50 Completer stories on the web

Whetting your appetite for the First Quarter issue to arrive in your mailbox.

Here is a video of Mark Birkett becoming a 50 Completer on Kings Peak, Utah.

Will Stoll has created a nice Powerpoint slideshow of his 20 year adventure in becoming a 50 Completer.  The HP location map was created by Matt & Eric Gilbertson for their web site  http://www.countryhighpoints.com/us-state-highpoints/

50 Completers as of July 2018

The 50-completers list is updated every year and published in the “Apex to Zenith” Highpointers Club newsletter which is a membership benefit.

This data was compiled by John Mitchler and Terry Bird. Spreadsheet updates by Kathy Dalsaso. 

50 Completer List as of July 2018

2018 50 Completers
Rank Name 50 Date 50th State Newsletter Issue Rank 48

How many have become a 50-completer in your home state? [Hint, you can sort the table on the “50th State” column].

The top 5 states in which club members have become 50-completers are: Hawaii-73, Alaska-42, Montana-21, Wyoming-16 and Maine-16. No-one has become a 50-completer by summiting in Kansas, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, West Virginia.

Joseph “Mitch” Michaud (1928-2013)

Joseph “Mitch” Michaud (February 12, 1928-May 2, 2013) who was the second person to complete all 50 states when he did it on December 4, 1970, passed at his family home in Worcester, Massachusetts.

50 and 48 Completers in 2013-2014

John Mitchler at the Maine 2013 convention reported on those who completed since the 2012 convention. There have been 11 50-state completers and 19 48-state completers.

Mario Locatelli Headstand Featured in Official McKinley Climbing Report

Mario Locatelli in Official 2004 Denali Climbing ReportMario Locatelli, an avid Highpointer from Montana, who became the oldest (71 years and 6 months young) to summit Mount McKinley, was featured in the Official McKinley Climbing Report for 2004.

Incidentally Denali was Mario’s 50th state completion. You probably recognize these, now famous, summit headstand poses.

Mike Clemens Becomes First to Complete 50 States Solo

[Published in Apex to Zenith #54 – Third Quarter 2001]

With a solo ascent of Mt. McKinley in May/June 2001, Mike Clemens becomes the first person to complete the 50 highpoints solo!

Mike Clemens beside his RV showing his 50 state highpoint map.

A couple of issues ago, I sent in a write-up on my 48 completion, since I was thwarted (again) on Denali in 2000. This had been my second attempt (my first with Mountain Trip in ‘98) and I just wasn’t in climbing shape because of a bone spur in my foot. This year I decided I would give it a third shot, but do it my own way, which is solo. I’d climbed the other 49 HPTS solo and figured that after two previous Denali trips, I was ready for the “big one” to celebrate my 54th birthday.

Highlights of the trip: finding a little dead bird inside my boot stowed in the tent vestibule the second morning, being snowed in at 11,000’ camp for three days, spending a -30 degree night at Windy Corner, summit-ting at 4 am in clear windless weather, and pitching my tent in an inch of water on the way out at 8000 feet due to the big thaw this year.

Many, many new friends were made this trip, especially in the park service. They were absolutely wonderful: keeping me updated on weather, giving me advice on climbing conditions, and tracking my progress up the mountain. The Finnish team of 35 were a joy to behold as they leapfrogged around me making single carries to 11,000 feet. I was very saddened to see my new friends, the Texas Green Team, have to turn around because of sickness and minor frostbite.

Everybody asks, “What was your favorite?” and I will always say, ALL OF THEM! Each one is different and unique and poses it’s own set of problems and enjoyment. My first two years of HPing were done in a 35ft RV with-out a tow car, so getting that monster in some trailheads was 90% of the challenge. Driving standouts include: Mt. Frizzel, Sassafrass Mtn, Hamey Peak, Black Mtn, and Spruce Knob

Then, after 2 years and 35 HPTS I figured I’d need a tow car to get to some out-of-the-way spots, so I picked up a repo’ed ‘94 Chevy Cavailier and used it for Boundary Peak as its first test. Except for having to move the big rocks, to keep from dragging, it worked great and I towed it for the remainder of my climbs, behind my RV. I bought my 1990 Silver Eagle with 4000 miles on it in 1994 and put 66,000 miles on it through the summer of 2000, most of it highpointing and visiting all 48 lower states. Trust me on one thing, if you drive an RV to highpoints, you WILL become a good mechanic and home repair person.

