Reaching new heights

Nikki Pinter ’22 took her first leap into the world of mountain climbing this summer, and her endeavor took her all the way to Big Sky Country.

Alex Carlon
Nikki Pinter ’22 sits in the West High library on September 21

11,000 feet. That’s the altitude Nikki Pinter ’22 stood at upon reaching the peak of Crow Mountain in Montana, gazing out at the surrounding valleys after a full day of climbing. Although this may sound like the feat of a highly experienced mountain climber, this was Nikki’s first leap into the world of climbing.

This past summer Nikki traveled over 1,000 miles to Billings, Montana, where she attended the outdoor Christian ministry program Camp Christikon. In the program, campers spend a week training and climbing Crow Mountain, with the program culminating once they reach the scenic overlook.

Sitting at an elevation of 6,500 feet, successfully completing the week long climb up Crow Mountain is no easy endeavor. Although open to climbers of all levels of experience, it is recommended that campers be in prime physical condition before even attempting the journey.

“Some people [at camp] are climbing a mountain for the very first time, like me. But then there are also people [who] have been doing this for years. There are varying skill levels but everyone helps each other out and is very supportive.” Nikki said.


Nikki Pinter
Surrounding mountain ranges can be seen from a scenic overlook point along the route to the peak of Crow Mountain in Billings, Montana.


The week-long hike is divided into one acclimation day, three climbing days and one rest day before reaching the peak.

“When you arrive at camp, you have one day to stay at the actual campground where we got acclimated to the height,” Nikki said. “Then we set out on the trails the following day. We have to hike twelve miles uphill in the first day before setting camp which was definitely one of the more physically demanding parts of the trip.”

Upon reaching that first campsite after a full day of hiking, Nikki and her fellow climbers realized they had made a costly mistake. While setting up for the night, the hikers realized they had misplaced the tent stakes, leaving many of them exposed to the windy night time conditions.

“Our first camping night, the tent we were sleeping in actually blew away from all the wind,” Nikki said, adding that the cold night was a rough way to start out the climb.

Rebounding quickly from their initial hardships, Nikki and the rest of her climbing group were able to carry out the next two hiking days without a hitch, reaching each campsite in a timely manner.

The fourth and final day of the climb, pegged “peak day,” proved to be a physical challenge for Nikki.

“The last stretch was definitely the hardest part. Throughout the entire trip we had climbed around 11,000 feet, so that last push was very difficult,” Nikki said.

“What motivated me was definitely the rest of my group. We were definitely able to bond a lot because up on the mountain that’s pretty much the only human contact you have. Everyone on the climb was at a different skill level so the environment was always very encouraging.””

— Nikki Pinter '22

The bond Nikki and her group had formed over the shared difficulty of the climb proved vital in these moments of hardship, with the environment being one of constant encouragement.

“What motivated me was definitely the rest of my group. We were definitely able to bond a lot because up on the mountain that’s pretty much the only human contact you have,” Nikki said. “Everyone on the climb was at a different skill level so the environment was always very encouraging.”


Nikki Pinter
Water surges through a valley at a scenic point along the hike to the peak of Crow Mountain in Billings, Montana


The camaraderie among the climb group proved to be one of the most memorable parts of the trip.

“The first rest day we had, we were camped in a meadow near a creek so everyone in the group spent a good three hours just playing around in the creek. That definitely brought us closer together,” Nikki said.

The week-long stay at Camp Christikon was far from a one-time occurrence for the Pinter family, with visits to the campsite spanning back through generations. The trips to Montana, the home of Nikki’s great aunts and uncles, provide the family with valuable bonding time.

“Generations of our family recognize this bonding experience as a means bring the family together and keep cousins connected,” said Nikki’s father Dave Pinter. “This is a great tradition that will continue in our family and is recommended to others.”

Although Nikki has no plans to climb more mountains in the near future, she remembers her time at Camp Christikon fondly. Choosing to attempt the climb purely for the gratifying feeling of saying she had reached the peak, Nikki was more than happy with the outcome of her camp experience.

“Reaching the peak was such a great feeling of accomplishment. My only goal going into the camp was just to make it up there to the peak, and I’m so glad I was able to have that experience.”