Surrounded by some of the best climbing spots on the East Coast, the Holderness School Rock Climbing Team is privileged to spend their afternoons exploring the cliffs of Rumney, New Hampshire. Head Coach Erik Thatcher ‘08 pushes his climbers to set goals for themselves throughout the season in order to guide their growth.
Early in the season, Jack Sawyer ‘21 set his sights on tackling the Cereal Killer climb at the Armed and Dangerous Wall at Rumney Rocks. Described by Mr. Thatcher as a “gymnastic overhang,” the route is graded as a 5.11c climb. Jack came into the season with high expectations for himself after a summer of training: “I had been climbing in the gym all summer preparing for the fall climbing season.” Having spent several practices trying to ascend the climb, Jack was finally able to conquer it. This was the hardest climb a Holderness student has done during practice in the last decade.
While both Jack and Thatcher cited Jack’s summiting of Cereal Killer as a high point in the season, they highlighted it for different reasons. Jack described his triumph over the climb as his “favorite day of the whole season” and he “couldn’t be happier about how all my hard work paid off.” Mr. Thatcher, on the other hand, was more impressed with how Jack acted once he got his feet back on the ground: “Upon getting back down to the ground, Jack smiled, accepted some high fives and moved onto belaying a friend on their climb…. In this afternoon, Jack exhibited the pinnacle of strength and athleticism we strive for in our climbers, as well as the humble, other-centered approach to the sport that we hope they all adopt.”
Malin Alusic-Bingham ‘20, too, has aspirations of overcoming a climb that had bested her in the past. Hippos on Parade, graded 5.8++, is a route that many Holderness climbers set as their season goal. Malin had attempted this climb on top rope -- climbing while supported by a rope at the top of the climb -- several times over the past few seasons but had failed to make it without falling. However, on the final day of the season, Malin decided to attempt the climb one more time. Except, this time, Malin would be climbing from the lead position. With no rope supporting her from above, Malin looked past the potential to fall and summited Hippos on Parade in one go. Malin was a leader on the team the entire season. At the Athletic Awards Assembly, Mr. Thatcher praised Malin for her contributions to the program: “Malin stood out for her unwavering positivity, no matter the conditions or the challenges of the day. This positivity surely helped the team morale on high gravity days, or when the weather turned cold and nasty.”
Reflecting on the season, Jack said “I got so much better over the course of the year with the help of all three of my coaches…. The sport of climbing itself is such an amazing experience here at Holderness.”
So often on the day designated to honor the life and legacy of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we focus on our needs--the things that make us feel good. We look to his speeches for hope, to be inspired, to seek out motivational quotations for social media. But this use of Dr. King’s legacy and words to comfort and inspire is, in my personal opinion, a bastardization of his legacy--of the very real complex person he was and the radical vision he had for us. A vision of justice and accountability that could only result in radical change. Dr. King was a radical for racial justice, economic justice, democratic socialism, and demilitarization. I would even purport that, as a white person, my white community has shifted the legacy of a hero of civil and human rights to serve our purpose rather than the purpose of justice. And it was ultimately liberty and justice that was the goal of the work of Dr. King.
COVID-19 has provided many challenges for all of us in more ways than we can count. One opportunity we've seen in this challenge is that it demands us all to be more creative and one place that was most apparent this fall was in the Holderness Art Department.
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