Re: Cell phones in the wilderness
James H. Moss (JHMoss@LAWYERNET.COM)
Fri, 24 Jul 1998 19:16:40 -0600
I was recently asked to do a transpacific. (Crossing the Pacific ocean by
sailboat.) Still thinking about it. I believe your situation is slightly
different in that the environment of the ocean is different than that of
land. If you boat/ship sinks, the time you have to self rescue is limited.
Versus on land, where absent some real issues, you will not drown.
We are also speaking of the difference between human powered outdoor
recreation and sailing.
I understand and agree with the idea of taking everything with you to save
yourself and your friends/sea scouts. You also dealing with an environment
where the government has adopted the role of rescue or their are commercial
rescue business. You rarely, although occasionally, are assisted by
I am not saying don't be prepared. Just understand what the heck you are
doing. Cell phones in the wilderness of Colorado are stupid. As in Alaska,
British Columbia, Montana, Wyoming, Southern Utah, Arizona etc. In LA they
make sense. I would not lead a hike in LA without a cell phone, a map, and a
lot of quarters. However, people look at cell phones as the way to solve
all their problems. Dial 911 and scream for help. Someone will come save
you. I am tired of putting my life on the line to rescue people who don't
think. Who believe that it is someone else's job to rescue them when they
get in trouble and believe that being prepared in the wilderness is a cell
In most of the places I mentioned, a cell phone is dead useless weight.
Carry more food, more clothing a whistle and you will be better off.
In a sail boat, if you where down to your last few ounces of weight/space
you have to make a decision. Do I carry spare portal covers or an extra
GPS. In hiking you run into the same thing.
I was asked to the Transpacific because of my expedition and first aid
training. That is the easy part, the people I will be spending 6-8 weeks
with is what I am working out. Same thing with just being asked to climb
Aconcaqua in South America. I was asked because the leadership is a little
light. Can I deal with those people. In both cases a cell phone is
worthless. Yet from this list, a cell phone seems to be the best form of
rescue available to some people.
Be Prepared, Don't Be Stupid. Be self Sufficient, Don't Do something that
will threaten someone else's' life to save yours.
I believe in your Scoutmaster's statement. I learned to Scuba dive I ended
up becoming a cave diver. Stupidest sport in the world. I have been an
adrenaline junkie all my life. I have paid for it 300 stitches last count
and 7 broken bones since age 21. A hairline fracture in my left tibia that
I limped on for 7 days once to finally get to a hospital.
I am also an EMT Wilderness Instructor. I have worked for 20 years as an
outdoor guide. I have taught at the university and instructor level rock
climbing, caving, and mountaineering. When I go I go big, but I will not
take anyone with me.
My father sends me a birthday card every year that says darn did not make
any money this year. He has a big life insurance policy on me and he
considers it a good investment. But I won't take anyone else with me.
When we teach these skills to youth are we doing so with the idea that
someone will come save their rear end when they are in a jam or that they
should only do what they can do limited by how they can save themselves. It
becomes part of the thinking process. Can I leap across this chasm. Maybe.
If I don't make it, what does it mean to me. Pain maybe death. If I don't
make it can I get out on my own. No. Then I better not jump. Versus, heck
I'll just call for help.
Thanks for the thoughts. Too many stupid rescues all ready this year.
Yours in Scouting
12340 W. Alameda Pkwy., Lakewood, CO 80228-2841
Eagle Class of 69, Vigil, Denver Area Council
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City