A mountain rescue team used the What3words app to locate four tourists trapped in a blizzard

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(CNN) – A group of tourists stranded near the top of the highest mountain in the UK were rescued thanks to a Scottish alpine rescue team and an app that helped them track them down.

Tourists were stuck in a blizzard near the top of Ben Nevis. They had gone on a hike and seemed to get lost. To make matters worse, the group was barely prepared for the weather: they wore sneakers and had no ice axes, crampons or maps.

The group was rescued from Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the United Kingdom.

The group was rescued from Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the United Kingdom.

Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team / Facebook

Fortunately for tourists, however, they had a cell phone with service. And on that phone there was an app: What3words.

Rescue members with the Scottish Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team used the app to find the group Monday evening. What3words works like an intuitive GPS, overlapping three simple words in practically any position on the planet.

The group was very fortunate to find each other, rescuers said.

The group was very fortunate to find each other, rescuers said.

Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team / Facebook

Tourists are “extremely fortunate” to have survived, somehow managing to endure a blizzard with a wind cooling factor of -20 degrees with no equipment or clothing needed, according to the rescue team.

“[They had] no winter kits – no ice axes, no crampons and as far as we know no maps, “said the rescue team Facebook. “Three of the boys were in sneakers! They were about 150 meters in Coire Eoghainn on steep ice and if they had slipped or fallen further, the consequences could have been much more serious.”

The four men were flown by helicopter to Belford hospital after being rescued.

While the rescue team complimented tourists for surviving some of the “toughest times this year”, the situation could easily have ended differently.

Ben Nevis, a popular tourist destination, is the highest mountain in the British Isles, at 1,343 meters. In March 2019, two climbers dead and two others were injured after an avalanche on Ben Nevis.

How does it work

The What3words app was able to bring rescuers to a location on the mountain a few meters from where tourists were trapped.

The London startup divides the world into 57 trillion squares and giving each of them eccentric three-word addresses. He says he can track down virtually any place on the planet.

Times Square, for example, is crop.cards.gifts.

Everest base camp? grapple.crewmember.thunderstorm.

The app then allows users to open the address in another map provider, such as Google Maps or Apple Maps, which can direct them to the exact location.

The app, which only started with English as an option, has since expanded to include 36 languages, including Korean, Japanese and Mandarin.

CNN’s Michelle Toh contributed to this report.


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