My most memorable climb, both times, was Kings Peak in Utah. The scenery, the climbs, the whole experience was absolutely wonderful. My solo climb in 1996 was great, but my 1999 with my wife Linda, daughter Heather, and son Mac was fantastic. Sharing the great outdoors with my family is a memory I will always treasure, especially the part where the moose ran through our campsite at suppertime.

What will I do now? Well, believe it or not, I’m back to Denali in 2002 for a two-fold reason. First, when my 6 year old son started asking to highpoint in 1995, I told him I’d take him, as long as I had already climbed the ones he wanted to climb. So, as you’ve already probably guessed, all he needs now is Denali for his 50 sweep, since he and I climbed Rainier and Hood in June after my Alaska trip. And yes to the second reason – if we summit Denali in 2002, it will be my second time to the top of each HP peak.

After that, then I’m going to try something much more sedate—the Appalachian Trail in 2003!! Senior years and senior discounts are without a doubt – the BEST.

Dave Kennedy – A Gannet Peak Story – 50 Completion

[Published in Apex to Zenith #54 – Third Quarter 2001]

Dave Kennedy on a clear July day – Number 50!!

[Ed. Note – Dave has kept us informed of his exploits by sending us newspaper coverage of his quest. An excellent article (photos, tables, maps, etc.) was run in the Fresno Bee. This article resides in the Club archives]

July 18, 2001 on a flight to Idaho Falls to meet my friend John, from Boise Idaho, I was concerned over the elevation gain that I would expose myself to all in one day. Living in Fresno California at just 300 feet above sea level and gaining over 9000 feet in one day just to camp out before our trip to Gannett, was a sure test. I knew the pain was going to be inevitable but the misery would be optional. Being on many high peaks in the west I’ve always suffered the first day. Sure enough this trip was no different. Arriving at the airport in the morning would give us a jump on the day to get organized and deliver our gear to Bald Mountain Outfitters to pack it in for us. Courtesy of Delta Airlines my second piece of luggage came in on the later flight. No big deal though, it only delayed us a little. After delivering our gear to the outfitters we headed up the hill to Elkhart Campground and spent the night. I only received a couple hours of sleep due to the altitude being over 9000 feet, and a grizzly bear snorting all night, just John.

DAY 1. As we left the trailhead we noticed many cars in the parking lot but only ran into a few people along the way. We found many of the people hiked in to go trout fishing, but not to climb Gannett Peak. Who would be insane enough to climb Gannett from the west side? Was this going to be our passport to insanity? As we hiked along the trail we came across a few people that said it had rained every day they were there. From the Elkhart trail head we hiked with very light Camelbacks and rain jackets to the first Titcomb lake. We left the trailhead at 7:00am and met Patrick, our packer, by the lake at 1:00pm. We approximated the mileage to be 16 miles, which was very easy. We then hiked our gear up past the highest of the Titcomb lakes where there were many existing camps with rock walls, due to the high winds. I owe many thanks to my friend John for carrying the bulk of the weight to our camp. His pack had to be around 100 pounds and mine around 20 pounds. All along the way, as our pack service told us, the flowers were unbelievable. There was every color in the rainbow. The mosquitoes were severe as well but the windy conditions kept them at bay the higher we got. The outfitters told us that the mosquitoes were so bad that they would carry us away. Without this wind I believe that they would have. Over the years I met many people who said they would never go back to the Wind River Range again due to these blood sucking creatures. From our high camp at 10890 feet, Dinwoody Pass looked very dry with little snow. The pass was 2000 vertical feet of loose talus and looked very intimidating. As the sun was setting we were already in our sleeping bags trying to get some rest for summit day. Laying there with a major headache and upset stomach I was doubting I would be able to attempt the summit the next day. With all the uncertainty racing in my head all night, I would guess to say I only received about two hours of sleep.

