VK7/SW-010 fatality

Not a SOTA activation but it does raise an interesting question re who carries the PLB.

I know someone who is going for a trek in PNG later this year and they were told they wont need a sat phone or PLB as someone elese will be taking them. Personally I take my own nowadays regardless of what others take or advice is given especially when remote like this trip in the article was.


I see nothing in the story to indicate a quicker call for help could have led to a better outcome. But yes, certainly something to think about if only one member of the group has the best device. .

Agree. Life is full of possibilities for sudden death. Carrying an epirb or whatever won’t stop that. It may however help locate your body more quickly, but how it gets activated when you are dead is something I can’t answer. If you are injured then it would clearly be a help to be able to find you quickly. That’s it’s main justification, along with locating when lost IMO.

I think Compton would be wise to take his own unit - in the (unlikely) case of him being lost the other persons locator might not be of any help at all.


Agree. I summitted Federation back in the late 1970s. We used the “Direct Ascent” for the ascent without using ropes. The cloud base lowered when we almost on the summit, and it also rained. We continued to the summit proper (easier to go up at the time than to attempt to retreat). Fortunately, the cloud lifted to allow some views just before commenced our descent via the climbing gully on the east face. We did use climbing ropes and safety equipment for the descent as the rock was wet.

2 years later we made the decision to not attempt the ascent, based on weather and capabilities of a couple of party members. Even traversing the southern slopes of the summit can be challenging, given its terrain: Climbing down a steep gully, you can clearly see Lake Geeves, a drop of over 600 metres below, with no terrain apparent between you and the lake. Near the end of the Eastern Arthur Range we saw a group on their way in. We had a rest day the following day. On the next day we were about to depart our campsite when we saw the group on their way out, but with one party member absent. A male had fallen whilst attempting the Direct Ascent of Federation. We made hot beverages and offered support, both emotional and any physical support that we might be able to offer. Before EPIRBs, sat phones or mobile phones. The party in question accepted the emotional support - we spent more than an hour talking with the group members before they resumed their exit walk along the Yo-Yo Track towards the road head.
We finally packed up and started our east to west traverse of the Western Arthur Range, somewhat down in spirits.

The South West is a stunning area. Very remote at any time and exposed to the full forces of Mother Nature and the moods of the weather.

From a SOTA perspective, the South West encompasses the VK7/SW and much of the
VK7/WC regions. It is interesting to note that only a small number of summits in these 2 regions have yet been activated.

The remoteness, exposure to weather patterns and terrain will require any parties planning to activate summits to undertake very careful planning.

Peter VK3PF