Thomas Eaves ’07 combines his love of outdoor adventure with a desire to support young people’s access to the outdoors
Discover your path murmurs through the walls of Trinity as frequently as green and blue are worn on campus the Friday of a Titan gameday. All Titans share their own interpretation of Trinity’s slogan. But for Thomas Eaves ’07, it is a literal translation.
In April, Eaves will embark on forging his own path up an unclimbed mountain in Alaska. It will be his fourth trip to Alaska and just the second time he’s attempted to find a new way up a descent.
“The area that we’re going to, it’s next to Denali National Park,” Eaves said. “Hence why a lot of it is undiscovered, because everyone goes to Denali.”
What sparked Eaves' motivation was a simple case of FOMO, or the fear of missing out. Posts from friends on social media sparked an immediate interest in the current software developer.
“I saw a lot of posts on social media and I thought to myself, ‘I can do that, but I can probably do that better,’” Eaves said.
In May 2019, Eaves landed in the southwest corner of Denali National Park. The 14-hour excursion on the Alaskan ridge saw him travel over 10.5 miles and experience a total elevation gain and loss of 4,200 feet. While a hike like this sounds physically exhausting, it takes mental fortitude to power through a journey of such magnitude.
“The mountains call out the worst in you and if you listen to that, you’re not going to have a good climb,” Eaves said. “I’m not trying to think of the larger objective. I’m just focused on one movement at a time and getting in the zone.”
After a climb like the one he’ll attempt in April, the way to unwind is slowly getting acclimated to society again since the climber is completely on one’s own in the wilderness for what could be 48 hours or more. Re-fueling lost calories is the top priority, but hearing other people talk is the piece that brings him back.
“We’ll go to a bar and get a meal afterwards,” Eaves said. “But for me, turning the radio to NPR is what gets me out of the zone. It’s nice to hear people talking after a climb.”
Eaves’ motivation to be the first person in uncharted territory stems from his love for sharing the outdoors with others. It even led him to working with the Richmond nonprofit Blue Sky Fund
which connects Richmond youth to the natural environments in the River City region.
“I partnered with the Blue Sky Fund because it’s encouraging children who need to be outdoors and making the outdoors accessible to them,” Eaves said. “They’re bringing the outdoors that’s close to us and turning it into something that actually has an impact on other people.”
As Eaves turns his focus towards his April climb, he will continue to get the word out about the sport. As Eaves described, everything about the sport is uncomfortable: physical and mental exhaustion come with the territory, but it’s something that all people can relate to when they’re pushing through adversity of any kind.
“It overlaps with so many different people in many different ways,” Eaves said. “What I love about this is I talk to athletes, veterans and people because it’s relatable. Talking about the outdoors breaks down barriers and that’s why I love talking to people about it.”
Thomas has found his love for the outdoors and continues to discover his path and new ones through his newfound passion. Within the passion, Trinity played its role in forming the persistent hiker.
“Trinity produces the caliber of person that puts a route on a mountain that’s never been climbed before.”
If you’d like to learn more about Thomas and his journey, drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.