As we seniors come nearer and nearer to the final days of being orediggers, there are several things that stick out amongst our colored years. One of the most notable being the M-Climb, and that’s not just because we stare at it every night as it illuminates our late night walks from the library. The historied tradition of incoming first years hauling a 10 pound rock up Mt. Zion and placing it amongst the rest to signify the coming commitment and burdens we have yet to bear. Looking back, what seemed like such a challenge at the time has become a fond memory that forged a strong bond to this school and our classmates.
Coming from highschool where school spirit was largely founded on sports, it was an eye opening experience to the sense of community and shared culture that was possible at a school where sports weren’t necessarily the priority. For many incoming students like myself, the M-Climb is the first of such events that unify the student body. It is the most easily remembered even by alumni well into the years after they graduate, which mostly is due to the opportunity graduating students get to take one of these rocks down from the M. If anything, it’s a gigantic paperweight you can show off to your friends or lick it if you’re a graduating geology major. Even the slogan of the newly founded mental health program, Every Oredigger, has its roots in this tradition: “At Mines, we climb together.” Throughout the years, the climb has been the foundational piece in new students building their sense of school pride and connecting with the campus. This unique connection sets Mines apart from other larger schools and not just for our size, but for this specific strength that is fought for on the mountain.
Not only in my personal experience was the M-Climb monumental, but leaders in the Mines community such as members of Blue Key who organize and coordinate the M-Climb every year try to make it important for every first year. They try to get every possible club and organization involved to welcome and cheer them on. Eli Evers, member of Mines Blue Key, walked up with the first years in their initial days here at Mines this year and compared to his own experience, he did think that this climb was a little more aggressive than in years past. He then said that even though there were some notable differences, he didn’t think any organization went overboard or “too far.” Part of the M-Climb is the experience of seeing all of campus come together for a fun event and if part of that involves water balloons or squirt guns, then the administration says it’s okay. Some people did choose to not listen to these rules and ultimately caused some people to be disgruntled, but in the end, people had a good time. Eli also went on to reflect on the M-CLimb in general, saying, “While I don’t believe in continuing a tradition for the sake of tradition, I do believe this tradition is important to what it means to be a Mines student.”