Locator Beacons and Portland Mountain Rescue’s Four Elements of Safety
1. KNOW THE CONDITIONS
Weather, snow and avalanche conditions are vital data that you must gather before you go: no exceptions.
- National Weather Service: Forecast for Mt. Hood– South Side, 9000ft
- Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center Backcountry Avalanche Forecast, Mt. Hood
- Winds Aloft Chart (for PDX Airport) – Explanation of Winds Aloft
For Winds Aloft charts near other mountains, start here. Use the third map “ETA Model UPPER/ALOFT” and pick the airport(s) nearest your desired peak.
- Watch the Video:
Climbing Mt. Hood – Key Points to Know Before the Climb
- Quick forecast for any mountain worldwide:
2. KNOW YOUR ROUTE
There is no substitute for awareness of where you are and where you will be. Bring your GPS, map and compass. More info below.
- Mt. Hood Route Descriptions from SummitPost.com
- Oregon Cascades Forum from CascadeClimbers.com
- Mt. Hood South Side Landmark Map
- Watch the Video: Routes & Hazards on Mt. Hood’s South Side
3. BE PREPARED
If you know your trip’s route, conditions, and timeframe, you can determine what you need to bring. Climbers on Mt. Hood, even in excellent weather, should be equipped with the “10 Essentials” on every outing, as their lives may depend on it.
Also learn about The Cell Phone as a Rescue Resource
- navigation tools (map, compass, GPS, and knowhow)
- skin and eye protection (sunscreen, goggles, sunglasses)
- extra clothes (gloves, hat, insulated jacket)
- extra food and water (for at least one day)
- a light source (headlamp or flashlight, extra batteries)
- first aid kid
- signaling devices (whistle, cellphone, InReach, PLB or SPOT)
- shelter (tarp or bivy sack, closed cell foam pad, aluminum snow shovel)
- stove and fuel, weatherproof matches or lighter
- and … common sense
4. HAVE a BACKUP PLAN
Locator beacons are a part of your ‘backup plan’. To increase the likelihood that you will be found alive, bring that beacon, as well as:
- Leave an itinerary with someone who can contact authorities if you’re overdue.
- Bring what you will need to keep you fed, warm, clothed and hydrated if you have to stay out for an extended period of time. [Examples of such gear include emergency bivouac equipment (stove, tent, fuel, bivvy sac), flares, extra batteries, and first-aid equipment.]
- Ensure that those traveling with you are prepared for the trip and know how to safely travel in the backcountry.
- Watch the Video: PMR’s Rescue Timeline
See below for information on using locator beacons as tools for backcountry emergency preparedness and read Locating Beacons Explained
Personal Locator Beacons: Click here to learn how to get one and how they work. Please note that PLB’s must either be purchased or rented online. Use the code MTHOOD any time during the winter season to rent a PLB for $5 from the website we linked to above (www.plbrentals.com), and remember that they must be rented in advance and will be shipped to you.