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Alpine_Tom

Cellular Phone Service

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It seems like over the last few years cellular service in the mountains has gotten worse and worse. When I climbed Stuart a few years back, I got perfect reception on the summit. On Glacier Peak (1997), Sloan Peak, Baker, etc, never a problem. On The Brothers('96) I called my wife at my inlaws', and got her father, and the reception was so clear, he thought I was calling from home.

But this summer, there was NO reception on Thompson Peak, and last weekend both at Muir and the summit of Rainier, just dead.

I’m not someone who thinks a cell phone can replace self-reliance, but my wife has gotten used to me checking in to let her know I’m okay (so when I don’t call, she worries.) We’re not using a bargain service, it’s been AT&T all along. And the phone does analog, I checked. It’s a brand-new Nokia phone, about two weeks old. Works fine on the I-5 corridor.

Has anyone else noticed a decline in service on summits? Or is there a cellular service that works better in the backcountry?

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Similar experiences here. It irks me to NO END when I have 2 bars on my Nokia (ATT service) and get the 'fast busy signal' when I try to complete calls.

 

My hunch is that busy cells towers are programed to eliminate the weakest signals (i.e. those from the summit of Rainier).

 

Was on the summit of Baker Father's Day morn with some friends and we all tried to place the obligatory calls. It took about 5 or 6 tries to complete each call.....with lots of those 'fast busy signals' in between.

 

I occasionally get that in town at home. When I do, I call ATT customer service and their 'solution' is to tell me that my phone is probably malfunctioning and that I should buy a new one....yeah right...why does it work just fine in the same location the next day?

 

I'm geting a bit fed up, too.

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Talk about fed up! Man, I can't fucking STAND it when I am out there in the serene, beautiful wilderness, miles from civilization, having just summitted a beauty peak, and I can't even get on my cell phone to call home and brag about it. I mean seriously, what is this world coming too? I can't believe that I can't get service on top of a remote mountain deep in the wilderness? WTF??

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You could be on to something there AT. Last year I got service in weird places like Little Big Chief. Last week I couldn't make a call from the top of Kaleetan, and that looks right down on I-90 and Seattle. Crazy. [Confused]

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yeah i used to be able to dial into the 'soft while at the muir hut to complete my killer ap development, now i can only connect at 14.4, and that just won't cut it for me. i wish they would get some sat dsl up there or something [Roll Eyes]

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As I topped out on the Great White Popsicle in LCC Utah last year, I heard a guy talking to his wife on the cell. "Hi honey, it took a little longer than I thought, but we're all safe at the top now so I expect I'll be home in about an hour. I'm really sorry I'm late but don't worry. I'll be home for dinner soon." The guy ends up breaking his leg on the way down! Funny thing was I was just telling my partner I would never make a call like that. I don't tell anyone "I'm safe" or "We're done" until I walk in the door!

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Maybe it has something to do with the reduction of anolog phones and service. I have no basis for this. I just know that the older anolog phones have better coverage, but the quality is lower than the now more common digital types. Like AM and FM radio.

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I have had much better experience with Verizon when on summits than with my current service with Qwest. Called home clearly from Chaval, Garfield, Big Four, Rainier, and others. Some of the older phones are more powerful with 3 watts of power rather than the smaller ones out now.

 

[ 09-16-2002, 04:39 PM: Message edited by: Mike Collins ]

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"Hello?"

 

"Hi honey, it's me!"

 

"Where are you?"

 

"Oh, I'm on top of one of the most beautiful and stunning peaks in North America. After I get off the phone with you, I'm going to log on and check my email from my PDA, and make sure that my portfolio hasn't lost any value. I might also go surf StoneNudes.com while I'm at it."

 

"Okay honey, well, thanks for thinking of me. Be careful in that scary remote wilderness."

 

"Oh yes, dear, that's why I climb, to get away from it all."

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Havin' fun, Cletus?

 

The primary reason I have a cell phone is for backcountry 'delays' and emergencies. After meeting a crowd of SAR guys on a descent trail who were starting to look for me because I was delayed a day, I felt it was my responsibility to have a way to communicate with the outside world so I don't needlessly drag those souls away from their desks again. "buzz, crackle, crackle, Tell the chopper to turn around, we have them here at the trailhead, crackle, bleep.."

 

Granted, it's laughable to see people chatting away on a summit somewhere or at Muir....but it can done discretely if you feel compelled, AND they're a useful tool in many situations.

 

The Father's Day climb I mentioned above went a little beyond what I like to do, but are you really going to tell your buddy's gf 'NO' when she asks if she can call her Dad? Besides, Baker is hardly wilderness when you can hear the snowmachines raging away a few hundred feet below the summit.

 

[ 09-16-2002, 06:34 PM: Message edited by: Thinker ]

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First paragraph aside, I must say its nice when people make my point for me.

 

If one truly subscribed to the cell-phone-usage-only-in-emergency asthetic, then one has to wonder how one would know that coverage is so bad on top of said mountains. One must have been in many emergency situations! This one doesn't really want to go climbing with those ones in that case.

 

Compelled to do so? Why in God's name would one in one's right mind be compelled to call someone from the wilderness? Hey, I've got an idea! If one wants to stay in touch or convey certain sentiments on one's special days, one shouldn't be in the wilderness on those days, or should have conveyed said sentiments in advance. Again, emergencies/major delays that will lead to rescues/rescues notwithstanding.

 

Just one man's voice, crying out into the ever marginalized and diminished wilds of the world.

 

Incidentally, did you know that cell phones have been shown to cause interference with avie beacons? Just a tidbit of info there. No charge. [smile]

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quote:

Originally posted by Thinker:

The Father's Day climb I mentioned above went a little beyond what I like to do, but are you really going to tell your buddy's gf 'NO' when she asks if she can call her Dad?

Yes.

 

quote:

Originally posted by Thinker:

Besides, Baker is hardly wilderness when you can hear the snowmachines raging away a few hundred feet below the summit.

So, their behavior makes it okay for us to do equally loud things? Or what, exactly, are you saying?

 

I'm confused. [Frown]

Seems to be a pretty clear asthetic to me. Don't need to make a call (need as defined above in prior post), then don't.

 

Don't mean to pick on ya Thinker, but this issue bothers me quite a lot. I mistakenly left my phone in my pack when I went out Smith just this Sat. Was pissed beyond belief when I realized it, particularly because the on button is very sensitive.

 

I don't mean to preach, but c'mon, seriously, now. WTF are we doing talking on phones on the side of mountains and in the few remaining wild places of the world. Breaks my heart, that's all.

 

-c-

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Hey Cletus, you ARE preaching. In fact you are pontificating. Don't use a phone if you don't want to. My wife likes to hear from me. Maybe someday you will have a person who likes to hear from you. You can always hope.

 

[ 09-16-2002, 07:30 PM: Message edited by: Mike Collins ]

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It's a matter of degrees. The problem with phones is people become used to them, then they can't seem to live without them....

 

It's merely annoying when they are using them for a social call from a summit; it's also annoying when they use them instead of their wits to get out of a marginal situation (darkness falling, weather deteriorating, etc).

 

However, if you have EVER been in a situation where "just one phone call" could have saved a whole bunch of trouble and angst, you will see the usefulness of the damn things. My guess is that you haven't yet been there, Cletus. (Hope you will never be in that situation, but I'd like to see if you change your tune if you end up in such a fix.)

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its amazing anything got climbed w/out cell phones in the past. hahhaha

maybe someone should make a long distance beacon that could ONLY be used in case of emergency. like avy beacon but for those that dont feel safe enough to go into backcountry w/out some assurance.

if your calling from the summit u should expect getting some shit from other climbers. (if there are any around that got there w/out the use of a guide)

just a thought but do u think that any of the cell phone climbers are also ones that bag on others for climbing sport, boulder, or whatever??

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What's the big deal about using the cell in the BC? My cell makes it possible for me to be out there - otherwise I'd be chained to the office "just like the good old days". Fawk that! I'm going out and will use my cell to do business wherever it is. Cell phones are the best thing to happen in outdoor equipment since the crampon, climbing skin, etc. [chubit]

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quote:

Originally posted by Mike Collins:

Hey Cletus, you ARE preaching. In fact you are pontificating.

