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Legacy of Exploration: Explorers of Mountains

Troy Lovata, lovata@unm.edu
Core:    Humanities 

 

COURSE DESCRIPTION
"We have climbed the mountain,

There’s nothing more to do.

It is terrible to come down

To the valley

Where, amidst many flowers,

One thinks of snow."

--Donald Justice

Explorers have ventured many places over the centuries, but mountains have had a special draw. Mountains have been viewed as both foreboding obstacles that divide peoples and spiritually significant points worthy of pilgrimage. Mountains have held both the promise of untold riches and the possibility of unforgiving terror. Some have been lured to the mountains for science, some for religion, some for personal glory, and others to harvest the earth’s bounty. Whichever the reason, pioneering mountaineer Elizabeth Knowlton noted that, “to those men who are born for mountains, the struggle can never end, until their lives end.” This course examines why people have explored mountains and the draw of reaching high altitude. Students will study first-hand accounts, literature, and primary sources of both historic and contemporary mountain journeys from around the world and compare them to their own experiences here in the Mountain West.

This course unfolds in both the classroom and the field. There are two required and one optional field trips into the mountains outside normal class time. The required excursions include a hike up the La Luz Trail to the summit of the Sandia Mountains and a walk up the pilgrimage trail of Tome Hill in Los Lunas. Dr. Lovata will lead an optional field trip up TWA Canyon in the Sandia Mountains. The required trips are scheduled for Friday, Saturday or Sunday the second weekend of September and first or second weekend in November (dates to be finalized the first week of class). The optional hike will be in mid-October. There is a course fee to cover the cost of these excursions. 

READINGS AND TEXTS
Books

The Shameless Diary of an Explorer: A Story of Failure on Mt. McKinley by Robert Dunn

A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains by Isabella Bird

Into Thin Air by John Krakauer

Nature Writings by John Muir

The Ice Maiden: Inca Mummies, Mountain Gods, and Sacred Sites in the Andes by Johan Reinhard  

FILMS AND OTHER COURSE MATERIALS

Touching the Void by Kevin Macdonald, director    


COURSE FEE
$45.00  



STUDENT REQUIREMENTS
This course will be conducted both in the classroom and in the field as students participate in seminar discussions and complete a series of written projects. There will be two required and one optional field trip into the mountains outside normal class time. The required excursions include a hike up the La Luz Trail to the summit of the Sandia Mountains and a walk up the pilgrimage trail of Tome Hill in Los Lunas. Dr. Lovata will lead an optional field trip up TWA Canyon in the Sandia Mountains. The required trips are scheduled for Friday, Saturday or Sunday the second weekend of September and first or second weekend in November (dates to be finalized the first week of class). The optional hike will be in mid-October. There is a course fee to cover some of the cost of these excursions.  

There are no specific prerequisites for this course, but because this course contains significant field components students must be physically able to travel to and walk across sites located outdoors. They also must be willing and able to spend significant amounts of time outside in a variety of weather conditions. Students are expected to provide proper clothing, based on instructor recommendations, for such excursions.

 

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR
Troy Lovata, Ph.D. is a tenured, Associate Professor in the Honors College. His courses explore our cultural relationship with the world around us and examine our connections to the past. Dr. Lovata holds a Doctorate in Anthropology, with a focus on Archaeology, from the University of Texas.