Senior Adam Buchholz explores the great outdoors at Pomona College as a biology major, a director of On the Loose, and by utilizing the Outdoor Education Center.
Adam Buchholz ’12, a director of On the Loose (OTL), has led nine OTL trips and participated in seven others since joining the student outdoors club as a freshman. A biology major from Olympia, Wash., Buchholz says that when he was weighing his decision about where to go to college, OTL tipped the scale in favor of Pomona.
Favorite First-Year Trip
Definitely Moab. It’s one of the best places in the world for mountain biking. I’d never done it before, but we were with a very knowledgeable group from OTL, and by the time we reached a classic part of the trail called Porcupine Rim, I felt a lot more secure. That section is about a foot and a half wide; you’re dodging boulders, and about 10 to 15 feet on your right is a 1,000-foot cliff that drops down to this beautiful green river and red rock. It was very scenic, exciting and memorable.
It's Not Just the Scenery
Part of what I enjoy about OTL is the community because it brings together so many people who are excited about the same thing. It’s easy to feel sort of stuck in the Claremont bubble and OTL trips are a great way to get out and have a completely different experience.
Just Outside the Bubble
Joshua Tree, which is only two hours away, is a great destination for rock climbing. Another place that’s close by is Mt. Baldy. Our most heavily attended event of the year is the Baldy Speedo Hike, which is an experience every Pomona student should have. We hike to the top wearing Speedos, hiking boots and knee socks and bond over the strange looks we get from people.
Reaching the Top
It can take weeks to figure out how to do a climb; you try it over and over and one day you come at it from a different angle, and you finally reach the top. Sometimes you find a climb, like “Necessary Evil” in Apple Valley, that is in a beautiful setting and the line you’re climbing is perfect. It’s just a question of trusting it and making yourself push through the exhaustion and fear. And it’s exhilarating when you reach the top.
The Outdoor Education Center
The great thing about it is it provides a lot of formal opportunities to be educated and gain wilderness skills, and it provides certification. If you’re not experienced, planning an outdoors trip can be a very daunting task, and the Outdoor Education Center can provide that kind of expertise professors need to integrate field trips into their curriculum.
One of the OTL commandments, which comes right after “being safe,” is “going big.” What that encourages you to do is go out and try something like hiking Mt. Baldy, which is about a 10-mile-long trail and 3,950 feet of elevation gain. Most students would say, ‘No way,’ but when you get a group of people together who know what they’re doing and know how to do it safely, you can push your boundaries and accomplish things that you never would have done on your own.