Sorry. For once, I was trying not to.

 

quote:

Originally posted by Mike Collins:

Don't use a phone if you don't want to.

I don't. But don't you understand that you when you do, you take away something from my experience if I have to listen to you? All I guess I am saying is that most people spend time in the wilderness precisely to disconnect from the world.

 

quote:

Originally posted by Mike Collins:

My wife likes to hear from me.

I'm glad she does, and I'm glad you have her. Good for you, seriously. I think that is one of the most wonderful things in the world, don't you? But don't you suppose you could wait until you're back at the car at least? I dunno, it just seems odd to climb a mountain and then get on the phone.

 

quote:

Originally posted by Mike Collins:

Maybe someday you will have a person who likes to hear from you. You can always hope.

How do you know I don't? How do you know she doesn't climb with me? Anyway, I think this is an uncalled for cheap shot. If you want to slag and spray, fine, but be prepared to be shit upon in a big way. I was actually trying (for once [big Grin] ) to have a legit conversation, and have tried my best to maintain an unusually (for me) mature tone here. But, whatever.

 

In, fact, actually, eat a dick. This is as clear cut to me as anything I know. Don't blab on your phone in the mountains unless you need to. If we're on a mountain somewhere, and I have to listen to you chatter about junior's bowel movements, I promise, there's gonna be a horrible accident involving the phone, the horsecock, and the summit snafflehounds. [big Grin]

 

Edit: fixed quotey thingys, dialed back angry rhetoric. [smile]

 

[ 09-16-2002, 08:46 PM: Message edited by: Cletus ]

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quote:

Originally posted by bobinc:

However, if you have EVER been in a situation where "just one phone call" could have saved a whole bunch of trouble and angst, you will see the usefulness of the damn things. My guess is that you haven't yet been there, Cletus. (Hope you will never be in that situation, but I'd like to see if you change your tune if you end up in such a fix.)

Jeez, Bob, gotta get that prescription checked. I'm fine with having them for emergencies - go back and read my original posts.

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Cell phones in the BC are for calling in for Pizza, better than HC, in fact you can have them put it on it.

I know of atleast two late to come backs that used a cell phone to say dont send anyone, we are ok, just running late ...storm, caught but are ok. [big Grin]

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O.K I have been climbing awhile, and I have yet to need a cell phone. You should be taking in to account that you might be late. What time do you tell the people who are waiting for you ? what it says in the guide book? I have allways made it to a phone before the dead line WE set. YOU DON"T NEED A PHONE. They do have there uses. But please.

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As someone who has been in an accident where a partner was immobilized and bleeding up on a glacier I am glad cell phones are available (but we used a radio to start a helicopter evac). It also helps mtn rescue to get information about the accident scene as well (what gear they will need, is a helicopter needed, etc). I have scoffed at phones in the past but when you are all alone with a badly injured partner who can't move, it's extremely hard to leave them behind to go get help, especially when evening is approaching. Mine is always off and I remove the battery to keep it that way, but I do bring it. I don't scoff at people who refuse to bring them and respect that decision. I just choose to carry one after being in an accident, if I remember to pack it. If not, I don't sweat not having it around. I'd be interested to know what other people think about this.

 

[ 09-16-2002, 10:03 PM: Message edited by: iain ]

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I've been in situations where I was glad I had it as well. Phones are just tools that aren't inherently bad. It 's the user that makes them what they are. There is a big difference between carrying one to make the "Guess where I am call" and having one to help initiate an evacuation.

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[big Grin] I have tried them all and Airtouch works the best for me in the PNW. I hate to bring it but I am on call 24/7. [big Drink]

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Cletus. You will never be bothered if I use the cell phone because you are no where near the mountain I am on. Garfield was done as a winter climb on January 2. On Big Four I was the only party to summit that year. Chaval had been summited only 7 times in 12 years. Rainier was dayclimbed and I was the last up for the day. So I sure hope it is OK with you if I talk to my wife while you are still in bed or double-clicking on the mouse for cc.com.

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