The Highpointers Foundation
Dedicated to education, support and conservation
of the highest point in each of the 50 United States.
State Highpoints – Colorado - 14,433-foot Mount Elbert

Colorado’s highest peak and the highest peak in the Rocky Mountains, Mount Elbert, is a sought-after mountain, attracting hikers from many surrounding states, and even international aspirants. Elbert is in the northern half of Colorado’s Sawatch Range that dominates Colorado’s high country. There are two Class 1 trails that reach Elbert’s summit, so the peak attracts lots of hikers looking for a plum. However, the mileage and vertical gain of 4,000 feet fools many people, and they finish their hike with blisters and a new respect for the peak. Elbert is usually viewed from the east, and you can see Elbert 12 miles southwest from the town of Leadville. Elbert passes in review to the west as you drive on US highway 24 between Leadville and Buena Vista. Elbert is also Colorado’s most prominent peak and one of only 3 Ultra Prominent Peaks in the state. Elbert is the highest state summit in 48 states, surpassed only by Whitney in CA and Denali in AK. Elbert is the most prominent state summit in 46 states, surpassed only by Whitney in CA, Rainier in WA, Mauna Kea in HI, and Denali in AK. The standard hike up Mount Elbert starts at the North Mount Elbert Trailhead at 10,040 feet. This trailhead is easily reached from Leadville. The round trip hike up Elbert’s Northeast Ridge requires nine miles and 4,400 feet of gain. The other trail hike up Elbert starts at the South Mount Elbert Trailhead at 9,620 feet or 10,520 feet if you have a 4WD vehicle. This trailhead is north of the small hamlet of Twin Lakes. The round trip hike up Elbert’s East Ridge from the South Trailhead is from 7.2 to 11.2 miles and requires from 3,900 to 4,800 feet of gain. The South Trailhead and trail is where the Foundation has helped with improvements.

Highpointers Foundation Projects – Mount Elbert
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2020 - Amount of financial assistance: roughly $12,700
The Highpointers Foundation facilitated a new trailhead and trail improvements on the South Mount Elbert Trail, plus projects in the Bradford Washburn American Mountaineering Museum in Golden Colorado. The Highpointers Foundation is assisting the USFS in the creation of a new improved trailhead on the south side of Mount Elbert, and the upgrading of the East Ridge summit trail above the new trailhead.


One of the signs alerting hikers to the new trail construction.

One of the signs alerting hikers to the support required for the new trail construction.

In addition to the Mount Elbert project, the Highpointers Foundation provided funds for the creation of a state highpointing exhibit at the museum, located at the American Mountaineering Center in Golden, Colorado. This building houses the Colorado Mountain Club, the American Alpine Club, Outward Bound, Colorado Trail Foundation, Fourteeners Initiative, and other smaller non-profits associated with the mountains.

The museum, the only one of its kind in North America, has a large exhibit hall dedicated to all facets of mountaineering – including Colorado peaks (with the Fourteeners), other American peaks, peaks from around the world, sacred peaks, and a history of mountaineering. The highpoint exhibit is currently featured as a touch screen interactive display, where visitors can explore their own state highpoints as they pass through Colorado on vacation, with text describing the highpoint and its environs and history, plus photographs.


The Highpointers Foundation is committed to assisting the BWAMM in further maintenance and development efforts of the state highpoint exhibit. The Foundation hopes to contribute to the BWAMM on an annual basis.

The donations for this initial expenditure were provided by the Paul Zumwalt Museum and Education Fund. The late Paul Zumwalt was a surveyor and hiking guidebook author who, along with Jack Longacre, was committed to creating a museum for highpointing that could someday provide educational assistance to bring the world of highpointing to a broader audience. This Fund was un-used for many years after the passing of both men, until it was determined that the best use of these funds would be to direct the funds, via the Highpointers Foundation, to assist in the creation of an exhibit at the BWAMM. Funds are being set aside for a future project at the BWAMM involving tangible historical highpointing artifacts. Another project under consideration is a short movie highlighting the 50 state highpoints, to be shown in the BWAMM theater. Users enter, push a button, and can sit and watch movies there.


The 50th anniversary of the first climb of Mount Everest brought together great alpinists who played a major part in Everest history. The following climbers signed a Nepal Flag: Sir Edmund Hillary, Junko Tabei, Norbu Sherpa, Tom Hornbein, Phil Ershler, Beck Weathers, Nawang Gombu, Peter Hackett, David Breashears, Jon Krakauer, Jim Whittaker, and Maurice Herzog. A donor gave the Highpointers Foundation money to have the flag mounted, framed, and placed on a wall in BWAMM, where it resides today.


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