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PostPosted: Sun Jun 28, 2015 10:47 pm 
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First of all, thanks to the members of the MnS community for being so supportive of my efforts (training, gear acquistion etc) in the lead up to this trip. You all provided no shortage of inspiration and ideas. For that, I will always be thankful.

So here goes a chronological photo review of my 17 days on the mountain.

Welcome to Talkeetna:

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Park Ranger HQ:

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K2 Aviation - Ready for Action (I'm on the far right):

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On the plane bound for the glacier:

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Approaching the Lower Kahiltna:

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On the ground:

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Base camp - elevation 7,200 feet:

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Snowy days at Camp 1 - elevation 7,800 feet:

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The gang at Camp 1:

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High pressure moves in to stay:

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On the move to camp 2:

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Camp 2 - 11,000 - Looking up Motorcycle Hill:

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Camp 2:

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The Polo Field above Motorcycle Hill:

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Mount Foraker becomes dominant view on the march to Camp 3:

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Boris flexes his guns as we approach Camp 3:

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Establishing Camp 3 at 14,200 feet:

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Looking up towards the fixed lines from Camp 3:

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Mount Foraker:

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Mount Hunter:

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More Camp 3:

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Looking down on Camp 3 while moving to cache above fixed lines:

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Looking at Hunter from the base of the fixed lines:

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Above 16,000 feet near our cache site:

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Back at camp 3 with the Official Team 6 snowman:

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Moving to High Camp:

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Wahsburn's Thumb:

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Ridge walking (minor exposure ;) ):

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Approaching Camp 4:

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Camp 4 - 17,200 feet:

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Looking back towards the ridge walk from Camp 4:

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Puma out on the Diving Board at Camp 4:

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Looking at Camp 4 with the Autobahn to the left:

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Summit Day - Time to Go:

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Views from the Summit:

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Not a Rainbow Flag:

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My man Boris and I:

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Descending the summit ridge:

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Puma bonks hard descending Pig Hill. Note the body language:

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Descending the Autobahn on rubbery legs:

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Back at High Camp at 3 AM after a hellacious descent. Andy is one of my new heroes:

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The Death March out on June 22-23:

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Nothing left - I'm in the lead as we approach Base Camp:

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Back at Base Camp - Where's the beer and the plane out of here?

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Thanks for the memories, Denali!

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First Polish-American retired cop from the New York suburbs to reach the highest point in all 50 US states.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 28, 2015 11:35 pm 
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Nice pics! Looks like a fantastic adventure. Congrats on finishing the highpoints! :clap:

I hope there was really beer at base camp.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2015 4:05 am 
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^^^^

Indeed there was. And I downed 3 Alaskan Ambers during the hour or so we were waiting for the plane. :)

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2015 7:48 am 
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What a sweet adventure. Pics are indeed great.

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This is the water, and this is the well. Drink full, and descend. The horse is the white of the eyes, and dark within.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2015 12:53 pm 
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Nice job! I think the flag should have had a rainbow on it though, or at least a little "MnS" in the corner ;)

Alaskan amber mmmmmm mm.......

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2015 1:11 pm 
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Did you guys carry the shelter up there or was that left there by the earlier teams?

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2015 1:18 pm 
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We carried everything and were completely self-sufficient. Total of 5 tents. Three for the clients, one for the guides and one cook tent. To save weight while moving to high camp (where there would be nothing but hot water), we all voted to sleep in the cook tent and cache the three green tents at camp 3. So seven of us slept in the cook tent at 17,200 feet. It was cozy.

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First Polish-American retired cop from the New York suburbs to reach the highest point in all 50 US states.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2015 3:30 pm 
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TLDR alert TLDR alert TLDR alert TLDR alert

Here is the first public viewing of the 50-state highpoint completion article I will be submitting to Apex to Zenith (the Highpointers Magazine) for its next issue:

State Highpoint Completion

"And down the stretch they come," I announced just a couple of weeks after thoroughbred American Pharaoh had ended a 37-year Triple Crown drought in America's Sport of Kings. "22 years of chasing state highpoints is about to come to an end."

But American Alpine Institute's Team 6 wasn't in the lowlands of Belmont Race Track on Long Island, New York. Instead we were nearly 20,000 feet higher making our way across Denali's "football field" with the summit of North America's highest peak seemingly close enough to touch. About 90 minutes later, I found myself choking back tears as I took those final steps onto my 50th and final highpoint. "Yo Adrian, I did it!"

And what a journey it had been. Not just on this breathtaking world-class peak, but starting on Mount Marcy in July 1993 long before I had entertained any kind of thought of traveling all across the United States in pursuit of high places. At just nine days shy of my 46th birthday, my state highpointing journey had stretched across nearly half of my life, often taking a back seat to the more pressing concerns of every day life. But it was never far from my thoughts and always close to my heart.

