Mountain Classroomstudents wrote their final blogs of the term on their climbing in Cochise Stronghold. After climbing, they traveled north to Prescott, Arizona and found audiences for their final projects. Students presented children’s books they wrote describing their science research to 3rd graders, and then they presented their final English assignment to Prescott College students. The term finished with a student-led and designed backpacking trip that left from Arcosanti.
We welcomed sore fingers, tired arms, and frustration into our community as we headed for climbing adventures in Cochise Stronghold in Arizona. The valley is named after a notorious Native American leader who lived there for years while successfully evading the Spanish army. Tall granite rock faces surrounded our camp. While exploring we were able to find an abundance of petroglyphs and caves.
Our guides from Pangea Mountain Sports led us up to the walls that would challenge and anger us...in a good way. After the first day of scrambling up steep faces our group was starting to get the hang of it. As the climbs our guides set up became more bold we pursued the satisfaction of reaching the top and looking over a landscape that resembled Africa. Our time included a teach-a-thon in Expedition Skills where we led lessons on belaying, coiling ropes, and caring for gear. Each day when we ended our climbs we would return to our campsite tired and sore but with smiles on our faces. Climbing is a sport that encourages putting yourself in scary and uncomfortable positions while being 70 feet up in the air. Our group tested our limits in this activity and pushed through our fear to get to the top. When it was time to leave the tall granite peaks of Cochise Stronghold our group thanked our guides and hesitantly left to continue finals.
Our guide Brock said that the reason he loves climbing is because nothing else causes him to be so present. That stuck with me. No matter how much other stuff goes on in the day, you can’t half-focus on a climb. It calls for your full attention. Suddenly, at about 15 feet up, you feel the wind, and you realize, that, unless you keep going, your hands will get tired and give way. Your feet will start to shake uncontrollably. You are clinging, barely, to tiny pieces of rock, and the rest of the world is out of your mind.
Because of this, our days at Cochise were filled with the world of climbing. While the sun was out, and the ropes were up, it’s all I could think about. Then, after a bumpy drive back to our home, everything would rush back in. It can seem unmanageable with finals and my English epiphany, but I know it is doable. Just like when you think there is no hold within your reach: try to breathe, resituate your feet, and stretch higher. Because before we know it, we’re going to be at the top.