Semester 38: “A fantastic week at HMI”

This past Sunday anxious HMI students rose early in the morning for the first day of Ski Week. The semester was buzzing with excitement as we were all looking forward towards a week of skiing in the morning and classes in the afternoon. As we all loaded onto the buses, quickly yawning away the tiredness of morning, the sudden realization that we would all be telemarking for the first time in a matter of minutes became a reality. This fear quickly went away and wide smiles broke out across the semester as our first experiences of “freeing the heel” began (unlike alpine bindings, telemark bindings do not attach your heel to the ski). The week quickly became one of the most memorable weeks of school as we spent the mornings at Ski Cooper—the local Leadville mountain—and the rest of the day hitting the books. The first two days were full of bumps and bruises as we either learned to ski for the first time or learned the switch from our downhill alpine skills into the graceful stance perfected by tele skiers. On Tuesday the semester was treated with a blessing from Mother Nature as we enjoyed 6” of that light Colorado powder we had all been dreaming about. The previously empty mountain that we had all enjoyed the first two days transformed as the powder hounds attacked the slopes. HMI students held strong and we all relished in the snowy falls as we learned what it was like to ski in powder. By the end of the day we all sorely limped back to the buses and loaded on. On Wednesday we had a well-deserved day off and gave our limbs a needed 24 hours of rest. Over the final two days of Ski Week, you could see HMI student ripping turns into the corduroy as telemarking had quickly been adapted into our new lives. We are ready for the backcountry as our second expedition fast approaches.

After hitting the slopes at Cooper, we headed out to find more powder in the backcountry. This was the first time the second expedition groups came together. We put climbing skins on our skis and slowly but surely made our way up some hills. Trekking through the untouched snow of Leadville, groups saw reminders of this mining town’s past, with lots of abandoned buildings dotting the landscape. Thanks to Margi, we were able to identify animal tracks in the snow and the three types of trees around us while climbing. After we summitted, we tore off our skins and were able to ski down the hill. It was very fulfilling to ski down what we had spent a long time hiking up. We hung up our skis and are anticipating some great skiing during expedition.

HMI showed off our talents at the Open Mic Night last Saturday and had a blast. A total of 17 performances rocked the house, featuring comedy, inspirational quotes, songs, Alaskan anthems, and dancing. Ben and his back-up singers/dancers sang Nicki Minaj “Super Bass,” and set a high bar for the rest of the night. Creative and poetic poems were read by Skye and Amira, and Ray fired things up with an awesome shuffling performance by him and his dancing pupils. An absolutely hilarious re-enactment was done by Hayden and Howie, two awesome apprentices, and Hayden followed it with a hysterical video on how to “send” in the backcountry (let’s just say it was very informative). We also had the privilege to see the a “Cabinet Battle” between two very skilled rappers representing John Adams and Alexander Hamilton, which was absolutely stellar. The night closed with yet another intense rap battle, this time a Hungarian one. Aron lit up the stage with his musical talent, and Stewart’s rap made it all the better. All in all, it was an incredible night which revealed the many hidden talents we have in the community.

This weekend the Paintball Biathlon was something to remember. An Olympic event (the Biathlon) was transformed into a creative and fun event right here in Leadville. It featured either a five or a ten kilometer course which included three loops each. At the end of each loop, paintball guns awaited us to measure our accuracy along with our endurance. If you hit your target, thirty seconds were deducted from your overall time. This prompted vigorous and fun competition for the race. HMI’s participant numbers were staggering, breaking our record once again with a total of 37 of 49 HMI students racing. Simon, one of HMI’s fastest runners, got third overall in the ten kilometer race finishing just under 27 minutes 30 seconds before the shooting-time deduction. Lots of flare was worn by our team, once again displaying HMI’s style to the rest of Leadville, and our support was astounding. Overall, it was an unbelievable event which our community will hold with us for a long time.

Have you ever wondered how one can get hypothermia? No need to fear, HMI kids are here! Sorry, that was cheesy. If you are unfamiliar with this word, it is essentially  when a body can no longer generate its own heat because it is running out of “ATP.” Because of the way that our schedule is structured, we have all morning on Monday to perform an efficient lab to test different “cold levels.” You are probably wondering, “how the in the world do you even test hypothermia?” Well, instead of testing which cold space provoked human hypothermia the quickest, we tested “bread hypothermia.” It sounds silly, but the results were quite intriguing. For example, the bread that was at the bottom of the snow lost less heat per minute in comparison to the bread that was at the top of the snow. From these results, we concluded that the snow was in fact warmer towards the ground than it was at the top; however, a real scientist never concludes anything from one result! In previous weeks, we had focused on avalanches and when making a demo avalanche on another Lab Monday, temperature results showed that the snow was warmer towards the bottom and colder at the top. That being said, we took the two labs and came to the conclusion that the bottom is in fact warmercool stuff.

As you will read above in the “Ski Week” section, you will notice that we have had busy days here at HMI; the experiential learning of skiing and intellectual thinking in our classes fills the air. That being said, at the end of the week and last period of the day after a long day of telemark skiing, it was hard to stay awake in the warm library while learning about Native People’s interaction with Americans during the 19th century. However, one of the best parts of HMI is the fact that we have a beautiful campus and incredible weather. How do the two relate? During history class, our teacher could tell that we were weary, so our teacher told us to pick up our books, grab a coat, and head outside. We ended up having history class while going on a walk through the beautiful trees. The combination of fresh air, the blue bird day, and the footpaths of American history was a perfect way to end a fantastic week at HMI.

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