Kenyon Stebbins – 48-Completer #6 by age 14

As for a paragraph of my thoughts on being a “younger” highpointer, here’s my off-the-top-of-my-head thoughts. Now at age 51, as I look back on highpointing as a kid, I have nothing but wonderful memories. I went to dad’s immaculate files in my basement, and found July 15, 1962 for my #48, Mt. Rainier. Dad’s records also show that my first highpoint was Florida, at approx. age 1.5 years (Dec. 19, 1950).

I’d have to look more carefully to see if that Florida HP visit was to the Bok Tower, which for years was thought to be the HP.

I do know Rainier was #48. And I have very fond memories of that climb. The last 30 feet of very gentle walking in warm sunshine are especially memorable. My older brother Malcolm was a step or 2 ahead of me, and as he realized we were approaching the top, he stopped and waited for me to catch up, and put his arm around me, and we reached our 48th TOGETHER, so neither of us can claim to have “beaten” the other! We had never discussed this, and to this day I appreciate that gesture. Brother Winston broke his foot a week prior, and so was stuck with 47 until the next summer.

None of “us kids” ever had much of an interest in climbing Denali, although I did enjoy a week of camping in its “shadow” in 1984 at Wonder Lake. I do expect to get Hawaii someday, but it’s not a high priority, obviously, or I’d have sprung for the airfare by now. I figure that once I DO get Hawaii, I may set some sort of record for Most Years Elapsed Between New Highpoints, as it will be at least 40 years between 1961 and 2001

Going to 48 different states between the ages of 1 and 14 not only provided me with an opportunity to see a great many parts of the US, but also gave me a chance to see 11 wild” places hat today are disappearing all too fast. Climbing Guadalupe Peak in 1959(?), for example, was a real adventure, with no trails whatsoever – quite a contrast to the summit trail today.

Dad made sure that his 3 sons (of which I am the youngest) not only “went along for the ride”, but were active participants in the experience – helping to plan and navigate the highway routes, reading aloud from the AAA books to learn about the states and cities we were passing through, making sure no one forgot to pack all the necessary items for each climb – all helped to make each of us more aware and more capable kids-soon-to-be-adults.

Thankfully, Dad never “pressured” us to do anything we didn’t want to do. While each of us had one mountain that we struggled with (mine was Texas, Malcolm’s was Whitney (ironically, Whitney is his middle name!), and Winston’s was King’s Peak, we all “pulled together” when needed, and grew closer as a family.

We also had the good fortune to have a guide on many of the western mountains and we had the good fortune of being “weathered off” of only one (WA). In short, I highly recommend highpointing (we called it “state summitting” back then) for kids of all ages, as long as their parents do not pressure them into unreasonable or dangerous acts.

[Ed: Kenyon’s dad is 50-Completer Rowland Stebbins and his brothers Malcolm and Winston are 48-Completers.]
[Ed: You may want to listen/view the Oral History of First 10 48-Completers article which also talks about their adventures.]

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