The Mountains elective has been exploring the geography of the world's major mountain ranges. While doing so, students have researched international trips to mountain destinations of their wildest dreams. They have created budgets, phrase books, and itineraries for activities centered around mountain pursuits and culture in far away places. The Mountains class has also honed their skills at the Bend Rock Gym. At the BRG, each member of the class has set and tracked climbing goals on a weekly basis for both bouldering and roped climbing. In the final weeks of the trimester, students will plan a trip into a Northwest range of their choice and address the age old question of why people are drawn to climb mountains.
History's most famous answer to this question came from George Mallory at a press conference in 1922. Mallory replied, "Because it's there," when asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest. His answer instantly captured public interest and has endured the test of time, maybe because it conveys just the right balance of truth and mystery. Looking into this question led us to others: Why explore the unknown? How can we benefit from understanding different cultures and landscapes? Why are some of the "best" adventures concocted with unavoidable, even planned, doses of discomfort? Why do people voluntarily abandon the security and support of the modern world? Are these pursuits really "fun"? If so, is it still fun when we fail?
In addressing these questions, our class will culminate with discussions and writings around resilience and the benefits of learned skills, self-reliance and teamwork in tough situations. We will reference historic examples of exploration into remote landscapes and explore how grit and skill merge in almost any worthwhile pursuit. Finally, students will reflect on the satisfaction of setting and achieving goals in various areas of their lives. And then we'll head back to the BRG to continue the process...and have fun.
- Jeff Wenger, US Humanities Teacher