Yesterday we followed the news carefully as a 19 year old Canadian named Samuel Frappier was rescued from Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park.
We could go into a huge study about this situation. Frappier was unprepared and inexperienced. He shouldn’t have been on the peak, and he separated from his hiking companion. Frappier admits that he made mistakes on the mountain, we appreciate that.
But, there’s a different side to the story that I think is important.
While stuck on Longs Peak, Frappier used his cell phone to communicate with rescuers. I’m assuming that he didn’t have some fancy satellite phone and he wasn’t equipped with a an expensive GPS locator beacon. Nope, he knew he was in trouble and simply called for help.
Since the dawn of time…or at least the invention of the internet there’s been a lot of discussion about the use technology in the wilderness.
- Some say that if someone has a cell phone or satellite phone or personal locator beacon they just might be more likely to take risks in the wilderness because they know that help is just a call away.
- Others say that it’s okay to bring technology into the wilderness because technology isn’t the problem…we’re the problem. We can’t be “alone” we can’t have our iPhone in our pocket without checking email and social media every 5 minutes.
- Others say that if you bring technology into the wilderness you just might go in a little less prepared than you know you should be.
So, what is technology’s place in the wilderness? Is it okay to surf the internet at a campground, tweet a picture from the trails (I’m guilty of this one), or use your phone to call a loved one to describe an amazing view?
I don’t know. But I do know this. I’m pretty sure that Frappier is glad he had cell reception on Longs Peak (who’d have thought, right?). I bet there are also some search and rescue folks out there who are glad that they could stay in touch with Frappier and assist with a speedy, well speedier, recovery.
So what do you think about technology in the wilderness? Does it make people take more risks? Does it get in the way of the wilderness experience or is it okay to bring the cell phone along?