Which cell phone company provides best service on Skyline?

General Palm Springs area.

Which cell phone company provides best service on Skyline?

Postby Yichus » Fri Sep 08, 2006 11:07 am

Hi, all:

I'd like to know which cell phone company provides the best service on Skyline. My current cell phone provider is Verizon Wireless. I can get signal on many parts of the trail, save for the last section, where my cell phone constantly searches for signal. Sometimes, when I'm lucky, I'm able to get signal in Long Valley; however, the reception is usually very weak and, as a result, my calls are either garbled or they cut off.

A friend of mine has service with Nextel, and, according to him, he's able to make and receive calls on ALL sections of Skyline, even in the forested areas near the trail's terminus.

My contract with Verizon will expire in two months, and I was considering switching to either Nextel or Sprint, companies that I'm not familiar with.

I'd appreciate your comments or suggestions or "stay-away-from" warnings.

Yichus (Rob M.)
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Postby RV » Fri Sep 08, 2006 11:26 am

I can't speak for Nextel but I would stay away from Sprint. My Sprint coverage even breaks up in portions of Orange County and NEVER works in any of the local mountains :x .

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Postby Perry » Fri Sep 08, 2006 12:12 pm

Probably Nextel will get the best coverage, but you'll pay a fortune in roaming fees. When I was at the Sierra Club cabin on Mt. Shasta, the caretaker was talking on her cell phone. I asked her if that was roaming, and she said no, it was US Cellular, not roaming. She said she could even make calls inside the stone cabin at 8,000 feet on that plateau. My Cingular wouldn't even work from Bunny Flat or the town of Shasta City, but I do like how they have less BS than Verizon. My old Verizon phone would sometimes work from San Jacinto Peak, if I was lucky. The reason Cingular has the "least dropped calls" is because they don't allow you to connect if there is the possibility of losing that connection. It's a sneaky way of getting that slogan, but that's the nature of large businesses.
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Cell Phones

Postby Cy Kaicener » Fri Sep 08, 2006 2:02 pm

Always carry extra batteries. I was with someone whose cell phone was working fine until they got to a spot where they needed help just above Flatrock. They diagnosed a flat battery. Maybe it was just bad reception at that point. They (a guy and his wife) asked me to call search and rescue when I got to a phone
SAR assisted the girl the next day. Her husband stayed with her which I was happy about.
summitpost.org has a thread called Cell Phones in the Mountains in their General Section. It has 33 replies so far.
. Please visit my website at www.hiking4health.com for more information especially the Links.
http://cys-hiking-adventures.blogspot.com
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Postby Guest » Fri Sep 08, 2006 6:27 pm

Just our of curiosity, does anyone know if there's been a sizable increase in SAR activity this year? especially on San J?

Seems to be a lot more rescues, with calls for assistance, and I was wondering if folks are relying too much on cells phones as their emergency kit rather than using good preparation, good judgement, and being in shape for the chosen trip.
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Postby hiiker » Fri Sep 08, 2006 7:59 pm

You might want to consider a Tracfone if you're worried about coverage. Since they use all the other cell carrier system's the service is available in 99% of the US. I currently have a Tracfone and have never had trouble with coverage anywhere I've hiked/backpacked in the SoCal mtns. As with all radio systems that use line of sight communication, if you're in an area where cell phone signals can't reach you you won't be able to use your phone.


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Postby Perry » Sat Sep 09, 2006 10:22 am

Anonymous wrote:Just our of curiosity, does anyone know if there's been a sizable increase in SAR activity this year? especially on San J?


Yes! A lot of incidents this year on the whole mountain. I talked to somebody a month ago who told me it was something like 160 this year, but that includes little stuff like people lost for 15 minutes but end up being found at the Tram station. There were some bigger incidents, like the death in the Taquitz Peak climbing area, the death on Skyline, the couple rescued in Tahquitz Canyon, the recovery of the body in Tahquitz Canyon, and the body found in a tent in Round Valley. Some of the stuff doesn't actually make the newspaper if it's not a big enough story. It would be interesting to hear some theories as to why there's an increase this year.
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Postby Yichus » Sun Sep 10, 2006 4:01 pm

Re: "It would be interesting to hear some theories as to why there's an increase this year."

Perhaps the reason for the increase in the number of hikers being rescued (or calling for SAR assistance) on Skyline is that, over the past several years, the trail's popularity has grown significantly due to word-of-mouth, websites, and articles that describe Skyline. As a result, more people--some of them ill-prepared (both physically and materially)--are attempting the hike, which has a certain allure. Those who, for whatever reason (dehydration, exhaustion, etc.), can't make it end up having to call for assistance. In short, as more people hike Skyline, the likelihood of hikers getting lost or injured increases, hence more and more SAR operations. Even though I've hiked Skyline over twenty times, I always view it as a serious undertaking, one that requires preparation and training. That's just my two cents, though. I'm sure there are others who have more info. than I do and can offer a better explanation/theory for the increase in rescues.

Does anyone know, off-hand, how many SAR rescues took place on Skyline in 2005?

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Postby Perry » Sun Sep 10, 2006 5:35 pm

The Skyline rescues are a small percentage of the overall number of incidents. I have taken a little criticism for putting up the web page, but in my estimation, I think if anything it may have helped. In 2003 there were a lot of rescues on Skyline between the various agencies. I don't know the exact number, but it was a lot, then there was the death in January 2004 on the ice, then I put up the web page and publicized it. After all, it was obvious that Skyline was getting a bunch of publicity anyways, so I figured why not give new hikers some useful info. (Before, I had put it up temporarily, asked for some input from a few people, and decided to take it down.) In my estimation, I think there was a decrease in Skyline incidents in 2004. In 2005, it did seem like it increased again, but probably not to the level of 2003. This year, 2006, it does seem like there has been a number of Skyline incidents, probably similar to 2003 through September (now). Here's an important point: the total number of rescues everywhere on the entire mountain is very high this year, and obviously my skyline page is not causing that. It becomes an interesting issue of correlation v. causation which is important in statistics. Media sensationalism and business/political influences like to ignore this issue and exploit people's tendencies towards thinking by association. A lot of people in the mountain climbing community wonder why Mt. San Jacinto has so many incidents. After all, it's not Rainier, and most of the incidents are with hikers and campers. My hypothesis is that it's because it's located in Southern California and has easy access via tramway. A mountain like this in Colorado would be different because more people there are familiar with the outdoors and cold winters. Why it's increased this year, I don't know, but maybe somebody else has some thoughts on that.
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Postby Scrambleman » Sun Sep 10, 2006 8:46 pm

C2C:

No problem with the "Cactus to Clouds" website. Its pretty well done and I'd probably try the trail if I didn't &%$!?$% my knee last spring and could get in shape! Maybe try it with a group the first time.

Some instances are unavoidable, like the guy who flatlined in his tent at Round Valley. But from the rescue reports I've seen, and some unscientific observation, I'm thinking its a combination of bad preparation, poor judgement, AND too much reliance on cell phones. I'm seeing more and more cell phones in the backcountry, and hikers seem to be relying on them as almost a primary tool, with no consideration for planning and good judgement. A good example of poor planning was the kid on Skyline in July who didn't turn around when his friends did, didn't seem to know the route, and had to make a call for help.

As for SAR units, I hate to think of the impact its having on them. I'd really like to see the RMRU reports put a little more emphasis on evaluation of the rescued person's (or persons') preparation, and how important preparation is, rather than the somewhat "heroic efforts" they make (which makes for better media attention).

Just my observations.
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