Caimin McDuffie Is Already Halfway to Climbing the Highest Peak in Each of the 50 States

Summit seeker.

It was the perfect June day. The sun was shining in the clear sky as Caimin McDuffie, accompanied by his dad and his friend, set out on the path to the summit of Boundary Peak—the tallest mountain in Nevada. Little did he know that his life would never be the same.

Caimin is a junior at Palos Verdes High School, though his resume is miles long. He’s a varsity lacrosse player, accomplished Eagle Scout, co-captain of the robotics team, Young Entrepreneurs Academy member and lifeguard at the Palos Verdes Beach Club. And he has a goal to climb the tallest mountains in all 50 states.

During his freshman year, Caimin’s Boy Scout troop decided to take the eight-day, 70+-mile hike across Mount Whitney in California, the tallest mountain in the continental United States.

“If I can do this, I can do all of the tallest peaks in the United States,” he remembers. He’s nearly halfway to his goal, having climbed 24 mountains in three years.

On the wall in Caimin’s room, a map of the United States freckles with pushpins of all 50 hikes—black for the ones he’s completed, white for ones he’s yet to do—with string between each planning out possible routes. “It looks like a crime investigation,” he jokes.

His most memorable climb was Nevada’s Boundary Peak. What started as a pleasant hike took a dark turn. The clear skies dissipated, the winds kicked up and sleet came down around him. Suddenly, Caimin couldn’t see 2 feet in front of him. 

The chill from the 60 mph winds caused the temperature to drop so much, his hands started to bleed. In spite of this, Caimin was determined to make it to the top—only 0.3 miles away from his goal. So he continued army-crawling on his hands and knees to the summit.

Caimin’s dad had also decided to attempt the treacherous climb. Very soon, Caimin lost sight of him, and true panic began to set in. To stay calm, Caimin repeated his mantra: “You can do so much more than you give yourself credit for.” After what felt like an eternity, his dad stumbled out from the sleet, and they descended the mountain.

Rather than be discouraged by this life-threatening event, it became the impetus for his new mission: Climb Your Peak (, a website dedicated to chronicling his hikes and encouraging young kids to accomplish great things. “I’m climbing all these mountains and learning so much,” he thought. “Why don’t I make this something bigger?”

He shares not only his own story but the stories of those he encounters on his mountain climbing journey. He asks each person to share what they tell themselves to get them to the top. When Caimin was in third grade, he dealt with anxiety but was able to overcome it with the help of great teachers.

Having gone through this adversity at a young age, Caimin’s mission is to share what he’s learned with kids. To do this, he wrote Walter’s Worry Weed, a children’s book that chronicles the life of third grader Walter, a kid with big dreams and a pesky plant holding him back. The book ends with Walter repeating Walter’s Wise Words to himself: “Speak kindly to yourself. Quiet the unkind words of others. Ask an adult to help untangle negative thoughts. Remember, you have the power to plant positive seeds.” In the days after the book’s release, it reached #1 on Amazon’s Education Counseling list.

It’s safe to say that Caimin’s future is extremely bright, and the positivity he puts out into the world will carry him far. Keep climbing, Caimin.