SPOT Saves

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Lost in the mountains of Romania

Phillip Pauli

Ivan Satrapa enjoys taking his enduro motorbike off-road around the globe. Naturally he always takes his SPOT Gen3 and so, whether it is Bolivia, Argentina, Albania or Morocco, his wife Michaela can track his journey. She also knows to expect a check-in message every evening.

One evening in summer 2017, when Ivan was on a five day enduro trip in the Banat mountains in Caras Severin County, western Romania, Michaela didn't get a check-in message so she called the local authorities, explained the situation and gave them his GPS coordinates.

At almost the same time, the local search and rescue service heard from the IERCC with the location of an S.O.S. message from Ivan's SPOT unit.

Ivan and his friend had set off from their guesthouse that morning and headed along the enduro tracks in the mountains. His companion had ridden in the area many times before, but soon after, bad weather came in and they realised they were lost. They had been on a narrow path that opened into a mountain meadow and they couldn't figure out the correct route using their map. By late afternoon they had run out of petrol and eaten the sports bars they had carried with them.

With no mobile phone reception in the region, their options were limited. What's more, there were plenty of signs that bears were close by, so Ivan and his friend needed to stay vigilant.

They were tired and had no food but considered walking back to civilization, although this could take up to 12 hours even if they figured out where to go. Walking would also mean abandoning their bikes.

Instead Ivan pressed the S.O.S. button on his SPOT Gen3. They knew it would take time for help to reach them so they tried to sleep in a shepherd's shelter.

The closest mountain rescue team set off from Poiana Marului on two quad bikes but had to trek the last 4km on foot. They reached the motorcyclists at 5am. They all ate food and lit a fire to dry out and warm up before heading back.

"SPOT did a fantastic job and ensured a happy ending to the story. Without it, our trip would have been a catastrophe. When the mountain rescue team arrived they told us we would have struggled to find the right pass even if we had clear weather. It was such a relief to get back to our guesthouse at 11am that morning," Ivan remarked.