This piece was published in the September 2015 issue of the Prep News
Last year, the Rockhurst Outdoors Club anticipated its first international trip since traveling to Ecuador in 2013. This trip, set for mid-summer, was a planned trek up to base camp on Mount Everest. However, due to the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal on April 25, club moderator Mr. Luke McLellan had to cancel the trip.
Mr. McLellan then planned a replacement trip to the the Alps where he, 17 students, Mr. Jim DeGraw, and Mr. Brent Sams hiked the Haute Route, a trail between Chamonix in France and Zermatt in Switzerland.
The trip lasted from July 1 to July 14, during which the group hiked 11 of their 12 days in the Alps. After several consecutive days of hiking 10 plus hours, the students and teachers were able to complete 100 miles of the 110 miles of the Haute Route.
“This was by far the most physically challenging thing I have done in my life,” senior Outdoors Club member Jake Enenbach said. “Once you cleared a peak, boom, there was another one. But, there was such a feeling of accomplishment once you got to the top and were able to start your journey down.”
The region in which the group hiked is famously scenic, and the Outdoors Club members had a unique opportunity to observe the stunning landscape.
“The views were absolutely insane,” Enenbach said. “Once you’re on top of those mountains, you’re in the clouds. You look back 10 miles at the tiny speck of a city that you slept in the night before, and you’re absolutely awestruck.”
Not only did this trip to the Alps give students the chance to hike through a visually captivating area, but it also allowed them to indulge in new and unique cultures. The group stayed at a different location every night and often slept in hotels, but sometimes stayed in cabins in the back-country of the Alps.
“Every valley we stayed at, they’d give us local cheese or sausage or things like that,” said Mr. McLellan. “But, for me, the most memorable thing was the actual hike itself. It was just incredible.”