Rusty recently wrote a comment about GMRS radios. I thought other people might be curious about them as well so I’m copying my (brief) response here:
I always wondered if the ski patrol monitors any GRMS channels for emergencies. I seem to recall that Mt. Baker’s ski patrol monitors Ch 9.11. I know GRMS range is limited but it would provide another avenue for people to contact patrollers in case of emergency.
I don’t know a WHOLE lot about this (the initials are actually GMRS for General Mobile Radio Service) but I know they share some frequencies with FRS ("family") radios, though apparently can be of higher quality and cost a bit more.
The "family" radios don’t work very well in our highly-angulated terrain. We experimented with monitoring 9.11 a few years ago, and found it pretty ineffective, what with having to listen to kids screaming what kind of sandwich they wanted Mom to fix them for lunch and all. Maybe people respect GMRS or 9.11 better these days–I haven’t checked. For me, the amount of "nuisance" traffic was too distracting.
In any case, I like THIS plan better: if you’re in trouble, find ANYBODY reliable on any channel, and ask them to notify Ski Patrol.
Cell phones work many levels of magnitude better ’round these parts and proved invaluable in a couple of recent incidents over the ridge in Mt. Rainier National Park and over the other ridge on the east side of the Pacific Crest. Plus, I’m told battery life and depletage (I made-up that word) are more reliable with cell phones than those little radios.
Verizon transmits from BOTH Grubstake Peak and Gold Hills at Crystal Mountain. AT&T from Grubstake Peak, and T-Mobile from either the Base Area or Gold Hills.
Those with cell phones are encouraged to keep the Ski Patrol "Emergency Only" number, 360-663-3064, programmed in your phone, and keep it turned on if you’re separated from your companions!
I’ve never heard that reaching us is enough of a problem to warrant getting everyone to purchase new equipment. But if I’m missing something, please let me know!