September 26, 2013
A little rain and some cold weather couldn’t stop the devoted members of the Hamilton Outing Club (HOC) from triumphing over 43 of the 46 Adirondack High Peaks as part of the club’s annual 46 Peaks Weekend. From Sept. 20 through Sept. 22, over 150 students spread over 21 trips took on the challenge, with one group covering 35 miles and eight peaks.
The 46 Peaks are the tallest peaks in New York State located in the High Peaks region of the Adirondack Mountains. Most of these peaks are over 4,000 feet in height, with the highest peak being Mount Marcy at 5,344 feet. Every year, the Outing Club makes a collective effort to climb all 46 peaks in one weekend. This year’s climbers matched the record, with 43 peaks “bagged.”
While some members of the Hamilton community participate every year, there are always some first-timers without much experience. Nate Somes ’16 decided to go after having an enjoyable time during Pre-Orientation on Adirondack Adventure. Another HOC hiker, Jessica Sofen ’16, wanted to participate last year but wasn’t able to, so she cleared her schedule to ensure her involvement this year.
Hamilton’s 46 Peaks Weekend has always been one of the most popular HOC trips. It is not uncommon for waitlists to form for most if not all of the possible trips. All trips are supervised by at least one HOC leader. A variety of trips are offered every year, ranging from slightly less intense backpacking day trips to more challenging overnight trips. This year there were two Friday day trips as well as two weekend trips.
Sofen participated in one of the overnight backpacking trips. Her group departed campus at 1 p.m. on Friday, hiked three miles to their campsite and at 8:30 Saturday morning, started climbing two peaks. The overall trip distance was about 15 miles and Sofen joked that she felt dead (although very satisfied) when her group made it back to campus.
“I overestimated my hiking abilities a bit,” Sofen said, “but I felt really accomplished when I finished the trip!” She suggests that students who are interested but might not have the experience talk to a HOC member to make sure they pick an appropriate trip. She also suggests day trips for less experienced hikers.
Somes also participated in an overnight backpacking trip. After spending the night at base camp on Friday night, the group arose at 6 a.m. to get an early start. The goal was to reach four peaks by the Saturday evening, which they succeeded in doing. His group spent the night at a camp at the fourth peak, woke up early Sunday morning and made it back to campus by early Sunday afternoon (in time for the NFL games, Somes noted).
Both Somes and Sofen agree that the HOC leaders do a lot to make sure everyone on the trip has a good time but most importantly a safe time. HOC provides many of the participants with the basic camping equipment that they need. This ensures maximum participation and prevents anyone from being left out simply because they do not have something.
“For students who want to try it but don’t think they have the background experience I’d say to go for it. Two of the other members of the trip and I did not have a lot of experience hiking or camping and even on a high difficulty trip we had a blast and picked up everything quickly. The HOC leaders all know what they’re doing so you’re always in good hands,” said Somes.
Sofen echoed his sentiments by saying “have no doubt that anyone can participate in this weekend! You can pretty much borrow everything you need from HOC.”
While Somes and Sofen are first timers to 46 Peaks weekend, some members of the HOC community hold the distinguished title of 46er. The 46ers are a group of hikers who have successfully climbed all 46 peaks. The Adirondack 46ers currently boasts over 7,000 members. Max Milder ’14 is one such member. His first climb was in 2004 when he climbed Whiteface Mountain. He accomplished his goal in 2007 by finishing Rocky Peak. Several other HOC members hold this title and it is considered a great honor among the hiking community.
Although HOC was not able to summit all 46 peaks this year, members remain optimistic that the goal can be accomplished in the future.
Any students who are interested in getting involved with HOC are invited to stop by the Glen House during open hours from 7 to 9 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays. HOC also rents equipment for students to use on their own outdoor excursions.