The first phase of my state highpointing career was as a young State Trooper assigned to New York's magnificent Adirondack Mountains. It was then and there that I fell in love with peakbagging. During the mid-1990s as I first chased the Adirondack 46 4,000-foot peaks and then the Northeast 115 4,000-foot mountains, I would find myself atop not only New York's Mount Marcy, but also Vermont's Mount Mansfield, New Hampshire's Mount Washington and Maine's spectacular Katahdin.

While I was aware that I had stood atop four states, it wasn't until October 1998 that I first hiked a peak specifically because it was a state highpoint. Massachusetts' Mount Greylock won that distinction. Perhaps it was on that hike that the highpointing seed was firmly planted as I found myself thinking that day about an old Times Union newspaper article featuring Don Beren's 50-state completion.

Yet other hiking projects would come first as I chased the Catskill 3500 Club peaks during 1998 and 1999 before dabbling with the New England Highest Hundred list starting in 2000 (still haven't finished that list!).

It was in 2001 that state highpointing really became part of my regular thinking with ascents of Mount Frissell, CT (April), High Point, NJ (May) and Jerimoth Hill, RI on October 7 to celebrate my 10-year anniversary with the New York State Police. I added Ebright Azimuth, Delaware to the tally for HP #9 in January 2002. The following month, I took a long day trip (24 hours door-to-door) to the tops of Mount Davis, Pennsylvania and Backbone Mountain, Maryland. This put me into double digits and I was really starting to warm up as a full-blown state highpointer.

Just two months later, however, a serious car accident took the wind out of my highpointing sails for more than a year. But after I came back to it in May 2003 with my first multi-day trip to Black Mountain, Kentucky, Mount Rogers, Virginia and Spruce Knob, West Virginia, I was officially hooked. A September 2003 trip to Ohio and Indiana bumped me up to 16 and I was also finding that I enjoyed parking my car a good distance from the easier highpoints and mountain-biking to the summit. For me, it has always been about physical movement and my 10-mile ride to Hoosier Highpoint was far more memorable than a mere drive-up would have been.

In April 2004, I applied the bike idea to Clingman's Dome, Mount Mitchell and Sassafras Mountain, and rode the summit roads of each of those three peaks in the same day. The following day, I walked the summit road of Brasstown Bald and found myself up to 20 HPs.

A few months later, it was a chance conversation with my father that led to my only true highpointing alliance. I needed to drive a new Chrysler Town and Country minivan to Kalamazoo, Michigan for a wheelchair conversion for my stepson. From there, my plan was to rent a car and tag the highpoints of Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. My Dad asked me if I wanted some company for the ride and I replied that it would be great. So in late August 2004, my Dad and I had an epic 1,300 mile road trip, grabbing his first three state highpoints and numbers 21-23 for me.

From here, we didn't look back and during the next two years, we put together multiple trips to the middle parts of the US, each of us having as much fun as the other. In May 2005, my older brother joined the two of us for a five state swing to Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas and Louisiana. In August 2005, my Dad and I picked off Missouri, Iowa and Illinois. And perhaps our greatest trip of the bunch was a five state north-to-south drive right along the middle of the country in May 2006 starting with White Butte, North Dakota and continuing to Harney Peak, South Dakota, Panorama Point, Nebraska, Mount Sunflower, Kansas and Black Mesa, Oklahoma before continuing to Albuquerque, New Mexico for our flight home.

Just like that, in less than two years time, my Dad and I tagged 16 highpoints together. But alas, all good things must come to an end. With just the western block of highpoints left, the mountains were getting bigger and my Dad wasn't getting younger. In September 2006, we took our last highpointing trip together with a successful ascent of Guadalupe Peak, Texas and Wheeler Peak, New Mexico for me while my Dad came up just a little short after a sporting effort for a man in his late 60s.

But even though he was now on the sidelines, my Dad remained my biggest fan as I struck out - often solo - to tackle the western block of peaks.

At this point, with 38 highpoints under my belt, I started taking one week-long western trip per year. In September 2007, I met Kathy Wing for an ascent of Boundary Peak, Nevada before continuing solo to the summits of Humphrey's Peak, Arizona and Mount Elbert, Colorado for HPs 39-41. While each of these peaks was memorable, Humphreys proved to be my most exciting highpoint to date as I was treated to the full effect of its intense summit winds on the final pyramid and literally dove headfirst into the shelter of the summit wind walls for relief.

The following year brought solo ascents of Borah Peak, Idaho and King's Peak, Utah (July 2008). It was while ascending Borah's Chicken-Out-Ridge and essentially feeling no fear or discomfort at the exposure that I really began to believe I had a shot at taking this thing all the way to the end.

