For as long as I can remember, I have loved the outdoors. During my senior year of High School, I took a trip to the Rocky Mountains, and did some hiking. We attempted to climb Flattop Mountain, but some of the group was ill and the weather was bad, so we turned back and left Colorado the next day. Since then, summating peaks has become somewhat of an obsession for me. While my list isn't huge, it is sure to grow with time. Here is a list of the summits that I have conquered thus far, with some details about them.


1. Chimney Tops

Location: Smoky Mountain National Forest, Tennessee

Date of Summit: 3-17-03

Elevation: 4730 ft.

Gain: 1432 ft.

Total trail length: 4 miles

Doug, Erin, and I set to summit Chimney Tops as my first summit ever. We made the two mile hike fairly easy with me carrying a light pack. Once we got to the top and scrambled up the rock face to be at the actual summit (on the left), I walked along the ridge to the other summit to the right in the picture. While it wasn't too difficult of a peak, it was a great first climb.

Claim to Fame: First official summit ever, such a great place to start. Revisited this summit in September, 2007 with my friend Katie (see video)

2. Charlie's Bunion

Location: Smoky Mountain National Forest, Tennessee

Date of Summit: 3-20-03

Elevation: 5500 ft.

Total trail length: 2 miles

Erin and Doug left a couple days early to go back home, and I decided to hike three miles in on the Appalachian Trail to the Ice Water Shelter House. I spent the night here and met some great through-hikers. The next day, despite complete cloud cover, I hiked the extra mile that it was to get to Charlie's Bunion, which I summated alone. Although there wasn't any view other than the clouds that I was in, it was still a great feeling.

Claim to Fame: None. Possibly shouldn't be listed on this page, but I summited, dammit!

3. Flattop Mountain

(Summit on right side)

Location: Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Date of Summit: 8-11-03

Elevation: 12,324 ft.

Gain: 3000 ft.

Total trail length: 8 miles

Almost two years later, I got my revenge on Flattop Mountain. My father and I took a trip to Colorado, and I convinced him to hike Flattop with me. About 3/4 the way up, altitude sickness hit me hard because we didn't spend any time getting acclimated to the 7000 ft. altitude. Still, I wouldn't let the mountain get the best of me again, so I struggled on and made it to the top with my pack. My father was about 20 minutes behind me, but he too made it. I contemplated going the extra mile to Hallets Peak (near the center), but since it was already late and we were both feeling sick, we turned back. I guess that will have to be another day.

The 14th movie on my website is there to let me hear what I had going through my head as I was on top of the mountain, thus recreating the sensation as accurately as possible without actually being there. The week of the September 11th attacks, I was in Colorado with the High School during I-Step week. We did some hiking, and on our last day there some of us decided to climb Flattop. We made it nearly to the top, but the weather turned nasty and we were forced to turn back. I had been haunted by the mountain for two years after that, but a year after I broke my leg my father and I took a trip out there and I knew I had to get my revenge. Despite being sick from the hike, and my still healing leg aching, I kept pushing on and made it to the top. It was a personal milestone in my life, and this footage will help to keep me reminded of it. You can watch the movie here - Movies

Claim to Fame: One of the tallest peaks in Rocky Mountain National Park, a lengthy hike and a peak that denied me once but not twice. More of a personal accomplishment after breaking my leg!

4. Hollowtop

Location: Tobacco Root Mountains, Montana

Date of Summit: 07-22-07

Elevation: 10,604 ft

Gain: ~1500 feet

Total trail length: 6 miles

Working at the Indiana University Geological Field Station, Sundays are the only free day. I went camping on Saturday the 21st at the roads end just one mile shy of Mason Lake. The next morning, Laurette and I followed the paths of the glaciers and hiked without trail the remaining 3 miles to the top of Hollowtop. It was an exhausting hike (leaving us late for dinner), but there was something rewarding about hiking without trails up a route few people had likely ever done. The traditional route is twice as long, but doubtfully as pride-inducing as the Mason Lake route. Tallest peak in the Tobacco Root Range? Check! Here is a picture of myself at the top o' Hollowtop:

Claim to Fame: Tallest peak in the Tobacco Root Range

5. Ben Nevis


Location: Fort William (Glen Nevis), Scotland, UK

Date of Summit: 06-06-09

Elevation: 4409 ft.

Gain: ~ 4400 ft.

Total trail length: ~14 miles

Staying two nights in Fort William, I decided to spend the day between hiking to the top of Scotland's tallest peak. The trailhead started two miles from my hostel, so I had a bit of a hike just to get started. Armed with the Handsome Furs in my ears and determination in my heart, I steadily hiked 4000 feet of gain, filling my water bottle in a waterfall halfway up. At the top there were neat snow cliffs which claim the lives of several people each year. I kept my distance but got close enough to feel the rush of vertigo. The old abandoned observatory up top makes for neat exploration, but the supposed geocache hidden under a rock was not to be found. I met a Kiwi guy who recognized me from the hostel and he snapped this picture of me on top:

Claim to Fame: Tallest peak in the British Isles, longest summit hike to date with largest gain - perhaps my most physically grueling summit ever.

6. Sunrise Peak

Location: Tobacco Root Mountains, Montana

Date of Summit: 07-24-09

Elevation: 10195 ft.

Gain: ~1700 ft.

Total trail length: ~ 4 miles

During the summer of 2009 I did research with my field assistant Jeff back in the Tobacco Root Mountains. We worked on several sites on all sides of Sunrise Peak, and it seemed to be inviting us to scale it. On our 3rd day working around the peak, we decided to go for the summit from the Sunrise Lake cirque. The climb was tough until we reached the saddle, and then it was a nice walk up a grassy slope. Upon reaching the top, we realized that a big storm was blowing our way. The storm would end up catching us on the way down and pounding us with over 30 minutes of hail, lightning, thunder, and rain. One of the most intense experiences of my life, as I found myself perched in a precarious position for most of the storm without proper rain gear. We both made it out just fine, and we have this picture of the impeding storm from the summit to remind us of the experience:

Claim to Fame: Most dangerous summit attempt to date, with worst weather I've ever encountered.


This is just the beginning of my quest to summit peaks.