designed with regulatory-grade study protocols, similar
to the ones used in the medical industry, are feasible in
extreme environments. We also learned that standardized
measurements can be collected with robust and easy-to-use
data-collection tools, which are suitable for a hard-to-reach
environment. Furthermore, the ability of reviewing drone data
(maps, footage, sounds, etc.) is affected by the knowledge of
the mountain area, mountaineering skills, and search-and-rescue practices.
Future research is needed to refine and standardize
the study protocols and replicate these experiments and
new ones on a larger scale. Comparable, large-scale,
methodologically rigorous studies are feasible and should
be encouraged so that the claims made are truly based on
What we learned was that the improvement in technology
and software has made drones a beneficial tool for mountaineers. It has moved from a flying device to a data-collection
device that can provide information for live decision-making
opportunities. We also learned that knowing where a person is
not is helpful information. As these platforms become smaller,
lighter, and more capable with more integrated sensors, we
will be seeing them used more in a variety of activities in
the mountains. These drones will be helping to keep our first
responders safe and allow them to make quicker and better
decisions, cutting down the time it takes to resolve an incident.
It’s hard to argue with technology that can save lives and
After getting off the glacier, one of
the teams took a “dronie.”
Top: Man and Drone
at Rifugio Mandron.
Above: Part of the
back into the valley.
In the background,
the ascent route