Each day in winter the Lake District National Park fell top assessors walk up Helvellyn to check conditions, with the ViewRanger smartphone app forming an essential part of their ‘safety net’.
Jason Taylor and Jon Bennett work alternate seven-day shifts, climbing the mountain every day to take photos and supply a report for the National Park’s Weatherline forecast. Their comments on snow conditions, freezing levels, wind speeds and the state of the paths are a crucial aid to safety and are accessed by around half a million people a year.
This year, the service has been temporarily extended beyond the end of March due to the prolonged wintery conditions.
(Date: 30 Mar 2013 01:30pm Taken at: Helvellyn Summit)
Jason and John operate on the mountain on their own, so the National Park uses ViewRanger as an essential part of their safety cover. ViewRanger’s BuddyBeacon feature allows real-time location sharing between smartphones or through the web, which is how Park Management Ranger, Pete Barron monitors their progress from his base near Keswick. “ViewRanger and Buddy Beacon have become an essential part of our safety cover for the Fell Top Assessors”, says Pete. “We have safety protocols for this potentially hazardous role but the Buddy Beacon facility has become an essential addition to our safety cover whilst out on the fell, and has given the Fell Top Assessors extra confidence that if something did go wrong they would be located much quicker through the mapping system.”
Jason Taylor adds, “ViewRanger gives us that extra reassurance that staff not on the fells can check our location, and is an extra safety tool if problems occur whilst we are out. The maps, used with the GPS facility, are really accurate and brilliant for a check of location, altitude and further reassurance.”
For the same reasons, four out of five Mountain Rescue Teams in England and Wales also use ViewRanger for safety and control, with over 1,300 mountain rescue team members using the app. And of course hundreds of thousands of regular outdoor enthusiasts use ViewRanger’s BuddyBeacon to share their location with friends and family - you can even add your tweets, twitpics and video.
So next time you’re checking Weatherline (and obviously we recommend you do this before venturing onto the fells in winter), spare a thought for Jon or Jason who will be on the summit today. Access Weatherline via lakedistrictweatherline.co.uk or call 0844 846 2444.