Rock Climbing

April 27th, 2007

At a mere 812 feet above sea level, the highest natural point in Rhode Island is a bit of a runt. Located in a Brown-owned clearing in the woods of Foster, near the Connecticut border, it doesn’t have a view, except of the sky over-head. Only four states have lower high points.

In fact, says Bob Horton, lab manager for the physics department, which uses the site for astronomy field trips, the stroll to the clearing is so flat that “you could hardly believe you’re going up at all.”

But to “highpointers,” a small but eager group that aims to scale the highest peaks of all fifty states, puny Jerimoth Hill has proved a greater challenge than even Alaska’s Mt. McKinley, at 20,320 feet. That’s because the path leading to the clearing was, until June, owned by a man known to chase off any non-Brown visitor, except on the five holiday weekends a year when he allowed public access.

Highpointer Dave Covill, son of Ray Covill ’53, says he nearly fell out of his chair this summer when, after the property changed hands, the new owners called to say they’d welcome the climbers. “I almost cried,” Covill says. In August, he and other highpointers laid pea gravel on the path, trimmed branches, and set up a register for those reaching the summit to record their feat—just as they would atop Mt. McKinley.

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Related Issue
November / December 2005