By Megan Plete Postol
A brand-new cabin, designated as a center for learning, has been built atop Oak Mountain.
The Southern Adirondack Mountain Rescue Training Center was unveiled recently in an event attended by state Sen. Jim Tedisco (R,C-Glenville), representatives of the Adirondacks Speculator Region Chamber of Commerce, Oak Mountain ski employees, and more. The facility, which is located in the Hamilton County village of Speculator, will serve as a central location and training hub for members of the rescue industry.
The cabin is owned by the Outdoor Emergency Services Group Incorporated, a 501c3 nonprofit formed by four Speculator locals for the purpose of supporting organizations that are involved in outdoor emergency care, such as search and rescue. The building is set up with classroom space and is stocked with a supply of equipment for learning. The Southern Adirondack Mountain Rescue Training Center sits on land leased from Oak Mountain Ski Center.
“There is varied terrain up there,” Bill Osborne, Executive Director of the Outdoor Emergency Services Group, said. “There are sharp cliffs where rope skills can be utilized; there are flat open areas, there are wooded areas, steep slopes, gentle slopes, a variety of terrain to use for outdoor emergency rescue training. Additionally, its located right underneath the cell tower, so there is outstanding communication there.”
The training center will be used for a wide variety of community-based organizations. In the winter months, the heated rescue center will also serve as a headquarters for the Oak Mountain Volunteer Ski Patrol.
Some of the other community forces and volunteer groups that plan to use the Southern Adirondack Mountain Rescue Training Center are the New York State Police, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Rangers and Environmental Conservation Officers, K-9 units, firefighters and Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts.
The cabin was constructed over a period of two years by a group of around 20 volunteers. The original plan was to have it completed much quicker, but COVID-19 caused a severe delay in those plans.
Osborne believes that a center like this was crucial in Hamilton County, as the recent influx of new visitors to the Adirondacks has caused the frequency of wilderness rescues to increase. And while the majority of those have been contained to the High Peaks Wilderness and surrounding areas, he is hoping that the presence of a facility like this will help adventurers feel safe and encourage more visitation to the Southern Adirondack region.
“We hope that facilities like this will give confidence to people heading into the out-of-doors,” he said. “We have some extraordinary hiking trails, mountains to climb, and lakes and ponds to see down her that get very little visitation.”
This project was possible because of a combination of grants from the Adirondack Foundation, the Glenn and Carol Pearsall Adirondack Foundation, and a $50,000 grant from New York state, facilitated by Sen.Tedisco.