Albuquerque, N.M. (KKOB) — At just fourteen years old, Turner Liotta has traveled to places so remote, fewer than 10,000 people have been lucky enough to catch a glimpse of them. He has climbed what mountaineers refer to as ‘big walls’, summited glaciers, and spent weeks on end camping in extreme temperatures. His hard work, and literal sweat and tears, have come from an enduring effort to reach one goal: joining the Highpointers Club.
There are fewer than 300 Highpointers in the entire world. Those who earn the title must climb and summit all 50 of the nation’s tallest points unassisted. So far, Liotta’s bagged 49 of them. When he started this journey, he was just nine years old. Back then, he was trying to beat a Guinness World Record for the youngest person to complete the goal. However, because of complications due to COVID-19, he missed the mark… but has not given up.
This summer, this fiery teen and his father, David, reached the top of Gannet Peak in Wyoming. Standing at 13,804 feet, the mountain is thought to be one of the most difficult state high points in the nation. “You have to kind of take it really slow. It’s like, one or two steps at a time, then you take a breath,” said Liotta. “You need a pick-ax and a guide to accomplish the whole thing. It can be intense, but it forces you to stop and take a look around and really appreciate where you are and be thankful for what you’re doing.”
Liotta is now a freshman at La Cueva High School. His mind is busy with school and sports try-outs but most of all, he says he’s thinking of his next big challenge, summiting his final high point in Alaska. “Most people spend 30 days on Denali,” said Liotta’s Dad, “it’s the most difficult, it’s expensive, but we’re hoping to knock it out next year.” Denali requires special permits and hikers must carry weeks’ worth of gear. It is known, in some ways, to be more difficult to climb than Mount Everest. “Even though I’m not doing it for the record anymore, you gotta finish what you start,” Liotta said.
His resilience throughout the effort is something his dad hopes he will take with him as he enters this next chapter of his life and grows into a young man. Liotta says the journey has taught him patience, but it’s also given him a chance to bond with his dad, meet new people, and see a lot of really incredible places. He hopes his journey inspires others, no matter their age, to get outside, spend time with their families, and never to give up, regardless of the challenges life may throw their way.