Smarts Mountain and the Creation of
The Prouty Mountaineering Program
(the first Audrey Prouty Challenge Event benefitting Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center)
3,240 ft., 8 Miles
September 27, 2011
Mrs. Baby, a hiking poodle, on Smart’s Mountain
The Prouty takes to the Hills
I’ve been a friend of The Prouty, a charity bike ride/walk for Dartmouth Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center since I returned to the Upper Valley in 2000. The concept at the heart of the Prouty is simple – get people to engage in the outdoors and raise money to fight cancer -for our NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center. The juxtaposition of the participants’ strength and hope with that of the awful mysteries and terrible realities of cancer is simply irresistible. The Prouty is about participation – participation in something physically demanding as well as aesthetically pleasing, all to address funding needs to beat the last frontier of human disease.
Over the last several years I’ve drifted more into the hills and mountains of the Northeast, and then increasingly around the world – after the Prouty’ s signature two-day event in early July. Over that time I’ve been able to climb the 100 highest mountains in New England, most of the Adirondacks, and many of the noteworthy peaks in North and South America as well as Africa. I absolutely love doing it, but I want to make it more than just climbing mountains – I’ve been wondering if we could somehow make a hiking/climbing/mountaineering program part of the Prouty. After all Audrey Prouty was from Warren, NH – home of Mt. Moosilauke – and I’m sure that she would have whole-heartily approved.
How do we get this going?
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
I guess that long journeys, climbing big mountains and launching new Prouty programs, all share the same fundamental characteristic – you simply have to get started. I’ve been talking with the folks at The Prouty about kicking off a hike/climb/mountaineering program with a bang – a climb up Mt. Kilimanjaro in the winter of 2012. Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain in Africa at 19,338 feet, and a real accomplishment for those that make it to the top. Such a launch is ambitious, audacious and infinitely seductive. The first people to raise their hands and express interest were the Morse family, and their first training hike was Smart’s Mountain in Orford, NH.
Smart’s Mountain, where great mountaineers come to get started
Kilimanjaro, the greatest mountain in the world that people with jobs can climb
The day on Smart’s was beautiful, cool, clear and with the first hint of fall in the air and in the foliage. We headed up the AT, up over Lambert Ridge and then up the last steep 500 vertical feet to the old fire tower on the summit – abandoned in 1976 but maintained from time-to-time by the DOC and others. The views from the tower were great, and after a brief lunch we headed back down via the Warden’s trail – considerably worse for wear after the recent rains.
Mt. Cube from the summit of Smart’s
A perilous descent on Smart’s Mountain – note Rick Morse in the rear
We will be doing a lot of hiking over the next year getting ready for Kilimanjaro, and I encourage anyone interested in learning more to drop me an email or give me a call. This will be a first class trip, and I will come along to make sure that everyone has a safe and fun time. It will also be a “maiden voyage” for this program, so there may be some adventure as well. There is plenty of time to get ready, and the journey of 1,000 miles…. Has to start somewhere, after all!
Join us in the winter of ’12 on top of Kilimanjaro
Rick Morse on the Summit