For those of you that don’t know, ORMS stands for Old Rag Mountain Stewards. Basically, ORMS is a ski patrol (of sorts) that patrols Old Rag in search of hikers in distress. And, with thousands of hikers per year, there are a good number of them to be found on Old Rag. Melissa and I decided it would be fun to join these fine folks. The first step was going to a weekend long course in Shenandoah National Park, which happened this past weekend. The primary focus of the weekend was to get everyone certified in Wilderness First Aid.
We arrived Friday evening; within about 20 minutes of our arrival at the Big Meadows Campground, snow flurries were dropping. We decided it would be best to get our camp set up, and quickly! With the tent set up, sleeping bags unrolled, and gear laid out, we went in search of food. While driving around, we saw a bear as well as some beautiful views.
Unfortunately, the various restaurants in SNP were closed; we did, however, find a restaurant with fairly nice food in Luray. Service left a bit to be desired, but we’ll probably go back.
The night was cold, but we stayed warm; turns out that if you put a 20 degree mummy bag inside a large back made from zipping together two Wal-Mart square sleeping bags, you actually stay fairly warm. We turned in early, as the next day would start early…
…at 6:30 AM… Neither of us wanted to turn out of the sleeping bags; we got dressed very quickly because of the cold. Luckily there was hot coffee, bagels, and fruit waiting for us at the Big Meadows Fire Cache! Our WFA instructor was named Marco Yuracheck, who has the distinction of falling 35-40 feet from the top of Big Schloss and surviving. He was a great instructor! We’d highly recommend him to anyone wanting to learn how to deal with medical emergencies in the outdoors. Dinner that night was awesome too; my pay grade dosen’t get steak that often, but that night we had the best steaks I’ve ever had.
We also got to watch the pre-screening of a hilarious climbing mockumentary called Almost Alpine. Two of the members of ORMS spent three years making it, and it has been submitted to the Banff and Telluride Film Festivals. Truly, “the best climbing movie ever made.”
During the second night in SNP, Mel and I fell asleep to the sound of snowflakes hitting the tent; we woke up to this:
The second day also found us wrapping up the WFA class with a pretty intense final scenario. We were alerted that three climbers had suffered an accident. We were able to evac them relatively quickly to the trailhead.
All in all a fantastic weekend. We had a great time meeting everyone, and made a lot of new friends. We can’t wait to start spending time up on Old Rag!