Adam Helman, 1960-2015

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Adam Helman, 1960-2015

by surgent » Tue Jan 13, 2015 3:59 am

Hi everyone:

I feel it important to pass along this information: Adam Helman perished on Friday, January 9th, at his home in San Diego, CA. He was 54. Although he had no presence here at SummitPost, he was a prolific climber, hiker, peakbagger, author, webmaster, and friend to many in many areas. He is best known for creating the County Highpointer's Website,, but he also could claim high peaks in South America such as Aconcagua, in Mexico, the Carribean, Japan, and all over the United States. He was the second person (after Bob Packard) to climb/visit every one of the 441 county highpoints of the western United States, a feat he completed (deliberately) on Mount Adams in Washington in 2012.

Ponder that for a moment: this feat went beyond just climbing a whole bunch of mountains. Access issues, the sheer amount of time, the variety of skills needed. It is surely a profound feat. His entire list of peaks, along with trip reports are here:

He also advanced Prominence to a wider audience, playing a big role in making that metric as common as a peak's elevation. He constantly championed it and wrote the definitive book on it: ... Peaks.aspx

He was a gourmand who loved to describe recipes and foods he had prepared. He was arguably the best camp chef ever, and well known for celebrating a successful climb with a pint of ice cream. His trip reports sometimes give more detail about the foods he ate rather than the climb! Yet, he was a slight man, about 5-ft-3 and 110 lbs, but he could hold his own with the best of them. He had endless energy.

I met him in 2000 and hiked a number of peaks in the southwest with him. We passed the time talking mathematics. I recall in Nevada having to stop and scratch out a line of a proof in the trail dirt until he "got it", and of course, ran with the rest of the logic.

Many people here may have met him, or seen his name in a log book, or know someone who knows him. For those who met him, you would agree he was unforgettable... in the most literal sense. He talked loudly with great excitement. If you gave him ten minutes, you would immediately sense he was a good guy with a good heart and truly loved life in the mountains.

I enjoyed his company and will miss him.

Scott Surgent

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Re: Adam Helman, 1960-2015

by Redwic » Tue Jan 13, 2015 2:16 pm

I did two county highpointing climbs with him, Mount Buckner and Big Horn.

He was the quirkiest highpointer I have ever met but also one of the smartest. He was a fascinating individual whose accomplishments and contributions to highpointing and peakbagging communities are too vast to list here.

He will be missed.

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Re: Adam Helman, 1960-2015

by MoapaPk » Tue Jan 13, 2015 6:17 pm

Quite a shock. I was just reading his reports.

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Re: Adam Helman, 1960-2015

by Damien Gildea » Tue Jan 13, 2015 10:28 pm

I recognised Adam's name from his site and the international community of mountain-information-weirdos of which I am a Life Member ;-)

Nice line from his site: "..You are visiting a profit-free zone, a superb privilege in this world run mad with "The Bottom Line" and worker productivity. Forget it ALL - this is a FUN HOBBY!!"

Thanks Adam.

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Re: Adam Helman, 1960-2015

by workmanflock » Wed Jan 14, 2015 2:11 am

Nice guy, I knew him briefly, I don't post here much but we collaborated once

Interesting and friendly man, 54 is too young.

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Re: Adam Helman, 1960-2015

by Fletch » Wed Jan 14, 2015 4:03 am

RIP Adam. He inspired me to take up the challenge, of which only himself and Bob Packard have managed to accomplish. I hope someday to do the same and I will continue to remember Adam on all my hikes. Godspeed...

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Re: Adam Helman, 1960-2015

by surgent » Wed Jan 14, 2015 4:50 am

Thanks everyone for the kind thoughts. Adam could be driven, perhaps to an extreme, yet just as fast he could change gears and offer supportive, insightful words to anyone he felt was remotely interested in climbing and exploring.

In some manner, we'll be preserving his website. It is a great resource, but it is also an extension of his personality and endearing eccentricity. He loved coloring fonts, boldface, italics, super and subscripts, and so on. The thing is, you could almost hear him talking that way, when reading his pages.

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Re: Adam Helman, 1960-2015

by Dean » Wed Jan 14, 2015 9:05 pm

I did several peaks with Adam, both in Idaho and Utah. He almost got Bob Bolton and I arrested on a peak but that is another story, best told another time. : )

Adam was indeed passionate about mountains but he always did his best to include his mother on any summit where he could make a cell phone contact from. He was
a son who always wanted to include her so she could be proud of his accomplishments. If you want to read about his efforts in gaining the summit of all the county highpoints in the west, he published a book called "A Tale of Twelve Summers......." available at Amazon. Only 60 or 70 copies were published so it will be hard to find in short order although Adam was kind enough to allow it to be published in Kindle format if you want to view it that way. Its a whole lot cheaper but lacks the picture quality of the book. Anyway, I for one will miss Adam, he was definitely someone who you would never forget.

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