Six hours up the mountain and another three hours down – it was quite an expedition, and quite a triumph, for a group of 35 Chapman students who hiked up 10,068-foot Mt. Baldy with President Doti, Orange County educator and mountaineer John Dahlem, Chancellor Daniele Struppa and Vice Chancellor and Dean of Students Jerry Price on Oct. 22.
“We split the students into two groups,” reports President Doti. “The more experienced, faster hikers and climbers set off first, led by our good friend John Dahlem – who, as you may know, was the second-oldest American ever to summit Mt. Everest and has climbed all Seven Summits. The rest of the students – novices or slower hikers – went with Daniele and me.”
The climb starts off at around 6,000 feet and it is quite challenging, President Doti said. “There are some tough and strenuous sections. But I’m very proud to say, and I consider it an absolute miracle, that every single one of our Chapman students, even the novices in our group, made it to the summit. It says a lot about their fortitude and perseverance.”
President Doti reports that the weather for the climb was very good, except for some strong winds at the summit when the first group arrived. “But by the time our group reached the top, the winds had died down and it was gorgeous. We all paused up there to have lunch – Sodexo had packed us some great box lunches. Of course, in the excitement, I had forgotten to bring mine, and I was famished by the time we got up there.”
Luckily Mike Moore, who manages the Doti-Struppa Climbing Wall in Sandhu Residence and Conference Center and who was a member of the expedition, had brought some extra lunches. “So thanks to him, I was able to have some lunch!,” President Doti said. “Mike also brought some passion fruit, so we sat up there quite incongruously enjoying passion fruit at the top of Mt. Baldy. That made it an even more memorable occasion.”
“Passion fruit is, hands down, my favorite trail snack,” said Moore, who adds, “I graduated from Chapman in 2010 and stuck around to help expand Chapman’s outdoor programs. The Mt. Baldy adventure was a blast- I’ve had many students send me messages about how much fun they had. I can’t tell you how awesome it is for President Doti and Chancellor Struppa to share their experiences, expertise and sense of adventure with the students!”
The hope is that the Mt. Baldy climb with students will become an annual event, President Doti says.
Mt. San Antonio, popularly known as Mt. Baldy, is the highest peak in the San Gabriel Mountains and the highest point in Los Angeles County. Its impressive multiple peaks dominate the L.A. skyline on clear days.