Each state has a high point, and in recent years, finding and summiting each one has become a popular objective. Perhaps the most surprising part of the endeavor is just how different they are. In Colorado, Mount Elbert rises more than 14,000 feet out of the middle of a sea of granite peaks, alpine meadows, and high-altitude lakes. In Nebraska, the highest point is a bump along a highway. But Moniz says the experience of reaching each one isn’t just about the climbing. It’s also about seeing the small towns and diverse landscapes along the way.
“It’s actually a really amazing experience,” Moniz says. “There are so many different cultures in the United States and people don’t really realize it. It’s really fun exploring little towns and getting to know the locals.”
From Montana’s craggy Granite Peak to Hawaii’s lush Mauna Kea, Moniz ticked off the highest state points in 43 days, but he suggests others could start with the easy ones and bag others over years.
“It’s a great family activity,” he says. “You can start on really easy ones and make your way up. There are definitely a few flat ones, but all of them have their own cool experience.”
By the time Matt Moniz, an alpinist, skier, and rock climber, was 12, he had bagged every state’s highest point and stood on top of four of the seven summits, the highest peaks of each continent. He also currently holds records for the youngest person to climb Aconcagua and Mount Elbrus, the highest point in Europe. But the next challenge may wind up being the hardest: he has to finish high school.
Matt Moniz's Gear Pick: Mountain Headwear Ghost Whisperer Down Jacket
“I really love my down jacket,” Moniz says. “It’s superlight and it has water-resistant technology, which is rare for a down jacket, and it’s superwarm. I bring it with me to some of the highest, coldest peaks I’ve ever climbed, and sometimes I even wear it studying.” Another essential piece of gear: “I also always keep this necklace I got in Nepal. It’s kind of a good luck charm—I wear it to give me good weather. And my dad had it on top of Everest when we went there.”