Here's Why Cell Service on Mount Rainier Might Be Good for All of Us

Mount Rainier National Park is opening up comments regarding installation of cellular telecom equipment at Paradise, WA. Here's why I believe this might be good for all of hikers, climbers and visitors.

1. We won't see any antennas, they will be hidden in the Jackson Visitor Center's attic

The proposed action would allow installation of telecommunications support equipment in the attics of the Jackson Visitor Center at Paradise. Antennas would be mounted on the interior of the east and west gable ends of the non-historic building, behind a special fiberglass panel designed to match the existing exterior wood siding.

Karen Thompson in a press release for Mount Rainier National Park. Full press release on nps.gov.

2. Increased communication in rescue situations saves lives

As a guiding company on Rainier, and as professional mountain guides around the world, we are often called upon to assist with rescues of independent climbers. Many accidents are preventable with increased communication, or could be initiated in a timelier manner, thus lessening the overall harm and complexity should a rescue be necessary.

Robert Jantzen for International Mountain Guides, mountainguides.com.

3. We still have airplane mode and the off switch

I always keep my device in either airplane mode or off when I'm in the backcountry, including at Mount Rainier, both to save battery and to respect others' right to enjoy the outdoors free of the daily distractions. But it's nice to have the option to download an extra map, check the weather forecast on long trips, or check on your cat back home.

So, if we can have an option, why not take it?

 Backpacking the Wonderland Trail around Mount Rainier

Backpacking the Wonderland Trail around Mount Rainier

Update December 27, 2016: Phuong Le, writing for Associated Press, interviewed me and others regarding this issue. He published his report on bigstory.ap.org.