Durham Academy’s Class of 2022 kicked off the school year by conquering the 43-year DA tradition known as Senior Challenge. It’s a five-night adventure in the North Carolina mountains in which decades of seniors have hiked to breathtaking summits, cooked and slept under the stars, rappelled cliff sides and found deep wells of perseverance.
Each year, Senior Challenge Director Greg Murray splits the class into groups of eight to 10 students with an eye toward creating opportunities for students to better get to know classmates with whom they may not have interacted regularly. The groups of adventurers fan out in the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area and on Mt. Mitchell.
Students — guided through the experience by the professional staff of Black Mountain Expedition — carry everything they use on the journey in backpacks, take responsibility for trail navigation, prepare their own food, learn to set up and break down camp, rock climb and rappel.
Over the decades, many DA seniors and alumni have described their Senior Challenge experiences as transformative. Here are a few highlights and reflections from the Class of 2022.