September 2009 brought successful solo hikes of Mauna Kea, Hawaii (from the Visitor Center) and Mount Whitney, California (via the 99 switchbacks) with no difficulties encountered. I now found myself with 45 highpoints with the toughest five reserved for last.

And this is where the forward momentum stopped. For 2010, the plan was to meet Doug Urban and some of his friends for an unguided climb of Gannett Peak, Wyoming. We literally spent a full year planning every last detail of the climb and in July, 2010, we met at the REI in Salt Lake City to pick up a few of those last minute items that you can't take on airplanes. As we broke for the drive to Wyoming, I called home to check on how my one-year-old daughter was doing as she had been sick with a fever. The news wasn't good; she was in the ER with a life-threatening fever of 105. There was no question where I needed to be and I ended my participation in the climb before ever setting foot on the trail.

My daughter recovered fully but my highpointing slump continued into 2011 when avalanche conditions on Mount Hood cut short a March attempt with no serious assault on the upper mountain. I had a fine ski trip but remained stuck on 45 HPs.

And this is when I started to think big. My State Police career was coming to an end 21 years after it had begun and for my retirement, I planned a grand trip with the idea of bagging Hood, Rainier, Gannett and Granite in one big push. Train once, acclimate once, climb once. Go big or go home as they say. I also planned to use the end-of-the-career balloon buyout to finance guided trips for Rainier, Gannett and Granite - the first time in my life where someone else would be calling the shots on one of my trips.

In early July 2012, I hit the ground in Oregon and was quickly thwarted by Mount Hood for the second time due mostly to burnt out late season conditions. Frustrated but not defeated, I completed a training hike of Mount St. Helen's before meeting up with IMG for my guided climb on Rainier. This is where the mountain Gods began to smile on me once again. In a thrilling climb, my IMG group summited in extreme weather conditions as high winds and sideways snow closed in on us during the final push to the top. The hugs and high fives amidst a world of white instantly reignited my passions.

With the monkey off my back, I then drove to Wyoming for a guided climb of Gannett Peak with JHMG followed by a second JHMG trip on Granite Peak ... both of which proved successful. It was on these two climbs that I had the pleasure of meeting Cindy Pigott, who taught me more than anyone that mountaineering is about mental strength and not physical might. For back-to-back climbs, she proved to be a joy to be around and the smile seemed to never disappear from her face even when she appeared to struggle. In any event, the trip proved to be a huge success and I returned to New York with 48 highpoints under my belt.

Round 3 with Mount Hood took place in early June 2013. After catching the mountain too early in 2011 and too late in 2012, I planned this attempt in the heart of the climbing season. This proved to be the right call and my Timberline Mountain Guides three-day trip was a home run. We camped two nights at Illumination Rock (one guide with two clients) and on the third day set off for the summit. A last minute change of plans led us onto the old Pearly Gates route and I couldn't have been more thrilled. Right around sunrise on June 2, 2013, I topped out on Mount Hood for my lower 48 completion and number 49 overall.

And then there was one. The Great One. Two years of planning, nine months of training. I became consumed by Denali. From the early mornings out running up to eight miles or swimming nearly two miles at the local YMCA to the gear purchases to the decision to go with American Alpine Institute, I approached this climb with focus and determination. Ultimately, I was blessed with a great team including five fun clients from Australia and another from the UK. We were also blessed with an epic two-week high pressure system that brought us one perfect weather day after the other. And at 8 PM on June 21 - not only Fathers Day but three years to the day after my State Police retirement became official - it all came to an end in one magical moment. To honor both my father and my family name, I unfurled a banner I had made up before the climb reading simply "Styczynski - Denali - June 2015."

And so it is done. But I used to joke that just because the Highpointers Club ALLOWS you to drive-up to the summits of legitimate mountains like Mount Washington, Mount Mitchell or Mauna Kea, it doesn't REQUIRE that you do so. Human power is always OK. To the same end, I now say that just because I've completed the highpoints doesn't mean I'm required to stop highpointing. In that spirit, I am planning to revisit the summit of Mount Rainier in 2016, this time via the Emmons Glacier route. After that, there is talk of reuniting with my Denali team for a climb of Mount Cook, New Zealand in early 2017.

As the saying goes ... "Never Stop Exploring."

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First Polish-American retired cop from the New York suburbs to reach the highest point in all 50 US states.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2015 5:04 am 
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The video is out. :D

Eight minutes long and set to Russian music ...


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First Polish-American retired cop from the New York suburbs to reach the highest point in all 50 US states.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2015 7:47 am 
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Thanks for the video. Now I know I will never do Denali. I don't like heights. Fuck that shit.

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