Emergency Beacon False Alarm

(Gallatin County, Mont) On December 4, 2019 at 10:52 a.m., Gallatin County Dispatch received a notification that an emergency beacon had been activated in the Hyalite area. GPS coordinates showed the beacon to be in the area of a popular ice climbing destination called The Fat One. The beacon was registered to an experienced mountaineer, a 52-year-old woman from the Seattle area. Family members were contacted and were able to provide information on where the woman was climbing, what routes she was planning on taking, who she was climbing with, and the vehicle they drove to the trailhead.

Gallatin County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue responded to the call. Because the call occurred in the backcountry and the condition of the woman was unknown, ski teams and helicopters were deployed in an effort to quickly locate the woman and her climbing partner, a 69-year-old man. SAR members located the woman’s vehicle at the Grotto Falls trailhead.

At 1:10 p.m., the climber and her partner were located. Both parties were in good health and spirits. The climber said that the SOS button on the beacon had accidentally been pushed. She didn’t notice emergency confirmation messages to her beacon until well after SAR had been deployed and pushed the cancellation button shortly before the parties were located.

The Sheriff’s Office would like to encourage everyone to take steps prior to going into the backcountry that will help us locate you in case of emergency. In this case, the subjects had notified family members of exactly where they would be, what they were driving, who was in their party, and the experience level of party members. Providing this information to someone is a huge help if we need to come looking for you in an emergency situation.

Photo courtesy of Gallatin County Sheriff’s OfficeHelicopter in parking lot

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