Emergency Communications

One of the elements of a safe winter travel plan includes a communications component. The following is a guide that can be used for planning purposes. We make no endorsement of any of the systems described and encourgage you to research a solution that works for your particular needs.


Emergency Contacts

The respective county Sheriff's office has Search and Rescue responsibility in Oregon. If you are accessing the backcountry from the Joseph side, you are in Wallowa County. On the West Side you are in Union or Baker counties.

Emergency Contact number: 911

Baker County Sheriff's Office: 541-523-6415

Union County Sheriff's Office: 541-963-1017

Wallowa County Sheriff's Office: 541-426-3131



Communications Options:


Cell Phones - Cell coverage is generally pretty good in populated area and major highways. Once you get into the backcountry, coverage is pretty spotty to non existant. Some areas have enough coverage to allow text messaging  (sms) but not voice. You should plan on NOT having any cell service in the backcountry!

SPOT Personal Tracker Unit - We have used this unit in the Wallowas and it seems to work.The unit allows you to send a message and location indicating that you are OK. Emergency service is provided through a private rescue dispatch center.

Personal Locator Beacon - A number of new units are available including a unit that can sent a text message. PLB activations are dispatched through a government rescue dispatch center. This system is used by ships and aircraft around the world.

Satellite Phone - A number of different options. Both Globalstar and Iridium systems have been used in this area. May be affected by terrain and weather. Allow two-way voice communication

Amateur Radio - (FCC Licence Required) A number of repeaters around the area provide coverage deep into the backcountry with handheld radios. We have used amateur repeaters from Wing Ridge, McCully, Aneroid Basin, and Fish Lake / Russel Mountain area quite sucessfully. Some repeaters are connected to the Echolink system which allows remote access and linking from anywhere in the world. You can find information about obtaining an amateur radio licence here.


Listing of Amateur Radio Repeaters that may be useful for backcountry communications:

NOTE: These systems are privately maintained amateur radio systems. WAC is not responsible for the accuracy of this information, as it is subject to change. We will do our best to keep it up to date, but you should always verify system status yourself and have contingency plans.


Location Callsign Frequency Tone Notes                       

Wallowa Valley

KB7DZR 147.000 + 103.5

Echolink, coverage into  Aneroid Basin,

Mc Cully, Wing Ridge (above about 7,500 ft)

Cascade, ID. W7VOI 146.620 - 100.0 Snowbank Mt. Good coverage in Southern Wallowas
McCall, ID. KC7MCC 147.020 + 100.0

No Business Mtn. Good coverage in Southern Wallowas

Grangeville, ID. KC7MGR 146.680 - 100.0  
Grangeville, ID. K7EI  444.950 + 100.0 Cottonwood Butte, Linked into Lewiston, ID.
Lime W7NYW  145.170 - 110.9 Linked to Beaver Mtn
Beaver Mtn W7NYW  145.270 - 110.9 Linked to Lime
Spout Springs  WA7SDV 146.800 - 100.0 Heavily used, usually someone monitoring
Spout Springs K7EI 444.725+ 136.6 Linked to Cottonwood Butte and several other repeaters
La Grande W4PJS 146.980 - 100.0  Echolink, 11 to connect to KB7DZR, # disconnect
Mt. Fanny K7RPT 147.260 + None  
Mt. Fanny W7NYW 145.150 - 110.9

Normaly Linked to Beaver and Lime.

Mt. Harris UHF  W7URG  444.925+ 146.2  Currently down (1/12)