Monday, November 8, 2010


November 6&7, 2010


Saturday Jeremy, Ann and I had a great day providing our normal help on the mountain followed by practicing a traction splint of a broken femur and then doing off trail navigation that was way, way, way off trail. More on that in the late post.

Sunday had scenario training scheduled. Kristan, Charles and myself were on with Jeremy.

The Shenandoah Mountain Guides (SMG) always provide awesome training. Chad and Jeremy are two of SMG's senior staff that provide this great training. They are great friends but they like to compete on things. Until yesterday, I think Chad was in the top spot for best training day with his session on the haul system last week but yesterday Jeremy rose to the occasion. Jeremy really stepped up his game with this weekend's scenario training. In my opinion he is now in the top spot. I am not sure that it counts since he had the advantage of getting help from a real incident on his training day.

Vectoring the bird.

The next picture is of one of our good Samaritans whose hiking party helped get hundreds of pounds of equipment to us, helped get the patient moved out onto the rocks for the helicopter pick off attempts and then was nice enough to take some pictures and videos using my camera while we were busy focusing on multiple tries at a very wind challenged lift off which in the end could not safely be done.

A you tube video of one of the helicopter attempts.

With the wind nixing the helicopter lift off we had to bundle the patient for a very technical carryout down through the cave, over the first false summit and then down the switchbacks to the upper lot. Lots of rope work. Think about carrying a heavy litter across a ledge where the downhill litter carriers need to lean out over a vertical fall on a tensioned safety line and then doing a 25 foot vertical lift up a near vertical face. After this there is a long arduous carryout down through the switchbacks. The call had gone out for trained help and it is incredible the number of really super good folks who dropped whatever they were doing and responded to the call. Several search and rescue groups sent members. Some from hours away. By early evening I think we had over 20 responders and by the time we finished at midnight my guess is there were over 40.


  1. Nice shots Bob! Thanks again for all your work, rest your knees!

  2. AW you tech rescue guys were awsome the way you kept setting up leap frogging sets of tech rescue gear so smoothly.

    As for the knees I owe them a lot of loyalty for all the crazy fun stuff they have allowed me to do over the years. That said, at some point I may have to fire them and go artificial.

    I have a fantasy that medical advances will move along fast enough that I will be able to get some kind of exo-skelton thing to be out boulder hoping and climbing when I am 95.

  3. I'm the big blue burrito they helped down the mountain and thank God they did. There was no way I was making it down on my own. After a long evening in the emergency room, I'm laying in bed with crutches, a knee brace, and an MRI to be scheduled. I have plenty of time now to reflect upon the events yesterday and I am so grateful to the wonderful people that helped me out. Bob, was first on the scene, was honest and thorough telling me exactly what to expect. I am so inspired by the generosity and good nature of these volunteers. Everyone who helped was fabulous and I'm eternally grateful.

  4. Nice post Bob! been quite a year so far huh?
    podsquadjulie... can we use your note on the ORMS blog?
    Bob, Can I use some of your pics???

  5. Andy,

    Will send pics via email.

    Record snow and heat. The glories of little Bluettes and sweeping sunsets. Rescues that challenge your initiative ...... "The bright blessed day and dark sacred night and I think to myself what a wonderful world" Louis Armstrong.

  6. Of course my comment can be used. Although, :) fix the wording please. I realize now that there's one sentence in there that doesn't make much sense. I'm gonna blame the vicodin! You all have restored my faith in humanity and the good will of man. The number of people who showed up to help still just amazes me. Thank you!!!

  7. Who paid for all this "niceness"? As a geologist who climbed Old Rag numerous times while in college in the 80's, I can only imagine what it would be like now. There would be an orange tee shirt behind every tree ready and willing to tell me all about the mountain and how to safely climb it, whether I wanted to hear it or not. Better they sit at the trail head and weed out those would be adventurers with more courage than sense and/or fitness to do the climb. I get a sense of self satisfaction and self importance from the "Steward"-ship program.

  8. MudRack,

    Thanks for the perspective it was needed.

    The copter and park employees are paid for by SNP. At the present time the park does not charge recipients for rescue services. The ORMS members are volunteers. A large percentage of the folks who helped with the carry out were from volunteer SAR organizations.

    I am certainly guilty of self satisfaction and your comment will cause me to do some needed reflection on humility. Self importance is probably wrong at almost any level but most the volunteers I know are not guilty of self importance but again this is something that it is good to be periodically challenged on.

    Trail head advice and information is provided but I think trying to weed out who should go and who should not might be falling into that self importance zone. During a busy October nice weather weekend day it would not be unusual for Old Rag to have 1,500 folks of all ages shapes and sizes do the circuit hike. I have seen blind people, double amputees, and folks in their 80's make it.

    The Steward program was conceived first and foremost to educate the hiking public on resource protection issues with the thought that outreach could limit the need for restrictions on visitation. The NPS has a difficult job of trying to balance its sometimes conflicting missons of protecting wilderness resources on the one hand and maximizing public use on the other.

    Levity Warning
    As soon as we finish our training on parachuting reponders out of our powered hang-gliders and hot air ballons we will be able to greatly cut down on how many trees we place orange shirts behind. We will probably maintain our camoed foward observers and undecover hiker programs though.

    Back To Seriousness
    We acutally try to stay fairly low key while still being a helpful presence.