Affiliations: CAA Institute of Satellite Navigation, School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK Tel.: +44 113 2332025
Abstract: The Global Positioning System (GPS) is now being exploited in many aspects of day to day life. In mountaineering activities, a system that can pin‐point a users position within seconds has tremendous potential; a commercial GPS receiver is able to do this. Not only does the system work 24 h a day, but it is not weather or ability dependent. Technology is advancing, receivers of GPS signals are becoming cheaper, smaller and more readily available to everyday users. The implications for outdoor safety are significant; both in perception and usage. So how does this technology apply to the mountaineering community? Already GPS is being explored for search and rescue. In addition, walkers and mountaineers are using it every day on the hills. The question remains whether GPS be able to provide an essential safety component to mountaineering. This paper addresses the general issues associated with GNSS satellites. An overview of the current systems is discussed, focusing on accuracy, practicality and techniques that can be used to enhance its performance. A presentation of potential uses of the systems is then given including its practicality in search and rescue exercises and the inherent problems of widespread use in a mountainous environment.