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Oregon may require locator beacons for Mt. Hood expeditions

December 21, 2009 | 10:42 am

Trees in the foreground belie the immensity of Mt. Hood as early morning sunlight glints off the mountain peak.

The recent death and disappearance of three climbers on Oregon's 11,249-foot Mt. Hood has revived debate about requiring mountaineers to carry personal locator beacons on the mountain.

Following an eerily similar incident in 2007 -- one climber was found dead and two others never located -- the Oregon Legislature considered a bill requiring winter climbers to carry the device, though it never passed the Senate.

Backers of such a stipulation contend that locator beacons would help search-and-rescue teams pinpoint lost climbers, reducing the risk for those searching, and saving time and expense.

Those opposing such a requirement believe it could lead to climbers taking excessive risks because they assume they will be located and rescued.

As a casual hiker, I would never attempt to ascend mountains such as Mt. Whitney or Mt. Hood -- locator beacon or not -- knowing they are out of my league.

But I'm curious what readers' thoughts are. Would personal locator beacons be a good idea to help track down the lost and reduce risk to rescuers, or would hikers and climbers attempt more difficult paths, believing that if they got stuck or lost someone would come save them?

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Trees in the foreground belie the immensity of Mt. Hood as early morning sunlight glints off the mountain peak. Credit: Don Ryan / Associated Press

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