Proctor’s Mountain Classroom program continues their adventures as they explore the American Southwest through climbing and expeditions, all while cooking, camping, and learning to live alongside each other. Read more from Niko ‘23 and Juju ‘23 below!
Niko ‘23: Cooking on Mountain Classroom
Flour and sand whip through the air propelled by 50 MPH winds, pizza dough spins, backdropped by a pitch-black sky forked with lighting. And did I mention it was raining? It was. No, this isn’t a pitch/commercial for some Master Chef extreme edition. This was but a recap of Logan (at the time my co-chef) and my attempt at a pizza dinner. Which, given the conditions, went surprisingly well.
Food is a decently essential part of life, and on Mountain that trend continues.Our previous two-story, all-you-can-eat dining hall has been condensed into a 4-burner propane stove, and a jet-like contraption used to boil water that we fondly refer to as “The Blaster”.
Using this mismatched toolset the students pair up to tackle 99% of the meals. But before we get to cooking we have to provision: $4.66 per person per meal or $132 for a day. With shopping lists and budget loosely in mind, cook pairs venture into an alternative dimension of blinding lights, squeaky floors, and utter chaos. Walmart. I can speak for my group when I say the hours and hours spent in the maze of aisles evokes the feeling of distress and a general headless-chicken mentality.
Now that you’ve got your ingredients you wait for your day, grab that toolbox and start cooking enough for a small army. Although there are only 12 of us, 5lbs of pasta and 2-3lbs of meat is a pretty typical night. Having ample food is half the battle, making it actually edible and taste good is a whole different fight. (I’m looking at you pasta burners.)
Cooking, although a standard day-to-day activity, showcases many of the vital parts of Mountain: working in conjunction with a new partner every week and playing off their strengths and weaknesses; both teaching and learning as we’ve all come from drastically different culinary backgrounds; adapting to new and ever-changing circumstances; often cooking meals in adverse conditions, working around spoiled ingredients and dietary restrictions. When one is not a cook-group trust is key. Trust and a whole lotta hope because nobody wants Oatmeal, PB+J, and Pasta day-after-day-after-day.
As someone who loves the controlled chaos of cooking, Mountain offers a whole lotta chaos, not just in the kitchen but in just about every aspect of your life. Firing up that stove is just your first step towards delving into the Mountain Madness. So, if you’re someone who, after a long day of hiking, climbing, canoeing, or 8.5 hours of carpool karaoke longs to feel the controlled, (well semi-controlled) chaos of back/front country cooking, then you’ve got an application to write. (Prerequisites: won’t burn water, knows what a stove is, can cook oatmeal, and can rock a chef hat.)
Juju ‘23: Arches at Sunrise
It was pitch black, all I could see was the little circle of light coming from my headlamp. There was lots of excitement in the group even though most of us felt like we were sleepwalking. The eagerness to get to where we were going took away from the fact that it was 4:00 am. Now, you're probably wondering where we were going at 4:00 am.
We were in Moab, Utah where we were staying for a week, which is the longest we have stayed somewhere throughout all of Mountain so far. Since we had so much time we wanted to do everything. Going to see Delicate Arch in Arches National Park was something we all decided we had to do. When the option of going to Delicate Arch for sunrise came up, not many people got too excited, knowing that would mean they would have to get up pretty early. After a few people did some good convincing we finally decided to do it.
I’m telling this story because this is by far one of my favorite memories from Mountain Classroom. Our whole group coming together to wake up super early to go hike to watch the sunrise, at one of the most famous national geologic wonders, was something I will never forget.
Coming out of the dark and walking around the corner of the rocky cliffs, everyone was amazed at what they were looking at. Standing tall in front of an amazing view was the Delicate Arch. The natural red colored rock formation in the shape of, well you guessed it, an arch. We all went and found spots to sit and take it all in. As we watched the sun come up, more and more people started to arrive. I was surprised by how many people had the same idea as us to wake up early to come watch the sunrise at the arch, although I also wasn’t, due to how amazing this place is.
Everything about that morning was amazing. If you haven’t been to Delicate Arch in Moab, then you should be putting it on your bucket list right now! I’m telling you- it’s not too bad of a place.
- Mountain Classroom
- Off-Campus Program