Hiking, Life Lessons, and the Development of Grit

Thursday, 24. June 2021

Photos from Noah Bühler

At nearly 4000 meters of altitude, on the South-West face of the Finsteraarhorn, under an unseasonably warm sun, a group of students are struggling, pace-by-pace, to reach the summit.

They departed their hut at 3 AM, climbing upwards on skis as the morning breaks. They climb higher where the air is thinner, each step feeling like four, their bodies not yet fully acclimated to the altitude. Tired, hot, and short of breath, they climb higher, the warmth of the sun intensifying the students’ perception of their efforts.

The students are on their six day hike, a time-honoured tradition at the Ecole. Students spend nearly a week living in nature, hiking, climbing, or ski touring in small groups, living with nothing more than what they can carry on their backs.

Noah, a student, photographer, filmmaker and avid ski tourer describes this ascent up the Finsteraarhorn as one of his most difficult. Tired, and deep in the wilderness, he sees that there is no other option than to press on.

He breaks down the task into small steps - just get one hundred meters further. Forge ahead through the snow. Like this, he develops a rhythm, a system to get him through a struggle.

FInally Noah and his hikemates crest the peak of the Finsteraarhorn. At 4274 M above sea level, they are alone at the top, a blue expanse above them, silence below. What was, moments before, one of the most challenging experiences of his week, now becomes a highlight of his life. Together with his hikemates and teachers, he breathes in the majesty of the mountain. They sit in the sun, taking in the view.

The struggle of a few moments before now becomes vast appreciation, joy, and a sense of accomplishment.

FInally they ready their skis, and begin the descent. Under perfect conditions, they ski down, back to their hut.

Noah explains how he views his hiking adventures - they are profound life lessons. Through hiking and outdoor activities he’s come to know that struggle is an important part of life for it brings appreciation, and achievement. Hiking has given Noah a new perspective on facing challenges in other areas of his life. Huge projects can be overwhelming. But breaking them down into smaller goals, just as you would on a hike, brings them within reach.

Hiking is more than having fun in nature together. Hiking is learning grit, perseverance, and the value of hard work.

To see more of Noah’s hike, check out his video here!