Teen Corner: Highpointing Before Age 14

[Ed: An article from Apex to Zenith #49 – Second Quarter 2000]
By: Chris Covill

I recently received 3 letters to help start this teen column. Through each letter, many interesting and amazing events were brought to my attention.

The first, by Mac Clemons shares how incredibly active he is. Not only is he adventurous, but also pretty smart, “..always be prepared for the worst, that way, you will always be the safest.” With all the experience he has, good luck finding sheep. I hope you get past the zillions of skeeters and continue to stay a step ahead of your competition, but be sure to have fun! .

The next letter was by a great guy, Kenyon Stebbins. This long-time highpointer shares some of his fondest memories with the rest of us. Not only did he complete the lower 48 almost 40 years ago at a very young age, but he may do Hawaii in the near future thus having a possible record for the most time elapsed between HPs. I really like what he says “I highly recommend highpointing …as long as their parents do not pressure them into unreasonable or dangerous acts.” T

Thank you Kenyon for the super advice, and good luck with Hawaii and your time-elapsed record.

We also heard from young Peter Davis, in my home state of CO and he sends us a photo on Mt. Davis! As for the rest of you out there, feel free to write or e-mail in any interesting stories to share.

Mac Clemons (42) – age 11
My name is Mac Clemens and I’m 11 years old. I’ve been highpointing with my dad since 1995 when I did my first HP, Hawkeye Point. Last summer I climbed Harney Peak (lots of fun), Black Mesa (my second try), and Eagle Mtn. (at least a zillion skeeters). Borah Peak was really hard. On the way up, Chicken-outer Ridge and the snow bridge were scary, but we took an easier way back down and it was a lot better. This was a really steep climb!

Kings Peak in Utah was the funnest hike I’ve done. Me, my dad, my sister and my step-mom all hiked into a place called Henrys Fork crossing and set up camp. That evening a moose ran through our campsite.

The best part about highpointing is getting to camp out. It’s really hard getting to some peaks, but it’s always lots of fun. The biggest thing I’ve learned about highpointing is to always be prepared for the worst, that way, you will always be the safest. Some day I hope to meet other kids just like me so I can talk to them about their climbs and hikes. This summer, dad and I are going to climb Boundary, Whitney, Gannett, and Granite. I’m really hoping to get to see some big horn sheep.

Kenyon Stebbins – 48-finisher #6
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.

Peter Davis (10) – age 10

Davis on Davis: Peter Davis and his Dad on Mt Davis in Pennsylvania

I’m 10 years old and I’m in the Club with my Dad. I’ve done 10 HP’s and my goal is to get all 50 before I’m 20. 1 also have 4 of the Colorado Fourteeners. I especially like the licence plate contest. My goal, when I get a car, is to have “ILK2HK” which stands for “I like to hike.” Please hold the convention in Colorado soon.

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