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50 Peaks Challenge Summits Denali, Kicks Off Mission
Posted on June 28, 2016

Eddie Bauer Guide, Melissa Arnot, in partnership with Eddie Bauer, Microsoft and popchips, launched the 50 Peaks Challenge yesterday; a 50-day expedition in which she and Guide in Training, Maddie Miller, aim to summit all 50 highpoints in the U.S. With this challenge, the climbing duo aims to encourage mentorship and inspire people everywhere to live their adventure, even if it’s in their own backyard.

Words by Molly McWhinnie, Image by Jon Mancuso, Map by Gramwire

Guide in training and 50 Peaks team member Maddie Miller finds her way across the mighty glaciers of Denali with Mt. Foraker in full view on the first tick of the mission. P: Mancuso

The challenge officially began on June 27 when Miller reached the summit of Denali, the highest mountain peak in Alaska and North America. Arnot mentored Miller and provided team support from afar while finalizing trip logistics for the remaining 49 summits ahead in the challenge.

As of 2014, 273 people are known to have climbed all 50 high points. Of this number, only two separate male teams have reached all 50 high points in 50 days. If Arnot and Miller complete the trip, 21-year-old Miller will be the first woman to complete the challenge in 50 days.

“The 50 Peaks Challenge is something Maddie and I have been excited about since we first thought of it while climbing Mt. Borah in Idaho a few years ago,” Arnot said. “It’s been incredible to watch her grow as an athlete and future guide; seeing her drive makes me continue to push myself too.”

In order to complete the challenge, they will have to summit as many as six peaks in one day. While some of the highpoints are small enough to summit in just a few hours, others require a full day or week to climb. In mid-August, the two will revisit Washington’s Mt. Rainier, where they first met in 2013 during an expedition that Arnot led, before heading to Hawaii to make their final summit on Mauna Kea.

The 50 Peaks Challenge.

A professional mountain guide since 2004 and member of the Eddie Bauer Guide and Athlete Team since 2009, Arnot has led expeditions around the world including Ecuador, Argentina, Africa and Alaska. She has summited Mt. Rainier 107 times and also holds the record for most summits to Mt. Everest completed by an American woman. Arnot just returned from her sixth Mt. Everest expedition in May where she became the first American woman to successfully complete the climb without supplemental oxygen.

“Our history is rich with stories of guiding and mentorship, starting with our Founder and Guide, Eddie Bauer,” said Mike Egeck, Chief Executive Officer of Eddie Bauer. “It’s exciting to watch Melissa and Maddie carry on this tradition as they set out to accomplish something no female team has done.”

Melissa Arnot and Maddie Miller training for the 50 Peaks mission in Colombia. P: Mancuso

For more information on the 50 Peaks Challenge, please visit www.eddiebauer.com/50Peaks. Or follow Melissa and Maddie as they share live updates on social media at #50Peaks.

To learn more about Eddie Bauer Guide, Melissa Arnot, please visit team.eddiebauer.com or www.melissaarnot.com.

Author: - Tuesday, June 28th, 2016
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  1. Amy Westlake

    Eddie Bauer,
    I am trying to figure out the best way to send the following story to Melissa and Maddie on their “50 Peaks Challenge” adventure. I thought they and Eaddie Bauer would enjoy reading about another girl right now on the road climbing high peaks trying to set a record. Please take a minute to read Lucy’s story and forward on to Melissa and Maddie. Thank you for sponsoring such an awesome adventure!

    Melissa and Maddie,

    Congratulations on your amazing adventure! I just discovered the “50 Peaks Challenge” today as I was doing my research on the youngest female to climb all 50 state high peaks. I know you guys are exhausted and driving and climbing like crazy, but I am hoping you can enjoy this story on one of those long drives between peaks.

    Here is the email I sent to the Highpointer’s Club just today:

    Hello! My name is Amy Westlake. I am the mother of Lucy Westlake, a 12 year old girl that is attempting to be the youngest female to climb the 48 contiguous high peaks and then the 50 state high peaks. Lucy started climbing the high peaks with her father at the age of 7. She is currently hiking Granite Peak as I write this email from a coffee shop in Red Lodge, MT. When Lucy was 8 years old, she told us, “I am going to be the youngest girl to climb all 50 high peaks.” I didn’t take her very seriously then, but now that she is on high peak #47, I thought I better take her seriously. As I sat here in the coffee shop, I started researching who was the youngest female to climb the 48 contiguous high peaks. I found the Boston Globe article (August 7, 2012) on Kristen Kelliher being the youngest female to climb all 50 state high peaks at the age of 18. In the article, it stated that she was confirmed the youngest to reach this goal by the Highpointers Club.  

