Becker and Students Summit Mt. Baker
Georgia State President Mark Becker and Outdoor Coordinator Carson Tortorige led a climbing expedition to the summit of Mt. Baker in Washington state’s North Cascade Range May 26 through June 2. Becker and Tortorige chose 10 students from more than 75 applications, and the group is composed of students from various races, ages, nationalities and backgrounds.
The four-day climb tested physical and mental endurance, as well as the ability to work efficiently as a team. The group went through training together, hiking weekly with backpacks, learning how to work as a team at the university’s Indian Creek high ropes course and preparing mentally and physically for the challenges of mountaineering. Participants traveled with backpacks weighing up to 40 pounds on a trail system of varied terrain, including snow, ice, mud and rocks. The climbs involved elevation changes of up to 5,000 feet at a time, and lodging in tents, sometimes on snow.
The goal of this trip was for the students to work as a team and develop an understanding of what motivates them, how they understand obstacles and set goals for their life. The students learned important life skills that can be transferred to future personal and professional settings. The students were challenged mentally, emotionally and physically.
Training and Preparation:
Summiting a glaciated mountain requires physical stamina and strength of body and mind. The group has completed several training sessions in Georgia, and done work each week to improve their physical fitness. After they reached the trailhead to climb Mt. Baker, they spent two days practicing their skills, receiving crevasse rescue and advanced rope training, and preparing to summit the next day. The greatest physical and mental challenge of the trip was the attempt to summit Mt. Baker, which stands at an elevation of 10,778 feet above sea level. Participants spent 3.5 days at high altitudes above 6,000 feet with about seven hours above 8,000 feet. For some, this can produce mild altitude sickness in the form of headaches and shortness of breath.
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