Suddenly at 3:00am my alarm went off, time to get UP! For a mountaineer when the weather is good you gotta go for it.

DAY 2. (SUMMIT DAY) As I boiled my water for coffee I kept wondering how the heck am I going to climb this mountain feeling the way I did with my symptoms of altitude sickness.

I guess you do what you have to do. As I hurried and guzzled my coffee it was 3:45am by the time we left camp. With our head lamps on we scrambled over streams, and up and down rocks. It was a new moon which made it difficult to negotiate our way. Route finding was very difficult and the only light was about five feet in front of us from our headlamps. I knew we were in for a real sufferfest for the day, especially starting off feeling sick. As we spent several hours sensing our way through the rubble we were about a third of the way up the pass when I had to stop to take care of business. After about fifteen minutes of doing the dirty deed, we were on our way when I discovered I left my glacier glasses in the tent. Wow, what a rookie mistake. Climbing all day on glaciers would surely blind a person without protection. John was the man, he gave me his glasses to use while he wore his contact lenses that had UV inhibitors built in. As we climbed 2000 feet to Dinwoody Pass we watched the sun rise and shine on Gannett Peak. What a majestic summit in all of its glory! Looking over the Wind River Range at sunrise above the Dinwoody and Gooseneck glaciers was a sight I will never forget. As we started our descent down the Dinwoody Glacier tied together, with our ice axes in hand and our crampons biting into the ice, I knew at that point we were going to reach the summit. The conditions were very poor. The glaciers were very melted out for this time of year. We were stepping across and jumping many crevasses. John was leading and doing a very fine job at route finding. At this point the ominous clouds above us were very dark and it was snowing. We caught up to a NOLS guided group and passed them before the slopes of the summit steepened dramatically. Skirting around the bergshrund (big open crevasse) we climbed above it to a steep 50 degree ice face that was very hard consolidated snow. John took off leading and I had him on a hip belay. As the rope became tight I fol-lowed. Both of us climbing together on the same rope, was to say the least, concerning. We were, as some refer to it, “solo climbing.” If either one of us fell, that would be pretty much it, no summit, no fun, lights out! That didn’t happen. With the karma with us we continued our quest climbing over several rock ribs, more snow, and up to the summit ridge. It was there, five minutes from the summit, I told John, “this is my 50th hi-point”. I was trying to keep it a secret till the summit but I couldn’t. It was hard enough keeping it a secret for the last year. We arrived at the summit at 10:30am July 20, 2001. For me 15 years of traveling the country in the hope of summiting the highest point of all 50 states has come down to being here and now on top of Gannett Peak in the Wind River Range in Wyoming. We both had to keep the mojo working cause we were only half way and needed to get back to camp.

