'Don't rely on Google Maps' say rescuers after hiker almost dies in mountains

Man sitting on rocky mountain checking smartphone
(Image credit: Getty)

Rescuers have asked hikers not to rely on Google Maps after saving a man suffering hypothermia who had become lost in the English Lake District on Monday.

The man, who hasn't been named, was relying on his phone for directions, and called for help in the early evening when he ran into difficulty on the ridge between Scafell Pike (the highest mountain in England) and Great End.

The Independent reports that nearby Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team managed to contact the hiker after they received a call from Cumbria Police. They were unable to guide him off the mountain remotely due to the poor signal, so told him to remain where he was and take shelter from the wind.

However, upon reaching his location, they were unable to find him. Keswick Mountain Rescue joined the effort, along with specially trained dogs, but the search was called off in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

The effort resumed at dawn, with a total of nine teams working together to track down the missing man. Bad weather meant it was impossible to use helicopters.

He was eventually found, suffering from hypothermia, plus foot and knee injuries. He was stretchered off the mountain and taken to a nearby hospital.

A spokesperson for Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team explained that they rarely commented on operations, but the man was extremely lucky to have survived.

"We also have to say that Google Maps on smartphones are not suitable for navigating on the hills," they added. "They lack detail and of course will not work with a flat battery. There is no substitute for a map and compass and being able to use them. They can save one’s life."

For advice, see our guides how to use a compass and how to take a bearing. Our guide to the different types of compass will help you make the right choice when buying one.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.