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Dennis Stewart Finishes at the Hawaii Convention

[Published in Apex to Zenith #50 – Third Quarter 2000]

Dennis Stewart on Mount Hood.
I am only 4 states away from doing them [48 states] a third time!
I would scan the horizon from my Rand-McNally Road Atlas in an attempt to locate that tiny red square labeled “State High Point” on the map

 

…like all highpointers I have many lists and goals to complete. I am continually amazed at this characteristic found in all members of the Club.

I climbed my first state highpoint as a child on a family vacation in the early 1960’s. It would not be until nearly 30 years later, when I was actively seeking state highpoints, that I would realize I had climbed Clingman’s Dome unforgettable spiral summit tower before.

By this time, I was 3 years into my highpointing pursuit, which began in 1986.

The birth of my highpointing goal grew from several western U.S. vacations as I would scan the horizon from my Rand-McNally Road Atlas in an attempt to locate that tiny red square labeled “State High Point” on the map. I never heard of the Highpointers Club, but I developed an obsession to conquer all of these points, even though my level of experience had only been day hikes and non-technical climbs in various national parks.

I naively thought that my idea was original, so I did research for a future book to be titled “48 Places to Get High.” I was half finished with this project when I discovered the Highpointers Club and both Paul Zumwalt’s and Don Holmes’s excellent guide books. Discouraged that my idea was far from unique and predicting the market would be overly flooded with 3 guidebooks on the same topic, I placed my unfinished manuscript in a box in a closet where it still sits to this day.

My enthusiasm to reach my highpointing goal was unaffected, however, and I soon found myself on the slopes of Gannett Peak. My alpine climbing inexperience soon found me hiking the 20 miles back to my car as wisdom prevailed and my ill-preparation lead me to join the Kansas City Climbing Club to learn basic technical climbing skills.

Within 2 years I was standing on the summit ot; Gannett Peak on July 14, 1990 (my 48th state highpoint!) wondering why this mountain caused me so much difficulty the first time.

I placed Alaska and Hawaii on hold waiting for the right opportunity, but I continued to revisit many state highpoints on trips with friends and family. In July of 1991, Pete Aliard, Jim Grace, ShaUn Lacer, David Sandwar and I set the speed record for doing all the 48 contiguous state highpoints (30 days, 10 hrs, 52 mins.). This allowed me to become only the second person to do ail 48 state highpoints twice. Presently, I am only 4 states away from doing them a third time!

The summer of 2000 found me busy with the final two. I was fortunate to be asked to join a very competent 4 man team which successfully conquered Denali on June 23 and my 50th was at the Highpointer Convention with the Sea to Summit Climb of Mauna Kea.

My future plans are too numerous to mention, but like all highpointers I have many lists and goals to complete. I am continually amazed at this characteristic found in all members of the Club. There is no doubt in my mind that this is the basic raw material that has sent early explorers across uncharted waters and launched ships into space.

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