Man uses 20-year-old beacon to call for help

1–10 of 22 A 'lucky' 64-year-old Ashburton man spent two days without food waiting to be rescued from the Southern Alps after he used a discontinued 20-year-old emergency beacon to summon help. The man was finally located near Douglas Glacier Lake on Friday, after activating a current beacon. The older beacon, phased out nine years ago, was not picked up by satellites. Instead, its signal was picked up by several commercial aircraft. The incident has prompted officials to warn those who own beacons to ensure they are up to date. Department of Conservation senior ranger Shirley Slatter​ said the Alpine Cliff Rescue Team was called out after a personal locator beacon was activated at the Douglas Glacier Lake at 11.15am on Friday. The man had been waiting two days to be rescued because he had activated his old beacon, which was not being picked up by modern satellites. The beacon was phased out in 2009. Supplied The man had left Lake Ohau two weeks ago with no fixed intentions, carrying the two beacons, the second just five weeks old. Slatter said he decided to travel up the Landsborough Valley and down the Douglas Glacier Valley. "However, conditions had changed since he had done the trip many years ago and access around the lake was problematic." The man used an old emergency position-indicating radio beacon. Supplied The man used an old emergency position-indicating radio beacon. The man activated the old beacon on Wednesday, and again on Thursday. That signal had "pinged" commercial aircraft flying over the South Island, she said. Slatter said the experienced tramper decided to activate his new beacon, purchased in Australia, on Friday morning. An hour and a half later, he was rescued. The man had run out of food and had not eaten for two days. "He's definitely lucky," she said. The man was flown to the Aoraki/Mt Cook emergency services building, where he was checked out by St John staff, and "given some food and a cup of tea". "He was uninjured, but hungry and lacking energy," Slatter said. He was driven to the Hermitage Hotel and later got on a bus home to Ashburton. A Rescue Co-ordination Centre NZ (RCCNZ) spokesman said several high-flying commercial aircraft picked up an "occasional" signal from an old beacon on Wednesday and Thursday, but because they were so high, they picked up a signal that could have originated anywhere in the lower South Island. Authorities were alerted to the signal by aviation officials, but the RCCNZ had received no such signal. The difference between the man's old and new beacons could have been "life and death", the spokesman said. The modern beacon system was "incredibly quick". He urged those who owned beacons older than five years to check they were up to date. If anyone was unsure, they could take it to a business which sold or serviced beacons to get it checked for free.

Why would he carry obsolete technology on a multiday tramp?A 200 g passenger.Fortunately for him,he had a new beacon as well which saved his bacon.

Maybe he hadnt realised how obsolete it was. It was only advertised over a 6 month or so period and he might not of been interested at the time. Now 4 or 5 years later even if he did know he would of forgotten and thought I will squeeze one more trip out of it. Not a lot different to squeezing that last trip out of a coat with a dodgy sleeve although the results may vary

Yeah but once you've got a new beacon, why would you carry two of them?

he was probably hoping to use the old one to save the new one and the hefty fee of replacing the battery or having to replace the whole beacon. seems he may have been so intent on doing that , that he was prepared to wait two days before finally using the new one...

He's probably a Scotsman haha.

20 years old its a wonder it did anything more than just switch on the light

`the hefty fee to replace the battery` I had the battery replaced on my MT410 18 months ago.About $150.My neck is worth that.In 7 years,never had occasion to use it but like a life-jacket,we have them & hope not to use them in anger.

$150 - thats cheap. When I looked at replacing mine it was just shy of $300. We looked into replacing our batteries at work across a range of models and by the time you'd factored in the 10 year lifespan of new models against the 5 or 7 year lifespan of replacing an existing battery it was cheaper to throw away and replace.

well he was rather reluctant to use it until it seemed unlikely his old beacon was going to work

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Forum The campfire
Started by waynowski
On 21 April 2017
Replies 21
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