Evolution of the Crag Rats

Nov. 13 lecture reveals history of mountain rescue organization

As the oldest mountain rescue organization in North America, the Crag Rats have a lot of history.

This Wednesday, the Hood River County Library will be hosting Bill Pattison, Crag Rat historian, who will be giving a talk about the history of the volunteer organization, how it evolved, and where it stands today. The lecture, which will be held at 7 p.m. in the Reading Room of the library, is part of a series of free events the library puts on for “people in our community to present on topics that may be of interest to the community,” according to Assistant Library Director Rachael Fox.

For those who want to read up on the Crag Rats before the presentation, the group’s website provides a great deal of information as well as photos of the organization’s early days, which started official operations in 1926.

According to the website, the group was formed of Hood River Valley hikers who liked to climb Mount Hood together. Their namesake, as the story goes, came from a “name one of their wives had called them after a day of climbing on the crags of Mount Hood,” and it has stuck for the past 87 years.

Pattison, who said he has been with the Crag Rats since he was first invited to join the group in September 1953, said that in some ways, few things have changed over the years.

“Basic snow and rock and rescue techniques are in a lot of ways the same as what they were back then,” he noted. “We’ve just refined them a little.”

Pattison said the Crag Rats also honor tradition by wearing their signature black-and-white checkered shirts — a distinctive pattern that helped rescuers stand out from the bleak, white landscape of Mount Hood in the days before neon colors were en vogue.

“Back then, you didn’t have the limes and the oranges and the fiery reds of today,” he explained. “It was mostly blacks, whites and browns.”

What began as a small hiking group in 1926 has today grown to 105 members, according to Pattison, who said that 30 of those members have search-and-rescue certifications from the Oregon Sheriffs’ Organization. As more people come to the area for outdoor recreation, the Crag Rats find themselves called upon more and more to help find lost or injured hikers on Mount Hood and other parts of the Columbia River Gorge.

For more information, visit www.cragrats.org or www.hoodriverlibrary.org.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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