How To Install a Plaque on a Mountaintop (or Other Remote Place)

By Alan Silverstein,
Last update: January 28, 2017

Challenger Point Plaque (click to expand), July 19, 2003, 16 years to the day after installation, including apparent lightning strike damage to the "w".
Challenger Point plaque in 2003

Columbia Point Plaque, freshly installed, August 8, 2003.
Columbia Point plaque


Record and share the "recipe" for installing a memorial plaque on a summit or other remote location where some planning is required.

No, I don't aim to cover the world with memorials! I just happen to have some first-hand experience I want to capture and make available to the world for those rare occasions when it's invaluable. You might also find this information useful for installing memorials that are not in remote places.


In 1986 after the Challenger space shuttle disaster, a Colorado Springs engineer proposed naming the northwest shoulder, 14,080'+, of Kit Carson Mountain, Colorado, 14,165', as Challenger Point. In the summer of 1987 I led a small expedition (seven people to camp, five to the summit) to place the 6x12 inch bronze memorial plaque which remains on that peak. We used a mallet and star bits to drill the bolt holes. Fortunately we had perfect weather and could spend seven hours on the summit. You can read about this expedition here.

In 2003 after the Columbia space shuttle disaster, a four-time NASA space shuttle astronaut proposed naming the southeast shoulder, 13,960'+, of the same Kit Carson Mountain, as Columbia Point. It was formerly known colloquially as "Kat Carson", and the next bump east as "Kitty Kat Carson". This proposal was quickly approved by the US Geological Survey Board on Geographic Names. In July 2003 a small group of six, including two astronauts, visited the summit to select and prepare a plaque site. We used a hammer drill and bits for the bolt holes. We ran out of sharp bits, battery charge, and good weather, all in less than three hours. In August we returned with 15 4WD vehicles, 21 volunteers, and 34 NASA and NOLS people, including most of the Columbia family members, for a two night camping trip, plaque installation, a dedication ceremony, and an F16 missing-man flyby. We had crummy weather again, but three of us were able to complete plaque installation in about three hours.


The following supplies list and process steps are based on my experiences. Of course they are just what we found worked for us, subject to modification.

Note: The following assumes the bolt holes in your plaque are 1/4" diameter and you use 1/2" OD (outer diameter) lead anchors.

I weighed all the components to get some idea, but didn't go to great lengths to apportion the weight among people, etc. If someone in the plaque-mounting party hikes slower than the others, as I did in 2003, transfer some weight off them to other people. I estimated 15 pounds for essential supplies including the plaque (about 7 pounds), but excluding the hammer drill and battery packs, and 17 pounds of optional supplies.

Supplies Needed


Optional if enough help to carry:

Steps Involved

That's it! Return and enjoy your handiwork over the years ahead.