Beacon Debate Renewed

, | dlacord | Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009 at 11:33 am
Mount Hood

Wikipedia Commons photo

The recent deaths of three climbers on Oregon’s Mount Hood have revived the debate over electronic locator devices. Called mountain locator units (MLUs) or personal locator beacons (PLBs), the devices attach to clothing and send out a signal that shows their location through satellite transmission.

The three climbers were on the mountain earlier this month. The body of one of them was found, but the other two were never located and rescue efforts were called off because of severe weather conditions.

Oregon lawmakers attempted to pass a law two year ago that required all Mount Hood climbers to carry the beacons, but it was defeated.

Climbers are divided over whether mandatory beacons will help save climbers. Some believe they give climbers a false sense of security and can even endanger rescuers responding to signals of lost climbers. Others carry the devices, but acknowledge they don’t save lives, but do help locate bodies.

But legislators are fired up about this again after the recent deaths. “When are you going to stop the carnage on Mount Hood?” said Jim Bernard, a Clackamas County commissioner.

- Deb Acord

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