By Jennifer McRae

GOLDEN, Colo. (CBS4)– The Colorado School Of Mines freshman class trekked up Mount Zion for an annual tradition that dates back more than a century. This year, second-year students joined the incoming newbies as last year’s M Climb was put on hiatus for the COVID-19 pandemic.

(credit: Colorado School of Mines)

The M on Mount Zion, made up of whitewashed rocks, is maintained by the Mines’ Blue Key Club. The tradition began in 1908 with lights added a couple of decades later. Now, it’s a tradition for the incoming freshman to carry a 10-pound rock on 3-mile trek from campus to the M. When they graduate, students are encouraged to try to find their rock and take it with them.

The “M” monument for the Colorado School of Mines (credit: CBS)

This year, about 1,580 new freshmen and transfer students were accepted to the Colorado School of Mines, the largest incoming class in the history of the school. They grabbed their rocks and headed up Mount Zion on Friday, Aug. 20.

Whitewashing tradition at M monument in 2019 (credit: CBS)

Once at the top, they whitewash the rocks and then there’s typically a little bit of fun with the new students as seen in previous years of the trek.

Classes began on Aug. 23.

(credit: Colorado School of Mines)

The second-year students were invited to join the first-year students after they placed their rocks on a temporary M on campus following last year’s revised climb due to the pandemic.

(credit: Colorado School of Mines)

The tradition also includes spray painting their miners’ helmets.

According to the School of Mines, the M is one of the oldest mountain letters in the United States, inspired by the University of Utah’s U.

Jennifer McRae