Wednesday, October 16, 2013

.. and now..OPEN!!!

We look forward to everyone having a safe visit. Come prepared for large crowds, early darkness, and cold nighttime temperatures..Bring water, high energy snacks, an extra layer (of clothing) and a headlamp or flashlight.. and don't forget your camera! 

(Remember: If you find that you've bitten off more than you can chew, it's ok to turn around.. it's a beautiful hike regardless. Give yourself permission to have fun!)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Old Rag Mountain is Closed

During this, hopefully brief, period of time in which the government is closed for business, Shenandoah National Park, including Old Rag Mountain is closed to visitation.. Old Rag Mountain Stewards will not be on duty...nor will Shenandoah National Park rescue assets. Some sites on Facebook are encouraging visitation despite the closure (In particular, the Old Rag Mountain fan site).  We believe this is irresponsible for numerous reasons... with the primary concern being that of safety and accident response.

We encourage you to use good judgement and understand that you and you alone are fully responsible for your actions.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Hello 2013!

There is so much  going on..Following several well-deserved months off, the ORMS are chomping to get back on the mountain! 
The 2012 season ended with a bang, finding the stewards out almost all night with an assistance call for a sick and long overdue hiking group..( remember, especially in the "shoulder seasons" , when you come to hike Old Rag Mountain, come prepared for dramatic changes in the weather... Sunny and 70 in Fredericksburg may be windy, 34 with sleet on Old Rag... Don't just wear your flip-flops, tank-tops and cutoffs. And if you do, be prepared to turn back when the weather is not what you expected.)

In spite of the crowding that we all experience on weekends on Old Rag, it still remains one of the top-rated hikes in the Eastern US!

Havinng said that, with the looming budgetary constraints that the National Park Service is facing, the visitor assistance that the Mountain Stewards provide will be more important in 2013 than ever!
ORMS patrols will be starting in April... and going thru mid November. 

During 2012, we refrained from recruiting new volunteers. 2013 is a new ball game!
 If you have solid outdoor skills, are in good condition and have a basic knowledge of wilderness first aid, have a few weekend days to spend on the mountain,and would be interested in helping with this invaluable service, contact us!( We'll connect with you to schedule some "hike along" days.

We are looking forward to the 2013 season with great anticipation. We hope you are as well!   

By the way, the ORMS was featured for their visitor assistance work in the "2012 Accidents in North American Mountaineering" compiled and published by the American Alpine Club. Check it out!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

You can stop the "NO"

The genesis for the Old Rag Mountain Stewards was the proposed Rock Outcrop Management Plan drafted in 2008. Some of the more extreme recommendations were to restrict the public from access to some of the more popular rocky high points in Shenandoah, like Old Rag Mountain, Hawksbill, Little Stony Man and others. 
In response, the ORMS was formed to serve as "stewards" interacting with the public about the resources that need protection and why. 
In this, we have been highly successful, interacting with tens of thousands of visitors annually for the past five years.

Well, now it seems that regardless of the work of so many volunteers and the overwhelming positive response of the public, a few people in the National Park Service feel that it will be much more expedient to  simply restrict access for both hikers and climbers to these popular destinations.   

The goal is for the park to put these restrictions in place before February 2013.Comments are needed at your earliest opportunity and before 10 January 2013

What can you do???
open up the ROMP
Read it... decide if you like the proposed restrictions to your favorite rock outcrop... and then comment..

This is time urgent.
If you consider these mountains to be our shared resources, then you need to get involved and let your voice be heard.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Ready, Set.....

Returning to Old Rag!

After a much needed hiatus, the Stewards will be returning to weekend patrols on Old Rag over the next few weekends! Stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

It's been an honor and a privilege..

The past three years have been amazing!
as the 2011 results indicate.. and when combined with 2009 and 2010... well, there are very few organizations that come close, anywhere.

It's been a privilege to meet so many of you, to share some of the really fascinating information about Old Rag, its flora, fauna and history.

For a few of you who experienced a mishap or illness, we were glad to have been there to help improve the quality of your life.

For those of you who we taught lessons of backcountry travel and camping or LNT techniques or even just how to hang a bear bag... Don't forget! pass it on!

The "orange shirts" will be taking a break from the mountain for at least part of the 2012 season..

Thank you for your interest... we now have more than 60 really great volunteers from all walks of life.
.. and stay tuned... we may be back..

With best wishes and humble appreciation,

The ORMS "orange shirts"

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

2011 Recap

For those of you who follow such accounting... we have finally finished tallying up all of the pertinent "bean counter" data for the Old Rag Mountain Stewards for 2011.... and I have to say, that for a volunteer organization, we nailed up some pretty impressive numbers. (as one of our members said "it proves the old adage: many hands make light work"
A brief summary of the year:
-ORMS donated 4338 hours of STEWARDSHIP SERVICE (of which 816 hours are travel)
- averaged 5.3 stewards on the mountain per weekend...
- We provided 880 sets of directions..
-We taught 90 lessons in outdoor skills to novice hikers/campers..
-We put out and disassembled 15 fires/rings!! (open fires are illegal on ORM!!!)
- taught 350 LNT /plant /resource lessons to visitors..
-.had 4 major incidents involving carryouts/medivac (plus we assisted with 1 on another mountain)...
-We re-connected 14 separated parties...
-We escorted and assisted 32 groups off the mountain due to low visibility and their lack of preparedness....
- We observed 44 dogs on the mountain, also illegal!
-We observed lots of folks camping illegally,
- and of all things, we had 5 incidents of having to clear the trails because folks had brushed them in!!?
Beyond service on the mountain, the volunteers of ORMS also completed... 2,110 hours of focused hard skill training training.... from first aid and rescue to climbing and plant identification.
THOSE are impressive numbers in anyone's book ...and we are all looking forward to 2012!.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The last weekend on the mountain for 2011...

The Old Rag Mountain Stewards wrapped up another very successful year on the mountain on Sunday, November 13.. (a complete wrap up report will be available by mid-December..)

This is the conclusion of the fourth year of the ORMS program! How the time has flown and how things have changed!!!

It's hard to say just what impact our volunteers have had on the visitor experience to Old Rag. With exponential increases in the levels of visitorship over the past several years, the negative impact to the trails, plants and rocks themselves is very noticeable.. despite volunteer efforts!

Beyond the ecological and educational focus, the part of the program visitors are more likely to receive favorably... is the "enhanced" first response capability that the ORMS program brings to Shenandoah National Park.....

Operating much as the National Ski Patrol does at snowsports areas, ORMS volunteers are always training for emergency situations which are specific to Old Rag.

The final weekend involved a lot of visitor outreach, an amazing amount of high level technical training and the construction of a "highline" for load transfer and difficult rescue scenarios.. definitely memorable training for all participants and spectators alike!!

This is also the time of year when receive a lot of inquiries about "how to become and Mountain Steward".

The first step is to contact us... express your interest and tell us a bit about yourself...
The second step is , after you have been vetted, is to join us for a few days of "hike along" training on the mountain.. Following a successful "hike along season" , you will then be invited to join the Stewards for their formal training programs... and that is when it really gets going!
(all imagery courtesy ORMS Anne R.)

Mountain Steward Calendar and Schedule