Wednesday, July 15, 2009

From the mountain..

orange shirts on the mountain
Making a difference.

.. and still more training for the eventual call.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


As the spring half of the ORMS season draws to a close in the next two weeks, it's nice to have the opportunity to look back on an extremely successful season... so far.

First, thanks to the folks at Sport Science, all the mountain stewards are wearing the distinctive orange tee shirts with the ORMS logo.. Thank you Sport Science!!!!

The stewards have all spent a lot of really special time on the mountain this spring and have continued to learn a lot about the "specialness" of the place.. Old Rag Mountain.
From watching soaring peregrines to training for the (eventual) medical emergency, from learning about the history of "PO Junction" to developing effective techniques of Preventative Search and Rescue (P-SAR).

P-SAR is a fascinating concept... and one that is growing in focus across the spectrum of outdoor adventure pursuits, worldwide. Instead of focusing on the reactionary... "OK here is the situation, now what?" P-SAR, instead, encourages folks to look at the environment they are entering and asks them to do a critical evaluation of their mental, physical and material readiness... BEFORE they become over committed to a situation that may be beyond a their abilities or their companion's abilities.
(This is not new... it's something instinctively practised by experienced outdoors enthusiasts, outdoor professionals, rangers and guides.. however with sites such as Old Rag, where a lot, as in thousands, of people have their first outdoor, mountain adventures... instincts like this are definitely not commonplace.)

All P-SAR really is, is good old fashioned situational awareness and planning... aka "common sense"
- Starting at dusk for a 7 hour hike? "take a headlight/flashlight or two"
- Thunderstorms in the forecast? "take rain gear and don't have your heart set on the summit"
- The weather at 3,200' in Western VA is not the same as it is an hour to the east. Consult a local forecast or better, Shenandoah National Parks website, and plan accordingly.
- Hiking in a group of all different ages and fitness levels? Plan on multiple rally points throughout the hike to make sure you have everyone.
- Hiking in new shoes? plan for blisters.
- Need to go to the bathroom at the start of the hike? How are you going to feel 4 hours from now? prepare!
- Go to the bathroom in the woods?! how about on exposed granite!! (ask a ranger or ORMS how to best prepare for this eventuality)
- Just had knee surgery? back surgery? consider choosing a more forgiving hike...
- Is this your first mountain hike ever?? maybe consider working up to this hike..
- It's a hot, humid day, with a strenuous climb.. "if you think you have enough water, then you don't."

If more people listened to that one point alone, a lot fewer people would come down the mountain desperate for a drink!