Extreme Summer Vacation

How’d you spend your last summer?  We’re betting that Matt Moniz, pictured above, aspired to greater heights than you did.  Literally.  Over the course of 43 days in the summer of 2010, Moniz, age 12, and his father climbed to the highest point in each of the fifty U.S. states.  That’s the shortest time on record, and the younger Moniz is the youngest person — ever — to do it.

Moniz’s interest in mountaineering began at age nine when he went for a short walk to Mount Everest’s South Base Camp, a “mere” 18,000 feet above sea level and more than half-way to the peak of the world’s highest point.  He told National Geographic — who named him a 2010 Adventurer of the Year — that it was “the best time of his life.”  So he continued climbing, going up Kilimanjaro and, after his 10th birthday, Aconcagua (pictured above, from his website.)

Want to do it yourself?  It’s as tough at it sounds.  Yes, some of the summits were, pardon the pun, pedestrian.  Florida’s highest point, Britton Hill, is a mere 345 feet above sea level and Louisiana’s, Driskill Mountain, is about 535 feet above sea level.  On the other hand, Mount McKinley — Alaska’s highest point (and the highest point in North America) is an astounding 20,320 feet above sea level — that’s nearly four miles up.

Bonus fact: While McKinley’s peak is the highest in North America, it’s tiny relative to the rest of the world’s.  At just over 20,000 feet, it fails to make the list of top 100 mountain peaks by height by over 3,000 feet.  For perspective’s sake: the antenna of the Empire State Building is roughly 1,500 feet up.

Related: “No Shortcuts to the Top: Climbing the World’s 14 Highest Peaks” by David Roberts. Four stars on 85 reviews.

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