At this point we already had been climbing for seven hours and it was going to be at least another seven hours back. So far the weather was stable so we weren’t too concerned except for the warming conditions of the glaciers. As we took many pictures and did our celebrating on the summit, it was time to start heading down. It was very pleasurable feeling the thicker air as we scrambled down the rock and ice. We avoided the ice face by doing three rappels to the bergshrund, then glissading down to the glacier. We avoided climbing down another steep ice slope by scram-bling down a rock rib on to the Dinwoody glacier. As we roped up I thought we had it made, up and over the Dinwoody Pass and back to camp. After gaining and losing over 8800 feet so far, I thought whats another 3600 feet. As we continued on our way we noticed the glacier was deteriorating at a very fast rate. The crevasses we led over earlier were mushier and much more concerning. We did see one crevasse in particular where someone had fallen into and we could see their foot prints at the bottom. When you’re nervous you tend to be able to leap further and jump higher. We made it across the crevasses without incidence. Heading up the slopes to Dinwoody Pass the glacier had many small rivers flowing over it from the melt due to the cloudless sky. Occasionally clouds are a godsend in the mountains and this would have been one of those times. Our feet were soaking wet and the rope was absorbing much water which made it extremely heavy to drag between us. Going on the eleventh hour and only having a peanut butter sandwich and two power bars in my stomach we were running on empty and it was showing. Both John and I looked at each other in extreme exhaustion and said, “this is how we are suppose to feel, isn’t it great.” We would travel ten feet and stop to rest. The closer we got to the pass the further away it looked. Having worked our bodies so hard, at the same time felt so good. Many times along the way we looked at each other without saying a word, knowing that in a sick kind of way, we totally enjoyed using every ounce of energy to climb Gannett Peak. Out on the glacier the silence was deafening. We had to break on through to the other side. As we reached the pass the winds were strong. There were a few gusts that blew me around a bit. We did not stop due to the fact that our bodies were running on fumes, and if we did we might not get back up. We scrambled down a lot of loose talus and glissaded down several snow fields to save not only our knees but a lot of time. Once we reached the flats we stumbled several miles back to our tent. It was now 5:15pm and we gained and lost 12,400’ of elevation over 13 ½ hours, and climbed and scrambled over ten miles of rock, ice, snow, and two glaciers. I don’t remember much but I know we were extremely dehydrated and spent to the max. I remembered John saying, “I thought I was a hard man but this brought me back to reality” and “that was the hardest day I ever had.” I seconded that emotion. It was good to hear John say that because I couldn’t have expressed it any better for myself. As the sun set over the Wind River Range we were in our sleeping bags off in lala land.

DAY 3. (Recovery Day) We gingerly hiked down to Titcomb lake and hung out by the river. Walking around was fine as long as we didn’t have to hike up hill. Our highlight of the day was watching a mar-mot leap across the glaciated river we camped by. At first he was very apprehensive to cross and as time wore on he became more and more daring. Then, all of a sudden I saw him contemplating this jump that was around four feet and the ledge was also two feet higher than him. There is no way I thought. Then the extremist went for it. Smack! He missed it by a mile, and fell into the cold swift cur-rent. The marmot was saved by a rock he washed into, climbed up, and ran back into a hole. We were rolling on the ground in tears. I guess nature has its moments as well.

DAY 4. Feeling recovered we decided to climb another peak. We thought the peak we chose was West Sentinel Peak but it wasn’t. We found out later it had no name. It was conveniently located across the river from our camp and we decided to call it the Blob. It went down without a hitch. The views were spectacular. From an elevation of 12,205 feet we could see seven glaciers, hundreds of peaks, and many lakes we didn’t know existed. After getting back to camp the sky clouded up so we packed up and headed on down to a lower camp. Again, Johns pack weighed a ton and it wouldn’t take long for the effects to wear on him. The gnats were ferocious as well as the mosquitoes and horse flies. When the wind would stop, it was worse than the Chinese water torture. But fortunately the wind began to pick up again and the problem was only moderate.

DAY 5. (Pack Out) We left our gear at the lower lake for Patrick, our horse packer, and headed out with Camelbacks and nothing else. Along the way we came across many people hiking in. They were bent over carrying monster packs hating life. We made the best choice of having a horse packer take our gear in. I would recommend Bald Mountain Outfitters in Pinedale, Wyoming to anyone going into the Winds. These guys are the real deal. They are professional and will work with you on logistics and haul your gear further in than any other pack company. People along the way were asking us where our packs were. When we told them we cheated with a horse packer they all wished they did the same, except for one gentleman. He started lecturing me about how rewarding it was to carry all your gear on your back. When he was done I explained the severity of my neck and knee injuries, hiking over 5000 miles in the mountains including the John Muir Trail, climbing Denali twice, and this being the 50th state highpoint. He backed off, took a few pictures of us, and we were on our way down the trail. We hiked the rest of the trail out uneventfully and headed into town for a couple of cold beers. After getting our gear from our packer that evening, we stayed the night and headed home the next day.

