A quick update from student Jacob B: These last two days we were backpacking at Mount Shastina. We started in mini groups of 4-6 at an elevation of 6,950 feet. We had two guides who were very helpful and nice. We started walking to our base camp that was at 9,000 feet. At first the terrain was very rocky and the temperature was hot. My group hiked for 3.5 miles which was very fun but the trail was very steep. We finally got to Base camp around 4:00 PM. After we set up our tents, we went to snow school where my group learned various ways to climb up and down the mountain. After we finished snow school the sun went down and it got cold very quickly, but the view was amazing and beautiful from where we were staying. My group then cooked dinner, and after we ate, our guides came over to us and explained what the hike would be like in the morning. They told us that they would wake us up at 3:00 AM which took us all by surprise. My group went to sleep and roughly got around 5 hours of sleep. When the guides woke us up, it was very cold and pitch black. Everyone was dazed but we all toughed it out and got our many layers of clothing on. We then started the hike. We had to climb 3,000 feet in elevation and at first everyone was very sluggish, but 20 minutes into the hike everyone was energetic. Since it was pitch black out we had to use our headlamps which helped a lot. The climb was very hard and we took many breaks to hydrate and eat. We hiked to the summit in 7 hours. We were all exhausted but most of my group made it to the summit. When we got there we climbed a huge rock to finally get to the top of the mountain. When I turned my head it was one of the most breath taking views I had ever seen. It was totally worth the hike. We had an overview of some of the most beautiful parts of California. When we started to descend the mountain it was much easier then going up. We learned in snow school how to slide down a mountain if the snow was the right condition, so when we started coming down the mountain the conditions were perfect. So, we grabbed our ice axes and used them to slide down the mountain fast. It was so much fun and after we got back to our camp site we packed up our materials and started walking back to the parking lot. The trip was adventurous and very fun!
A quick update from student Isabel: Backpacking and attempting to summit Mount Shastina was difficult, but fun and exciting. We were split into our hiking groups and met our guides. My group’s 2 guides were really supportive and helpful and they always made sure we were comfortable. Unfortunately, one of our guides got sick and couldn’t hike with us the second day so two of the boys from my group went with other groups to try to summit Shastina. My particular group had three boys and three girls so we ended up sleeping 3 in a tent made for 4 which was really nice for storing all of our gear. After hiking and setting up our tents, we did snow school, which is where our guides taught us how to hike in the snow and how to catch ourselves if we fall, which was very helpful while hiking. On the second day, we attempted to summit Shastina. We woke up at the early hour of 3:00 AM to have time to summit. The hike was mostly in snow but there was a few rock fields to climb over. It was exhausting and very difficult but no one complained. The view was amazing from the summit, you could see so far and we could even see the border between California and Oregon. Up on the summit you felt so accomplished and proud of yourself for pushing yourself to keep going although the temptation of turning back was hard to resist. We hiked and glissaded down the mountain, packed up camp, and headed back to the parking lot where the vans were waiting for us. Our last trip is a sea kayaking 2 day trip. We are all excited about it but also sad that it’ll be our last trip and we will be leaving right after it. Overall, mountaineering was tons of fun and tiring. We’ll have these amazing memories of this trip for life and we can’t wait to continue making more awesome AT memories before camp ends.
And now a few words from Dock…
Almost every trip at Adventure Treks climbs a big mountain. It’s typically a highlight of the trip and serves many functions in our program. Without a doubt, it becomes fodder for many college essays and has helped numerous AT students get accepted into great colleges.
The day is designed to be fun and one that will be remembered long after your child has returned home. Most important, our instructors focus on creating an environment where it is OK not to make the summit. Instead, a focus is put onto what students have accomplished, and the effort and commitment it requires to even begin a climb!
Besides the joy of a very special day, here are a few things we hope our students will take away from their mountain experience.
Sense of accomplishment: Our students should stand atop a mountain on a beautiful day, proud that they are there as a result of their hard work, resilience, and perseverance. Unlike a scenic roadside stop, views are sweeter when they are earned. We hope your children reflect on their mountaineering experience with genuine pride about the hard work that went into the day.
Confidence: Let’s face it: When you see stand at the bottom of a huge mountain, it’s intimidating. When our students summit a mountain, or just make it farther than they thought they could, they have every reason to be proud of themselves. Small accomplishments lay the groundwork for larger ones. We hope the mountain will become a metaphor your children will use when facing other challenges in life, that they become more open to taking on challenges that might have once been considered intimidating.
Teamwork: We don’t climb a mountain by ourselves. We build our summit teams carefully, hoping to create a dynamic where friends support each other. We take turns leading and create a mindset that we are all in this together; we succeed or fail as a group. The camaraderie of the experience and the shared encouragement makes the experience all the more successful and rewarding. Friendships solidified on the mountain stick long beyond the trip.
Baby steps: Climbing a mountain is intimidating. When taken in all at once, it can be overwhelming. But you climb a mountain one step at a time. Through hard work and by constantly moving forward, you accomplish great things. Sometimes it feels like for every two steps forward you take a step back, but that is also true in life. We believe the mountaineering experience can be useful when other challenges seem daunting as our students learn they can break big goals into small steps.
Hard work can be fun: Hiking uphill is generally not the highlight of our trips; rather, it is the atmosphere created by our staff and students that makes the experience so memorable. Climbing a mountain is often type-two fun (something that might be difficult at the time, but becomes fun in retrospect). That being said, this is a day your child will remember forever, and despite the challenge and hard work, it will be relived as an exciting and special experience. Learning that a good time doesn’t have to be a passive experience like entertainment is a valuable lesson.
Proper preparation prevents poor performance: Our students notice that much thought goes into planning our day(s) on the mountain. We schedule our ascent later in our trip so we can be in our best possible shape before we climb the mountain. We bring the appropriate equipment, know our routes, are constantly aware of weather and safety concerns, have a backup plan, pace ourselves, and start hydrating the day before. Proper planning not only increases our ability to manage risk but also increases our chances of success. We hope our thoroughness underlines the message that if you want to increase your chances of being successful, do your homework and prepare properly.
Immersion in nature: The view from the mountain is incredible (even if you do not make it to the top), and there is something about witnessing a magnificent view earned solely as a reward for effort. When shared with those who have also felt your pain, strength, and laughter, the day becomes all the more special. We hope the breathtaking views from a climbing experience will strengthen the connection and appreciation with nature we have been fostering throughout the trip.