Payoff It’s safe to say that most of us will never set foot on the summit of Mt. Everest, but that doesn’t mean Ed Viesturs and company have a monopoly on alpine epics. I claimed my own top-of-the-world sensation deep in Wyoming. My partner and I hiked for two days to reach our basecamp—and we still couldn’t see our objective, Gannet Peak, the most remote state highpoint. The climb itself was a rush, of course, but it was the approach that made it feel like a first ascent. —Shannon Davis
Do it Isolated in the middle of its 570,573-acre namesake wilderness area in Washington’s North Cascades, 10,541-foot Glacier Peak lies a long day’s hike from any road. Tagging it via the technically easiest route—Disappointment Peak Cleaver, no ropes required—combines a spectacular two-day, 16.5-mile (one-way) backpacking trip with a full day of off-trail hiking, rock scrambling, and snow climbing. Take the North Fork Sauk River Trail 649 and hike 12 miles and gain more than 4,000 feet to your basecamp, in a basin of lakes below the White Chuck Glacier on the mountain’s south side. On your 10-hour summit day, avoid glacier travel by taking the Grade I Disappointment Peak Cleaver route. The White Chuck Glacier has receded so much that, contrary to what maps show, you can skirt it to reach Glacier Gap. Target mid to late summer for long, warm days.