NOC Provides Unique Experiences and Skills

Colton Cushman ‘25 climbing “Cure Cottage” at Mt. Baker (Photo: Alex Randall)

The Northwood Outing Club began about fifty years ago as a student hiking club and was quite popular for two decades before going dormant around 1980. It was re-launched as a co-curricular activity in 2021 and has ever since rapidly developed its palette of diverse activities and offerings. Led by Mr. Bobby O’Connor, with the occasional Mr. Emery and less frequent Don Mellor ‘71, students here develop unique skill sets and have experiences unlike any other.

Students will get to know a myriad of activities and skills. These activities include, but are not limited to, rock climbing, bouldering, ice climbing, backcountry skiing, a bit of hiking, mountain biking, and indoor gym climbing. Intertwined with these activities, students are armed with an arsenal of outdoor skills: belaying, rappelling (descending from the top of a cliff), outdoor survival (first aid, cooking, heat conservation, layering system, gear usage), Tyrolean traverse (going across a river using 2 ropes), tying knots, putting up a tent, and orienteering (mapping, using a compass, determining the direction of travel and location).

Mr. Emery finds the program beneficial. “I think NOC gives young men and women an opportunity to explore their boundaries out in the physical world, challenge themselves, and see what happens when they’re faced with adverse situations,” Emery said.

In the last few weeks, the NOC crew has done rock climbing on various walls, namely at Mt. Baker, Beer Walls, Spruce Hill Crag, and Chapel Pond. Furthermore, they have also done mountain biking, indoor climbing at the Climbing Center in Mt. Van Hoevenberg, and orienteering on Cobble.

Alex “Big Al” Randall ’25 is an avid rock climber and NOC member. “NOC has made me a more thoughtful person; it teaches me to be more careful with my decisions,” Randall said.

The Outing Club is currently offered as a Co-Curricular, a Friday class, and 48-hr weekend trips.

NOC is offering two week-long trips during school breaks this year. During the Thanksgiving break, students may join the group to rock climb at Red Rocks, Nevada. In addition, they will learn about the environment there and tour the area. The other trip is Kilimanjaro, which is during the FISU week in January. This trip requires extensive training and signups have already closed. Students who have signed up will travel to Tanzania to hike Mt. Kilimanjaro, sightsee the Uvalde gorge (site of the earliest human footprint), and top it off with a safari.


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