The annual ritual of hiking up Socorro Peak and painting the ‘M’ is next week. Students are encouraged to make the 2.5 mile trek up the mountain and help give the iconic letter a fresh coat of “paint” (it’s lime mixed with water, actually). Faculty, staff, alumni and community members are invited to participate as well.
Another new feature this year is that the Vigilante Band -- made up of Tech graduates -- will entertain with a special unplugged set atop the mountain while hikers eat their lunches.
|Students make the final ascent to the 'M' during the 2010 49ers.|
The terrain is rugged and the weather is expected to be sunny and hot. Hikers should wear closed-toe shoes and sunscreen. The fastest hikers – those running up the mountain, that is – will finish in less than an hour; normal humans should expect to be hiking for 1.5 to 2 hours. Water will be provided. All participants must sign a release form. To facilitate a timely start Friday morning, people are encouraged to sign and return the form before the event. By registering via email, Tech will send the form via return email.
All hikers should gather at 9 a.m. at the Athletic Field. Tech will bus hikers to the base of the mountain. The first 20 individuals and teams (of students) to reach the ‘M’ with a bag of lime will receive $50. All students who make the climb will get some freebies – a commemorative T-shirt, a hat and other goodies. All participants will get a hamburger lunch at the staging area just below the ‘M.’ Tech will provide transportation via vans back to campus as hikers finish their lunch.
Techies first surveyed the peak and laid out the ‘M’ in 1911. For this year’s centennial celebration, Dr. Van Romero is mobilizing the troops to give the iconic letter a facelift.
“This is an important milestone,” said Romero, the Vice President of Research and a Tech graduate. “We’re pulling out all the stops this year to make the Paint the ‘M’ event as memorable as possible.”
Romero hopes that moving the event to Friday will encourage more students to participate. “Many students are worn out by Sunday morning. I’m hoping we can catch Techies before they spend all weekend celebrating. This can be the beginning of a great weekend,” he said.
Romero has enlisted the assistance of a surveying class in the mineral engineering department to re-mark the edges of the letter. Chemical engineering faculty and EMRTC staff are investigating new materials and methods of painting, expecting to make the ‘M’ stay whiter throughout the year. Students will be encouraged to help carry materials up the mountain, mix the paint and then paint the ‘M.’
Participation in the annual event had dwindled over the previous decade – until last year, when more than 150 students made the hike up the mountain. This year, Romero hopes to have more than 200 students, alumni and employees pitching in to help. He has also invited local residents to participate by hiking the mountain and helping whitewash the ‘M.’
“Painting the ‘M’ is much like going to school at Tech – it’s difficult, but worth the effort,” Romero said. “Every student should experience this at least once during their career here. I’d like to see more students get involved. It’s a great tradition and I hope we get a great turnout this year.”
– NMT –
By Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech