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Oregon cascades mysterious headlamp incident

Original Post
zach s · · Bend, OR · Joined Dec 2017 · Points: 35

Last summer myself along with two of my buddies hiked five miles into the Willamette National forest to climb Three Fingered Jack. it was an easy climb which would take us only a couple of hours so we decided to bivy at the base and drink beer. We hiked west of the mountain and bivied near the western talus field which the PCT runs through. That evening low clouds rolled in a few hundred feet above us covering the summit. around 9pm we saw an SOS signal coming from one of the lakes to our West about two miles and maybe a thousands vert feet below our location. the SOS flashing continued for about five minutes before we decided to flash one single SOS signal back to respond that we had indeed seen their distress. At this time I called 911 so SAR could be notified. I talked on the Phone with local SAR coordinators for about 15 minutes trying to pinpoint a location. the SOS flashing continued so we decided to do one more while i was still on the phone. a few minutes later SAR said they got another call from a lake about two miles west of our location saying that climbers were stranded on the ridge (supposedly us). after much confusion, SAR gave us the other callers number and we made sure that we were both the parties involved. I called SAR back and notified them that the SOS we saw was indeed the people that called. the SAR guy pretty much called them tards and was confused at why they would have done that. we were all glad no one was actually hurt, but it brought up some questions. should we have not responded back with SOS even though they had been doing for a solid 5 or more minutes? why would you flash sos at someone else if you believe they are in trouble but cant confirm that?

Em Cos · · Boulder, CO · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 5

Why would they flash sos at you when they weren’t in an emergency? Why did you flash sos at them when you weren’t in an emergency? Probably for the same reason - it’s the only morse code most people know. Them flashing it at you is an odd choice, but so is yours to return it?

Glad you were able to get it all cleared up before an unnecessary rescue was sent out. 

Mark Pilate · · MN · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 10

The better response in this situation would be to just make big circles with your light.  This would acknowledge and indicate either OK I saw you, or we are OK.  

Sending SOS signals is a bad idea unless YOU are in an SOS situation. 

Tradiban · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2004 · Points: 11,540


SinRopa · · parts unknown · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 30

The internationally recognized appropriate non-MC response to receiving a visual SOS is to respond with three short flashes.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

General Climbing
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