Cellphones in the Wilderness ~ The Philippine Mountaineering

Cellphones in the Wilderness

One of the identified reasons why many family members and friend were so negative to mountaineering is maybe because of the lost of communication. They were feared of not having contact with their beloved mountaineer but today, it seems like most everyone has a cell phone. 

In some countries, cell phones provide instant emergency communication like 911 or 117. The advancement of today's cellular phone gives us almost all our need even related to mountaineering. Today our SMART phones or iPhones have features like GPS and internet access. On real-time, we can post our summit selfies or jump shots. 

This post aims to help every mountaineer to enjoy more our cellular phones while we are in the wild by giving pointers to answer its two limitations. 

1. Network Coverage Area
Our country's network coverage still the biggest problem for us but still we can manage this in some ways. As a rule of thumb notice the telcom company of the guide or park superintendent you are dealing with aside from asking them what's mobile network available to their area. As alternative, you can have two SIM cards (Smart or Globe) intendedly for your mountaineering communication use only. 

Be aware that some areas have good signal strength, while others have very poor or no access. That inconsistency could be managed by using the terrain properly. Remember that signal strength relies on the proximity and line-of-sight access to local cellular phone towers that could be interrupted by natural blockage. When you are in a valley or your location is being covered, the signal may be poor or none at all.  Signal is better if we are on a ridgeline or similar terrain but this requires more trials.  

Cell phone features, including GPS, are also reliant on the service area. If you can’t get a cell phone coverage, you won’t have access to your cell phone’s GPS function. Cell phones must obtain their GPS location by accessing cell towers in the service area, unlike dedicated GPS units that use satellites for navigation.

2. Battery Life
Cell phone battery is almost everyone's problem in the outdoor. Batteries are rechargeable, meaning we have to ensure first that our battery was charged properly. We could also bring a freshly charged spare batteries and battery packs or powerbank with charger cable. If possible and available, choose powerbank which is AA battery-powered or solar-powered chargers.

Remember that battery life quickly fades if you frequently call, or if you leave the phone on in poor service area. In poor service areas, the phone continually searches for access, which runs the battery down quickly. As a suggestion, turn your phone to Airplane mode then turn it off until you plan on using it. 

For groups, if it's necessary to have a phone needs to be on at all times, consider having only one phone for the entire group, and ensure that all the loved ones of the group members knows the group number. Think about what calls are important, think emergency access only. 

As a conclusion, cell phones are excellent useful communication resources only if in a service area. Be wise and ready, try to bring, and practice and develop other communication options. Formulate individual and group emergency communication plans for your future climbs. 

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1 comment:

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