Kia Ora. I’ve returned to Aotearoa after living overseas for a few years. I did most of my tramping in the Scottish highlands or the alps and Pyrenees. The highlands present similar-ish challenges to NZ weather - very changeable, windier (due to lack of forest), and generally pretty wet. It doesn’t get as hot so the changes in weather are maybe not as dramatic. And the mountains aren’t as high so maybe a little less turbulent - though the exposure can make 200m elevation feel like 2000m. Anyway, I generally tramp with a tent or a pyramid tarp, when I don’t need protection from sandflies. But it’d be nice to take advantage of the hut system here. What do people use for a lightweight emergency shelter when doing tramps using the huts? I see some bivvy bags are as heavy as my pyramid tarp and certainly less comfortable. The pyramid tarp is capable of handling some brutal wind and isn’t a problem in the rain. It’s also potentially safer as poorly breathing bivy bags soak you in condensation which cools you down and renders your insulation layers less effective. But of course, a pyramid requires one to pitch it (which might be difficult in a genuine emergency) and requires more flat ground than a simple bivvy bag. So maybe it’s not a suitable emergency shelter. What do you guys carry? What are your considerations for emergency shelter?
amazing how many rely on cell phones to call for help. the cell phone connection in the mountains can be marginal at best, heavy rain can kill a connection.. being on top of a ridge is no guarantee of reception, anywhere not on top of a high ridge is extremely unlikely to have reception.
@geeves you might be right. Personally it doesn’t (consciously!) affect what level of risk I’ll accept in a decision. I wonder if there’s any good research done on this yet, as PLBs seem to have become a lot more commonplace in the last 5-10 years. When I got mine 4 or 5 years ago, they were still marketed really at the sailing and fishing audience, so seems quite a recent thing in tramping @waynowski I’ve been away from NZ for a few years. How much coverage there is now in the hills and bush vs a few years ago astounds me! Coverage is much better here than the similarly populated (but much smaller land mass) or Ireland. I’d never want to rely on my phone - mine has a habit of turning off if there’s a light frost or a sharp breeze by the sea! People using phones for primary navigation makes me really nervous. But I was amazed to see hunting acquaintances sharing Live Photo’s to Facebook of their hunt, from deep within the rimutakas. I don’t expect those guys would be stupid enough to rely on cell phones as their safety device, but being that connected would detract from half the reason I go tramping in the first place. Increased cel phone coverage is a positive for people living in rural communities, but I wonder if it does indeed make people less safe when tramping and hiking - particularly if those with low/no navigation skills are relying on mapping applications.
Cell phone coverage is directional and aimed at population centers. Why give coverage to somewhere that often has no one in it. A typical cell site uses more power than a domestic heater. Then it is virtually line of sight. If you cant see a tower you are unlikely to have a signal
@geeves how does that work ? I get coverage at Venison Tops, in the Kaweka Ranges, and that’s literally miles ( and a mountain range ) away from a tower. I even used to get coverage when I used my 025 Telecom phone there, and that was years ago. There was a story, true or otherwise, of a hunter using his phone to order pizza, having it delivered to Heli Sika and choppered into the hut. No idea if it was an urban myth though.
When telecom started cellphones they had 2 towers in the north island and 1 in the south. I remember a roadshow by the then ceo who very optimistically predicted a time when there would be 65000 cellphones in NZ. I think he missed 3 zeros. But in those early days a 111 call was made from a cellphone for a fire. The address didnt appear on the operators map because it was in Taihape not Wellington. The original 025 network ran on a lower frequency that went through anything and around other things Modern 3g and above are very high frequencies and will only go in straight lines and will be stopped by anything solid. They do sometimes bounce so reception can be got in places unexpected but not often and not always
using your phone with poor reception forces it to operate at high power to try and maintain the connection. draining the battery a lot faster than around town , where good connectivity allows the phone to operate on low power. seen a lot of stories in the media of people using their phones for rescue and invariably the phone quickly goes dead and rescue services have to piece together exactly where they people are based on scant information... so many people were very lucky to be rescued alive... reception on ridgetops is better than it was, but its still not to be relied on especially the further into the mountains you go, and never count on getting reception in a valley, the odds of a connection are exponentially smaller..
One thing to consider if using a cellphone is that 111 calls can be routed through any carrier. This has been available since 3g although it wasnt reliable with that as phones would try and connect 2g to the correct carrier even if it was flakey but a good other signal was there. Certainly 4g and above all our providers use the same technology and the rules allow a phone to connect to the strongest signal for an emergency call
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