Old Rag rescue stories told
He was a rock climber, and a darn good one, too. But something went terribly wrong at 3:20 June 5 near the top of Old Rag Mountain.
“He fell 50 feet,” said Andy Nichols, executive director of Old Rag Mountain Stewards. “ We had volunteers on the mountain at the time, highly trained in first aid and rescue and with all their gear. We got the call and were there and had him packaged and in a helicopter on the way to Inova Fairfax Hospital within three hours. He would have died if we had not been there.”
“We” is six members of Old Rag Mountain Stewards, a group of 50 volunteers who work on the mountain 22 weekends a year. “We help people who get lost, tell people about the flowers and the history and the rocks – educating people,” said Nichols, who grew up in Rappahannock County and still spends a lot of time here. “We are good stewards.”
And good stewards are in short supply, it seems. Although Old Rag can get several thousand visitors on a weekend day, the National Park Service can’t afford to have rangers permanently on the mountain.
Nichols will have a lot more to say about the stewards and their rescue and educational activities at a public presentation and demonstration at the Sperryville Volunteer Fire Department Sunday at 3 p.m. Sunday, June 26. He will also talk about the Shenandoah Mountain Guides ( SMG). Nichols founded and continues to lead the Frederick, Md.based SMG, which offers in-thefield training and guiding in all kinds of outdoor activities, including canoeing, cross country skiing, mountain biking and mountaineering.
SMG for has a program for troubled youth. The kids who attend, mostly of middle school age and from the mid-Atlantic states, come from difficult situations, such as homes where both parents are in jail.
“They are kids walking a fine line between the dark and the light,” Nichols said.
Refreshments will be provided by the Rappahannock Historical Society, which is sponsoring the program. Attendance is free, but the nonprofit society requests a $ 5 donation.
“Boy and girl scouts would be especially appreciative of the program, said society program chair Helen Williams.
The Sperryville Volunteer Fire Department is located at 11871 Lee Hwy. For more details, call 540-675-1163.
HIGH RIDE: Members of Old Rag Mountain Stewards practice a cliff rescue.