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A Safer Yosemite: How Our Yosemite Backpacking Guides Use The SPOT X Satellite Messenger

Safety, convenience and adventure come complete with the SPOT X for Lasting Adventures.

As backpacking guides in the Yosemite high country, there are a few gear essentials we hate to leave behind. Forget a pot scraper and prepare to lick dirty dishes. Lose the TP and get ready to wipe your bum with wolf lichen. Leave out the stove and enjoy eating dehydrated meals—cold.

Luxuries aside, there’s one item we really don’t like leaving civilization without for practicality and safety purposes: the SPOT X satellite messenger and GPS tracker.

“The SPOT X plays a critical role in both the safety and operations of our backcountry summer camps,” said Lasting Adventures executive director, Scott Gehrman. “That became evident early this season after a big storm, when we  had a 13-day youth camp in the field breaking snow on trail every day. To be able to get a text from them each night confirming that everything was going smoothly was phenomenal. Without that I’d have been biting my teeth for 13 days.”

More dire scenarios where SPOT devices help facilitate life-saving rescues are commonly accounted for in the press.

Take the 79-year-old pilot who crashed his plane in a remote area of Idaho last April, stranding himself in a tree 60 feet off the ground.

Rescuers saved him less than two hours after he pressed the S.O.S. button on his SPOT Gen 3.

Or take the teenager who suffered an injury during a skiing expedition in Montana last March, and used the SPOT X messenger to communicate with emergency crews and family, coordinating a helicopter rescue. Add these to the running list of more than 10,000 documented rescues logged under the SPOT brand, and the devices’ value in a life-threatening bind is self-evident.

Fortunately, and thanks largely to Lasting Adventures’ expert guides, our Yosemite summer camp and guide service rarely experiences such harrowing situations.

For us, the SPOT X is used more commonly with everyday operations—communication between admin and guides in the field regarding pick-up points, resupply needs and status updates.

The added benefit for guides is that if an emergency arises, they’re not left alone to deal with it.   

Lasting Adventures guide Maddison Hodge puts the SPOT X to use in the Yosemite high country for an evening check-in with the admin team. Photo: Lucie Hladik

“In our 23 year history guiding in Yosemite, our emergency risk management plan has evolved from sending a runner for help to using SPOT’s technology to communicate ahead of time, so we’re able to avoid most emergencies in the first place,” said Mr. Gehrman.

“We’re leading up to seven or eight parties in the backcountry on any give day during summer, and our guides use the SPOT X every day to send a status update to the admin team. It works wonders for logistics, and for peace-of-mind.”

For guides, the SPOT X provides reassurance beyond peace-of-mind. In areas where technical communication has been historically impossible, like granite-walled canyons and remote valleys, it enables our guides to receive weather updates, request provisions, and adjust plans, as well as coordinate rescue if ever the need arises.

“The best thing about (SPOT X) is that I can be guiding a youth camp out in remote wilderness without feeling like I’m totally on my own,” said Lasting Adventures’ veteran guide, Maddison Hodge. 

“It’s also great to be able to send special requests for resupplies (like cookies).”

SPOT X is now available with Bluetooth technology so you can connect to your smartphone! Learn more about the all new SPOT X Bluetooth.

Thanks to our Partner in Adventure, SPOT LLC., for supporting the Lasting Adventures nonprofit summer camp scholarship program and enabling more youth to get outdoors.

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