Making a pointOne of the high points of Tim Bayerl’s life was becoming a Highpointer. Some of it was just a walk in the park, but at times, the road to achieving that goal was rocky.
By: Jo Colvin, Alexandria Echo Press
One of the high points of Tim Bayerl’s life was becoming a Highpointer. Some of it was just a walk in the park, but at times, the road to achieving that goal was rocky.
Last summer, Bayerl, an Alexandria resident, climbed King’s Peak, the highest point in Utah. Upon reaching that summit, he gained membership into part of an exclusive club – the Highpointers Club.
Highpointers are people who have climbed to the highest point of elevation in every state. There are two levels of achievement in the club – those who have reached the high point in the 48 continental states, and those who have also scaled their way to the summit in Alaska and Hawaii.
As a boy, Bayerl’s father had cultivated in his son a love of the outdoors. He still remembers a childhood visit to Eagle Mountain in Minnesota and Tim’s Hill in Wisconsin, those states’ highest points. His father mentioned that it would be challenging to stand on all 50 high points. He said to his son, “You ought to do that.”
In 2000, shortly after his father passed away, Bayerl stumbled across the Highpointers Club while surfing the Internet. He decided it was time to attempt his father’s challenge.
“I was amazed to find that people actually go and climb the 50 high points, and stranger than that, they even have a club,” Bayerl said.
Bayerl officially took off on the road to becoming a Highpointer in May 2001, when he and his wife, Marilyn, revisited Eagle Mountain. Both avid hikers, Marilyn decided to accompany her husband on most of his climbs, excluding the most difficult ones (she has completed 44).
“Some are places you would go for a picnic, like Florida, which is the lowest,” Bayerl explained. “Delaware is at a road intersection in a town. New Jersey is a sign by the road.”
Conversely, states such as Oregon, Wyoming, Washington, Montana and Alaska require endurance, strenuous hikes and camping.
Each state’s high point is ranked according to level of difficulty – from drive-up (driving up to a sign on the side of the road), to strenuous/technical – a full-out hike complete with tents, gear, camping and precarious hikes across crevasses, rocks and glaciers.
In the past nine years, the couple has used most of their vacation time to travel the U.S. to visit high points. Bayerl estimates taking about 10 vacations in search of his Highpointing goal. Planning and coordinating the trips and mapping them out was part of the excitement for Bayerl.
“We combined a lot of them. We did five or six states in one vacation,” he explained. “In the Appalachians, you can climb two a day because they are right next to each other.”
Upon reaching Kings Peak in Utah last summer, Bayerl had officially climbed to the highest point in 49 states, including Hawaii. He was officially a 48 Highpointer, and he has the photographic evidence at each point to ensure membership in the club.
Only one state stood in the way of all 50 – Alaska. If not for wind and snowstorms, he would have reached the summit of Denali, which is 20,320 feet, in June 2007.
“In 2007 we got up to 14,000 feet. We sat there for 10 days while the wind blew,” he said, adding that he hiked past camp to reach 16,200 feet.
Because he had taken an early retirement from Widseth Smith Nolting in Alexandria a year ago, Bayerl decided to attempt Denali again this summer. He returned two weeks ago, but weather once again prevented a successful summit.
During his recent attempt, his group, led by two guides, made it to the same camp as three years prior. Once again, Bayerl continued on to 16,800 before heading back down to camp and waiting out the inclement weather.
“We spent 11 days at camp, and then had to come down,” he lamented. “Other than not summiting, the trip was a success with the group being unusually tight, strong and fun.”
For now, Bayerl is content knowing that only one high point – the toughest of them all – deprived him of his ultimate goal. But knowing he has conquered 49 states is a feat for which he is proud.
“It was kind of a big deal,” he said.
Most of all, becoming a Highpointer gave Bayerl an opportunity to see the beauty and diversity of the U.S. and create memories to last a lifetime.
“It was a great way to see the U.S. and travel to a lot of places I wouldn’t have gone otherwise,” Bayerl concluded. “That’s really what it was all about.”
The U.S. high points
Alabama – Cheaha Mountain, 2,405
Alaska – Denali (Mt. McKinley), 20,320
Arizona – Humphrey’s Peak, 12,633
Arkansas – Magazine Mountain, 2,753
California – Mt. Whitney, 14,494.
Colorado – Mt. Elbert, 14,433
Connecticut – Mt. Frissell, 2,380
Delaware – Ebright Azimuth, 448
Florida – Britton Hill, 345
Georgia – Brasstown Bald, 4,784
Hawaii – Mauna Kea, 13,796
Idaho – Borah Peak, 12,662
Illinois – Charles Mound, 1,235
Indiana – Hoosier High Point, 1,257
Iowa – Hawkeye Point, 1,670
Kansas – Mt. Sunflower, 4,039
Kentucky – Black Mountain, 4,139
Louisiana – Driskill Mountain, 535
Maine – Katahdin, 5,267
Maryland – Backbone Mountain, 3,360
Massachusetts – Mt. Greylock, 3,487
Michigan – Mt. Arvon, 1,979
Minnesota – Eagle Mountain, 2,301
Mississippi – Woodall Mountain, 806
Missouri – Taum Sauk Mountain, 1,772
Montana – Granite Peak, 12,799
Nebraska – Panorama Point, 5,424
Nevada – Boundary Peak, 13,140
New Hampshire – Mt. Washington, 6,288
New Jersey – High Point, 1,803
New Mexico – Wheeler Peak, 13,161
New York – Mt. Marcy, 5,344
North Carolina – Mt. Mitchell, 6,684
North Dakota – White Butte, 3,506
Ohio – Campbell Hill, 1,549
Oklahoma – Black Mesa, 4,973
Oregon – Mt. Hood, 11,239
Pennsylvania – Mt. Davis, 3,213
Rhode Island – Jerimoth Hill, 812
South Carolina – Sassafras Mountain, 3,560
South Dakota – Harney Peak, 7,242
Tennessee – Clingman’s Dome, 6,643
Texas – Guadalupe Peak, 8,749
Utah – Kings Peak, 13,528
Vermont – Mt. Mansfield, 4,393
Virginia – Mt. Rogers, 5,729
Washington – Mt. Rainier, 14,410
West Virginia – Spruce Knob, 4,861
Wisconsin – Timm’s Hill, 1,951
Wyoming – Gannett Peak, 13,804