Neil Luckhurst (age 58), vice president of the ADKHighpeaks Foundation, embarked upon an ambitious 1-man fundraiser on February 18, 2014. His goal was to climb each of the 46 High Peaks in just 12 days—a quest he dubbed “Project 46”. Dedicated friends and family members supported Neil in a variety of fashions ranging from company on the trail to preparing hot meals and snacks. Meanwhile, others watched his progress on their computer via Neil’s SPOT tracking beacon.
He showed no signs of slowing and by Thursday, February 27th; he’d completed the goal in a staggering 10 days—two days ahead of schedule. When all was said and done, he’d hiked 213.6 miles (344 km) with 69,500 feet (21,184 m) of elevation gain while braving a mixed bag of winter weather conditions.
What drove Luckhurst to attempt such a feat? The fundraiser memorialized the death of his son Dominic who tragically died in an avalanche in the Canadian Rockies during 2008. It also raised funds for the ADKHighpeaks Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)3 organization. He considers Project 46 to be a lead-in to the 10th anniversary of the Foundation’s annual fundraiser on March 1. The annual event seeks to place 46 member groups on each of the High Peaks during a 24-hour window. If successful, 2014 will be the third consecutive year they have accomplished the feat.
Luckhurst began training six months prior to beginning the adventure, sometimes hiking multiple peaks a couple times per week. He attributes the ultimate success of this project to long range planning, the existence of a strong social network (the forum) and a fantastic support team. As you might imagine, the journey wasn’t without trials. Low points included walking out from the remote Seymour Mt. in the dark knowing it was only the first day as well as climbing Whiteface and Esther in the pouring rain.
While the ramifications of the accomplishment are still sinking in, the results are obvious. Project 46 has raised over $13,000 to date and the number is still growing. Further information on Project 46 may be found at http://neilluck.wordpress.com/ .
The ADK Highpeaks Foundation raises funds through online hiking forums and donates to important causes within the Adirondack Forest Preserve such as search and rescue, Tropical Storm Irene relief, summit stewardships and fire tower restoration.
Photo: Neil Luckhurst on Dix Mt. by Joe Bogardus.