Technology gets too much emphasis, says Peter Hillary, who phoned the world via satellite from atop Everest five decades after his father summited (news of Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay’s success took four days to reach England). “I was interviewed by CNN on the summit. It was bizarre when you think of it in terms of 1953 – but technology is here to stay.” GPS units and other bushwalking technology should not, however, replace preparation and the old-fashioned art of map-and-compass navigation, Hilary says.
Carrying a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) on long hikes provides some peace of mind, though. These gizmos, which transmit an emergency call for help, can be hired on line with Australia-wide delivery and through the Tasmanian government. A free loan system operates in the Blue Mountains.
“The beacons get all the attention,” says Sgt Colless, Coordinator of the Blue Mountains Police Rescue Unit, “but we push people to plan and prepare so, hopefully, they will never need to use the beacon.”