World's Top Motorcycle Dealer

World's Top Motorcycle Dealer
Prayer flags above Dingboche. Lhotse and Island Peak in the background.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

50 State Highpoint Success!!

I summited Mt McKinley, aka Denali, on June 8, 2009 and then climbed Rainier on September 14 of the same year. It dawned on me that I'd climbed the hardest of the 50 state highpoints plus one of the more difficult ones, so why not do them all? With this goal in mind I started checking them off in between other trips, work obligations and family time.

I did about 35ish of them with Brian Jackson, a friend of mine from work, and we had a lot of fun. The rest I did with other friends or by myself. This project gave us a great excuse to see all of the USA including a lot of places that I otherwise would never have visited.

The irony here is that my initial goal was Everest which evolved into the Seven Summits. I then added all 58 of Colorado's 14,000'+ peaks and finally the 50 state highpoints. I'm close to finishing the Colorado peaks with only nine remaining. I plan on completing them next summer and hope to make Handies Peak my final peak so Patty and the kids will come with me. It is a relatively short and easy climb but is in a beautiful and more remote part of Colorado.

Theoretically I am also close to finishing the Seven Summits with only (I use that word very loosely!) Everest remaining. I am planning on tackling it for the fourth time in the spring of 2016 if you count this year as an attempt. (I do, as far as the money and preparation go, but never actually stepped foot on the mountain). So, my "afterthought" goal is done but the original quest remains elusive.

My final highpoint was Hawaii. I didn't want to make it anticlimactic by simply driving up in a car so I rode my bicycle up it, beginning literally at sea level with my tire in the ocean. This ride is considered to be the hardest road bicycle ride in the world as it gains 13,800' in only 44 miles. There is a 4.7 mile stretch of unpaved road above 9,200' that proved too much for a road bike with skinny tires so I walked that portion of the ride. I also walked about one mile of the final three as it got too steep to ride efficiently. I did a lot of zigzagging up the final few miles when the grade was averaging between 10% and 20% with no relief ever. Brian provided much needed support with food and drinks every hour.

The 50 state highpoints range from driveups like Florida, Iowa and Ohio where you can almost reach out the car window to touch the highpoint to short walks under an hour to long hard days like California where you hike 22 miles RT and climb 6,100'. There are even harder days like Utah in the winter on skis which was 33 miles and left me with blisters so bad that I couldn't wear shoes for a week. 

Then there are the multi day climbs like Montana. I first tried it with my friend Jeff Roe over three very hard days in 2012. We came within 200' of the summit but deep snow and fading daylight forced our retreat. I came back 14 months later and summited in ideal conditions. Gannet Peak in the Wind River Range of Wyoming took five days and was stunningly beautiful. It is the most remote peak in the Lower 48. The biggest dangers besides the actual day on the glaciated peak are swarms of ravenous mosquitos and potential interactions with grizzly bears (which we thankfully never saw).

Perhaps the most surprising peak was Humphreys Peak in Arizona. I went there in early October, 2010 expecting to summit in shorts and t-shirt but was forced back by terrible weather with near-continuous lightning, strong winds and heavy snow. A freak storm hit the area and even had tornadoes with it, one of which knocked a train over! I came back in January, 2013 and summited in gorgeous weather.

Denali was easily the toughest, requiring 21 days. We endured a seven day blizzard at 11,000' and a five day storm at 14,000'. Our summit day was very stormy until we were on the final stretch to the summit when the clouds all parted and we were left with bluebird skies but very cold temps. Every member of the team hauled about 150 pounds of gear, clothing, food and fuel as you never know how long a Denali climb will take. About 50 of those pounds are in your backpack, the rest in a cheapo $10 children's toboggan from Walmart which you tow behind you.

I feel blessed to live in such a wonderful country with all these fun varieties of terrain and adventure. I'm blessed to have a family who tolerates my madness. I'm blessed to have good friends to join me on these climbs (Brian Jackson, Mike Marsh, Jeff Roe, John Golob and Shaun). And, I'm blessed to have a great place to come home to at the end of every adventure. 

As another famous climber/blogger always says, "Climb on."


Here are two short videos about this adventure.

50 State Highoints


  1. I simply could not depart your website before suggesting that I extremely loved the usual info an individual supply on your visitors? Is going to be again frequently to check up on new posts
    on ap lioa|on ap standa|sua lioa