Yesterday was my 39th birthday, a natural point to reflect on the past year. It certainly has been an exciting one. At this time last year I was planning our holiday trip to Bend. During that trip, we decided that our 2016 goal would be to figure out our ‘exit plan’ from the Bay Area and relocate to Bend. Well, things went much faster than expected and here I sit in my cozy farmhouse overlooking the central Cascades to the West and the Oregon high Desert to the east.

New Years Day Sunrise Hike Up Pilot Butte in Bend

New Years Day Sunrise Hike Up Pilot Butte in Bend

Living in a new area, there is so much to explore it’s almost overwhelming. I haven’t gotten out too much since we moved here, mostly due to settling in and lots of work travel, but it’s time to stretch my legs again. I’ve done many of the popular trails, but as should be obvious from the content of this website, I have a strong desire to explore the less traveled regions. And there is a whole lot of that in Oregon.

Mt on Mt Morrison Summit

Summit Pose! Mt Morrison.

In this context, I thought about goals for my 40th year on planet earth and wanted something that felt milestone-y (totally a word), but also would encourage me to explore outward from my new home base.

So, I have decided to set a challenge for myself in my 40th year: stand on top of 40 summits. Between November 7, 2016 and November 7, 2017, I want to stand on 40 summits. Some might be small easy climbs, some may be long strenuous ventures. But a peak is a peak, and I’m happy to reach the summit of any of them.

Me on the summit of Matterhorn!

Another summit pose! Matterhorn!

And while I’m sure this will be a personally fulfilling challenge, I wanted to up the stakes a bit and have decided that for every mile I hike in this quest, I’ll throw $1 into a donation fund that will be distributed at the end of the challenge. Given the current public lands controversy, I know I want it to go to an organization that is dedicated to protection and stewardship of the remote places where I love to explore. I’ll be paying particular attention to the organizations that work in the areas where I find myself spending the most time and decide by my birthday next year.

What Summits are On My List?

I don’t have a specific list that I am trying to complete. I use to track my climbs and explore routes. What peak I choose for a given day will depend on time of year, weather, accessibility, conditions, and if anyone else is going with me. I hope to get a good start on some of the Oregon peak lists, but I’ll also do small local buttes when I’m short on time. Dealing with winter conditions may keep things interesting, and I’m looking forward to busting out the snow shoes a lot more!

Some of the lists I’ll be using to choose peaks include:

Arbitrary Rules!

Hey, my challenge, my rules.

  • I can’t count a peak twice
  • But I may include previously climbed peaks
  • I’ll fill in this list as I complete peaks
  • Start Date is November 7, 2016
  • Finish Date is November 7, 2017
  • I’ll put aside $1 for every mile hiked
  • At the end of the year, the money will go to a TBD organization
  • Regular updates!

Want to play along?

I’ve created a list for tracking my peaks on if you want to follow along. Even better if you want to match my donation at the end of the year! But better than tracking my peaks, why not create your own challenge and commitment and share in the comments below!

As for me, I took yesterday off work to start working on this challenge in Smith Rock State Park. 1 down, 39 to go!

Date Peaks Distance Total $
11.7.16 Peak 4230 7.6 miles $7.60
11.11.16 Little Belknap
Belknap Crater
7.02 miles $14.62
11.21.16 Peak 3900 (Three Buttes) 3.74 miles $18.36
11.27.16 Flatiron Rock 6.77 miles $25.13
01.01.17 Pilot Butte 1.98 miles $27.11
01.22.17 Horse Butte 2.10 miles $28.21
02.05.17 Misery Ridge Summit 4.46 miles $32.67
02.11.17 Lava Butte 3.65 miles $36.32
03.01.17 San Bruno Mountain 2.45 miles $38.77
03.04.17 Bessie Butte 1.41 miles $40.18
03.05.17 Horse Ridge 3.6 miles $43.78
03.18.17 Gray butte 6.9 miles $50.68
04.02.17 Stacker butte 4.7 miles $55.38
03.25.17 Rocky Butte 4.03 miles $59.41
04.09.17 Green Mountain 0.25 miles $59.66
04.15.17 Cline Buttes 2.3 miles $61.96
04.29.17 Sevenmile Hill 3.65 miles $65.61
04.29.17 Hood River Mountain 2.14 miles $67.75
05.14.17 Taylor Butte 2 miles $69.75
05.20.17 Black Butte 4.33 miles $74.08
05.27.17 Sutton Mountain 8.01 miles $82.09
05.28.17 Lookout Mountain 6.43 miles $88.52
05.28.17 Crescent Mountain 6.93 miles $95.45
06.29.17 Inferno Cone 0.65 miles $96.10
06.30.17 White Rocks SD 1.67 miles $97.77
07.01.17 North Pinnacle 0.38 miles $98.15
07.12.17 Buck Hill 0.25 miles $98.40
07.13.17 Pompeys Pillar 1.04 miles $99.44
07.15.17 Haystack Butte 9.09 miles $108.53
07.23.17 Scott Mountain 8.36 miles $116.89
07.30.17 Tam McArthur Rim 7.3 miles $124.19
08.20.17 Devil’s Hill 2.9 miles $127.09
08.21.17 South Sister 7.71 miles $134.80
08.26.17 Carroll Rim 1.63 miles $136.43
09.10.17 Tumalo Mountain 4.07 miles $140.50
10.08.17 The Twins 6.8 miles $147.30
10.15.17 Pine Mountain 2.21 miles $149.51
10.28.17 Johnston Ridge 1.0 miles $150.51
11.06.17 Juniper Butte 4.19 miles $154.70
Peak #1: Peak 4230 in Smith Rock State Park

Peak #1: Peak 4230 in Smith Rock State Park

Categories: Personal

Rebecca Sowards-Emmerd

Mountain sports addict. Dog Mom. Craft beer drinker. Tech nerd. The best days are those spent above 10k ft. Meet me on Twitter, Facebook, or Google +


Scott Jones · November 8, 2016 at 11:59 am

ONDA might be a great destination for that donation.

Moosefish · November 8, 2016 at 4:35 pm

Awesome! My challenge by 40 was to climb all the Washington volcanoes. Now I’m working on the rest of the Cascade volcanoes by my 50th. There are more than a couple left for me in Oregon.

John Soares · November 8, 2016 at 7:58 pm

Good for you, Rebecca! This sounds like an excellent challenge.

I’m also fairly new to Oregon and I’m really enjoying my explorations.

Petesthousandpeaks · November 14, 2016 at 3:46 am

Once I used to hope for 2,020 peak ascents by the year 2020, but my health collapse makes that highly unlikely. Good that peak bagging is the goal, but watch out for injuries. I considered only the prominent OR volcanoes as worth pursuing, but the best of luck to you. Waterfalls have been my recent goal. You’ll see a lot of them in OR!

Richard Lyon · November 29, 2016 at 7:53 am

Go get ’em Rebecca! And many happy returns! Any chance I’ll see you at Winter OR?


    Rebecca Sowards-Emmerd · November 29, 2016 at 11:34 am

    Unfortunately not this year! I have day job customer meetings that week. In Dallas. I’d much rather be playing in the snow and gear in SLC.

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