Climbers in an American state could be forced to carry radio locators when on mountains.

Legislators in Oregon have approved the first stage of a law which would make it a legal obligation to have a mobile phone and a locator of some sort when climbing on the state’s mountains.

This follows a rescue last month when three climbers and a dog were rescued from the 3,429m (11,249ft) Mount Hood after they used a locator which led search parties to them. The party had been involved in a fall while roped up. It is estimated that more than 130 climbers have died on Mount Hood, in the Pacific North-West of the USA, since records began.

According to Oregon Emergency Management, only 3.3 per cent of rescues on Mount Hood were for climbers. Skiers, boat users, and vehicle users account for the rest – along with, oddly three per cent of rescues involving mushroom pickers.

Mountaineering organisations are opposing the introduction of the new law, saying it impinges on freedom and can give a false sense of security. They do, however, say it is a good idea to carry a GPS receiver, rescue locator and mobile phone.

Representative John Lim, a Republican member of the Oregon House of Representatives, said: “Most people support this bill because it saves lives.” He says it is no different from making people wear motorcycle helmets or life jackets when on water.

To become law, the bill must next be approved by the State Senate and ratified by the Governor. Oregon will be the first state to pass such a law, if this happens.