Bill Watson – 50 Completions

Bill Watson (left) at Taum Sauk with Bill Mendenhall

I climbed my first highpoint (New Mexico) back in 1974 while working at Philmont Scout Ranch during the summer while I was in college. I picked up other highpoints along the way (Maine, Colorado, Washington, California, Hawaii, Oregon) when I was in the area.

All these were done “because they were there” with no 50 HP goal in mind. I had not even heard of the Highpointers Club. I did not seriously consider visiting all 50 state highpoints until I was successful in summiting Mt. McKinley in 1995.

McKinley was by far the hardest. We spent 6 nights in an Igloo at 14,000 feet, while snow storms passed through.

Wyoming was the hardest in the contiguous 48 states. We hiked and climbed 50 miles in 74 hours with full packs. When we were 15 miles in on the trail we passed a group of people with day packs and light trail boots. They said they had summited Gannett Peak 2 days earlier. We couldn’t understand how they could have done it with so little equipment until they explained that the guide with the pack horses was going out by a different route.

The most dangerous highpoint was by far Delaware. A person could get run over by a car standing in the middle of Ebright Road like that (Ha, Ha – even though the sign is off to the side of the road).

The photo shows my climbing partner of 17 years, Bill Mendenhall. We have done 18 of the highpoints together and egged each other on by sending pictures to each other of high-points we each traveled to separately while on business trips.

We traveled to my last two highpoints, Iowa and Missouri, together in May, 2000.

The best part of highpointing has been seeing different parts of the country, meeting people (some nice, some friendly, some unfriendly, and some just plain strange) and the adventure of getting there. Don Holmes’ book, Highpoints of the United States, has been a valuable asset.

Bill Watson, Renton, WA (50 Completer # 87)
[Ed: Bill Watson is now listed at 50 Completer #89]

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