April 15, 2009 -A Norwegian man was caught in blizzard conditions on March 31 during a 5 day solo ski sailing attempt across Hardangervidda, the largest high mountain plateau in Northern Europe. Despite studying the advanced forecast and being prepared with the proper equipment, an unexpected late winter storm suddenly caused blinding, white-out conditions high winds and heavy snow snowfall.
On the second day of the storm, after heavy wet snow and high winds destroyed his tent, Mr. Haukenes, an avid outdoor enthusiast, was unable to navigate his way off of the mountain despite having a GPS navigational device. Due to exposure and the inability to stay dry, Mr. Haukenes knew he was at risk of hypothermia.
“Because I was going to spend multiple days in the backcountry removed for any mobile satellite coverage, I brought my SPOT Messenger along to send I’m Okay messages to my girlfriend daily so she knew that I was safe,” said Mr. Haukenes. “I was starting to experience hypothermia from days of being in the snow storm and the inability to stay dry as the snow was very wet and heavy. The white-out conditions made for zero visibility and the wet and heavy snow accumulations made it impossible for me to find my way down the mountain. My only option was to signal for help using my SPOT Messenger.”
Mr. Haukenes pressed the Help button on his SPOT device, to notify his girlfriend of his location and need for assistance. A few hours later as the weather conditions were getting worse he pressed the 9-1-1 button sending his distress signal directly to the GEOS International Response Center.
GEOS received the signal and immediately contacted the JRCC Mountain Specialists Rescue Unit. They were already assembling a rescue search team based on the location coordinates they received from Mr. Haukenes’ girlfriend who received the Help message on her mobile phone.
According to rescue officials, the GPS coordinate relayed from GEOS of Mr. Haukenes’ location was to be attributed to a fast and successful rescue by snowmobile. The authorities found Mr. Haukenes cold and tired and assisted him down the mountain. He has since made a full recovery.
“SPOT enabled me to notify for help during a critical moment of survival,” adds Mr. Haukenes.“Being able to provide the authorities with my GPS location was critical. Even if they discovered I was missing, days later, it could have taken them days to find me. Instead, I was back recovering safely within a couple of hours.”