Smartphone apps to blame for 50% rise in Lakes mountain rescue call-outs claims.
Walkers relying on smartphone apps for directions blamed for 50% hike in mountain rescue call-outs
Too many mountain walkers are relying on devices such as iPhones to find their way, with potentially fatal consequences, rescue teams warned yesterday.
They blamed them for a steep rise in call-outs in recent years and said modern technology was no substitute for the traditional skills of reading a map and using a compass.
Internet-enabled mobile phones can access maps or navigational ‘apps’ and use satnav technology to pinpoint the owner’s exact location.
But there is often no signal in remote mountain regions, and there is also a risk that the devices’ batteries will run down on longer excursions.
The mountain rescue teams say relying on mobiles is symptomatic of the approach of a new generation of young, inexperienced trippers, which has led to a 50 per cent increase in rescue pleas in the Lake District alone in the last five years.
Nick Owen, Langdale and Ambleside mountain rescue team leader, said: ‘They’re great with technology, but they can’t walk up a hill without getting into trouble.
‘They take no sensible kit such as spare clothing and they rely on technical gadgetry which they’re not familiar with.
‘It’s a generation that’s never experienced risk or inconvenience – they get lost and then can’t think beyond the fact they are wet and cold.’
Recent incidents that mountain rescue teams have attended in the Lake District include a couple who were trying to find their way off a peak near Rydal in thick mist using Google Maps on their iPhone. A party of four became disorientated in fog on the Scafell ridge and panicked because their mobile-phone map was not detailed enough for them to find their way.
And a pair of walkers in their 30s had to use a camera flash to attract attention after getting lost in the dark without a map or torch.
Kendal mountain rescue team leader Eddie Harrison said: ‘It’s all very well having a phone and satnav, but they won’t always get you out of a fix – especially when they have no signal and run out of power.’
Officials have recorded a 50 per cent increase in the number of rescues from hills, rising from 406 in 2006 to 600 in 2010
In 2010 there were 600 instances where walkers, cyclists, climbers and gliders required help from the Lake District Rescue Association, compared with 406 in 2006. The number needing medical attention increased by 54 per cent.
Mountain rescue experts stressed that a fully-charged mobile can be an invaluable piece of equipment.
But Cumbria Tourism spokesman Ellis Butcher said: ‘Some people go up the fells and treat them like London, where they can call a taxi out if they get stuck. We have safety information in tourist centres and accommodation but there is not much you can do to legislate against the foolish few.’
Ramblers who rely on iPhones to navigate increase rescue call-outs by 50 per cent
Ramblers who use their iPhones to navigate and have no idea how to read a map are causing the number of emergency call-outs to increase by 50 per cent, mountain rescuers have complained.
Lake District rescue teams said that younger walkers rely too heavily on mobile phones equipped with navigational “apps” and sat nav technology.
Dubbed the “shorts and flip-flops brigade” hardly any are familiar with the traditional methods of using a map and compass.
Nick Owen, Langdale and Ambleside Mountain Rescue Team leader, said: “They’re great with technology but they can’t walk up a hill without getting into trouble.
“They take no sensible kit like spare clothing and they rely on technical gadgetry which they’re not familiar with.”
The number of rescue calls has increased by 50 per cent over the last five years.
Mr Owen added: “It’s a generation that’s never experienced risk or inconvenience – they get lost and then can’t think beyond the fact they are wet and cold.”
Recent incidents that mountain rescue teams have attended include a couple who tried to find their way off a peak, in thick mist, in the Rydal Valley, using Google maps on their iPhone.
Another pair in their thirties used a camera flash to attract attention after getting lost in the dark without a map or torch.
A party of four became disorientated in fog on Scafell Ridge and panicked because their mobile phone map was not detailed enough.
Kendal Mountain Rescue team leader Eddie Harrison said they were responding to greater numbers of calls from “embarrassed” hikers whose gadgets had failed them.
He said: “People think technology will make their life easier but a lot of the younger generation seem to be relying on it.
“It’s all very well having a phone and sat nav but they won’t always get you out of a fix - especially when they have no signal and run out of power.”
Last year Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association, which represents 12 rescue teams in Cumbria, received 600 call-outs where walkers, cyclists, climbers and gliders had required help compared to 406 in 2006. The number of people needing medical attention increased by 54 per cent.
More than 8 million walkers visit the Lake District each year. Cumbria Tourism spokesman Ellis Butcher said: “Some people go up the fells and treat them like London, where they can call a taxi out if they get stuck. Unfortunately the mobile phone is not a get out of jail free card.
“It does help if you go out with a map, a compass and a torch and if you tell your accommodation when you expect to return. The weather can change very quickly in the mountains and people can get caught out.”
Two fell walkers died in separate incidents in December while walking close to Swirral Edge in the Lake District.