Mountaineering Log – September 2015

Mountaineering Log Entry

Climbing Team: Odyssey School

Expedition Name: Orientation – Finding Our True North

Date: 9/14/2015

Location: Mountains of Northern California

Latitude: 41 degrees, 21 minutes, 41 seconds North by

Longitude: 122 degrees, 54 minutes, 15 seconds West


Dear Odyssey Community Members,


At this time, as Head of School, I have the honor and executive privilege to announce the annual theme for the year. This is not to be confused with the academic themes advanced by our instructors. Rather, the school’s annual theme offers all members of the Odyssey community an invitation and opportunity to explore the higher philosophical ground of ethical living within the broader context of challenge, respect, and the pursuits of personal and institutional success.


Twelve Thousand Nights Out: A New Journey Unfolds!


Back in the old days, when Odyssey School started on an evolutionary journey across the complex and traditional American educational topography, students ventured off campus on trips to various interesting loci to get acclimated to the world around them. Mathematically speaking, Odyssey students began to log nights out when they slept away from home. My Master Expeditionary Logbook details the number of nights that students spent outside of the walls of their conventional classrooms while away on learning quests. The calculation methodology is simple enough and merely delivers the product of the number of students on trips multiplied by the number of nights out. Accordingly, on the 4th night of this year’s Japan Expedition, The Journey to the Land of Wa, Odyssey students will have accumulated twelve thousand nights out during the life of the institution. Another way to comprehend this datum would be to appreciate the idea that our students have slept 32.9 years in accommodations other than those at home.


My theme for this year attempts to link the past to the present by suggesting that every former Odyssey student has donated a specific number to my nights out spreadsheet and current students are building upon that strong foundational structure by contributing more nights to my analysis as present-day expeditions launch and return. Consequently, all Odyssians are intimately linked to this impressive timeline and all share in the joys of success in the face of extraordinary challenge. Notwithstanding, individual and institutional failures along the pathway of the school’s journey have clarified new strategies to achieve the higher summit of scholastic exceptionalism. Odyssey’s new journey continues to unfold during the 2015 – 2016 academic year as our instructional programming expands and evolves to present higher pedagogical hurdles for students, parents, teachers, and trustees to surmount. You see, in the eyes of this headmaster, life is about the practice and application of constant improvement by exercising the tools of innovative experimentation, rigorous self-evaluation, and strategic re-posturing – a flywheel system that continues to rotate vigorously with no ultimate finish in sight. This is why, when traveling around the country to look at a variety of schools, in my role as educational leader, I become immediately suspicious when administrators indicate that their school has developed the perfect educational program. You see, education is an evolving alchemy that must use relevant content to inject magic, motivation, and inspiration into the lives of young people. It is as simple as that.


Two days ago, I stood on a rock ledge at an elevation of 10,111feet. I huddled there with a small cohort of Odyssey 8th graders. These 3rd-year students left the comfortable bunk beds and meals of JH Ranch and ventured into the national forest. We camped for 2 nights at the base of Mount Shasta and, on September 11th, climbed for 8 continuous hours through the tree line and up the famous Avalanche Gulch Route. After passing the Sierra Hut adorned with Tibetan Prayer Flags, we left all vegetation behind and labored through the rock scree that Shasta is famous for. The main boot track disappeared so we had to cautiously route-find as we slowly climbed into thinner air. We would have gone further up but agreed to safely descend when our “turn around time” appeared on our climbing chronometer.


Many people consider Mount Shasta to be one of the “Sacred Mountains” on Earth and they also believe that Shasta is the sister mountain to Mount Fujiyama, another sacred mountain in Japan. Our team of 17 student climbers set the school record for elevation when they climbed to a position of 10,111 feet in altitude. They experienced rugged conditions, high altitude, mountaineering team camaraderie, and magnificent scenery loaded with copious views of mountains and valleys fifty miles out in the distance. Meanwhile, some ninety miles away, Odyssey’s younger students were tackling various rope course challenges with enthusiasm as they worked with team members to chart successful strategies for success. All students are currently deep into the conceptual realm of the Hero’s and Heroine’s Journey and all look forward to their return home on Friday.


Our special school is full of motivated kids and the phone continues to ring constantly. New students and parents are expressing their keen interest in joining present and future expeditions. Odyssey School is ready to scale new uncharted peaks. As the proud Head of School, I invite you to join our educational adventure. Remember – pack a robust rack of carabiners. You will certainly need them!


Twelve Thousand Nights Out: A New Journey Unfolds!





Climbing Sirdar

Odyssey Mountaineering Team


Success is not counted by how high you have climbed but by how many people you brought with you. Will Rose


Mountaineering is a complex and unique way of life, interweaving elements of sport, art and mysticism. Success or failure depends on the ebb and flow of immense inspiration. Detecting a single rule governing this energy is difficult – it arises and vanishes like the urge to dance and remains as mysterious as the phenomenon of life itself. Wojciech Kurtyka


Climbing may be hard, but it’s easier than growing up. Ed Sklar


Shasta Base

                   Climbing Team at 7,000 Ft. at the base of Mount Shasta


Above, the team at 7,880 Ft., at the Sierra Hut…Below 3 climbers at 9,000 ft.

climbingClimbing 500ft

                    The climbing column – stretched out across 500 vertical ft.


         The Summit Team resting at 9,800 ft. – before the final push past 10,000 ft.

Posted in Mountaineering, Orientation
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply