July 19, 2014.
Last year I got this crazy idea to coordinate a training program that would prepare people to climb South Sister. I ended up with a small, but dedicated group who made it up the mountain in near winter conditions. Success! This year I brought the program back with a couple of seasoned climbers and some new people.
Our first training hike was at Bald Hill Natural Area. It’s not a terribly large park and the hill is only 440′ tall, but it’s what we had at our convenience. We managed to wrangle about 6 miles of hiking and 800 feet of climbing on our super-adventure loop.
The air was H O T. A classic mid-summer day. It was nice to get the team outside and hiking together. An ascent of Bald Hill is not even close to a climb on South Sister, but these hikes can be great for bonding the team, assessing the effectiveness of your packing system and talking about fears and concerns. Mountaineering demands a range of skills, the least of which is fitness. The ability to self-regulate, communicate with your team, persist in a challenging/ changing environment and keep a positive mental attitude are all requirements for a mountaineer. These things are not readily taught in a classroom setting, but developed over time spent in the mountains.
Bald Hill was the closest “mountain” for us to practice these skills on today and I look forward to watching how these skills develop in more and more difficult situations.