Over 400 Students, Alumni Help Tech Paint the ‘M’

Over 400 Students, Alumni Help Tech Paint the ‘M’

Annual Event Highlights 49ers Celebration

SOCORRO, N.M. – More than 400 New Mexico Tech alumni and students helped give ‘M’ Mountain its annual facelift on Friday during the 49ers Celebration.

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Students swarm over the 'M' during the 49ers Celebration on Friday.


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For those who take on the Paint the 'M' challenge, the views of the valley are worth the effort. 


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Runners and walkers started at an EMRTC staging area at the base of the mountain and hiked 1.7 miles over rough terrain with a rise in elevation of about 2,250 feet. As is the tradition at NMT, students are encouraged to carry 50-pound bags of lime to the ‘M.’ Once at the top, they dump the lime onto the rocks under the supervision of spotters. The top 20 individuals and teams who carried lime earned $50.

Around 225 of the participants made it to the ‘M’, including 26 individuals who carried lime and 21 teams. Plenty of other students were at the top, including volunteers from the NMT Bike Club and the Search and Rescue Club.

Student Sam Burleigh was the first to reach the ‘M,’ in a blazing fast time of about 36 minutes. Dr. Rick Aster, a former NMT professor, was second in 42 minutes. Faculty member Dr. Julie Ford was the first female to reach the top in 52 minutes. The winning team that carried lime was Sierra Cahall, Sean Maloy, and Michael Robinson, finishing in 57 minutes.  Reid Hendricks was the first student to reach the top with a bag of lime, in a time of one hour. Complete results will be available later this week.

“It’s amazing. You don’t get to see that many views in the state,” Cahall said. “It’s a really great experience. It’s important to get up here at least once. And if you can carry the lime, that’s great. It’s pretty awesome. I don’t think many other universities do this.”

Dr. Van Romero and his staff organized the event – with ample assistance from EMRTC and various other staff offices around campus. Tech opened the event officially to community members not otherwise affiliated with Tech. Several dozen took advantage of the opportunity to climb the mountain and take part in the festivities.

“This is the highlight of 49ers, which is our homecoming,” Romero said. “This is the biggest group of students we get for any single event on campus.  … We have over 400 people climbing the mountain and they really seem to enjoy it.”

 “I always say, this is a lot like going to New Mexico Tech; It’s not easy coming up this mountain,” Romero said.  “It’s a lot of work. But when you get to the top, there’s a huge reward. Just like going to Tech, it’s not an easy trip, but when you’re done there’s a huge reward.

Jared Lam, a junior in environmental engineering, did the ‘M’ Mountain Run for the first time. He didn’t carry lime this year, but intends to put together a team to carry lime in the future.

“Overall, I thought it was really awesome and a really good time,” he said. “The views are incredible. I love looking out over the valley from the Maggies, but being able to see both sides of ‘M’ Mountain is cool. And Socorro is beautiful from up there.”

A Mineral Engineering Department class completed a new survey of the ‘M’ and staked out the border in 2010 as part of the centennial celebration of its creation. EMRTC staff painted the edges of the ‘M’ before the event, leaving students the task of depositing their 50-pound bag of lime within the borders.

Romero said he is very grateful for the willingness of students to volunteer and for the university employees who helped with registration, organization, safety, planning, cooking burgers, passing out goodie bags and other labor.

– NMT –