John Lent: Mountains, Marathons and Memories – 50 Completions

[Published in Apex to Zenith #54 – Third Quarter 2001]

John Lent reaches #50, and Mary Ann Castimore finishes her Lower 48

It was the Fourth of July 2001 and Mary Ann and I were celebrating something really special. Not only were we celebrating our 4th wedding anniversary on the 4th of July, but we were also about to stand on top of my 50th state highpoint on Kings Peak, Utah. For Mary Ann it was number 49 & 9/10 for which she earns a unique distinction. Utah was particularly memorable for me because in 1997 it was also where I ran my 50th state marathon. Climbing the 50 state highpoints has brought countless memories of which I’ll share a few.

My first memory of reaching a state highpoint was in 1979 when a group of us climbed Mt. Elbert, Colorado. At the time it about did me in, and was one of the hardest physical activities I encountered. The farthest thing from my mind was the idea of an organization whose purpose is to climb all of the 50 state highpoints. It would be 17 years later that I met my wife and together we would join this unique club in pursuit of just that very thing.

Living in Colorado during the late 70’s and early 80’s was the perfect backdrop for climbing as I easily became hooked. At first I began collecting nearly all of the fifty-four 14,000 foot peaks, then eventually started climbing other high points out-side Colorado. After acquiring Frank Ashley’s book Highpoints of the States I added Mt. Hood (OR), Mauna Kea (HI) and Mt. Whitney (CA) to my list. When my work took me east in 1985 my climbing days subsided and got replaced by running marathons. I fig-ured there were no big mountains in the east so I began collecting different state marathons. During the next 10 years I climbed intermittently but saw the goal of running all 50 state marathons get-ting closer. This dream finally came true at the St. George Marathon (UT) in October 1997. Oddly enough there is a similar group to the highpointers called the 50 State & DC Marathon Club.

The highlight of my life came when I met Mary Ann while running on the Paulinskill Valley Trail a Rails-to-Trail footpath near our home in Augusta, NJ. The initial conversation consisted of my plans to climb Mt. Rainier, which she had completed, and Mary Ann’s plans to climb Mt. Hood that I had done years ago. This was truly the start of a good thing as we each found soulmates in each other. In 1996 she joined me for my Maui, Hawaii Marathon on the condition that we would climb Mauna Kea (again). When I ran my Florida Marathon we drove and hit all the southern and mid-Atlantic state highpoints en route. Every vacation was centered upon highpointing and marathoning. In time, we managed to finally join the High-pointers Club since we were becoming true highpointers.

In 1998 Mary Ann was a prominent member of an all women breast cancer survivor team, on an expedition to Mount McKinley called “Climb Against the Odds”. A documentary by the same name was filmed and aired nationwide on local PBS TV stations. (Visit the Beast Cancer Fund website at http://www.breastcancerfund.org/climb_return.html for complete story, also see reference page 33, issue #47 Fourth Quarter 1999 Highpointers Club newsletter). Unfortunately due to severe storms and illness the team made it to only 16,200 feet and did not summit. Of her teammates that were forced to go down Mary Ann was the longest remaining breast cancer survivor on the mountain. The following year Mary Ann and I returned to Alaska together for her second attempt.

For nearly two weeks we climbed strong before she succumbed to severe high-altitude sickness at 19,200 feet. In my mind, this gallant second attempt earned Mary Ann the 9/10 fraction toward her highpointing state total. The next day on June 8, 1999 I was fortunate to summit Denali carrying the prayer flags in honor of, or in memory of, all cancer victims. Words cannot explain the emotion and triumph I felt standing on top for the thousands of people who bear the load of cancer.

1999 was the also the year I took a sabbatical from work for Mary Ann and I to live our dreams. We purchased a new truck with slide-in camper and headed west. That summer we completed all of the hard summits on our first attempts including Granite Peak (MT), Gannett Peak (WY) and Borah Peak (ID). Granite was far more difficult than expected. The rock presented some real technical challenges. Gannett Peak was especially enjoyable with the long approach into Titcomb basin with some of the best wildflowers I’ve seen anywhere. The glacier travel reminiscent of Mt. Rainier made us keenly aware of how remote this peak is. That year concluded with five state high-points remaining. It was Memorial Day weekend 2000 when we flew into Duluth (MN) to capture the three Great Lake highpoints. This year (2001) on the same weekend we revisited Rhode Island for the prearranged opening just to make things official.

