12-year old climbs highest point in all 50 states in record time

12-year old Matt Moniz of Boulder, Colorado will have quite a tale to share with his friends when he returns to school this fall. While most kids his age spend the summer relaxing and doing as little work as possible, Matt, along with his father Mike, launched their 50 in 50 in 50 expedition. The plan was to reach the highest point in all 50 states, in 50 days or less, and on July 16th, they completed their quest, reaching the summit of the 13,796-foot tall Mauna Kea in Hawaii, setting a new record for completing the high points in the process. The previous record for the fastest time to reach the highest point in all 50 states was 45 day, 19 hours, and 2 minutes, set by climber Mike Haugen back in 2008. Matt and his dad completed that same feat in just 43 days, 2 hours, and 8 minutes.

America’s high points vary greatly in altitude, with some being quite easy to reach, while others involving true mountaineering skills. The lowest of the high points is Britton Hill, which is located in Florida and stands just 345 feet above sea level. The highest is of course Mt. McKinley, also known as Denali, which is found in Alaska and stands 20,320 feet in height. Other peaks of note include Mt. Whitney, which is the highest point in California at 14,494 feet and Mt. Rainier, which stands at 14,411 feet and is the tallest mountain in the state of Washington.

Matt’s climbing resume is quickly becoming a very impressive one. Not only has he now completed the 50 high points, he has also climbed Kilimanjaro, Aconcagua, and Elbrus, the highest peaks in Africa, South America, and Europe respectively. He has also made the trek to Everest Base Camp as well, and with the completion of Denali, he now has four of the Seven Summits under his belt. Not bad for a young man who hasn’t even entered junior high yet.

[Photo credit: Matt Moniz]

Climb a mountain for charity in 2010

The details for the 2010 Summit For Someone program were announced late last week, and registration has gone live this morning, allowing for experienced and aspiring mountaineers alike to climb a mountain for a cause next year. The program, which is sponsored by Backpacker Magazine, has become an annual fund raising event for Big City Mountaineers, an organization that enhances the lives of at risk urban kids by introducing them to a variety of outdoor activities.

The concept behind Summit For Someone is simple. You select a mountain that you would like like to climb from a list of iconic peaks, that includes the likes of Denali, Rainier, or Whitney, amongst others. Each mountain has a dollar value attached to it, and when you fill out the registration, you are committing to raising that amount of money for the Big City Mountaineers. Climbing Rainier, for instance, requires a pledge of $4000, while the more remote and technical Denali is $7500. You can choose to pay for the climb yourself or recruit your friends and family to sponsor your climb, but either way, the cash is going directly to a great cause.

Once you’re locked into your climb of choice, you’ll also receive a gift card for MountainGear.com that will help you pick out some of the equipment you’ll need for your adventure. The value of the gift cards also vary depending on the mountain you select. For instance, using the same two examples above, Rainier would garner you $800 in gear, while Denali nets you $1200 in loot.
For 2010, the Summit For Someone program has added a couple of new destinations and other options. One of the new mountains is Devil’s Tower in Wyoming, which will offer a technical climb very different from some of the other alpine challenges. Also, aspiring mountaineers who would like to build the skills necessary for future mountain adventures may want to sign up for the beginning mountaineering course that will take place in Rocky Mountain National Park.

If you’re starting to plan your 2010 adventures and the thought of a climbing expedition sounds enticing, than perhaps a Summit For Someone climb will be the perfect fit. Not only do you get to challenge yourself on an outdoor adventure, you’ll be doing it for a great cause as well. The trip will be rewarding on a number of different levels.