The Outing Club still answers the call of the wild

Outing Club Men and women of the Mountain: Outing Club members scale Cannon Mountain.


en students pile into a van on a cold November night, headed to the New Hampshire Outing Club's cabin in Jackson, N.H., and a hiking trip in the White Mountains. They are men and women, freshmen and upperclassmen, seasoned hikers and newcomers who have never been on an Outing Club trip before. But once they are packed together in the van, none of that matters, for it is what they have in common--a love for outdoor adventure--that has brought them here. Michelle Desrosiers, a freshman marine biology major and a novice hiker, feels perfectly comfortable right away. There's not much social tension, she says, when you know that the next day you'll be "getting all sweaty together."

New Hampshire Outing Club members have been getting sweaty together since 1911, when a group of undergraduate outdoor enthusiasts sought to reduce the pressures of academia by getting off campus and into the wild on weekends like this one, which happens to fall in the midst of midterm exams. One of the university's most popular organizations, the club provides all kinds of outdoor adventures, from hiking, mountaineering, technical climbing and caving to snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, canoeing, kayaking and sailing.

Affiliated with, but not funded by, the university, the club is one of 12 volunteer-run chapters of the Appalachian Mountain Club. Membership is open to everyone in the university community--undergraduates, graduate students, continuing-education students, faculty, staff and alumni--and the price of a trip provides transportation to and from, food and unlimited access to the club's gear room. The club also owns and maintains two cabins, the one in Jackson and another at Franconia Notch, affectionately known as "Franky."

Arriving in Jackson, the students collect their gear and, with the light of a few headlamps and flashlights, make their way in the dark up the dirt road that leads to the club's small wooden cabin. They greet the cabin with the traditional club cheer, "Kah-ooh-wah!" and then hustle inside. Trip leader Corey Denton, a senior civil engineering major from Juneau, Alaska, and club president, says the origins of the cheer are obscure, but he suspects it evolved in part "to scare away any wild residents."

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