Teacher Uses Downtime To Go To Great Heights

August 17, 2022

Students, it’s time for a bit of math! What’s 48 multiplied by 4,000? Feel free to grab a pencil … we’ll give you a minute to figure that out.

Whatever that answer may be (and we suspect the number is pretty darn big), it represents, a lot of steps, smiles, sweat, and above all, a milestone for Belmont Day School third grade teacher, alum, and parent Larissa Rochford ‘93, P ‘18. This past week, Rochford, bagged the last of the 48 White Mountain peaks that are above 4,000 feet high.

A daunting challenge known to many who hike the woods and wilderness of New England, Rochford started officially notching the 48 peaks in October 2020.

“Honestly, I just stumbled into [the challenge],” she recalled. “It was the height of Covid and I had been outdoors and hiking a lot that summer. I’m a goal-oriented person so having a list was helpful to me. I started crossing them off that fall.”

But more than the challenge itself, Rochford says that the experience of being surrounded by the wonders of our natural world and connecting with a community of hikers are what provided the greatest fuel to keep getting out on the trails.

“I love just appreciating every turn of the trail–the moss, the ferns, the alpine plants. And even more so, possibly, the people I’ve met and befriended along the way. The hiking community is supportive, generous, hysterical, and inspiring,” Rochford said.

Along the way, Rochford’s most frequent hiking partner was from just across the hall at BDS, fourth grade teacher Lana Holman. The pair inspired one another up about 15 of those 48 peaks and have even started sharing their shared hiking experiences on Instagram @twoteachersonthetrail.

“Lana is a planner and I’m a spontaneous hiker,” Rochford said. “She keeps me moving forward by planning out our weekly hikes while I keep her moving forward by blowing up our plans and tackling more than planned. We are a perfect balance!”

Over the past two years, her third grade students have also joined in the fun and cheered her on.

“I had a poster in my classroom with stickers I could add for each mountain I hiked. Last year’s class enjoyed seeing me add stickers. The previous year I didn’t have the chart but told my students stories of my adventures.”

Now that this goal has been achieved, Rochford is not planning to slow down and will be out on the trails again very soon.

“What’s next? Maybe the ‘Terrifying 25’ list or the ‘52 With a View,’ but mostly just exploring new trails and continuing to make new friends. What I’ve gotten most out of this journey is a community of amazing and supportive friends.”

By the way, students, 48 x 4,000 = 192,000. If you want to do more math and calculate the exact combined height of the White Mountains’ highest peaks, check out this list.

By John O'Neill, director of athletics |

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