a PLB, to send out a true distress signal that goes (almost) directly to S&R. There are substantial technical differences as well, in the way the beacon is located (by satellites), and in the frequency (SPOT uses a much higher frequency, and is less able to send a signal from tight canyons, under deep tree cover, etc.).

SPOTs are often used for adventure racing. The situation Catamount described would be possible with a SPOT (or similar messenger), but not with a Cospas-Sarsat PLB. No annual subscription is required to use a Cospas-Sarsat device. As I said, over the years, people have starting calling SPOTs PLBs, and that lack of distinction probably causes some of the angst. To make matters even more confusing, some hybid PLBs, using the Cospas-Sarsat network, now offer a private messaging option much like the SPOT.

PLBs were not originally designed to have GPS, but many offer that service nowadays:
http://www.rei.com/product/815753/acr-e ... tor-beacon

Here's one that allows one to use a private messaging service for an annual fee:
http://www.rei.com/product/804324/acr-e ... tor-beacon
...but you can still use it as a Cospas-Sarsat PLB without buying the service.

Confusing?
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Re: Do you carry a PLB ( Locator Beacon) ?

Postby jesu, joy of man's desiring » Thu Nov 07, 2013 5:41 pm

SAR likes SPOT cause they don't waste time with needle in a haystack situations...cost effective if the victim actually needs rescue and is not just suffering from diarrhea, boredom, etc


China Lake RG recommends SPot


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Re: Do you carry a PLB ( Locator Beacon) ?

Postby MoapaPk » Thu Nov 07, 2013 5:44 pm

asmrz wrote:One day long ago, four of us lost in the fogged in backcountry (Evolution Basin) argued about directions. It was late, we were dead tired and in the middle of no where. Three of us pointed in three different directions and said the car is there. Penelope (my wife now) looked at the map, did a few moves with her compass and said, I don't care what you guys think, but I'm going that way...After some argument we followed and reached the car in couple of hours. I thought then, this woman is awesome.

So you guessed it, I don't need a phone, PLB or whatever other gadget, I have a personal guide! Everyone should get one of those!


Years back we were climbing a modest 12600' peak in a whiteout, with very strong gusts (it snowed 1.5' while we were out). We reached a ridge with such limited visibility, that we couldn't really tell which way was correct. The leader started striking off, and I demanded we pull out a compass. It turned out that we were almost 180 degrees off. The hardest thing was trying to use a map; with the high wind and the blowing snow, the map was torn to shreds.
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