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Peaks and valleys: Tannar Cummings' journey to 50 summits

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Posted at 9:32 AM, Jul 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-22 15:05:10-04

ROUNDUP — Roundup science teacher Tannar Cummings had a tough experience climbing Granite Peak over 10 years ago. It taught Cummings plenty about climbing and just how prepared he’d need to be, but he’s been hooked on it ever since. It wasn’t until recently, though, that he really got back into it.

“This last year, I got into a lot better shape and I thought I need to go do a mountain or two. I needed to plan a trip. I just needed to get away, get out on the road and do it myself. So I plan one kind of spur of the moment," said Cummings. "I go down to Utah, go to Colorado, do Elbert, get my first 14-er done. Pretty easy hike, just tall. Go to New Mexico, then I drive straight to Arizona, stay on the mountain and do Arizona the very next day.”

Cummings, a Belt High School graduate, has taken on a challenge he first wanted to achieve after finishing up his high school education – to climb the highest point in all 50 United States. He’s knocked off eight currently and will add two more to his tally by the end of the month. He's also hoping to climb the Seven Summits in his lifetime, which consists of the highest peak on each of the seven continents.

“This summer, we drew permits for Mt. Whitney, so I’m going with a group of five to climb Mt. Whitney. Boundary Peak in Nevada, Whitney is in California, Boundary is in Nevada just right there, so I’m going to knock both of those out. Those are both above 10,000 feet," Cummings said. "There’s only 13 states that have peaks above 10,000 feet. I’ve done eight of those, 10 after this, so I’ll have three left – Rainier in Washington, Denali in Alaska, Gannett in Wyoming.”

The big portion of his 50-state tour will likely take place next summer, as Cummings plans to jump past the halfway point with a long trip along the east coast.

“What I want to do is I want to fly to Maine, rent a car, hit 20 state points along the east coast. Hike along the Appalachian Trail, spend two to three weeks busting it out in a rental car and camping gear and stuff. Travel all the way down to Florida, hit 20 states, knock them out then fly back to Montana," said Cummings.

Also the track coach at Roundup, Cummings obviously doesn’t have a ton of time to get out and check states off his list. As much as he enjoys teaching and coaching, it’s on top of a mountain where he’s happiest.

“Find the one thing that makes you most happy in the world and continue doing it until you can’t do it anymore. That’s the most rewarding experience to me. Looking at those pictures and seeing my smile, it doesn’t happen anywhere else other than on top of a mountain. So I’ll probably keep climbing mountains until the day I die," Cummings said.