The joy of the accomplishment [of McKinley] mixed with the harsh tragedy of seeing the dead bodies of acquaintances flown off the mountain was an emotional roller coaster.
I completed the 48 contiguous states on 7-17-00 atop Granite Peak. Ten days later at the convention, with a lot of support (thanks everyone) I became a completer.
It began with a wrong turn in New Hampshire that led us to the “Mt. Washington Auto Road.” Two weeks later we hiked to the summit on 9-17-89. Several months later my brother Chris (40 HP’s) found Paul Zumwalt’s book in the local library. We had a good laugh thinking that anyone in their right mind would tryto do this.
But, sure enough, through the years we managed to get a few here and a few there until by 1995 I had 27. In the summer of ’96 1 made the decision to go ahead and try for the 50. With a car full of gear and 6 Weeks to play with I managed to log 19 states. Chris flew out to Phoenix and joined me on 8 of those HP’s.
All that’ remained were RI; AK, & HI. We went to AK in ’97 (where I now live) but had to go back to RI for the passing of my father. I had hoped to save RI (my home state) for last, but Chris & I decided it would be a respectful gesture to summit On 9-26-97, the day Our Dad passed away. We sat on the rocks talking and remembering.
“The Richard H. Butler Memorial Expedition” in ’98 was a success. We summitted McKinley on 5-29 spending 30 days (!) on the mountain. The two expeditions to McKinley were the most magnificent and the most horrible experiences of my life. The joy of the accomplishment mixed with the harsh tragedy of seeing the dead bodies of acquaintances flown off the mountain was an emotional roller coaster.
Granite was the most stubborn, taking three attempts, while Denali and Borah required two each. Summit day on Granite with rain and 10 foot visibility was the single most difficult day I had during my highpointing, but McKinley was by far more trying both mentally and physically.
I don’t have a least favorite although a half dozen could qualify, but NH (7 summits by 5 different routes) will always be my favorite.
Overall it’s been a fun and rewarding adventure. I saw more and · learned more than I thought possible. Not only about America and highpointing but also about myself. I highly recommend HP’ing to everyone who looked at a mountain top and thought, “I wonder what it’s like up there?”
P.S. Thanks to everyone (too numerous to list) who has helped me during my quest; Paul Zumwalt, the Club, and the people who brought it all together.
[Published in Apex to Zenith #54 – Third Quarter 2001]