Finally, with two states remaining we flew to Las Vegas on June 29. The following morning we drove to Trail Canyon where we spent the night en route to Boundary Peak (NV). We used an easier access from route 264 at mile-post 25 as compared to the suggested milepost 19 & 20. Mary Ann and I reached the summit slower than expected but we were the only two people on the summit. We enjoyed perfect weather and extraordinary views on our 49th state highpoint. The following day consisted of driving to Evanston, Wyoming to prepare for our final climb of Kings Peak (UT). Our plan was to hike in from the north and camp at Dollar Lake at 10,785 feet elevation, a distance of about 7 ½ miles. The mosquitoes were in full force and obviously on vacation like us for the 4th of July holiday. We awoke at 5am to get an early start. The hike up to Gunsight Pass was pleasant and was highlighted by a sighting of a moose. Once over the pass we remained high at about the 11,800 foot level to save over a mile en route to Anderson Pass. From the pass it was an easy scram-ble to the summit. We made it – our 50th state, on our 4th anniversary, on the 4th of July – a triple celebration!

So, this story is a recount of how memories are made. Completing the high-points is just one facet of a lifelong journey. It has taken us to so many places in this country most people would have little reason to go to. For me running marathons in all 50 states compiled with finishing all the 50 state highpoints has brought memories to last a lifetime. Mountains, Marathons and Memories will remain our theme. What’s next you ask? … 46 more years to our 50th anniversary!

See you on the trails…John & Mary Ann

Kenny Pokora – Sunrise and Snowstorm: 50 Completions

[Published in Apex to Zenith #54 – Third Quarter 2001]

Wisconsin resident, Kenny Pokora, and wife Donna on Louisiana’s crest, Driskall Mountain.
Kenny finished #50 on Granite Peak.

Donna, my wife, and I started backpacking in 1978 with a trip to Bryce Canyon in Utah. In the years that followed, we visited many National and State parks throughout the United States car camping and numerous backpacking trips into the back country, the longest being an 8 day trip to Kern Canyon in Sequoia National Park.

In 1994, without any knowledge of Highpointing or the Highpointer Club, I got the idea of climbing Mt. McKinley. Realizing I needed special training and guiding to accomplish this, I contacted Alaska – Denali Guiding and signed up for a 10-day mountain-eering seminar on the Ruth Glacier. This trip not only gave me some of the knowledge needed to summit all 50 highpoints; it’s also where I met Rick Hartman. We’ve been together on numerous climbs and summits since the Ruth Glacier. Rick has become not only a good friend but without his help I wouldn’t have reached my goal of fifty summits as smoothly as I have. I can’t say thanks enough for all the good times we’ve had and those yet to come.

Donna has also been a huge part of my success having shared 40 sum-mits with me and been navigator on highpointing trips in 1998 and again in 2000 where we traveled over 5,500 miles in each of the two-week trips, collecting 34 highpoints along the way.

It’s been a wonderful experience the past 6 years, not only seeing parts of our great nation I probably would have missed if it weren’t for highpoint-ing, but I’ve met some very interesting and friendly people along the way.

I can’t think of any highpointing day I didn’t enjoy but the sunrise, sum-mit day on Mt. Ranier was one of the most beautiful; the summit of Mt. Marcy, with Donna, in near white out conditions was another one of my favorite days. The hikes in and out on so many of the peaks were just as rewarding as the summit themselves. Even the long road trips to some of the drive up highpoints bring back some fond memories.

In closing, I’d like to say thanks to everyone who’s helped me in reaching my goal and hopefully we’ll see you again either on the trail or at a conven-tion in the near future.

Henri Butler Endures A Rollercoaster Journey for 50

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

Henri Butler on Mauna Kea

Chris & I decided it would be a respectful gesture to summit [Jerimoth] on 9-26-97, the day our dad passed away.  We sat on the rocks talking and remembering.


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.