A quick update from instructor Bri: The summit attempt of Mt Shasta consisted of three days worth of preparation and execution. On day 1, students were divided into four groups and met their guides from SWS Mountaineering, 2 guides per group. Students acquired harnesses, helmets, crampons, and ice axes and began the journey up the mountain. Day 1 proved to be quite relaxing, a 1.7 mile hike with an elevation gain of about 1000 ft. The groups arrived at the campsite in the early afternoon, allowing plenty of time for rest and relaxation. Day 2 had a similar length of hike with a little larger elevation gain, placing the AT groups at their high base camp for the Shasta attempt. After setting up camp in the early afternoon, groups attended snow school provided by the guides. Students learned proper techniques for walking with crampons, using an ice axe, self arresting, and even how to safely glissade (basically sledding with just rain pants). After an early dinner and adequately preparing themselves for an early wakeup, students went to bed around 8 pm, only to be awoken at the bright hour of 1 am! On the move by 2 am, students took in the incredible feeling of walking on snow with millions of stars shining bright, the moon beginning to rise over the ridge. Students fought through fatigue and altitude, steadily climbing their way with great awareness of their intake of water and food. An absolutely incredible feat, 22 AT students proudly made it to the summit of Mt Shasta around 8:30 am. All the guides and instructors were impressed by the athleticism and perseverance the students displayed, all with little complaint. After enjoying the view from the top, groups made their way down the mountain, able to glissade down about 2000 ft of the 5000 ft they had climbed that morning. Groups then had to pack up camp and head back the 3 miles to the trailhead, perhaps the hardest part of the day due to all the hard work they had already put in that morning. Nevertheless, many of the guides remarked that this group broke their personal records for summit time, time back to Base camp, and again time to the trailhead- very very impressive! Instructors treated the students to a sit down pizza dinner for all their hard work. Tonight everyone will surely sleep well, and are looking forward to a logistics/drive day tomorrow in preparation for the upcoming 3-day raft trip!
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 climbing experience.
Sense of Accomplishment – every kid 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 child reflects on their mountaineering experience with genuine pride about the hard work that went into their day.
Confidence – Lets face it, when you see stand at the bottom of a huge mountain, it’s intimidating. When our student’s summit a mountain, or just make it farther than they thought possible, 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 child will use when facing other challenges in life. We hope 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 match our summit teams carefully hoping to create a dynamic where friends cheer each other on. We take turns leading and create a mindset that we are all in this together and 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 in 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. – Let’s face it – hiking uphill is generally not the highlight of our trips, it is the atmosphere that is created by our staff and students that makes the experience so memorable. Climbing a mountain is often type 2 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, I think it will be re-lived as a very 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.