American Highpointing

25 August 2015

Since 2013, I’ve been aiming to cap America’s roof. Each state in the union has a highest geographic point, and I aim to stand atop all 50. While some are no more than 400 feet above sea level or a rock in someone’s backyard, others are granite peaks requiring vertical climbing or multi-day expeditions through inclement weather. In this variety, there is great beauty. Pursuit of the U.S. highpoints uncovers the hidden gems of America. As I discover them for myself, I will share my findings on this blog.


But first, some history:


Highpointing is the act of climbing to the highest point of a geographic region. While it is not a novel concept, it is still a peripheral activity in our culture. Since the early 1900s, highpointing has existed in America. As explorers and surveyors sought to map the nation, determining highpoints became an exciting activity. Shortly after topographic findings, A.H. Marshall became the first person to summit all 48 states in 1936. Once Alaska and Hawaii joined the union in 1959, more climbers began to bag the 50 peaks. As the sport grew, a man by the name of Jack (“Jakk”) Longacre formed the Highpointers’ Club in 1986 to provide information about the peaks and foster a mountaineering community across the U.S. As Longacre kept thorough lists of the individuals who completed the summits, he used an old typewriter with a sticky “K” key, often mispelling his name “Jakk.” Ergo, the club’s kitschy motto “Keep Klimbin'” was coined.


Since Jakk’s founding of the club, over 250 people have completed all 50 of the U.S. summits. While this number may seem small, the popularity of the sport is growing and countless people enjoy visiting the States’ highpoints. To cater to the thriving community and keep the sport alive, the Highpointers’ Foundation strives to conserve the peaks. As a nonprofit, the Foundation maintenances the summits; placing signs along roads, providing logbooks and benches at the peaks, and promoting environmental sustainability en route. With such effort being invested into the sport, highpointing will continue to grow and put the U.S. on the map for mountaineering. I’m excited to be part of it.


Stories of my adventures will be posted under the #highpoints tag as I document my experience, share climbing tips, and awe over the quirky majesty of America’s peaks.


In the skewed words of Ash Ketchum, I gotta cap them all.