    That is my reason for writing you today and how I found out about your club. Is Kristen still the youngest female to climb the 48 contiguous high peaks and the 50 high peaks? If all goes as planned, Lucy will accomplish her goal at the age of 12 of climbing all 48 contiguous high peaks this upcoming Saturday, July 23rd. She summited Gannett Peak this past Thursday. She is currently climbing Granite Peak. She plans to climb Borah Peak on Thursday and Kings Peak on Saturday. Lucy will be very excited to know if she will be the youngest female to climb the 48 contiguous high peaks. She plans to climb Denali next year at the age of 13 in hopes of becoming the youngest female to climb all 50 state high peaks. 

    If any of you can reply to this email to let me know if Lucy will be the youngest female to climb all 48 contiguous high peaks, I would greatly appreciate it. 

    Thank you for your time!
    Sincerely, 
    Amy Westlake 

    As you continue your “50 Peaks Challenge,” I just wanted you to know there is another girl out there on the road right now climbing the high peaks and trying to set a record! Here is Lucy’s story:

    Lucy began her high peaking quest at the age of seven when she and her family visited their home state’s high peak, Black Mountain of Kentucky. Standing at the top of Black Mountain, Lucy and her family began to wonder where other state high points were located. They spent the next four hours while driving home looking up and reading about other state high points.

    Lucy and her family have always loved to travel and explore new places. Lucy lived in Queretaro, Mexico, for a year at the age of six where she attended kindergarten. During that year, she climbed Mexico’s fourth highest peak, La Malinche, which instilled in her a love for mountain climbing at the early age of six.

    La Malinche was not Lucy’s first big mountain climbing adventure. At the age of four, she summited Newfoundland’s second highest peak, Gros Morne. Even though Lucy lived in Louisville, Kentucky, from the age of 2-11 and now lives in Naperville, Illinois, she considers her true home to be Eagle Harbor, Michigan. Lucy was born at home in a snowstorm on November 4, 2003, in Eagle Harbor, a rural community of 200 people in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan on Lake Superior. Lucy has spent every summer of her life living in her family’s one room cabin in Eagle Harbor climbing/running up the local mountain, Mt. Baldy (elevation 1319 ft). At the age of three, not only did her mountain climbing experience begin, but it was also the beginning of her running career.

    Lucy began running in local kid races at the age of four. After returning from Mexico, she begged her parents to let her run on her school’s cross country team. Lucy was attending a small, private Christian school that had a cross country team for 3rd-8th graders. The coaches allowed a first grader to run on the team and that year Lucy came in 23rd in the Kentucky State Elementary XC Championship Race. She is now a 2x Kentucky State XC Champion and a 2x AAU XC All-American.

    Lucy’s love of endurance sports has continued to evolve over the years. At the age of eight, she competed in her first triathlon and feel in love with the sport. For the next three years, Lucy raced in as many local kid’s triathlons as she could find. Placing first in most of the races, her parents started researching the sport to find out how she could compete at the next level. Unfortunately, there was not a youth triathlon team in Louisville, Kentucky, so Lucy’s parents decided to move to Naperville, Illinois, so Lucy could train with one of the best youth triathlon teams in the nation (MMTT-Mach II) and run under Dan Iverson, one of the best girl’s distance runner coaches in the country, at Naperville North High School. Lucy will compete in her first USA Triathlon Elite National Championship race on July 30th.

    Lucy’s state high peaking quest began on the top of Black Mountain in April 2011. For the past five years, Lucy’s family has planned their vacations around high peaking. This summer’s trip will be to Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and Utah in hopes of Lucy reaching the goal she set out on five years ago. If all goes as planned, Lucy will become the youngest female to climb the 48 contiguous high peaks on Saturday, July 23rd. She plans to climb Denali next year at the age of 13 in hopes of becoming the youngest female to climb all 50 state high peaks (current record is age 18).  

  2. Tom O'Shields

    I’m confused as to how Arnot is climbing all 50 highpoints but she “mentored Miller from afar”. From this statement, it seems Miller is the one trying to complete all 50 in 50 days or is Arnot going to climb Denali later in the challenge?

    Could you clarify this?


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