Sure, there’s a lot about the modern world that rings eerily similar to the dystopian predictions made in George Orwell’s 1984 but this story outta SoCal reminds us of the real benefits to life safety that technology and information sharing have for society.
In early April, frequent hiker Rene Compean became lost in the Angeles National Park after exploring a new route. The Washington Post reports with spotty cellphone service he was able to send a grainy photo of his legs on a nearby bluff to a friend with a brief message requesting SAR services. After searching the area for 24 hours, LA County Sheriffs tweeted the photo with a request for information in the off chance someone would recognize the area to further help the search.
— LA County Sheriffs (@LASDHQ) April 14, 2021
Not long after tech savvy Ben Kuo, a tech worker fluent with Google Earth, used the application and his personal aptitude for detective work to identify an area that appeared to match the features in Compean’s photo. Kuo sent the coordinates to LA SAR who promptly found Compean within a mile of the spot.
Information sharing is a touchy subject for backcountry guides who liken secret zones and stashes to their bread and butter, as well as the old-school user who would rather not see his/her remote wild retreat inundated with modern traffic. On the other hand, the proliferation of information sharing undoubtedly aids rescue services, and especially in the context of avalanche forecasting, improves the overall quality of the picture seen for any given area. Tell us your thoughts about the changing role of technology in the backcountry.